Confused with which one to go for? While both the backpacks, North Face Borealis and North Face Jester are insanely popular amongst high schoolers and everyday commuters, one can’t help but notice the aesthetics and the top-notch quality of its craftsmanship.
The Jester and the Borealis are tough, durable, and packed with features. On the surface, they may look very similar but they have quite a few differences that can missed by the naked eye.
In this article, we will be breaking down both of these backpacks and have a little side-by-side comparison. If you have a tough time choosing one from the Jester and the Borealis, then you have come to the right place. We assure you that by the end of this article, you will have made up your mind.
North Face Borealis vs Jester Backpack
Note: Apart from size, both male and female versions of North Face backpacks are almost the same. Also in the pictures, the backpack on the left-hand side is Borealis while the Jester is on the right.
Features and Specifications
|North Face Jester||North Face Borealis|
|Volume||27 Liters (Mens)|
22 Liters (Womens)
|28 Liters (Mens)|
28 Liters (Womens)
|Weight||2 lbs||2.12 lbs|
|Fabric||Recycled Polyester||Nylon Ripstop|
|Laptop Pocket||Mens: Up to 15″|
Womens: Up to 14″
|Up to 15″ laptop|
|Elastic Bungee Storage||Yes||Yes|
Capacity and Size
Both the men’s Borealis and the Jester have an internal carrying capacity of around 28 liters. While the carrying capacity is the same, the Borealis is a little bit bigger. While the Jester offers a slimmer fit, the Borealis tends to be wide and stick out more when worn.
When it comes to women’s sizes, there’s a huge difference between the Jester and the Borealis. The Jester is a lot smaller at only 22 liters while the Borealis is at 28 liters, same as the men’s variant.
Here’s what a user from Reddit had to say:
Backpack Carrying Capacities in Liters:
Women’s Borealis: 27L
Men’s Borealis: 28L
Women’s Jester: 22L
Men’s Jester: 28L
With capacities of almost close to 30 liters, both the Jester and the Borealis serve as excellent outdoor bags for camping, treks, rucking, and a lot more. If you are looking for a travel backpack with a larger carrying capacity, you can check out the Nomatic 40L Travel Bag.
When you buy a North Face backpack, be assured that it will be filled with pockets and compartments for you to organize. Both the Jester and the Borealis consist of a front compartment with different pockets, a laptop compartment/sleeve, and a water bottle holder.
The Jester and the Borealis are also perfect candidates for OneBag Travel packing because of their size and the ability to organize with different compartments.
While both backpacks have numerous pockets in the front compartment, the Borealis has more pockets than the Jester. The Borealis also features an additional fleece-lined pocket for your smartphone or sunglasses as well as a larger slip pocket for your tablet. And both backpacks also feature smaller pockets for notepads and pens.
The Jester lacks the larger slip pocket made for storing your tablet. And quite a lot of the pockets are made from mesh as opposed to the sturdy Borealis pockets. The problem with mesh is that they are more prone to tears if a sharp or semi-sharp object is stored in the pocket. Also, a Redditor has pointed out that the Jester’s front compartment tends to spill out if you open the main compartment.
Main Compartment and the Laptop Pocket
Both the main compartments of the Borealis and the Jester are pretty robust in size and depth. Now although the bags may be similar, the key difference between them is that the Borealis has a separate laptop compartment from the outside while the Jester has a laptop sleeve inside the main compartment. Both the laptop pockets have a feature a false bottom to prevent the bottom of the laptop from reaching the bottom of the bag. This gives your tech extra protection in case of a bump or drop.
You can fit a laptop up to 15 inches in both backpacks. If you are feeling brave, you can fit a slightly larger laptop in the Borealis. Here’s an experience from a Redditor who tried doing just that:
This is how the laptop compartment in the Borealis looks like:
If you are not a fan of rummaging through all the endless items in your backpack just to get to the laptop, then the Borealis is perfect for you because of its external laptop compartment. Also, another nifty little feature of the Borealis is that you can turn the laptop compartment into a hydration bladder. This makes a lot of sense if you intend to use the Borealis for camping, rucking, or other outdoorsy activities.
Water Bottle Pockets
Both the backpacks feature a water bottle pocket (thankfully) but the difference in their quality is quite large. The Borealis’ water bottle pocket is made from the same material (more on that in the next section) that is used for the whole backpack. But the Jester’s water bottle pocket is made from mesh. In Jester’s case, the material is prone to tear if it happens to get snagged by a nearby sharp object or a branch/twig.
The major difference between the Borealis and the Jester is the quality of the material used. Basically, the Borealis is made of higher quality material while the Jester is made of cheaper materials. Hence, the price difference between them. While the Jester may consistently be under $80, don’t let that fact make you dismiss Jester as a viable option. It might be made from cheaper material but North Face is known for its craftsmanship and quality.
The Borealis is made out of nylon ripstop fabric. Nylon ripstop is a lightweight nylon fabric that is used typically for reinforcing fabric in products or clothes made to be worn in extreme conditions. Not to forget the fact that it’s even more reinforced with a water-repelling coat. It’s suffice to say that the Borealis is one hell of a backpack for the great outdoors.
The Jester is made entirely out it recycled polyester. While the quality of the overall backpack may not stand up to the Borealis, you can think of it as an environmentally friendly option. It also makes the Jester way lighter than the Borealis.
