Gear Review: Northface Aleia 32 RC Women's Backpack

I can’t ever remember hiking and adventuring with a proper backpack that fit really well. Back when I bought my first “big purchase” pack for gallivanting around Europe, I recall purchasing the one that fit the best as possible out of – oh – what seemed like 50 I tried! And back in 1998 I don’t think I saw a “woman’s” backpack where I was shopping. Now, I did backpack Europe 4 weeks post crushed tib/fib so in all fairness all my discomforts probably rolled into one giant “I don’t care – I am going to Europe for 3 months.”  whatever it may be, I just couldn’t get that sucker to fit my curves well. Curves have always been a problem for fitting various pieces of technical equipment. My body type is more along the lines of Marilyn Monroe {missed my era it would appear!}  So all along I have made due with what I have and it didn’t seem to hold me back from going and doing anyway.

Officially – this Northface women’s backpack is my first kick at the can with a gender specific pack. The choices were grey and pink or purple and grey. I chose the grey with the small pops of pink. It shouldn’t matter – the colour – I was after function, but I just felt the grey was less girly. Here’s the thing – I want technical gear to fit my womanly shape, but I don’t need my technical equipment to scream “I am woman – hear me roar” either – I do that enough myself.  Blue – I would prefer blue! Or green. In any case – clothing / accessories can be pretty, fun and cheerful, but leave my skis, bikes, packs, snowshoes, etc – just neutral colours. Those don’t need to be pink or have hibiscus flowers all over them. Maybe I am alone in this opinion!?

Colour aside – it took me a bit to figure out the fit. I wasn’t used to straps that hugged AROUND my boobs. In fact, I am used to straps smushing my boobs, creating the famous uni-boob, the sneaky, scrunched side boob or that very handsome “boob to belly forget you have a waist” look. If I am to be direct!

Once I had the fit down, I started digging around all the nooks and crannies to see what this bag was all about. It had all the necessary bells and whistles:

  • Roomy 32 litres hold capacity
  • Hip belt pockets – LOVE these – perfect for lip balm, small sunscreen, iPhone 🙂
  • Mesh back panel
  • Adjustable (up & down) chest bone strap – YES!
  • Tons and tons of pockets

I took this on several excursions this summer – fishing and hiking. It worked well for organizing my fishing gear – easy and accessible. I also took it on a day long hike over 18 kms and experienced a comfortable trip with this pack. I found it packed really well – I would like to see the larger section open more than three quarters to full zip – but that is minor really. The only other thing, both my hiking partner and I noticed was that, although the portion of the pack against my back was ventilated, it was still touching directly to my lower back and causing a lot of sweat – ew! Compared to my partner’s pack which was set about an inch or two away from her lower back, I concluded that “no touch” zone of space was a nice feature to have. It didn’t really affect my comfort or performance in the end – I just looked like I worked harder 🙂  Which I totally did anyway – right Carolyn!?

There were two other noticeable features lacking in the pack for me personally if I am to use this pack throughout winter. First, I realized I really do like having those bungy cord straps across the front of the pack. I feel I use those on my other packs quite a bit for random stuff – like attaching snowshoes, a helmut, extra water or nordic ski boots. I also noticed that it has a place to strap poles nicely, however – I am interested in the bondage needed to tie up skis on each side if required.

All in all – a comfortable, efficient pack suitable for hiking and multi day trips as it is described for. I am happy to have it and will use it often based on the comfort and how much you can tuck away in it. It is the perfect size actually – it forces you to pack smart and keep your weight down. Plus it is super light itself. All the nooks / pockets make organizing easy.

If you are interested in this backpack – feel free to go over and visit our friends at – they have launched their store in Canada and it is a real treat to explore all the other available gear.

Got questions? Let me know ~


0 Responses


    “Wow! Really nice backpack with good capacity and size. The design with back strap padded design is very pleasing for women.
    Is it suitable for carrying laptop too! I want to buy a backpack that supports a laptop for long trip.