The North Face make no-nonsense, well thought-out products and the Hammerhead takes advantage of being designed around trail runners as well as cyclists. It’s a good, well-considered pack.
A frame with mesh backing supports the pack and holds it away from your back for ventilation. A slight downside is that you lose some internal space, although at 12 litres there is still plenty of room. The pack's footprint is long and slim, and the shoulder harness is anchored well below the top for a snug fit.
Non-absorbent E-VAP foam shoulder, chest and waist straps are perforated to improve breathability and work well with the mesh trampoline back panel to reduce sweaty patches.
The waist strap could do with being thicker, but the chest strap is perfect – even having a magnetic patch for the hose to stick on, instead of waving around irritatingly. The bladder is a simple three-litre affair with removable hose and lockout.
The large main compartment swallowed pretty much all our gear, and a secondary organiser pocket means you won’t lose your tyre levers. The external stretch-woven side pockets keep small items secure and easily accessible, although you have to be flexible to get at them without removing the pack. While there’s potential to overload the Hammerhead, it's a very stable pack.