What drives the distinction further between the Jester and the Borealis is that most of the pockets in the Borealis are lined. This means your belongings are further protected and less prone to scratches or impacts. And in Jester’s case, most of the pockets are made out of mesh. As we mentioned earlier, mesh can be highly susceptible to tears and you really don’t want to deal with a torn pocket in the middle of a hike.
Now coming on to the zippers. Often overlooked, zippers can make or break your backpack. Many times people have taken the quality of the zippers lightly only to find the zipper broken after a couple of uses. And it can be really annoying if the zipper breaks during rainfall and you have to trudge your backpack along while making sure that the contents do not get wet.
The Borealis consists of YKK Zippers. To the uninitiated, YKK Zippers are top-of-the-line zipper technology that has a self-locking mechanism. All the top-shelf backpack and gear brands use YKK Zippers. GORUCK, who has been making backpacks that stand the test of time, use YKK Zippers.
Meanwhile, the Jester comes with cheaper SBS Zippers. It is important to note that since they are cheaper, that does not mean it’s of poor quality. They are fairly durable but just not up to par with the YKK Zippers.
North Face offers a limited lifetime warranty on all of its products. In all honesty, there’s nothing much to worry about this when it comes to North Face. Both the Borealis and the Jester will last you for quite some time. And in case of damage, North Face will cover it under their warranty.
Here are some users reporting positive experiences with North Face’s Warranty services:
To know more, we suggest taking a quick glance at North Face’s fine print.
The North Face FlexVent Suspension System
Apart from sounding a little dramatic, the FlexVent system also makes both backpacks very comfortable for longer durations under heavier loads. Basically, it encompasses the entire back panels and the shoulder straps.
Even though they both feature the FlexVent System, they are quite different from each other. The Borealis offers additional lumbar support, which proves useful when your backpack becomes heavy. In summary, if you’re seeking a backpack with the utmost back support, opt for the Borealis.
In terms of shoulder straps, the Borealis employs superior and more durable materials for its shoulder straps. However, both backpacks provide a similar level of comfort when worn. The shoulder straps on both packs have a firm feel, and neither one feels notably more cushioned than the other, despite the variation in materials.
Both the Borealis and Jester come with an adjustable chest strap, but only the Borealis offers the added feature of a removable waist belt.
Rest assured, regardless of the backpack you choose, both the Jester and the Borealis are super comfortable. The comfort level of a backpack can make or break a user’s experience. But in this regard, you’ll find it very difficult to say ‘No’ to a North Face backpack after you try one of these.
There’s no particular winner here.
Two sides to a perfectly balanced coin.
The Borealis is tougher, more durable, and larger. But also a little bit bulky and pricey.
- With a modern refresh, this classic 28-liter backpack for stashing your gear quickly and hitting the road now offers updated features and an improved suspension system for all-day comfort. The main compartment features a padded, highly-protective laptop sleeve and the front compartment is equipped with a tablet sleeve to protect and organize your electronics. Finished with easy-access, stretch-mesh water bottle pockets and an external bungee cord that allows you lash on additional gear.
- The FlexVent suspension system features a flexible yoke built from custom injection-molded shoulder straps, a padded mesh back panel and a breathable lumbar panel. Dedicated, highly protective 15" laptop compartment. 360 degree reflective bike-light loop, water bottle tabs and shoulder strap webbing. Two extended mesh water bottle pockets can easily double as multi-use pockets with quick-draw cell-phone access on one side. External, fleece-lined pocket for sunglasses or electronics.
- Updated front elastic bungee system for external storage. Comfortable padded top handle. Sternum strap with whistle buckle. Removable waist belt. 600D polyester. 19.75" X 13.25" X 9.75". Imported.
While the Jester is slightly small but tough. A sleek look for less than $80.
- JESTER CLASSIC. Endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association, our classic Women's Jester pack stands up on its own and has a padded laptop sleeve and simplified organization.
- FLEXVENT TECHNOLOGY. The FlexVent suspension system features a flexible yoke built from custom injection-molded and flexible shoulder straps, a padded mesh back panel and a breathable lumbar panel for comfortable, ventilated support.
- TOTAL ORGANIZATION. A front compartment simplifies organization while maintaining storage essentials with secure-zip pockets, a tablet sleeve and key clip. On the outside, it has two water bottle pockets and a front bungee system for additional storage.
- If you are scoping out North Face and want to see what the brand is all about, go for the Jester. It’s cheaper and will give you an insight into North Face’s craftsmanship.
- If you are looking for a backpack purely for outdoor purposes, go for the Borealis. It’s tough, durable, and has more compartments. It will last you for years even with heavy rainfall. There won’t be any tears in the fabric due to its reinforced nylon ripstop fabric. Also, it’s a lot more comfortable for longer trails, hikes or fucking adventures.
- If you are looking for a EDC backpack for school, go for the Jester. It’s comfortable on your shoulders and you’ll be able to lug those textbooks around like it’s nothing. You can also double it as a workout bag. With almost 28L in volume, it serves as an all-in-one backpack for school+gym.
- For the ladies, we would suggest going for the Borealis since the women’s variant of the Jester is too small. Or you can keep things simple and go for the men’s variant instead.
All in all, we guarantee that you will have a positive experience with North Face. The Jester and the Borealis have been used by many for almost a decade. Both the backpacks have stood their ground over the years and haven’t disappointed many.
Last update on 2023-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API