Patrol Pack (2001-2002)


Page Type Gear Review
Object Title Patrol Pack (2001-2002)
Manufacturer The North Face
Page By John
Page Type Jan 27, 2002 / Jan 27, 2002
Object ID 126
Hits 3665
The redesigned 2001 Patrol Pack is a pack for gadget lovers and has just about every possible gadget that you can think of on it for convenience and easy access. In addition to many new pack features, the X-Frame Suspension and MSA2 Backpanel have been tweaked so this should be considered a "first-year" model for the suspension system.
  • Top-loading pack features side panel access to pack contents while skis or board are mounted
  • Fully adjustable top lid, with small zip pocket, allows access to lid contents while skis or board are mounted on pack
  • Adjustable shoulder straps with color-coded load lifters and hip compression straps allow for easy identification
  • Built to carry skis and snowboard, the Utility Pod mounts skis A-frame style or down the pack face; pod drops down to carry board fin style
  • Reservoir sleeve, hose port and hose storage for a hydration system; holds up to 100 fl. oz. hydration bladder, sold separately
  • Dual water bottle pockets are large enough for storing NalgeneĀ® bottles filled with extra water or food
  • Tool loops on waistbelt for quick, accessible gear storage
  • Independent suspension backpanel is connected to the pack by stretch components, allowing suspension to stay conformed to you instead of the pack
  • Two carbon fiber stays and a breathable Aerofoamā„¢ backpanel combine to create an X-shaped frame that allows the pack to move with the body
  • Carbon composite stays are 40% percent lighter than aluminum, are stiffer, and are engineered for flexibility
  • Stronger than standard nylon, this pack's 420-denier high-tenacity nylon is lightweight and tightly woven for water- and abrasion-resistance


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John - Jan 27, 2002 11:27 pm - Voted 4/5

Untitled Review
This pack has so many convenient and useful features that it's a shame that TNF is still working on tweaking the X-Frame suspension (updated from 2000 design). It's interesting to note that the 2002 Prophet climbing packs use yet another new (old) configuration of the X-Frame. In the 2000-2002 Patrol Pack and 2001 Prophet packs, the bottom ends of the carbon fiber stays are attached to the pack. In the first generation of these packs, e.g. TNF JetStream, the stays were anchored directly on the hip belt which is the case again in the TNF 2002 Prophet packs. It seems like TNF can't make up their mind.


  1. Carries Skis Very Well: When you are carrying skis on this, you don't even realize that you have skis on your back - just weight. My ski tails never hit my calves while hiking uphill or climbing. Hiking downhill, they'd occasionally hit my legs - but not very often. I've used this on two short ski trips to Round Top and Lassen Peak. In both cases I carried my ski boots in the pack up the mountain. The pack worked well on both trips but the hike to the top was relatively short on both trips.
  2. Side-Access Zipper: A side access, heavy duty YKK #10 zipper is probably the best thing about this pack. It enables quick access to the pack contents w/o having to lift the top lid. The zipper runs from the top of the pack down to the top of the water bottle pocket which works well since it's easy to tuck a Nalgene 1 liter bottle inside the pack for easy access. The zipper / opening is also large enough that it's easy to remove and insert a 300-weight fleece jacket which is nice. This works well with the clip-release compression straps.
  3. Clip-Release Compression Straps: Each of the 6 side compression straps has a quick release buckle. These are very useful for gaining access to the side-access zipper and quickly attaching things like a OR Crampon Pouch or GoreTex parka in an inverted U on a descent hike after the sun comes up. The clip-release also allows me to quickly slide it through some loop in the garment to "lock" it in place without using a carabiner. If you are attaching axes or poles, you can also use the middle compression strap to help lock them down. Incidentally, these are also excellent for strapping on MSR Ascent snowshoes on the sides. For the MSR snowshoes, the 3 compression straps fit almost perfectly through slots in the snowshoe.
  4. Water Bottle Pocket Cord-locks: There is an X-bungee style cordlock on the waterbottle pockets. While the pockets are large enough for Nalgene bottles, I tend to use a 0.5 liter commercial spring water bottle with a soda style opening. The cord is long enough to loop around the neck of this bottle to ensure it won't fall out.
  5. MSA2 Backpanel: I'm not a huge fan of the MSA2 Backpanel, but during a rain storm, the detached nature of the panel allows it to get soaked away from the pack contents - which is useful for keeping the inside of the pack drier.


  1. Suspension: For me, the suspension kills the shoulders on strenuous trips. For light loads over short distances this pack is tolerable though it feels just a little off. The carbon-fiber stays cannot be bent / molded to one's back the same way aluminum ones can which means the pack will never be custom fit to your back. Also the top of the MSA2 backpanel feels like a flat board that's been strapped to my shoulder blades. I didn't really run into any problems except mild discomfort on Mount Harrington and Mount Meru, but carrying a 30 lbs load up Kilimanjaro was quite different. On summit day, my shoulders were so sore at Stella Point (18,700 ft / 5,700 m) that I thought about ditching my pack. Luckily I made the summit after removing 2 liters of water. I don't think one should succumb at altitude due to sore shoulders. I'm not too crazy about the X-Frame though I remember being intruiged by it when it "first" appeard in the late 1990's in some of their Spectra material climbing packs. At the time I had heard that TNF used this type of suspension in the past and it had been discontinued for some time. I'm not sure why they revived it - just to have something different for marketing reasons? Perhaps they should just go to something simple but works?
  2. Utility Pod: Though this now has 2 layers to separate skis from a shovel, it uses fabric over a harder material, similar to a baseball cap lid. Since the skis are placed on the pack vertically, placing a hard flat material against the ski edges doesn't seem appropriate. Something like a double Dana Designs BeaverTail Shovit pocket with Hypalon would seem to work better.
Overall, a very well thought out pack with lots of nice and useful features. This pack works okay with light loads on short distances, but unfortunately, the suspension doesn't really work too well for me and that's the main reason for having a pack. For my back, my 1997 Dana Designs Bomb Pack has a better suspension and was very comfortable on my Mount Shasta, Mount Adams, and Half Dome overnights. In fact, I think the Dana Designs "Killer B" frame is excellent and handles loads very well. The only reason I've started trying out the TNF Patrol Packs is for ski mountaineering and to check out some of the new "gadgets" (which I do like). Perhaps I'll try out the Arc'Teryx Borea / Khamski packs next since I don't think the 2001 Patrol Pack is a great solution for me. I'll be anxious to see how long this TNF suspension / backpanel design lasts.

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