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North Face Crank 25
Fluid Capacity: 100oz/3L
Cargo Capacity: 1525 cubic inches/25 liters
Colors Available: Black/asphalt grey, bomber blue/asphalt grey, jacuzzi blue plaid (tested)
Weight: 2lbs 2oz
Helmet compatible? Yes, assuming The North Face means a typical XC-style mountain bike helmet when they say “Skull Bucket.” The outer pocket houses an XC helmet quite well, and the upper compression straps will do for toting a full-face, too.
Media pocket? There is a fleece-lined slash pocket near the top, but it doesn’t have a headphone port, or any kind of weather-resistant closure.
Pros: Are you that rider who figures if it’s a good idea to carry a spare chain link, it’s a better idea to carry spare chain? This is the pack for you. There’s enough room to haul a spare drivetrain, the tools to install it and still enough room for a bag of chips. And that’s just in the main compartment. There’s also a “smaller” secondary compartment that’s about as big as the average hydration pack’s entire storage space. If you can’t fit everything inside, there are also two compression straps dangling from the bottom for pads and such.
The Crank 25 uses a Source reservoir with the usual benefits of wide-mouth access for cleaning and filling, as well as a twist-lock bite valve that doesn’t seem to leak and isn’t prone to getting knocked open during transport. There is also a removable magnetic clip for hose management that is powerful enough to keep the hose affixed.
Bigger riders will like the fit of this pack, as at 6’3″ it feels like I’m almost on the smaller end of its fit spectrum.
General quality is what you’d expect from The North Face, which is to say it’s good.
Cons: The Crank 25 seems to essentially be one of The North Face’s hiking/skiing packs that’s been re-marketed a mountain bike pack. Cool for larger riders who need a huge amount of cargo space, but in my opinion it’s simply too big for trail riding. Not so much the amount of storage, but the amount of torso real estate it takes up; at 6’3″ it felt like it covered my entire back from traps to lumbar. So with any rider smaller than 6-feet tall, and chances are this pack will all but engulf you.
Like most ski packs and hiking packs, there isn’t a stitch of reflective material on the Crank 25, nor is there a loop to clip on a tail light.
Bottom line: Glad to see a company like The North Face take interest in our sport, but with so many great hydration pack options already available, they’ll have to try a little harder than seemingly re-marketing an existing pack designed for an entirely different activity. Until then, I’m sticking with my old pack over this one.