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The North Face Base Camp Voyager Review

This compact bag is ideal for a quick getaway, and makes it simple to pack and organize your clothes
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The North Face Base Camp Voyager Review (The pockets and organization on the Voyager are top notch.)
The pockets and organization on the Voyager are top notch.
Credit: Hale Milano
Price:  $169 List
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Manufacturer:   The North Face
By Hale Milano ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Feb 12, 2024
74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 15
  • Storage & Protection - 30% 6.7
  • Ease of Use - 30% 8.9
  • Comfort & Fit - 30% 7.0
  • Versatility - 10% 6.0

Our Verdict

The North Face Base Camp Voyager is a streamlined travel backpack with plenty of features for life on the go and can help keep your clothes and travel essentials organized even when living out of the bag. We found the external pockets and technology pouches for laptops and tablets to be extremely user-friendly; all our travel essentials were easy to find when needed and just as easy to stow away when we were done. The main compartment has a nifty collapsible divider that helps organize your clothes without inundating the bag with excessive pockets. Though it is not the most comfortable bag we tested, it is relatively supportive when packed full. Given the small size and lack of compression straps, it is difficult to weigh down too much anyhow. Overall, it is one of our favorite travel backpacks for life on the go if you frequently take short weekend trips. Are you still deciding whether you want to commit to a specialized travel backpack? Check out our comparison of the top suitcases, duffel bags, and other travel-friendly luggage options to see which might best fit your needs and preferences. If you do know that you want to go hands-free with a backpack but aren't sure you want one made exclusively for travel, our review of the best backpacks of all types can help you decide between those intended for laptops, school, travel, or hiking.
REASONS TO BUY
Removable internal divider
Compact size
External pockets are great for quick access
REASONS TO AVOID
No compression system
Unable to stow carrying straps

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Bottom Line This bag is easy to pack, organize, and access your gear, plus it is comfortable to carryThis top-notch pack comfortably holds and hauls all the clothes and gear you need for any type of trip, and is ideal for life on the goA feature-rich bag that is a great travel companion but not as structured or comfortable as othersA convenient, easy-to-use bag that won't break the bank but may not have the same top-tier functionality as other bags in our lineupThis large bag is good enough for the non-discerning traveler, but we recommend looking at other options first
Rating Categories The North Face Base... Osprey Sojourn Port... eBags Mother Lode Coowoz Essentials Amazon Basics Carry...
Storage & Protection (30%)
6.7
8.3
6.7
6.8
6.7
Ease of Use (30%)
8.9
8.4
7.9
6.6
6.8
Comfort & Fit (30%)
7.0
8.7
6.0
6.8
6.0
Versatility (10%)
6.0
6.5
6.0
6.5
4.5
Specs The North Face Base... Osprey Sojourn Port... eBags Mother Lode Coowoz Essentials Amazon Basics Carry...
Sizes Available 26L, 35L 30L, 46L, 65L 50L 22L, 27L, 31L, 46L 40L
Materials 300D recycled polyester tarpaulin with a TPU laminate, and 840D recycled DWR nylon boot MAIN: bluesign® approved, 100% recycled 460D high-tenacity nylon w/ ripstop, DWR treatment made without PFAS
BOTTOM: 100% recycled 1680D ballistic polyester, DWR treatment made without PFAS
Polyester Waterproof polyester Polyester
Pockets with Exterior Access 4 5 6 7 4
Frame Type Foam with nylon padded backpanel Foam padding Foam padding Foam padding with nylon backing Foam padding
Features Large external pockets, adjustable internal divider, passthrough luggage strap, 360 degree reflectivity, fleece-lined 16" laptop sleeve Internal compression & mesh organization pockets, vented back panel and tuck-away harness/hipbelt, TSID luggage registration, padded laptop sleeve, day-pack compatible attachments Internal compression & mesh organization pockets, internal fold-down shelf, 19" padded laptop sleeve, side zip water bottle pocket, stowable backpack straps Separate shoe compartment, wet pouch, built-in USB port, anti-theft pocket, passthrough luggage strap, 14" laptop sleeve, external compression straps Tuck-away backpack straps, passthrough luggage strap, zippered laptop sleeve, internal compression straps
Measured Weight 3.4 lb 3.4 lb 3.9 lb 2.2 lb 3.6 lb
Weight-to-Volume Ratio 1.55 oz/L 1.18 oz/L 1.25 oz/L 1.14 oz/L 1.44 oz/L
Measured Dimensions (When Full) 12" x 19" x 6" 24" x 14" x 11" 10" x 22" x 14" 13" x 19" x 8" 22" x 15" x 9"
Size Tested 35 L 46 L 50 L 31 L 40L

Our Analysis and Test Results

The North Face Base Camp Voyager is an ergonomic travel backpack and came out of our testing as one of our top choices for livability. It features a variety of great easy-access pockets on the bag's exterior and implements many tech-friendly designs that are perfect for the business traveler on the go. The interior is simple yet effective in its organization; it has just enough features to keep your clothes packed nicely without overwhelming you with pockets and pouches everywhere. Read on to see why the Voyager is one of our top bags for travelers moving light and fast.

