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Patrol Pack (2000)
Gear Review

Patrol Pack (2000)


Page Type: Gear Review

Object Title: Patrol Pack (2000)

Manufacturer: The North Face

Your Opinion: 
 - 2 Votes


Page By: John

Created/Edited: Dec 20, 2001 / Dec 20, 2001

Object ID: 101

Hits: 4396 


The TNF Patrol Pack has been a staple in the TNF backcountry backpack offering from the late 1990s on. Until the TNF Patrol Pack was introduced, most backcountry skiers carried their skis in the traditional A-Frame style by attaching the two skis to either side of a pack and binding the tips together using a variety of devices including bungee cords, duct tape, etc. The innovation that the Patrol Pack introduced was the ability to carry ones skis mounted parallel to each other straight down the back of the pack. This improved balance by keeping the weight centered and the ends of the skis away from ones legs while climbing. If you remove the utility pod, then this pack becomes a climbing pack with volume large enough to hold climbing gear on an approach hike. The original pack was redesigned as part of a larger redesign of all of TNF's backpacks and led to the 2000 design. The 2000 Patrol Pack design is the first year with the MSA2 backpanel and the last year with the picnic basket.
  • Dynamic X-Frame Suspension is designed to integrate with the back and flex with the body during movement.
  • Carbon Composite Stays are 40% lighter than aluminum - though the squeaking sound they make takes some getting used to.
  • Maximum Surface Area (MSA2) Backpanel provides comfort and support by shaping to fit individual back contours. This really just means that it's semi-detached from the pack, only attached at the sides and bottom.
  • Aerofoam backpanel with breathable wicking mesh to keep you dry and comfy.
  • Backcountry "Norpod" utility pod includes an X-bungee system, a zippered crampon pocket, and an avalance probe sleeve.
  • Durable DuPont 420 Denier High-tenacity nylon-lightweight and tightly woven for water and abrasion resistance, and is twice as strong as regular nylon.
  • Hydration compatible: contains bladder sleeve, hose port and storage.
  • Adjustable sternum strap

  • Rope compression strap under lid
  • Haul handle
  • Double daisy chains on both pack and Norpod utility pod
  • TNF Lifetime guarantee


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JohnUntitled Review

Voted 1/5

Luckily I only owned this pack for 2 weeks, but in that time I took it on a reasonably long class 3 approach hike with a 40 lbs load. This pack has a number of what I would call design flaws that led to sub-optimal performance and a very sore back. I currently own 4 packs and have worked at EMS so I think my rating of this pack is reasonable.

Design Flaws, IMO

  • Suspension: The TNF X-Frame suspension uses two carbon fiber stays arranged in an X and a framesheet. The problem with the 2000 design is that the top of the shoulder straps are not attached to the frame, but the semi-floating MSA2 backpanel. The MSA2 is only attached to the pack at the sides and bottom meaning that your shoulders are only really attached to the pack by the load lifter straps and not to the frame. During long hikes this can become tiring on one's back since the weight is not distributed properly between one's shoulders and hips. My theory is that this happened b/c this is the first year that the MSA2 is used. This is fixed in 2001 Patrol Pack by attaching the top of the shoulder straps to the carbon fiber stays instead of the MSA2 backpanel.
  • Materials: The pack is constructed of tough, but relatively heavy, DuPont High-Tenacity 420D Nylon, 600D / 1000D IronFiberĀ®. While the material is though on the back side of the pack, there is a foamsheet stitched in to presumably protect contents inside the pack from the ski edges that would be pressed up against the contents when the skis are carried along the back. While this extra foam sheet would not be a burden when the pack is fully loaded, it is inconvenient when the pack is empty and the back of the pack tries to hold a shape ill-suited to it's current load. This is fixed in the 2001 Patrol Pack by removing the foam sheet.
  • Utility Pod: The pod only has one layer meaning that if one wants to carry skis along the back of the pack a shovel must be placed right up against the skis without any protection. This is fixed in the 2001 Patrol Pack with 2 layers on the utility pod.
  • Top Lid: TNF call this top lid design the "picnic basket" and it is used on many packs in the TNF 2000 and 2001 product line. The picnic basket top lid is another disappointment in the Patrol Pack as the design with lower vertical storage space near one's head and more farther away leads much of the weight to settle away from one's body. This means the weight on the top of the pack is actually tugging the pack away from your shoulders rather than holding it close. This is fixed in the 2001 pack with the new "Orca" top lid. The 2001 TNF Prophet climbing packs still have the Picnic lid but the 2002 Prophet packs will have an Orca lid as well.
For me, the worst problems were caused by the suspension and the top lid design. Overall, many of the issues I have with this pack have been addressed in the 2001 design which leads me to believe that I'm not the only one that found this pack disappointing. It's comforting to see so many of these issues addressed in the 2001 pack. The 2000 model is a pack to avoid if you can. Stick with the tried and true, the Dana Designs Bomb Pack or, if you really want to avoid A-Frame ski loading, try the 2001 TNF Patrol Pack which has many improvements.

Note: As of Dec 2001, I've still seen many retailers trying to sell this pack on clearance as low as $119.00. During May 2002, I saw this pack on sale for $155.00. During October 2002, Sierra Trading Post is selling this for $139.00.
Posted Dec 20, 2001 5:51 pm

TajjiUntitled Review

Voted 3/5

Now, I may not be as educated as John in backpacks, but I think this is an average pack, with some pros and cons.

I really like the Utility Pod on the Patrol. The cinch section holds my crampons securely and is pretty tough, as I've never damaged it with my spikes. It also has dual loops and velcro straps to hold axes. It also has a av probe pouch, which Ive never used for a probe, but It did make an OK temporary stow for my Raven axe. When used alone, the Pod is great for dayhiking or trail running.

The main pack is a bit small for backpacking. I did take it to the Bighorns for 3 days with little trouble, although I did pick up some accessory side pockets recently.

I thought the pack was pretty comfortable when you get it set up on your hips correctly, even with relatively heavy loads.

OVERALL, I love this pack for alpine ascents/ dayhikes, but I'd rather have something a bit bigger for multiday trips.
Posted May 11, 2005 6:43 pm

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