The North Face took an innovative approach with its latest backpack, which isn’t really designed for hikers or mountaineers. Instead, the new Access Pack is squarely aimed at commuters and travelers who carry around plenty of modern electronic devices with them wherever they go, and have the need to get to them quickly and easily. 

The main selling point for this bag is the unique lid that is connected to the pack by a pair of custom made hinges. This unusual design allows the rigid skeleton frame of the lid to quickly and easily open and move out of the way simply by flipping a switch on the bag itself. Once opened, users of the pack gain almost unobstructed access to the main interior compartment and all of the contents stored inside. It is a compelling system to say the least, and one that I haven’t seen on any other pack before. 


TNF designers put a lot of thought into the interior of the Access Pack. Not only does it have a custom pocket specifically designed for your tablet, it has two other media pockets that can accommodate smartphones, cameras, battery packs, or other mobile devices. Those pockets even have ejector tabs that cause the gadgets within to pop upwards, making it easy to grab them when necessary. A dedicated sunglass pocket, two external stash pockets, and two additional interior pockets will help keep your important items well organized, while an external pocket on the back offers room for a laptop of up to 15″ in size. This particular placement is especially handy when going through a TSA checkpoint at the airport for instance. 

The Access Pack is made from water resistant fabrics, and has been molded around an internal aluminum frame that helps to give it its unique look and structure. It offers 22 liters of total storage and includes custom made YKK zippers, as well as a reflective logo and other highlights that help it to remain more visible in low light conditions. It even comes with a lifetime warranty as well, which should give you some indication of how well it is constructed. 


I first spotted this slick looking pack when it was first revealed at Outdoor Retailer back in January. I was intrigued with its design and quick-access lid that is quite simply unlike anything I’d ever seen before. But looking over the specs for the Access Pack I couldn’t help but notice that it weighs more than 4 pounds. This is undoubtedly due to the internal frame and lid-opening mechanism, but that is quite a bit of weight for a travel pack that hasn’t even had anything put inside of it yet. That alone would probably make this pack a tough sell for those of us who like to travel fast and light.

This pack’s weight isn’t the only thing that is hefty either. It also carries a price tag of $235, which seems like a lot when you compare it to similiarly sized commuter packs on the market from the competition. For example, last week we told you about another travel backpack that we liked a lot that is similarly sized to the Access Pack. It has plenty of nice features as well, and costs more than $100 less than this bag does. 


If The North Face’s fancy new design is enticing to you, than I’m sure this will probably be a high quality pack that you can carry with you on your daily commute or travel ventures. But considering its price point, you can easily find other packs that offer similar features and more capacity that cost less. If they can find a way to reduce the price and the weight however, the Access Pack looks like a real winner. 

For a look at other backpacks, check out our camping & hiking section.