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April 2014 Issue
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The North Face Banchee 65

Our Rating:

An interesting and innovative pack, the Banchee 65 impressed with its lightweight construction, excellent features and appealing lines.

I took it on several outings and loaded it up with all the usual gear and paraphernalia that you want to access easily and without fuss, but also keep dry and protected. In this area I feel the pack excels with the use of the two longitudinal front zippered pockets which were ideal for stashing small items like snack bars, headlamp, hats and gloves. Behind these pockets is a deep open stash pocket which can be cinched up tightly depending on what you have in it. I had my parka in here along with some food items which I wanted to access quickly.

There’s also side mesh sacs, a reasonable-sized top pocket with an inside zippered mesh sleeve for protecting maps or route guide information. The lower section of the main bag has an outside zippered entrance and inside floor, but as it is so low down on the main bag it’s not really a practical feature. However, it can be cinched up tight to make the pack volume less when carrying smaller loads.

The harness and waist belt provide adequate comfort and support for a pack at this level and are easily adjusted. One thing I didn’t like is the very high, and stiff, top of the pack where part of the aluminium frame comes up behind the head. This won’t be an issue when walking on formed tracks, but because a lot of my outdoor trips tend to be off-track in bush and steep open country, I found it was hard to crane my neck back far enough to make sense of the route ahead.

A little annoying, but only that. The Banchee is a good pack for multi-day or overnight trips.