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.