The North Face Recon is one of the best packs we evaluated in terms of versatility, with features that are equally suited for campers, students and commuters. The only downsides are subjective; some say its ergonomically correct back panel is a little too stiff, while others say stuffing the outer pockets makes filling the main storage compartment problematic. Some simply wish the Recon were a little larger.
Perfect for school or camping. Owners put the 1,830-cubic-inch North Face Recon to a wide variety of uses, from camping to toting a laptop and schoolbooks. The bag has four pockets, plus a compartment for a laptop or hydration pack. There are organizers in the secondary storage compartment, two mesh water bottle pockets and a zippered mesh pocket inside the main compartment that users say is perfect for holding your wallet, snacks or emergency gear if you're out in the woods. The laptop/hydration sleeve holds a 15-inch laptop or a hydration bladder, and the backpack has a hydration port for the bladder hose.
Chiropractors endorse it. The North Face Recon is one of nine North Face backpacks that receives a 2010 endorsement from the American Chiropractors Association for superior ergonomic features. "It's so comfortable even when loaded down," writes a user who purchased the Recon for use while traveling.
Other reviewers appreciate the back cushioning. Kid testers recruited by Good Housekeeping magazine weren't as generous; they like the Recon overall, but some said the back pad was a little too stiff. (It's not clear how old the kids were.) A few adult owners agree about the stiffness, but praise for this pack's comfort is almost unanimous.
Built to last; lifetime warranty. The North Face Recon performs very well in Good Housekeeping magazine's 2008 tests for durability. Most owners second this, saying this pack is strong and durable enough to hold up to heavy use at school or work. Several owners point out the buckles and zippers are particularly well made.
Andrew Fong, writing for SkatterTech.com, describes the pack's stitching as "fine" but says he can't find any signs of double-stitching, which would give better durability. He likes the heavier-duty fabric on the bottom of the pack and says the zippers are built to last.
The North Face Recon is discussed in both written and video reviews on this site from bag owners. Reviewers say it's got great outside organization for ease of reaching gear, but with a sleek, attractive design. The only complaint is that it can make your back feel warm.
Review: North Face Recon, Editors of Backpacks.101.com, Not dated
The North Face Recon earns an overall rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 from more than 60 reviews. Ninety-one percent would recommend it to a friend. Owners say it's comfortable to carry even when it's full, and is a perfect combination of style and function for older school kids.
Review: The North Face Recon, Contributors to eBags.com, As of July 2013
More than 25 Amazon.com customers review the North Face Jester, giving it an average rating of 4.6 stars out of 5. They say it's durable and like the variety of colors and styles. A few say it's a bit small for their purposes, but others say it's a versatile bag.
Review: The North Face Jester, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of July 2013
4. American Chiropractic Association
In this news release, the American Chiropractic Association endorses nine North Face backpacks, including the Recon, for their ergonomic features.
Review: American Chiropractic Association Endorses The North Face Backpacks, American Chiropractic Association, May 4, 2010
5. Good Housekeeping
The North Face Recon gets a brief review in this older roundup of kids' backpacks. It earns an overall rating of B-plus, with editors saying its compartments are great for organization, but it may not be the most comfortable backpack.
Review: North Face Recon Backpack Product Review, Editors of Good Housekeeping, Aug. 2008
Andrew Fong writes a detailed and balanced review of The North Face Recon. Among the backpacks he tests, the Recon is the most comfortable with standard loads. However, he'd prefer more padding in the laptop sleeve. It's an older review, but still relevant.
Review: Day Pack Reviews: North Face Recon, Andrew Fong, July 13, 2008