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Hands-on Gear Review
The North Face Aleia 22 Review
Cons: Minimal features, some durability concerns
Bottom line: A lightweight pack with a true larger size available.
Volume/Capacity (liters): 22
Back Construction: Trampoline-style suspended mesh back panel with contoured Atilon sheet
Manufacturer: The North Face
The North Face Aleia 22 is a lightweight pack that is available in two sizes, and its M/L size is actually large. We had a hard time in this review finding packs that would fit taller or bigger than a size 2 ladies, but this wasn't one of them. So thanks to TNF for realizing that "one-size fits all" usually doesn't work out for most of us. That being said, this daypack is a little on the plain side, features-wise, and while the thin material is great for shedding weight, it might not hold up for very long against sharp plants and rocks. For a sturdier pack with more features, check out our Editors' Choice winner, the Lowe Alpine Airzone Trail ND 24.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The North Face Aleia 22 comes in two size, XS/S and M/L. The smaller size fits a 14-17 inch torso, and we tested the M/L, which fits a 16-19 inch torso. It weighs 25/27 ounces depending on the size, and is made with a 100D nylon in the body and a 210D nylon on the bottom.
Our testers like the comfort of this bag. There's light but sufficient padding on the shoulder straps and hipbelt, and two strips that run down the length of the back. Behind that is a lightweight frame that prevents the contents of your bag from poking into your back. The back is covered by mesh to increase airflow, and this pack did a decent job of keeping us cool when hiking, but the Lowe Alpine Airzone Trail ND 24 and the Osprey Sirrus 24 vented just a bit better.
The features on this pack left a little to be desired. The hip belt pockets are nice and large, and can accommodate a smartphone, and that's about it when it comes to features. There are single compression straps on either side, but's it's difficult to attach trekking poles securely with only one set of straps. There's an open pocket on the back, but it's not big enough to hold a helmet, and there's no closure for it, so it's best used for stuffing a layer into and not something that can fall out easily. There is an ice axe attachment (which we almost lost, more on that in durability), and we did like the way the bag opened more on one side for easier access to the contents at the bottom. If you're looking for a feature-heavy pack with a rain cover and trekking pole attachments, the Lowe Alpine, Osprey Sirrus 24, and REI Co-op Trail 25 - Women's all have more options than this pack.
At only 25 ounces (size XS/S, 27 ounces M/L), the Aleia was one of the lightest packs in our review. This pack uses mostly 100D nylon in the body, and all of the padding is full of cutouts to reduce weight. It also has a large internal volume, more so than our Top Pick for Light and Fast, the Mammut Lithia Speed 20, so if you're looking for a light pack that can hold a lot of gear, the Aleia is a good choice.
There are no load lifting straps or hip belt stabilizers, but what this pack does deliver that no other pack did was a realistically sized option for taller/larger ladies. So many of the hip belts we tested barely fit our main tester, who, at a size 2 with a 34 inch hip circumference, is not that large! As you can see from the photo below (on a size 4 model), there is ample play in the hip belt so that it can fit a range of hip sizes.
Unfortunately, we were not that impressed with the durability of this pack. In fact, it was the only one of the 10 packs we tested to have a durability issue during our testing period. The ice axe loop is actually a bungee cord that is only secured by a knot on the inside. That knot came untied via friction, and we almost lost it completely. The upper connector for the ice axe handle is made of a very thin bungee cord, similar to the zipper tabs, which we doubt will stand up to much use, and we had significant scuffs and scratches on the bottom material after only limited use. The bottom is a thicker 210D material, but if it's already scuffing we worry about the longevity of the thinner 100D material in the body of the pack. A perusal of online user reviews also indicated a lack of durability in the material. If you hike in moss covered forests only, this might not be a big issue, but for those in say, the desert southwest, which is full of spiky plants and rocks, this pack might not last very long.
The North Face Aleia 22 is a great pack if you like lightweight gear and don't hike in an area with particularly sharp plants or rocks.
This pack retails for $100, which is a nice savings over some of the other packs in this review that are in the $135-145 range.
The North Face Aleia 22 impressed us most with its availability in a larger size. Sometimes we felt like we were testing little girl packs! It's comfortable and lightweight, but doesn't have a ton of features, and we did have some durability concerns.
— Cam McKenzie Ring
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