The North Face Stratoliner 75 Review
Cons: Sticky zippers and handle button, less padded handles
Manufacturer: The North Face
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Stratoliner is a super durable softshell case that maintains its shape, even when completely unpacked. It offers 75 liters of storage in its clam-shaped construction. Its outer layer is impervious to water, making it one of the most water-resistant bags tested. This is one of our favorite and most used bags for its ease of transport, simple organizational features, and versatility of uses. Take it with you on your next road trip or while you adventure through far-away lands.
We were pleasantly surprised by the reliability that this suitcase offers. The front is constructed of water-resistant 900-denier polyester, and the back is an even more robust 1680-denier polyester. It is coated with a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) laminate, which adds to the strength of the material.
We love the water-resistant features that include recessed zippers on the front pockets. While this material is pretty darn waterproof, the zippers themselves will still let water in if saturated — especially where they are not covered at the top of the bag. The Stratoliner will keep your things dry in a small rain, but not a complete downpour.
During a road trip to Utah, we used this case as our travel companion, throwing it around in the back of our truck and bumping it up metal stairs at a dirty motel. The outer material, even after this trip and several others, still looked like new. The main handle is quite solid, built with durable plastic. The button on the side of the handle is less ideal, though — it's not as comfortable to push and can be a little sticky.
The wheels on this bag are super bomber. They are large, in charge, and stood up over gravel parking lots, carpet, and the broken side-walks of resort towns in Colorado. They don't jiggle and look to be easy to replace if the worst happens.
While we do appreciate the burliness of the zippers, we found ourselves needing to use both hands to unzip the case, especially on the corners. Here we often had to tug at the edges like crazy, especially when fully packed. Aside from that, we're pretty content with the durability and reliability of this bomber suitcase. It's an excellent option for all manner of adventuring, including rainy places.
Storage & Organization
We love the organizational storage of this suitcase that lends itself to all kinds of travel. It offers 75 liters of space with no expansion pockets. The interior is simple and thoughtful in its design, providing just the bare minimum for what you need while traveling. This is not the case for those seeking serious amounts of pockets or a plethora of organizational features.
The front of this bag has two pockets. The top-loading one is ideal for stashing personal items like keys, passport, or wallet. The second pocket one the front is suitable (and padded enough) to put a laptop with a sleeve inside. The only issue with this system is that the top pocket becomes hard to access because it's so recessed underneath the fabric.
The interior design is also thoughtful and simple. With a clam shape design, you need to set the bag on its side in order to open it up. Inside you will find two large compartments. The one attached to the handle is quite rigid, maintaining the shape of the bag, even when it's unpacked. Here you'll find compression straps to help hold all your clothes in place.
The other side of the bag has a mesh zipped compartment for anything you want to keep separate from the main area. One thing to note is that if you have this compartment full, it might be difficult to fit things into the exterior front pockets.
The Stratoliner also comes with a seperate cube. It has mesh so you can see inside and is ideal for toiletries, dirty clothes, or even a pair of shoes.
Ease of Transport
The large oversized wheels on this suitcase are perfect for tackling all sorts of terrain. We were able to roll with ease, no dragging, even with more technical terrain like gravel walk-ways.
Like most suitcases, the clearance between the bottom of the case and the ground is pretty minimal, so this bag does have a hard time moving over super rocky surfaces. It didn't flip or tip when taking it off side-walks and curbs, though, which we genuinely appreciated. We also appreciate the long plastic bumpers that make dragging it up stairs easier while also protecting the suitcase.
The handles on this case aren't the most comfortable. The material cuts into the hand a bit, making it hard to carry the case for extended periods. However, the placement of the handles is excellent for lifting the bag into a vehicle. There are a total of three handles, conveniently placed on all different sides.
Weighing in at just 10 lbs, this suitcase is relatively light. Its profile is narrow enough to roll through tight crevasses and the weight is well-distributed so it doesn't tip or flip when in action. Pack about 40 lbs of extra gear inside before you get to a maximum weight requirement at the airport.
This case isn't built for the business traveler or those that are overly fashion-conscious. It does, however, have stylish lines and a durable but sleek finish. We love the color options that make it tasteful and unique. Your case will stand out at the baggage claim. This is best for those who appreciate a good looking casual suitcase with a flair for the outdoors.
The Stratoliner isn't cheap. Those that are seeking durability but appreciate simplistic organization will find value in it, though. While many suitcases retail for this amount, this one performs higher amongst the competition, making it a reliable contender that is worth its value.
While the North Face Stratoliner 75 isn't an award winner, it's a high scorer. It stands out as a great two-wheeled roller bag with a simple organizational scheme and amazing durability. The zipper is sticky and the buttons on the handle aren't our favorite, but it still provides great applications anywhere you choose to go.
— Amber King