The North Face Banchee 50 Review
The North Face Banchee 50 liter backpack is a great choice for outdoor enthusiast looking for a pack that can handle both weekend backpacking trips and long days on the trail. The Banchee 50 is part of a backpack series that includes 35, 50, and 65 liter versions in both men’s and women’s.
Over the course of the past few months, I’ve been able to put The North Face Banchee 50 through a number of different outdoor and indoor situations. First, I received this backpack right before I went on a trip to Cabo, Mexico and since I like to use backpacking packs for both regular travel and outdoor travel, I decided to give it a go. One of the nice things about The North Face Banchee 50 backpack is that it has a number of compartments to store all your clothes, toiletries, and outdoor gear items. The most noticeable storage compartments on the Banchee 50 are the two large tube like pockets that run vertically on the outside of the pack. These are great when you want to keep your items separate, but have easy access to them. On my Cabo trip, I liked keeping my clean and dirty clothes separate with these tubes. The Banchee 50 is small enough that is is easy to fit as a carry on without being harassed by the gate agents.
Just behind the tube like storage units is what’s called the “beaver tail” which is a mesh pocket that is good to store gear you want easy access to such as a rain jacket, gloves, hats, etc. This compartment space gets taken up if the main compartment is filled to capacity, so I have somewhat of a love hate relationship with this pocket.
The main compartment on the 50 liter Banchee is what you would expect in a 50 liter pack. There is also a water reservoir pocket that sits against your back on the inside of the pack. The compartment on the top of The North Face Banchee 50 liter pack is pretty standard for most backpacking packs, but it is large enough to fit a good amount of gear that you want easy access to.
Around the hip belt, there are two zippered side pockets that are big enough for some energy bars, smart phones, point and shoot camera’s, pocket knifes, etc.
If you find the 50 liter Banchee can’t store everything on the inside, there are straps on the bottom of the pack to hold a sleeping pad, tent, or sleeping bag. There are also straps on the side of the pack which you can also store these items since it is often hard to store more than one of these items at a time. If you like to use trekking poles from time to time, there are trekking pole holders in case you don’t want to hike with them.
For the water bottle pockets on the sides near your hips, they are set so it is difficult to reach your water bottles without having to take your pack off. This is common among many backpacking packs, but I would like to see a better water pocket solution in the future.
The one pocket that is missing in the Banchee 50 that is available in the Banchee 65 liter version is the sleeping bag compartment. This is not a deal breaker for me if I plan on using this backpack for more than just backpacking. If you plan to only use this pack for more than weekend backpacking, I would recommend moving up to 65 liter version to get this feature.
Different Testing situations
I’ve taken this pack out for many all day excursions including hiking one of Colorado’s 14’ers where I needed 3 seasons worth of gear for one day and a couple through the airport trips. The 50 liter pack size was a great size because I was able to fit everything in my pack, but it wasn’t too big and super sloppy. If you’re looking to go for longer backpacking journeys or are traveling during the winter where you need more room for bulkier clothing, I recommend purchasing the 65 liter version.
The North Face Banchee 50 Fit
It is one thing to create a backpack that can fit all your gear and clothing, but if it doesn’t fit or ride well, you are in trouble. This is what often sets cheap backpacks apart from good backpacks. The hipbelt on The North Face Banchee 50 uses what TNF calls Optifit which allows the hip belt to adjust to different hip and waist sizes. The padding on the hipbelt is pretty beefy which helps carry heavier loads. The TNF website states the pack holds up to 45lbs which I agree with, but I wouldn’t want to add too much more weight.
The shoulder straps on the Banchee are made with perforated foam to reduce weight and increase breathability. These straps do a nice job at conforming to each individuals shoulders which provides a comfortable fit over long periods of time. To get a precise fit on the shoulder straps there are load lifting straps that help get allow you to get the perfect fit over your shoulders.
To get a completely secure fit, there is an adjustable sternum strap with a whistle clip in case of emergency. I generally don’t use sternum straps a ton because they feel a little restrictive, but when they come in hand when I want to ensure the pack doesn’t shift a lot.
To adjust to different size torso’s, there is a velcro sheet that you can adjust to fit both shorter and longer torso’s. It is important to first choose the basic sizing of small/medium or large/extra large and then you can adjust to fit your exact sizing.
The North Face Banchee series is a great option for men and women looking for various size options for backpacks allowing you to get into the backcountry. This series has been well designed and is sure to meet almost any outdoor persons needs for a backpacking and hiking pack. For more information, please visit TheNorthFace.com