The North Face Aleia 22 comes in two sizes, XS/S, and M/L. The smaller size is for 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.
The lightweight Aleia is a comfortable pack that is available in two sizes, which we really appreciated.
Our testers liked the comfort of this bag. There's light but sufficient padding on the shoulder straps and hip belt, 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 Deuter Futura 22, Gregory Jade 28, and Osprey Sirrus 24 vented just a bit better.
The back has some good padding while promoting ventilation, and the frame helps prevent a hydration bladder or other bulky items from pushing into your back.
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 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 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 Osprey Sirrus 24, and REI Co-op Trail 25 have more options than this pack.
At only 25 ounces (size XS/S, 27 ounces M/L), the Aleia is 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 the Mammut Lithia Speed 15 and the Osprey Hikelite 18, 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 delivers that very few other packs do is 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. The Gregory Jade 28 also comes in two sizes and has a large hip belt, and it was our Top Pick for Long Hikes thanks to its frame suspension that can handle a heavy load better than the Aleia.
So many of the hipbelts in this review barely covered our hipbones, and we're not that big! This hipbelt (in size M/L) provides ample coverage with plenty of room to expand.
Unfortunately, this pack did not seem that durable to us. It is the only one of the 13 packs in this review that had a durability issue during our testing period. The ice axe loop is 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 bungee cord to attach the shaft of an ice axe is so small and thin!
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.
The Aleia is a great choice for forest environments, but we'd hesitate to use it in a sharp desert landscape.
At $100 retail, the Aleia is a reasonably priced option compared to some of the other packs in this review that are in the $135-160 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.