REVIEW: The North Face Flight Trail Running Vest Pack

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man standing looking out at the sunset on a mountain top wearing all black with a The North Face trail running vest pack.

A review by Hanny Allston

A quick introduction from a pack-wary runner:

Eight years ago, my husband, Graham, gifted me my fist trail running vest pack and I was so grumpy about it. ‘I don’t run with packs! In fact, I will do any adventure so long as I don’t have to carry a pack!’ In my mind’s eye I was taken back to my first trail running race – the 82km Overland Track through the heart of Tasmania. Chaffed raw, whipped & lashed from the waist belt rubbing across my back, I soon after became a convert to ‘packless’ missions and races. However, one short run with my new vest pack and I was an avid fan – no bouncing, no chaffing, no swinging or swaying. It snugged to my body and changed the way I would play forever.

The North Face Flight 8L Trail Running Vest Pack 

The new The North Face Flight Trail Running Vest Pack is the bees-knees of vest packs. With 8 liters of gear carrying capacity, the space for two 500ml soft flasks (water bottles) and the added option of carrying a bladder, this vest pack is oh-so versatile. Let me explain:

Fit
The North Face Flight Vest Pack fits incredibly snug to the body. The fabric is definitely stretchy but far less-so than other popular vest packs like those from Salomon. I was worried about this firmer fit for two reasons - I didn’t want to ever feel like I was carrying a pack; and secondly that the fabric needed to have ample stretch enough to fit everything on my wilder missions. I can say that The North Face nailed their fabric choice and fit. No bounce, tight fitting but still with adequate stretch. If anything, I am stoked that the fabric is stiffer because it holds all my equipment tighter to my body, thus reducing the sway of the pack when it is more full.

Water Carrying Capacity
The pack has two front pockets for 500ml soft flasks. This gives it an instant 1L fluid carrying capacity and I love that the pockets sit quite high on your chest, well away from your nipples and within easy reach when you need a drink. What I also love about this vest pack is that unlike most small packs, including the popular Salomon Sense Ultra series, this vest can take a 1.5 - 2L reservoir in the main rear compartment. This is an ideal feature of hotter summer runs where fluid capacity is more important than carrying warm gear.

The north face trail running vest pack close up of pockets, whistle, and the north face logo

Pocket placements
This is where this pack really begins to win! All the gripes I have had with other vest pack designs have been carefully rectified in this vest pack. The pack has: 

  • Two small zip pockets on the chest area for essential valuables like car keys.
  • Well placed feed sacks on the front that are easy to access and not overly stretchy. This means when they are full they don’t wobble like a bad thing.
  • Two well placed zip pockets under the arms that stretch further backwards than in most packs. This means larger, flatter items like your phone can be zippered safely inside and kept well out of harm’s way from your swinging arms.
  • A long, narrow rear pocket that is accessible from both sides. This pocket is ideal for tucking your wet rain jacket inside, or removing your gloves and stuffing them easily into it from each side, or removing your cap and shoving it away quickly. This pocket would also be a great space for carrying extra soft flasks if required. Easy to access, it really is a great addition to this vest pack.
  • Finally, the large main pocket can hold plenty of gear. Once in there, the taught fabric prevents your gear from bouncing as you run. I have been putting my safety equipment in a small 4L Sea to Summit Dry Sack and placing it in this large pocket. 

Colour
Jet black with a large and blazing night-reflective North Face Logo, this pack looks SEXY! It shouldn’t be about looks but sorry, it definitely makes you feel good when you pull it on and head out the door. 

The back of The North Face trail running vest pack, features The North Face logo

Unisex Sizing
This pack uses unisex sizing. I am always a women’s small (or a women’s #8-10 in tops). I am comfortably wearing a small in this The North Face Flight Trail Running Vest Pack. My husband is a men’s small and whilst he can fit into my pack, he would be more comfortable in a medium. So here is my suggestion for choosing your size:

 

The North Face Flight Vest Pack Sizing

Women’s standard sizing (Aus)

Men’s standard size (Aus)

# Small

#8 - 10

A very small men’s Small

# Medium

#12

Standard men’s Small – a smaller men’s Medium 

# Large

#14 +

The upper-side of men’s Medium to a men’s Large

 

 

Downsides?

There really are not any negatives to do with the design of this pack. It is sleek, practical and super comfortable. However, a downside is that thanks to the attention to detail & great choice of fabrics the pack is slightly more expensive than many others, retailing in Australia for $249.95. The other issue is that it doesn’t come with soft flasks or a bladder. However, I am just using the Salomon 500ml Soft Flasks and this has worked perfectly for me. 

In summary, I absolutely love The North Face Flight Trail Running Vest Pack! Long-gone are my fearful cries of, ‘I don’t wear packs!’ I am now running in this pack on a near-daily basis. From listening to podcasts and carrying my house key, to long wintery missions in Tasmania’s mountains, the pack joins me on many mornings. It is the perfect size, fit and practical vest pack for all my wildest trail running needs. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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