Like bikes and skis, gear junkies quite often own a “quiver” of backpacks. You need specific packs for specific activities. The North Face’s new Chatter backpack upsets this model — it’s a do-it-all pack that includes features from a laptop sleeve to snowboard straps. It can be used for school, work, commuting, or outdoors pursuits including hiking, biking, skiing and snowboarding.
I’ve been using my Chatter almost daily for the past few months. The main compartment has multiple pockets and an organizer area (key clip, spots for pens, a place for a cell phone and MP3 player). There’s a lined pocket for goggles or sunglasses. It even has a hidden stash pocket for valuables. All these features worked great for commuting and time on the slopes.
One caveat: This pack isn’t for the folks who want an overbuilt bag that feels (and weighs) like it will be around for generations to come. The straps, pack and padding on the Chatter are more minimal and on the lightweight side of things.
It has padded shoulder straps, a hip belt and sternum strap. Snowboard straps are on the back. Two mesh water bottle holders flank the sides. At $105, the Chatter is a good looking, functional pack — for work or play.
—Stephen Krcmar is a writer based in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.