Sized for adults and older kids, the North Face Jester backpack offers 1,830 cubic inches of storage space divided between one main storage compartment and a secondary, smaller compartment. It also achieves the highest construction and durability scores given in a series of independent tests.
Spacious and well-organized. The North Face Jester has a capacity of 1,830 cubic inches, divided between one large storage compartment and a smaller compartment that comes with many extra dividers to choose from. It also sports two mesh water bottle pockets (one on each side), bungee straps on the outside and a small key clip. The frame seems to work well for most adult body types, from 6-foot-tall men to a smaller woman who describes the Jester as "large enough to fit everything I need for the day without being too large that it looks ridiculous on my petite frame."
Some reviewers say they wish it had a small pocket on the straps to hold keys or other small items, like a cell phone or MP3 player. The Jester's overall capacity is smaller than some other packs, but it's plenty large enough to carry a laptop, textbooks, several notebooks -- and a sweater according to one review. Reviewers also say that even when full to capacity, the Jester never looks "stuffed."
Ergonomically correct. Reviewers say the Jester's ergonomic shoulder straps make it comfortable to carry, even when loaded with heavy books. "This is the most comfortable book bag that I have ever owned," says one owner. Another notes that the back of the pack is "well padded, but not so cushy that the bag is obscenely heavy."
Experts recommend using the Jester's removable waist belt for shifting some of the pack's weight off your back and shoulders. That, and the injection-molded shoulder straps, may have contributed to the Jester's high scores for safety in one recent comparative test.
Back on track for durability. The North Face Jester draws very good ratings for construction and durability in a series of independent tests. It's also covered by a lifetime warranty. We did find a few complaints about problems with stitching in various places on the bag, including the juncture between straps and pack body. Most of the complaints about stitching date back to 2009 or earlier, so it may have been a quality control issue.
A number of reviewers also comment favorably on The North Face's reputation for customer service and making things right, although a few of those who had problems with the stitching disagree.
It's not the biggest pack, but the North Face Jester is plenty big enough for hauling a laptop, notebooks and textbooks. It's more stylish than many other backpacks, and we found plenty of happy reviewers who use it for everything from hauling textbooks to day hiking.
Excellent The North Face Jester is one of six backpacks tested by ConsumerReports.org. The pack is rated on comfort, durability, construction quality, rain resistance, convenience, and safety features.
Review: Backpack Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, July 2009
Very good More than 250 owners contribute to an average rating of 4.7 stars out of 5. Owners say the North Face Jester is adequate for carrying multiple books and notebooks, although there are a few complaints about the fabric tearing.
Review: The North Face Jester Backpack, Contributors to Buzzillions.com
Very good About 15 Amazon.com customers review the North Face Jester, giving it an average rating of 4.5 stars. They like the Jester's combination of "style and rugged functionality," and they describe the pack as "strong and sleek."
Review: The North Face Jester, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of August 2012