Performance Comparison


the north face base camp voyager - the voyager is a compact bag that makes a great standalone carry-on...
The Voyager is a compact bag that makes a great standalone carry-on for short-duration trips.
Credit: Hale Milano

Storage & Protection


Travel backpacks are designed to help streamline your travel by freeing up your hands from pulling clunky suitcases and toting unwieldy duffel bags. The compact size of the Voyager isn't going to win any awards for the amount of gear that it can pack, but that is not why you'd consider this bag in the first place. It excels in keeping your travel essentials, like electronics, IDs, tickets, and headphones handy and safe.


Though most of the travel backpacks we tested are all about the same size, the Voyager is on the smaller side. It is only available in two size options, 26-liters and 35-liters. We tested the larger 35-liter size and found it offers just enough space to hold a weekend's worth of clothes, assuming you don't chronically overpack. What we did like about its design is that no matter how full we crammed the main compartment, all of the external pockets remained fully usable. The same can't be said for all bags, where one overstuffed pocket can cannibalize space from another. We also wish the Voyager had some form of compression straps to keep contents in the right spit. While it is nice not to have extra straps flapping around in the way when you're not using them, we did miss the ability to lock our gear in securely for transit or to help squeeze in that one extra shirt.

It's easy to store and access gear on the go in the Voyager, though the lack of compression straps can lead to jumbled items and rogue socks.
Credit: Hale Milano

Travel backpacks should be able to provide a bit of protection from the elements in case you get caught in a rain shower during transit. The recycled 300-denier polyester exterior of the Voyager beads off heavy rain with no issues. Unfortunately, the zippers are a weak spot in this bag, and a fair bit of water did seep into the main compartment. Many bags utilize an additional zipper flap to solve this issue, but the Voyager does not have this extra protective feature.

the north face base camp voyager - the main fabric of the voyager (blue, middle) is waterproof, but the...
The main fabric of the Voyager (blue, middle) is waterproof, but the zippers lack waterproofing or protective flaps.
Credit: Hale Milano

While it could use some work regarding overall structure and waterproofing, we are big fans of the technology protection pockets on the Voyager. The main laptop sleeve can hold up to a 16-inch laptop, and in addition to this, there are two other slip pockets. All three are fleece-lined, making them perfect for holding tablets, smaller laptops, or any relatively thin object you'd prefer to keep scratch-free.

the north face base camp voyager - the soft laptop pouch on the voyager spans the entire back of your...
The soft laptop pouch on the Voyager spans the entire back of your bag, and holds a laptop snug.
Credit: Hale Milano

Ease of Use


No matter what your purpose or method of travel is, everyone has a handful of essential items they need to be able to access quickly while on the go. A book for the train, headphones for the plane, or snacks in the car should all be within easy reach and should definitely not require you to dig around or empty the contents of your bag. For most luggage, backpacks included, it's also common to live out of the bag for a few days at a time. This is especially true if you're staying in different accommodations frequently, hopping from one local to another. The Voyager was one of our favorite bags for this type of travel because it was easy to use in “travel mode” and as a dresser away from home as needed.


The external pockets on the Voyager are the stars of the show here. We love that they remain easy to use, no matter how full the bag is packed. We also like the variety in shape, material, and size of each pocket. The larger compartment is excellent for a bulkier item or book, and the second pocket has pouches within it for organizing a phone, keys, lip balm, or other small essential bit of gear.

the north face base camp voyager - we kept all our frequently used items like headphones and a magazine...
We kept all our frequently used items like headphones and a magazine in the external pockets of the Voyager.
Credit: Hale Milano

We also found the top-loading laptop pocket to be refreshing. Many travel backpacks employ a sideways-facing zipper for laptop pockets orientated along the length of the back panel. The Voyager's unzips from the top, making it easier to pull out or stow your laptop with the bag sitting upright in front of you. We also appreciate that the zipper spans the width of the bag and then down the sides a bit, creating an excellent wide opening for your laptop to slip into.

