While gathering all my gear and preparing for my recent trip to Nepal I came to the conclusion that I was going to need a new pack. My trust 50L pack was coming up just a bit on the small side, and my 95L expedition pack seemed like overkill.
With that in mind, I set out to find something somewhere in the middle that would be comfortable, lightweight, and still offer plenty of storage for an extended trip. Lucky for me, The North Face offered up their Terra 65 pack, which seemed to fit the bill nicely.
At first glance, the Terra 65 seems to be a no-frills, straight forward, basic multi-day backpack. Like most traditional packs, the Terra has a spacious main compartment that offers plenty of room for gear, and a second chamber, with its own external zipper, for storing your sleeping bag.
The pack also has an external pocket that runs the length of the front as well as a handy compartment built into the lid. Both of these secondary storage areas offer easy access to smaller items that you may need to use throughout the day. Two water bottle holders on either side of the pack round out a rather typical design.
Once you delve a little deeper however, you start to pick up on a few nuances of this pack that aren’t readily noticeable at first glance. For instance, the main compartment and sleeping bag storage area can be joined into one big chamber by unsnapping the cloth barrier that separates the two.
In my case, this allowed me to get a larger sleeping bag inside the pack than the regular bag compartment could handle on its own. There is also a zipper running the length of one side of the pack that allows for easy access to its contents without having to remove all of your items just to get to one particular thing that you need that is invariably buried near the bottom.
Other nice touches include the easy to adjust Opti-fit system which allows the packs suspension to be modified to fit a range of torso sizes. This means that once you’ve set the pack up for yourself, it’ll offer a more comfortable fit for longer days on the trail. The hydration bladder sleeve is also large enough to hold up to a 3 liter bladder, and is well designed to make it easy to get your water supply in and out of the pack with minimal issues.
All of those little details don’t mean much however if the pack isn’t comfortable to wear, and luckily the Terra doesn’t fail in that area either. The shoulder straps are very well padded and fit quite comfortably when adjust properly.
More importantly, the hipbelt is thickly padded as well, and does an excellent job of placing the load squarely on your hips, where it should be. The combination of the well cushioned shoulder straps and hipbelt make it easy to carry a full pack all day long. In fact, the Terra 65 not only served as my travel pack too and from Nepal, it was also my daypack while making the trek to Everest BC.
The only change I’d like to see in this area would be the addition of storage pockets on the hipbelt itself. They’re great for holding a small point and shoot camera or a snack, and there were times when I missed the having them while on the trek.
The pack is fitted with a vertical mesh panel that runs the length of the back and provides good ventilation to help keep your back from sweating too much, and while this feature is well appreciated, it rarely works in practice.
At the end of the day, my shirt was still usually soaked through with sweat from a hard day of hiking at attitude. To be fair, these “ventilation” systems aren’t much better on packs from other manufacturers either, and they represent an area that can be improved on nearly every pack out there.
One thing that is tough to improve upon is the price. With an MSRP of just $149 you’re getting a lot of pack for your money. That’s a very good price for a pack of this size (65 liters) and quality. If you’re in the market for a good, multi-day pack, then the Terra 65 should be on your list to check out.
Not only is it comfortable to wear on extended hikes, it also offers plenty of storage options with out going overboard on the frills. It is a well constructed bag that will hold up to what ever you throw at it, and will continue to serve you well on your adventures for years to come.
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