Fall/Winter Gear Guide 2011: The North Face Patrol 34 Backpack

The Patrol does it all—skiing, climbing, and hiking.

Don’t want to put money and closet space into a specialized pack?

The Patrol does it all—skiing, climbing, and hiking. It even doubled as a camera pack for one tester, because D-rings on the shoulder straps work well with a chest pack. Even stuffed with climbing tools, the Patrol comfortably supported 30-pound loads. “It carries a lot—a puffy, softshell, mini-tripod, big camera lens, big mittens, lunch, and more—but still has a low profile, which was great when skinning and cranking turns in Rocky Mountain National Park,” reports one tester.

Crampon storage is smarter than most: Instead of a pouch placed on the outside of the pack, where it compromises stability by adding weight far from your center of gravity, the Patrol features an integrated “sack” at the base, with a separate side-entry compartment. A huge exterior front pocket holds a probe and shovel.

Attachment points carry a snowboard or skis (in A-frame and diagonal configurations). And durability is outstanding, thanks to 315-denier Cordura Bombastic nylon fabric technology borrowed from auto airbags.

Gripe: Using the side-zip access with an ice axe attached causes the open flap to sag.

$159

3 lbs 3 oz

34 liters

www.thenorthface.com