The North Face Fovero 85
- Stiffer frame for heavy loads
- Large storage capacity
- Rain cover pocket in brain
- Tied for heaviest in test set
- Tall center of gravity
- Narrow body
- No pivot
- Seam concerns
The North Face Fovero 85 has strengths, not least of which is its large weight carrying capacity, although these pros are outweighed by cons, chief of which is the bag’s heavy weight and narrow body compartment.
The Fovero’s OptiFit system allows the shoulder straps to move, making in the field torso length adjustments easy. This padding is wide, which will be helpful to wider users, but doesn’t allow much ventilation flow. The width between the shoulder straps is not adjustable and these straps are mounted quite close to each other. The sternum strap has a wide adjustment range, but can get pulled to either side during use.
The Fovero 85 has a stiff frame, which sets its wheelhouse to be squarely in the heavy-loads end of the spectrum of this test set. Although it impacts comfort negatively, a stiffer frame allows the user to carry heavy loads more comfortably. The body of the pack is more narrow than most of the other packs in this set. There are two buckled gear straps on the bottom of the pack.
This is a category where the Fovero had mixed performance. The height-to-width ratio tends towards the tall, especially when heavily loaded, which sends the center of gravity above the user’s core, and impairs the balance or muscular efficiency of some users. It does have a minimal amount of pivot, more than most in the set, which will help people keep their posture correct and their loads upright.
We had some considerable seam concern just by pulling on it a bit with the Fovero, particularly where the shoulder straps connect to the sliding panel of the Optifit system and the connection between each waist strap and the frame of the pack. The elastic band on the Optifit system also gave our tester a note of caution; no other pack’s frame system has such a system-critical piece made out of this material. One positive comment on the Fovero’s durability is the plastic buckles, which are reinforced with a center connector on all female buckles.
The Fovero has six small gear loops on the top of the brain to attach a solar panel or drying laundry. There are two hip pouches, both water resistant, and a sternum whistle. There are two vertical gear loops, and two buckled straps on each side that can be used for external gear like trekking poles or technical climbing gear.
How We Tested It
The packs in this test were used throughout the winter and spring of 2017, during day hikes and overnight backpacking trips from 1-4 nights, with mileage hovering around a dozen miles a day. Tests were conducted on Maryland’s Western Shore, in the Olympic Range of Washington State, the Cascades of the Pacific Northwest, and in the central Sierra Nevada. This geographic diversity of conditions allowed for a look into each pack’s strengths and weakness. Each pack had at least 20 pounds in them, and some had as much as double that.
For more reviews beyond this 2017 test, check out our Best Weekend Backpacking Tents of 2017 and Best One Person Backpacking Tents of 2017, along with our sleeping bag tests and stove tests, as well as other related hiking and camping gear tests.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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- Type of Backpack: Expedition Pack
- Volume (unverified): 85 L
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