The North Face Cinder Pack 40l review

By Chris


The North Face Cinder Pack is a pack made from climbers for all other climbers. So they say. And it was my mission to make it face the most rugged conditions outside.

The 40 l Cinder Pack

The Cinder is a  simple Pack, a cross between a haul bag and a  cragging bag. And it’s all simplified so you won’t have to constantly worry if you had the lid closed, or if any zippers are opened, or fear that you will lose something when you’re high up some big wall (or crags with uncomfortable belay points) coz this Pack does not have any of these. The pack brings along these


  • Stands up on its own for easy loading
  • Roll-top closure
  • Removable rope carry for easy gear management
  • Removable hip belt
  • Metal buckles
  • Load-bearing haul loops
  • Stash pocket with a hook for your car keys
  • Removable frame sheet
  • weighs 1460 g
  • 40 litres

The Fabric is made out of a durable 840D PU-coated nylon that does not shy of any sharp rocks and thorny bushes. This top loader allows you to throw everything in and then pull in the straps at both sides to close the pack. It takes a little time to get used to it, if you’ve been using a pack with a lid all these years. There’s a handle in the middle of the pack, 3 Load bearing Haul loops are sewn in. A small zip stash pocket keeps all your valuables in, like your purse and mobile. The hip belt keeps the pack in place and it comes with a metal buckle. They chose metal instead of plastic for longer life lasting.



The usual TNF quality. Good and durable. Nothing will quite destruct this pack. The material used is water-resistant, it is coated with an extra finish to keep the contents dry even after a short shower. The manufacture is well done, nothing frays or are sewn out-of-place. The zipper which  gives access to the stash pocket without opening the pack lets you get the important things out in a jiff. However, with longer exposure to heavy rains, you might get some wet contents through that zipper.  There’s a rescue whistle at the chest straps incase you want to draw attention to your whereabouts.


It took me a while to get the adjustments right for my back, and once this was done and the pack is really resting on my hips, this was by far the best climbing pack I’ve carried while taking a longer access to the crags (abt 1 hr) The metal buckle at the hips felt cold and unfriendly, I jumped every time it touched my uncovered belly. But the buckles go all the way to the padded hip belts for me, so that solved the problem of the cold touch. The buckle would probably outlive the pack itself. The shoulder pads were well padded too, making the weight on your back with a rope and draws bearable on longer distances. The hip belt is removable, should you find this disturbing on alpine climbs. cinder_pack4


There are two ways to carry your rope. You can either fiddle it all in the top loader, or gather it up and throw it over the pack and securing it with the extra belt included. The side belts assure you that the rope does not slip off when the access gets a little more rough.  This top loader is really simple. Everything goes in through the top loader, and out from there too. Fold twice and close by pulling the straps at the sides down. Simple as that. The North Face says the pack stands on its own. Of course, it only stands upright when your contents are distributed evenly without causing it to tip, and when placed on leveled ground.   The extra handle right in the middle of the pack makes it easy to relocate the pack quickly while you’re moving from one route to the other. We took used our 80 m rope most of the time with this pack. It was quite a fiddle in to get everything inside  (ropes too) but if you don’t take all your wardrobe along (like me), it would be just nice. Personally, I think 45 l would be better to handle bringing extra clothing for cooler temperatures. Nobody climbs seriously in the hot bleaching sun in a bikini, do they? And if you do, you’ll need just your shoes. So yes, I need my down or extra fleece and maybe an extra pair of shoe.

What I liked:

  • Light! But not ultra light.
  • Great on access with a Via-Ferrata and when you have to look up often. The Bag closes below your head, giving you ample freedom to look up, even with a helmet.
  • compressible to a very flat pack when you don’t have much content.
  • The E-VAP perforated foam panels at the back assures that enough air circulates while you sweat it out
  • Freedom of movement. Nothing gets in the way while you gesticulate in a frenzy.
  • You can leave the top loader open to accommodate the item of contents should it grow bulky along the way. ( you might suddenly find tons of mushrooms to bring home ;-)

What could be better:

  • The interior pocket could’ve been bigger. A large purse and  a bigger smart phone will not fit in together, which meant outsourcing them into the pack and finding it right at the bottom of all the gear. I have tons of other stuffs with me: Lip balm, sunglasses, pocket knife, lighter… Great if there’s one big pouch to hold them all.
  • While thin padded hip belts help relief your back, putting the weight on your hips, this sees it’s limited when you have lots of heavy gear and a long heavy rope.
  • For a sucker that carries half her outdoor wardrobe and photo equipment around, I thought 45 l would be the perfect volume for me.

Cinder Pack 40

Bottom Line:

Definitely a pack to get if you’re not taking your whole wardrobe along. Carries everything in and simplifies a standard hiking/trekking back pack to a minimum. The North Face Cinder Pack has seen showers, been through a tough access on old broken Via-Ferrata, stood off uneven grounds, and braved thorny bushes and sweat on long hikes. And so far, it has become my favourite pack to bring along for climbs.

The pack comes in 40 l and 55 l and costs 129,95 € List price for the 40 l model. You can get it at  The North Face Online Shop

You might like to browse through other models of backpacks I have reviewed in the past.

[Disclosure: I have received product samples for my time and efforts in reviewing this product and creating this article, thanks to The North Face. All thoughts and opinions are my own. ]