CGR editor Dave Sarkar tests the versatile, mountain sports pack from TNF to see if he can go faster and further.
The North Face® Men’s Casimir 32 is a light, robust and versatile alpine daypack for go further and faster adventures.
When The North Face Casimir 32 arrived I wondered how it was going to be tested as climbing pack. It didn’t fit the classic shape and had too many added features, but I have found it a very useful pack and the features have also proved useful.
The pack is 32 litres in capacity so plenty big enough for a day out in the mountains, the shape and intended use wasn’t for technical rock climbing so I didn’t test it as such. I could fit a full rack, harness, shoes and chalk bag in. I could also fit in an insulating jacket into the stretch front pouch or the large side pockets. The main stumbling block however was carrying a rope as there was no facility for this.
There are two other packs in the Casamir range with flap style lid in which you could carry a rope on the pack top. These are the Casimir 27 and the Casamir 36 and they are top loading packs with standard lids.
So, I decided to test it as a general mountain pack and it has proved useful for fast paced, on the move mountain activities such as scrambling, hiking, running, mountain biking, alpine glacier sports, snow shoeing and skiing; in fact any activity that doesn’t need a large amount of rope to carry.
The North Face Casimir 32 has a clam shell type (TNF call it bucket style) opening at the top: you unzip the body of the pack to access the inside. This keeps the pack streamlined against the body. The back was adjustable using The North Face Optifit system; this made the pack very easy to adjust to my back length. There is a video explaining it in more detail here:
It is also worth noting that the pack comes in two sizes S/M and M/L, I tested a M/L which was fine for my 1.75m frame. This gave a great fit and I never felt the pack move once I had fitted it specifically for me. The fit was is further enhanced using the very wide hip belt. This had a large mesh, zipped pocket on the left hand side and a weatherproof, zipped pocket on the right hand side. These were easily big enough to fit hats, gloves, phone, GPS and food bars into.
For my preference I found the hip pockets a little too large and they could have streamlined a little, but then that’s the climber in me. I was, however, able to fit a lot of stuff into them that was accessible in the move. The hip belt could be removed, but this wasn’t easy due to its width. The width meant it had a lot of velcro and it was a devil to get off. In fact I only did it once and never bothered again. It was easier to just clip the hip belt around the back of the pack for climbing.
There are five other pockets on the pack, two large side pockets that were great for putting all sorts in. I could easily fit a hardshell in one and my poles in the other. Poles could be secured using one of the ice axe retaining loops. There was a very large front pocket. This was just an open pouch made from a stretchy material that was very useful for putting extra layers in and it meant that I could access jackets without opening the pack. The pocket had a reinforced patch with two slots so that a rear light could be attached for cycling. There was also a pocket that contained a helmet carry cover. This proved useful because if I had to put a helmet into the pack it would take up a lot of room. It worked by pulling out a mesh panel, stretching it over the helmet and clipping it to two loops on the top of the pack. This worked well and kept the helmet secure, it was neatly hidden inside the front pocket.
Finally there is a large, zipped internal pocket. It is designed to be used when the front of the lid opens. It worked reasonably well but tended to be floppy with heavy items in it. I generally want an interior pocket to secure items that are important, namely: wallet, car/house keys and phone. These are items that I’m not going to want during the day but definitely spoil it if they got lost. I didn’t want to stash them in the hip belt pocket and found the inside pocket not secure enough. There is also no key clip, the whole inside pocket was an area that I felt needed further work on it.
There is also a large hydration pouch at the back of the inside, this was plenty big enough for any bladder system you will use. The hose came out of the top and could be secured with a velcro loop inside the pack and further secured with elastic retainers on the shoulder straps. I’m personally not a fan of hydration bladders, but plenty of others are and the system worked really well on The North Face Casimir 32.
The shoulder straps were very comfortable, soft with plenty of mesh for ventilation. The sternum strap worked well and had a built in whistle for emergencies. It was easy to adjust on the shoulder strap and stayed in place.
The pack also had the ability to carry two ice axes with its loops and elastic retaining clips. There were also six reflective loops situated on each side of the body for threading cord through and carrying crampons. Elasticated cord is supplied with the pack, I found that with care it was easier to put them into the front pouch.
In conclusion, The North Face Casimir 32 isn’t a dedicated climbing pack – to be fair it’s not designed as one and there are other packs in the range that would be more suited to technical climbing- but it is a well designed pack that would be great for all other active mountain sports. There are some minor issues with the hip belt fastening and interior pocket but most importantly it is a great carry, it felt secure on my back for tricky descents, hugged me when scrambling and I have found myself using it throughout the season for all my day activities when out on the hill.
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