Aspen Times Weekly: North Face ‘Urban’ Backpack |

Aspen Times Weekly: North Face ‘Urban’ Backpack

by Stephen Regenold

This is not your average backpack. Pop-open pockets, protective compartments made for electronics and slick “ejector tabs” that remove media devices come standard on this futuristic pack from The North Face.

I initially saw the stealthy Access Pack earlier this year at a trade show. A company rep called it the brand’s “urban play,” and she invited me to crack it open to look inside.

The North Face is targeting ease of use with this backpack, which was designed for students and professionals overrun with electronics, cords and office gear.

In addition to a nice fit (and a sleek look), the pack stands out for its uber-organizational facets. The most intriguing is something the company calls “ejector handles” that, when pulled, lift your devices out of the snug compartments like they’re on springs.

I tried it out at the trade show then in the real world while bike commuting this spring. A nested iPhone literally popped up from its ensconced pocket when I pulled the tab. The ejector system works with nylon pulls and slack fabric in pockets, all neatly stitched and concealed.

Another cool touch, the main compartment opens in a clamshell-like fashion. You hit a button and it pops open the front lid, giving quick access to everything inside.

A lightweight steel frame offers the pack structure. It is significantly padded, absorbing body blows in a busy subway car or a minor tumble off a table. A chest strap cinches it close for bike commutes.

Built for the laptop-toting student or urban worker, the pack is stocked with protective, fleece-lined pockets made for laptops, phones and tablets. There are pockets for pens, glasses, headphones, books, chargers and other cords.

The 22-liter Access Pack is made of weather-resistant nylon material and features water-resistant zippers. It comes to market this month for $235. Try one on if you’re an urban dweller looking for the ultimate in organization on the go.

Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at

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