We were able to work all the way up until boarding thanks to the easy-access laptop pocket.
Credit: Hale Milano

One of our favorite features of the Voyager was the ease with which we could live out of this bag. The main compartment has a collapsible center divider that perfectly segments the compartment into two separate spaces perfectly sized to accommodate a short stack of folded clothes in each one. We loved that we could easily search through the clothes on the bottom without disturbing what was on top. The mesh pocket found on the inside of the main flap was great for stowing smaller items such as socks or toiletries.

the north face base camp voyager - the internal divider on the voyager makes it incredibly easy to pack...
The internal divider on the Voyager makes it incredibly easy to pack clothes neatly.
Credit: Hale Milano

Since the size of this bag limits the amount of clothes you can pack, it is likely that for longer trips, you might want to pair it with your favorite rolling carry on luggage. The Voyager has a luggage handle passthrough sleeve located on the back panel that is easy to use and keeps your bag secure, making it a perfect complementary bag to use with your standard luggage.

the north face base camp voyager - the luggage pass-through sleeve is large enough to slide on easily...
The luggage pass-through sleeve is large enough to slide on easily but snug enough to keep the Voyager secure.
Credit: Hale Milano

Comfort & Fit


The Voyager is a reasonably comfortable backpack with supportive padding and straps. It lacks some of the robust suspension features that other bags in our travel backpack review have, but given the small size and capacity, we never felt that the pack's weight was cumbersome or uncomfortable. Needless to say, we didn't miss any of those features on the Voyager.


The stiff back panel of the Voyager holds its shape well and provides support and structure to the bag when full and empty. It is complemented by two sets of plush yet firm padding that run down either side of the back. The vented space in between these helps with breathability. The backpack straps are adequately padded, although they didn't wow us during testing. We appreciate that there is an adjustable chest strap, but felt that they shoulder straps were a bit narrow for our liking. Unlike many bags we tested, they don't have the option to stow away when not in use.

the north face base camp voyager - the firm padding is comfortable, though the straps on the voyager...
The firm padding is comfortable, though the straps on the Voyager are unable to be stored away when not in use.
Credit: Hale Milano

Versatility


Despite being a specialized travel backpack, the Voyager has a stylish design combined with durable materials, making it a highly versatile option to keep in your arsenal of travel bags. It won't be a one-bag-fits-all solution, but you could just as easily use this bag to go from your hotel to the office as you could from the hotel to the beach.


Despite being a con for some, the small size of the Voyager is actually one of its best features in terms of versatility. Many other travel backpacks are simply too large to use as anything but luggage. While the design isn't groundbreaking, we like that you can fold the internal divider flat and use the bag to bring supplies to the office for a work meeting or to roll up some towels and head to the beach. The four muted color options don't stand out too much but still offer enough variety to find one that fits your style.

the north face base camp voyager - we used the voyager to pack up some binders and materials for a...
We used the Voyager to pack up some binders and materials for a conference. Although it is a bit roomy, it saved us from traveling with two bags, or carrying binders on our hip.
Credit: Hale Milano

Should You Buy The North Face Base Camp Voyager?


Not all travel has to be month-long trips to the other side of the world, and many travel bags may be overkill for a short weekend away. The North Face Base Camp Voyager fills this niche and fits the criteria for the minimalist traveler who is looking for a standalone travel backpack or for a traveler looking for a mid-sized pack to pair with another suitcase. It's versatile enough to fill a few different roles that backpacks might play, including plentiful storage for technology. Lastly, it is well-priced among our lineup of the best travel backpacks, providing good value. We recommend the Voyager to someone looking for an easy-to-use travel backpack to fill multiple requirements, whether for weekend trips, weekday work travel, or a tech bag.

the north face base camp voyager - the voyager is easy to access all the pockets and easy to live out of.
The Voyager is easy to access all the pockets and easy to live out of.
Credit: Hale Milano

What Other Travel Backpacks Should You Consider?


Some people are on the road or in the sky more than others. In that case, a small backpack may not be enough to bring the comforts of home with you on your travels. If this sounds like you, the Osprey Sojourn Porter 46L is a great bag that can haul a significantly larger amount of gear with comfort and ease; we could fit double the amount of clothes we could pack in the Voyager. The Porter is only slightly more expensive than the Voyager and offers extra features, such as a stowable harness system and internal compression straps. If you need even more space, the Osprey Farpoint 40 is even beefier. This bag has one of the most comfortable carrying and harness systems of any travel backpack we tested, which is great because it is available in sizes up to 70 liters. Its main compartment isn't the most organized, but it's adequate for life on the road. On the other hand, if you liked the size and capacity of the Voyager but not the price tag, we'd recommend checking out the Coowoz Essentials. This carry on backpack is quite similar in size, layout, and features to the Voyager but clocks in at a quarter of the price. True, the quality and ease of use aren't nearly as pleasant, but the price of the Coowoz is hard to beat, and its performance is above average for its cost.

the north face base camp voyager - the north face voyager (blue, left) is much smaller than most bags...
The North Face Voyager (blue, left) is much smaller than most bags in our lineup, though it is still easy to use for quick trips.
Credit: Hale Milano

Hale Milano