Launching in the US last year, The North Face's Access Pack is finally making it's way to Australia on the 20th of March. The backpack is all about having everything you need securely stored within two sorted compartments, with a reinforced frame keeping it together.
The first thing that draws your eyes is the tough outer shell and quick release latch. This latch replaces a traditional zip, allowing you to pop open the primary compartment's lid. It's an interesting feature and makes opening the bag quicker in certain situations, although the lid does stick out quite a bit when opened. The toughness of the bag is definitely felt here, as the opening process reveals the rigid nature of the outer layer. Basically, you don't want to accidentally smack someone in the face with it.
Inside the compartment itself is where the Access Pack really shines. Featuring a number of storage sleeves for phones and tablets, all have draw tabs allowing you to yank out your electronics without fiddling around. It's extremely useful for grabbing your phone quickly and easily, as these pockets are situated at the top of the compartment.
Apart from that you have some pretty mediocre storage space. Don't expect to be cramming a bunch of books or documents in it. What suits best are items that you want protected, as that tough shell and built in aluminium frame completely surround anything in the main compartment. The toughness does not significantly impact the weight of the bag. It's still very manageable and won't slow you down.
The laptop section, which sits between the straps and the main storage part of the bag, also features the same draw tab feature. Again it's damn handy in pulling out your laptop smoothly. Unfortunately the compartment struggles with a 15 inch laptop. It can fit one in there but the zip battles with anything that's not reasonably thin. However, the laptop section is waterproof and also features a reinforced sunglasses holder, which does a good job at replacing a glasses case.
All in all, the Access Pack is for someone who needs a super organised and sturdy backpack to use while out and about. This bag will definitely protect those delicate valuables whilst providing a smooth and fairly easy to use experience.
The Access Pack will be available online and in stores from The North Face on March 20th.