The North Face Trail Lite 24L backpack: Tested

By Aus Geo ADVENTURE March 2, 2024
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The North Face Trail LIte 24L promises a new take on a daypack. We head to the hills to see if this rings true.

If there is a staple item of gear for outdoor enthusiasts, it is the daypack. This generic term describes a small-ish volume pack – say, 8L to 35L – that is renowned for versatility. The North Face Trail Lite 24L is the latest interpretation.


The North Face Trail Lite 24L (available in S/M and L/XL) adheres to standard daypack design cues, while adding unique interpretations of some of those. The pack is light, with an average weight of 850g, with its body fabric a 210-denier (D) recycled nylon (protected from moisture ingress by a non-PFC DWR treatment), while the base of the pack is a 600D recycled polyester (with the same water-repellent treatment applied). This tough base is a stand-out; nothing is more annoying than a pack-base that wears down quickly if used regularly in trying conditions.

As expected for its design remit, the Trail Lite 24L’s build quality is robust, with strong buckles and tough materials throughout.

The design team has incorporated a lot of learnings from TNF’s trail-running pack design, which is a good thing for fit, comfort and (to an extent) breathability. The back panel is contoured to mimic the run packs, and this pays off with excellent comfort and keeping the pack close to your torso for ease of manoeuvrability. The back panel is ‘breathable’ according to TNF but, as with other brands’ claims, the amount of moisture on your back will depend on the wearer’s body shape/exertion levels.

Plenty of exterior storage, with the large sleeve, plus bungee cord and provision for trek poles or ice-axes, up the versatility of this pack considerably.

There are plenty of storage options for items such as phones, keys, etc. Two water bottle pockets (one each side) are cleverly angled to allow for easy access when the pack is on your back, while the padded hip belt aids stability and has two pockets. There’s an internal water bladder sleeve inside the large main compartment and an internal pocket as well. Add in the large outer pocket and you’ve got storage space aplenty.

With a nod to its climbing heritage, TNF has included a bungee system on the front, along with the ability to carry trek poles (or ice axes) and dual sternum straps. The side compression setup ensures you can further snug-in the pack to your body, while all buckles and clips are robust. 

In the field

We’ve had the Trail Lite 24L on test for a few weeks, and it has proved popular with testers. This is due to a few factors but is best explained by saying The North Face designers have not skimped on any feature that improves the pack’s actual performance. By this, I mean that, often, a pack is adorned with superfluous features that do little. The Trail Lite 24L has none of these: every component is designed for a purpose.  

The 850g is no ‘heavy load’ to bother most of us. Plus, it adds assurance; the padded hip belt is a boon for those times when you’re lugging heavy gear (think: ropes, rack, helmet)and is very comfortable. Speaking of comfort, the wide shoulder straps don’t ‘cut in’, either. 

The padded hip-belt is a standout for its comfort and, more notably, its support when the pack is fully loaded.

For day hikes, the pack is excellent, with that 24L optimal for a full day outside. TNF promotes this pack as suitable for MTB, although we think it is too ‘big”; most MTB packs are in the 10L to 20L range. I’d say the same for it as a commuter pack (dependent on how much crap you bring to work). However, for bikepacking or cycle touring, the Trail Lite 24L is ideal. Also welcome, was the pack’s slim profile; not having to worry about a wide pack snagging on tree branches, etc., is great. 

The final word

The North Face Trail Lite 24L backpack stands out in a crowded market thanks to its robust construction, high level of useful features, and outright versatility, all at a reasonable price. I doubt there will ever be ‘one daypack’ that is perfect for all outdoor activities but this comfortable and tough 24L load-lugger from The North Face comes pretty darn close. We have managed to convince The North Face’s Aus office to let us keep the Trail LIte 24L for another few months so look for a long-term review mid-year.

RRP: $250 See The North Face for more info.