The North Face Litus 22 gives the Editors' Choice in this category a run for the money. The Litus 22 is a solid pack for carrying your day tripping wilderness supplies. There is room for everything you might need in that context, and the support and features nicely complement the durability and versatility. Overall, the Litus is an excellent option. You won't regret choosing it, but the Osprey is just a little more sophisticated.
The North Face Litus 22 Review
Cons: Strap covers zipper, heavy
Manufacturer: The North Face
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Litus 22 from venerable outdoor gear manufacturer The North Face is a classic yet basic daypack with subtle innovations, which set it apart. The construction is both simple and effective. The bells and whistles are well thought out.
Comfort is the most heavily weighted attribute in our scoring rubric. With a day hiking backpack, most of your experience with it will be wearing it. Therefore, it should be comfortable. The Litus is comfortable, due to a structured and vented back panel that simultaneously distributes the load and allows for heat and moisture transfer, padded shoulder straps of just the right thickness, and a wide, supportive waist belt. The back panel is the most unique attribute. It is a sort of tensioned, semi-rigid combination of foam and plastic that flexes in the right directions while remaining supportive in others.
Only the very meshy back panel and super wide waist belt of the Editors' Choice Osprey Talon 22 exceeds the comfort of the Litus 22. For some, especially those that prefer greater rigidity in their pack, the Litus may be more comfortable and supportive than the Osprey. Our test team preferred the Osprey, but not by much. Even more rigid and supportive than the Litus is our new Editors Choice Osprey Stratos 34. This is the pack for those that want maximum ventilation and rigidity. The Litus falls between the Stratos and the Talon.
The Litus is more supportive than the remainder of the packs we tested. The Camelbak Rim Runner 22 comes close, while the other award winners we recognized were less comfortable. The Best Buy REI Trail 25 is much less expensive, and less comfy. The Top Pick Marmot Kompressor 18 is super minimalist and comfort is the first attribute to suffer when stripping a pack down.
Weight scoring is opposed to both durability and comfort. The things that make a pack last and fit well are heavy. The Litus 22 tied for the second heaviest pack in our test. For that additional weight, you get the comfort lauded above, and a usable lifespan that could be measured in decades.
The Osprey Talon 22 is the same weight as the Litus, with only the CamelBak Rim Runner 22 exceeding these in mass. The CamelBak weight includes a hydration bladder that none of the other packs include. When correcting for this difference, these top three most massive are all the same weight. It is no coincidence that all three of these also score the highest in comfort. Minimalist packs, like the Top Pick Marmot Kompressor and the REI Co-op Flash 22 are half the weight of the Litus, but also half the comfort and durability.
A versatile daypack is a large daypack. The shortest, mellowest day hikes require just enough room for a water bottle and snack. Head into deep wilderness, and you need twice that amount of space for first aid kit, additional layers, and more water. All the contenders we tested work for these two scenarios. If your aspirations include winter hiking or technical endeavors like rock climbing, you'll need even more space. For this, only the largest packs we tested are appropriate, like the Granite Gear Virga. Of those that are fully functional, the Litus 22 is one of the largest and therefore the most versatile.
Ease of Use
We measured ease of use in a variety of ways. First, we assess the smoothness of strap adjustments, buckle engagement, and zipper action. In these ways, the Litus does well. Next, we considered the selection and accessibility of accessory pockets. The waist belt pockets of the Litus are larger than those on the CamelBak pack, and just as accessible as those on the Editors' Choice. The rear "stuffable" pocket is a little tight for most warm jackets, but it works fine for a lightweight windbreaker.
The side water bottle pockets fit your normal water bottle, but you should consider buckling said water bottles in somehow. The main zipper of the Litus is long, asymmetrical, and allows for a sort of "clamshell" opening. The catch is that one of the side compression straps crosses this zipper, effectively shortening the usable distance of this zipper. Of course, you can unclip this strap to access the full length of the zipper, but this is an extra step.
The taped seams and mid-weight fabric of the Litus will last as long as the zippers. And that is a good thing. It is the zippers that fail first on a backpack. Having fabrics that last longer than the zippers is just a waste of weight and bulk. In our experience, the thickness of the fabric used in the Litus 22 is about that which can be calibrated to wear through, in normal use, about the same time that the zippers fail. The CamelBak Rim Runner and Top Pick Osprey Day Lite Plus will last similarly. The zephyr-light Top Pick Marmot Kompressor 18 is far less durable than the Litus.
The Litus is an excellent daypack and was only slightly edged out by the Editors Choice Osprey Talon 22. For some users, surely the Litus will be virtually indistinguishable in quality from the Osprey. For classic day hiking, the Litus won't let you down.
The Litus is twice as expensive as the REI Flash 22, but it will likely last more than twice as long as that award winner. In absolute terms, the Flash is cheaper. On a "per day used" basis, a pack like the Litus may edge ahead concerning value.
In overall scoring, the distance between The North Face Litus and the Editors' Choice is real. In actual usage, though, the difference is negligible. You will dig the Osprey Talon 22, but we're willing to bet that if you purchased the Litus instead, you'd never say "I wish I had bought the Talon."
— Jediah Porter