Marketing departments rarely dip into metaphysics when promoting a product. But with its new Tree Hugger 32, an eco-minded backpack design, The North Face touts "good karma" as an attribute alongside pack capacity and compression straps.
Karmic repercussions or not, the $149 backpack is something of an eco feat. The Tree Hugger is built with recycled polyester webbing, recycled plastic buckles, recycled foam, and a unique sustainable wool fabric that adds a classic touch.
For me, the wool fabric was the main attraction when picking out this pack. Its rough weave and retro look conjure a style rarely seen in the world of the rucksack.
The company (www.thenorthface.com) adds a rip-stop stitch pattern to the wool to prevent tears. It is durable and water resistant.
In use, the Tree Hugger is a simple daypack good for hiking and climbing. It has few bells and whistles. There are open exterior pockets, a main compartment, a hydration-reservoir pouch, and straps to attach trekking poles or an ice ax.
The pack lacks zippers, has no pocket on the top flap, and leaves off hip-belt pockets in favor of webbing where you can clip a water bottle or climbing gear. It has no frame, only a flexible sheet in the back panel to give support.
In my use, the Tree Hugger could comfortably tote loads of 30 pounds or more. It has a comfortable back panel and adjusted easily on my 6-foot, 1-inch frame.
Caveat: The company sells the Tree Hugger in only one size. Try it on before buying if possible. It adjusts to work with a range of body types, but your height and torso length will determine fit.
When empty, the Tree Hugger weighs just less than three pounds. Its internal volume of about 2,000 cubic inches is enough capacity for a day's journey outside.
Overall, the Tree Hugger is a solid pack for day hikes, moderate climbing, and everyday use. But because of its lack of a few technical features, it is not my go-to pack for serious adventures.
The Tree Hugger is cool. On the trail, the wool fabric will turn heads. Who knows, some extra karma may result.
--Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.