Gear Review: The North Face Surge Transit Backpack

When I was a member of The North Face Locals (a great idea now somewhat defunct),  one of the many pieces of gear I received was the Surge Transit Backpack.  I was a huge fan of the Big Shot backpack, but was intrigued to try out what The North Face called the ideal commuter backpack. I’ve used this for many months as a weekly office bag (hooray for telework!), travel bag for both work and pleasure, and as a weekend bag for camping and road tripping. It handles all these without any fuss.

Gear Review: The North Face Surge Transit Backpack

While certainly designed for the daily commuter, there are a lot of travel-friendly features as well, such as checkpoint-friendly, lay-flat laptop compartment (compatible with 15″ laptops), and an external fleece-lined pocket for sunglasses, small electronics, or a passport. Throw in a bunch of The North Face Running Gear and you’re ready for the trail!

At a claimed weight of 3lb 6oz (my home scale showed 3lb 1.5oz, not bad), this 38-liter capacity backpack has a ton of organizational features:

Interior: The main compartment has ample space for books, binders, and rain gear. An internal mesh zippered pocket stores things you might want to find quickly. For media, a padded, fleece-lined tablet sleeve is in the front compartment along with elastic webbing for cord management.

On the exterior, two water bottle pockets made with Teksever fabric securely hold smaller bottles, and two external vertical zippered pockets store items that are easily grabbed without opening the backpack’s compartments. The only thing missing when compared to the Big Shot is the face haul handle, a feature I believe every backpack should have. For safety, a reflective bike-light loop, water bottle tabs and shoulder-strap webbing create 360 degrees of reflectivity, while a sternum strap with whistle buckle give you the option of being heard as well.

Gear Review: The North Face Surge Transit Backpack

The North Face’s FlexVent™ suspension system features custom injection-molded shoulder straps, a padded mesh back panel with a spine channel and a wicking lumbar panel for support. To me, the only miss is the removable waist belt, which is too thin to do much good. If waist belts don’t have padding, to me they are just extra straps getting in the way.

Really the only improvement I would make is regarding the zippers. Since the bag is black and the zippers are black, it would be nice if the zipper pulls had a contrasting color or accent to make them easier to find. Not a major issue, but a simple solution.

If you need a go-anywhere, carry lots of stuff backpack, the Surge Transit is a good option. Whether getting organized for the commute to work or for a weekend away, this works in a multitude of ways and is comfortable while carrying. The Lifetime warranty makes it a safe bet that this will stay with you a long time.

*Pack provided for editorial purposes – all opinions are my own.

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