"Outbound" Dan Human has been drinking out of streams, ponds, and puddles for several years on various backpacking and paddling trips.
The Multipurpose Angstrom Pack
From carry on luggage to the trail, the Angstrom 30 pack from The North Face is a responsive mid-size daypack that is perfect for travel, hiking, and lightweight overnights.
Though I have a wall of packs, I purchased this one to use as a travel pack - something lightweight and multipurpose. I needed something I could fit into the airplane overhead compartments as carry on luggage and then hit the trails with it when I landed.
This pack needed to be both durable enough to put up with my abuse, yet light enough for pleasant days on the trail. I wanted a pack that screamed simplicity, yet offered an advanced pack design. I wanted a pack of seeming contradictions and I found it with the Angstrom.
This review reflects several months of various uses for the Angstrom 30.
Manufacturer: The North Face
Model: Angstrom 30
Torso Sizes: 1 size
Weight: 2 pounds 3 ounces
Volume: 1,830 cubic inches
Fabric: Ripstop Cordura nylon and ultralight 210T ripstop nylon
Dimension: 21" x 13" x 8"
- Hydration compatible
- Airmesh hip belt which stows for travel
- Exolite breathable back panel with enhanced lumbar support
- Giant stash pocket for keeping a jacket
- Includes pack rain cover in a zippered pocket
- Side water bottle pockets that hold a Nalgene perfectly
- Safety whistle on sternum strap
Field Testing the Angstrom Pack
Though roller bags are all the craze, anyone stuck behind someone wrestling with one down the narrow aisle of a plane realizes why these wheeled wonders suck the life out of those around you. It is difficult - in fact, close to impossible - to throw your boxy, carry on container on your back and take an impromptu hike with it.
You could always bring another daypack with you, but in this age of ever-increasing airline fees, the less baggage the better.
I took this pack with me on several flights when I was doing disaster relief work for Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Away from home for over a month, I relied heavily on the Angstrom as my every day pack to carry essentials.
I usually go hiking a couple times a week and this pack has quickly become my favorite daypack. I load the Angstrom with basic survival gear, an extra layer, snacks, and a couple quarts of water.
There are times I load the pack with additional water bottles and whatever else I can find in the trunk of my car for additional training weight.
Ultralight Overnight Camping:
Though a hair over two pounds, the Angstrom is a little heavier than some of my stripped down ultralight packs, it is still lighter than many of the options for daypacks on the market. Again, this was part of the multipurpose nature of the pack. It's small enough to use as a carry on, but large enough to hold my gear for a quick backpacking trip.
I am a lightweight backpacker, so I loaded up about 13-pounds of food, water, and camping gear in this North Face selection for a couple of overnight trips on the Finger Lakes Trail.
I've been volunteering with the Adirondack Mountain Club to do some trail work down in Allegany State Park. We are marking the border between PA and NY and need to get tools and signs deep into the woods.
With a machete clipped on one side, the Ten Essentials inside and a saw dangling from the gear loops - we went to clear brush. The thing about trail work is that it is too mobile to take your pack off all the time. So, you end up hacking and sawing with the pack still on your back. I figure if Luke Skywalker could do somersaults with Yoda on his back, I could saw a log with a pack on mine.
You just need a pack with a stable and comfortable suspension. Luckily, the Angstrom doesn't shift while contorting your body in this form of trail-building yoga.
North Face Daypack in Review
Is it comfortable?
The suspension on this pack is insanely comfortable for a standard day hiking load of 10-15 pounds and bearable up to 30 pounds. Past 30 pounds, it tends to strain a bit; however, I'm not sure why you would want to carry that much weight.
The flexible exolite back panel has good air circulation and supports the load without the stiffness of traditional internal frames.
The breathable air mesh shoulder straps and hip belt have multiple adjustments and have no problems supporting the weight of the pack. I was pleased that the hip belt performed so well given its stashable nature, as it simply folds back under the lumbar support for air travel.
Is it durable?
Though I was apprehensive about the lightweight nylon fabric, I've been dragging this pack all over the place and it is holding up nicely. Though some products from The North Face are designed for the urban traveler, this backcountry bag is well made and reinforced in all the right areas.
I still wouldn't take it canyoneering or through thick thorns - I have a feeling the lightweight fabric may not last too long.
How is the organization?
Though lightweight packs often scrimp on various pockets and dividers, the Angstrom has multiple nooks and crannies for organizing your hiking gear.
Save the bladder sleeve, there are no pockets in the main compartment; however, that sleeve holds my netbook perfectly secure. The secondary compartment is punctuated by a zippered pouch and two small Velcro pouches. I am surprised by the lack of a padded goggles/sunglasses pocket, but I usually carry them in a case anyway.
On the outside of the pack, there is a huge stash pouch that is perfect for storing a wet tent fly or fleece jacket. I've used the external bungies to carry a sleeping pad, though they also offer compression to the pack when near empty.
For those hikers like me that like to keep things within easy reach, there is a mesh pocket on the waist belt that is big enough for a small camera or energy bar.
How about the water bottle holders?
Since Camelbaks and other hydration tube systems emerged on the market, it seems like pack manufacturers are paying less attention to the external water bottle holders. Surely, sometimes I use my hydration bladder, but I generally prefer the flexibility of a bottle.
First of all, I've used my two liter Camelbak bladder with the Angstrom with no issues. The bladder pouch and clip stabilize the potentially sloshy bag of water and the central port accommodates the hose well.
The North Face constructed the bottle pockets out of stretchy spandex-type material that holds water bottles firmly in their place. I often carry two one liter wide-mouth Nalgenes in the side pockets; so far they haven't fallen out.
Though I purchased the Angstrom 30 as a carry on travel pack, it has quickly become my favorite daypack too. Its lightweight, durable construction and supportive structure handle hiking loads with ease.
Looking for a Larger Pack?
In case you are looking for a larger pack, check out my full review on The North Face Terra 35. This is the pack I use for my search and rescue 24 hour pack.
© 2012 Dan Human
Dan Human (author) from Niagara Falls, NY on April 25, 2012:
When it is time to look for a new daypack, gather up what you usually carry and take it to a local outfitter. Stuff your gear in various packs until you find the one that is most comfortable and useable for you. I've never had a problem with packs from The North Face, but there are a lot of fantastic brands out there.
Cholee Clay from Wisconsin on April 24, 2012:
Great review of the Angstrom 30 pack! When my fiancé and I can start hiking again I will definitely be purchasing a pack like this:)
Dan Human (author) from Niagara Falls, NY on April 24, 2012:
Once North Face sends me a pack, I'll send one to you!
Ospreys are the bomb, I love my Atmos for big trips. I think for a midsized pack, the Angstrom isn't bad.
Thanks for reading CC!
Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on April 24, 2012:
Wow! Can you send me one of these? ;) I have been relying on my Osprey pack that I've had for around 15 years. But, when I'm in the market, I know where to come for a reference. :)