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That's simply elastic cord threaded through tie out loops on your bag. It's used to lash everything that can't fit inside your bag (extra layers/jacket), things that you don't want inside your bag (wet/muddy clothes or sharp pokey crampons), or things that you want quick access to onto the outside of your bag (wind breaker/gaiters/rain jacket). When I'm ...
According to the features list for The North Face Men's Borealis Pack, that is called a: Front elastic bungee for external storage
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