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The North Face Chimera 18 Backpack | Review

For trail runners and hikers who hate stopping, look no further than this pack from The North Face

Why We Chose The North Face Chimera 18: practical, stable, accessible storage space, efficient to use.

While we’re all for retro styling when the mood strikes, we also love it when outdoor brands serve up something modern; something futuristic and vaguely sci-fi. The Chimera 18 from The North Face is one such product, a backpack made in the present – for the future.

First up, let’s talk about the Chimera 18’s integrated Dyno Cinch System. This clever little feature allows you to minimise the pack’s volume and thus create greater load stability, all while you’re on the go. It essentially involves bungees on each shoulder – one with a toggled cinch on it – which both link up and hook onto the stretch mesh stash pocket across the pack’s front. If you’ve ever been moving fast on the trails and been irritated by a half empty pack bouncing around behind you, this nifty addition is a great, highly efficient, way to rapidly nip such issues in the bud. Together with the sternum clip and light strap around the waist, it creates a pack that will stay right against you even over the most uneven of terrain.

“One of the coolest things about the Chimera 18 is its twist on your standard zipped compartment set-up”

One other nice thing about the Chimera 18 is its twist on your standard zipped compartment set-up. Instead of one big zip going from side to side, across the top, the pack actually has two main zips (one on each flank). One of the zips takes you into the main gut of the pack, while the other takes you to a smaller, secondary, storage compartment. The main benefit of this design is that it makes accessing your kit while on the move a hell of a lot easier (no more frustrating breaks in play where you have to take off your pack to get your coat out). You can just just drop it off one shoulder, swing it round and dive right into the pack via its side.

While we’re on the subject of storage, we’re also big fan of the Chimera 18’s front stash pocket. It’s a good size and a useful place to store additional layers and snacks. On top of that, there are two stretch pockets for, say energy gels, on the shoulder straps, plus two side pockets near your kidneys which are positioned to allow you to slip your water bottle in and out while on the go. For thirsty outdoor folk, there’s also a sneakily implemented external hydration sleeve to fit a medium-sized bladder.

Final thing to say on tech is that the FlashDry back panel, which is an curved, mesh-covered foam with ventilation holes cut into it, manages to be both breathable and quick drying. Thanks to that ergonomic shape, it also sits very comfortably, even when you’re gunning it down a mountainside.

All-in-all, we think both trail runners and speedy hikers will certainly appreciate this daypack from The North Face.

The Chimera 18's stash pocket gives you quick access to extra layers. Photo: Chris Johnson
We found the Dyno Cinch System to be highly effective. Photo: Chris Johnson
The FlashDry back panel is both breathable and quick drying. Photo: Chris Johnson

Tester’s Verdict

Hannah Morris, Peak District climber

“I’ve used this on a few long runs and have been impressed. The back support seems really breathable and I haven’t had any issues with any rubbing. I really like that it has lots of little storage pockets that I can get to without taking it off and that there’s an elasticated pocket on the straps which fits my phone in. I wasn’t sure I’d run with it all that much as I’m pretty picky about comfort but I’m really surprised by how comfortable it is. I can see myself reaching for it over my smaller Montane hydration vest – it’s much more stable when loaded with my water bottles but just as lightweight. It would make a great hiking pack for the same reasons – super lightweight and comfortable and really ventilating through the back panel.”

The Montane Light-Speed jacket and North Face Chimera bag in use on Mynydd Llangynidr. Photo: Chris Johnson

The North Face Chimera 18

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