The North Face Terra 35 (2011)

One of the few packs to use a padded, channelled back system, and it’s one of the best. Although warmer than mesh systems, the channels do help keep the centre of gravity close to the body, making this more stable for those looking to move a bit quicker or even scramble. It also keeps the weight down. There is a divider in the main compartment for sleeping bag storage (if you’re a light packer), while weight and fuss is kept to a minimum with toggles used to secure the compartment dividers. Padding on all straps is good, with more than enough on the hips. Compression is good too, and there is one front pocket large enough for an OS map and then some.

Capacity: 35 litres

Weight: 1,695g

Main compartment: Lid and drawcord

Back system: Padded channelled

Contact: 01539 822 155 www.thenorthface.com/eu

Review from Country Walking magazine, December 2011.


The North Face Alteo 25

A great looking pack with lightweight yet tough ripstop fabric and a big bouncy trampoline of a back system. From behind it looks a little squat, with fairly broad shoulders, but once loaded up on your back it feels fine and stays secure without hanging too far off. The back system is one of the best at keeping the air flowing, without being too cumbersome or compromising internal load space too much. Shoulder and hip-padding is vented, although it doesn’t completely eliminate sweaty patches. Getting into one of the large main compartments is easy with some nicely sized zip pulls. The deep secondary pocket can be a bit tricky to access, but it does have useful security pockets sewn into it.

VITAL STATS
Capacity
: 25L
Weight: 1,193g
Main compartment closure: Zip
Back system: Suspended mesh
Accessories: Pole loops; hydration-compatible; compression straps
Contact: 01539 822155; www.thenorthface.com/eu
• Review from Country Walking magazine, July ’11


The North Face Spire 32

A thin, streamlined pack, with a minimal feel, perhaps more suited to Alpine climbing than anything. There’s no clever back system or lots of padding to complicate things, which does help to keep the weight down. Its long, thin shape allows for a great freedom of movement. The climbing pedigree means that there are no side pockets for water bottles, although there is space for a hydration bladder and loops for walking poles, or even ice-axes.

Capacity: 34L
Weight: 940g
Main compartment: Drawcord and buckle lid
Back system: Channeled
Contact: 01539 822155; uk.thenorthface.com


The North Face Terra 35 2010

The TNF Terra 30 won a Trail ‘Best in Test’ award in July 2009, and this features the same excellent pack construction, durability and comfort levels that made it stand out in that test. It’s certainly not light, although you can easily save weight by stripping out the back stiffener and rain cover. The technology here is packed into the Verti-cool back system, which is TNF’s way of dealing with the dreaded back sweat. The wide hipbelt and well-padded back make this very comfortable, while the array of pockets is excellent. I particularly like the long zipped stretch compartment on the back that can be used to stash waterproofs, plus there’s a sleeping bag compartment at the bottom of the main pack, a mesh pocket in the lid and an ice axe loop for winter. But the The North Face Terra 35 is heavier than many other packs of a similar capacity, and some may prefer a more stripped-down pack with fewer added features. The rain cover and internal sleeping bag compartment divider feel surplus to requirements, but they may well be essential features for some. And, like any back system, the Verti-cool back definitely keeps you cooler, but it won’t banish back sweat on really hot days.

Capacity 35 litres
Fabric 420D polyester dobby; 420D mini ripstop polyester
Features vertical mesh channel on the back panel, which provides cooling effect; sleek and anatomical shoulder harness; improved anatomically correct load-spreading hipbelt, lined with soft tricot; vastly improved zipped sleeping bag compartments access; rain cover
Weight 1700g
Made in Vietnam

The The North Face Terra 35 is a great rucksack that’s very durable and feature-packed. It’s not cheap but it is great-quality and very comfortable, and it will outlast many other packs.

Review by Matt Swaine
First published in Trail magazine September 2010


The North Face Angstrom 25 rucksack

A compact and comfortable pack, the Angstrom’s lightweight harness has enough padding for small loads, and although the back system is quite basic, it does keep the load close to the wearer’s back where it feels most stable. There’s a useful array of pockets, including one on the hip belt, which is perfect for small items like keys; and a large, full-length pocket on the front – although this has more organiser pockets than anyone really needs. It also comes with useful side compression straps.

VITAL STATS
Capacity
: 25L
Main compartment: Zipped
Back system: Channelled
Other features: Rain cover; pole holders; hydration- compatible
Contact: 01539 822155; www.thenorthface.com/eu


The North Face Terra 65 2010

There are two broad schools of thought in rucksack design. Either keep things simple by offering a stripped-down back system to ensure the pack is light and functional, or go for comfort with an engineered back system that adds weight but makes lugging heavier loads easier.
The North Face’s Terra 65 rucksack falls into the second camp. It’s not as heavy as Karrimor’s Jaguar 55-75 (2778g), but it’s almost 900g more than GoLite’s 72 litre Quest rucksack (1450g). The Terra 65 is all about comfort, and its key selling feature is the Opti-Fit back system, designed for comfort and stability.
Pull the catch at the base of the back system, and you can slide the shoulder straps up and down to adjust to the back length. This feature, combined with the dual density padded shoulder straps and hipbelt, makes for an impressively comfortable carry. There’s also the Verti-Cool back panel – basically a gap in the back system that runs along your spine to keep you well-ventilated, which was less convincing.
I put this pack to the test in the Lakes, and I was impressed by the comfort and ease of carry. It’s very well-featured with a side opening, large lid pocket and side mesh storage pockets for water bottles. There’s a large external pocket with stretch cover, a neat segregated area for your sleeping bag at the base of the pack, and a full rain cover.
So should you buy it? There’s no doubt that this is a comfortable pack, so if you’re intending to carry larger loads into the hills this is an excellent option. For anyone interested in shedding weight, though, the benefits of highly engineered back systems are lost if you’ve already invested in lightweight tent, sleeping bag and cookset.
This is the kind of pack I’d use for a weekend of wild camping, walking, scrambling and climbing when I need more gear. It’s a good expedition-style pack, comfortable and well-featured – but it’s not for weight watchers.

FEATURES

Adjustable back
The North Face’s Opti-Fit back system is a very neat way to get the back length just right for you. Specialist shops will be equipped with specific measuring tools to get this adjustment spot on for you. This is a good reason to go to a shop you trust, as this fitting could seriously enhance performance.

Stretch front pocket
There are no side pockets, making this a relatively sleek pack, but it does have a spacious pocket on the fixed lid and a front pocket made from stretch material. The latter is a good place to store waterproofs or to stash thermal layers.

Zipped side entrance
This makes it easier to locate items buried deep in your bag, but on the hill you’re likely to be using a dry bag, so this is more useful for storing wet kit outside that, or for when travelling.

Capacity 63 litres (medium); 65 litres (large)
Weight 2140g (medium); 2340g (large)
Materials 420D polyester dobby; 420D mini ripstop polyester
Sizes medium, large
Dimensions 80x35.5x23.5cm
Features fixed lid, Opti-Fit adjustable back system, side mesh pockets, rain cover,
side zip access to main pack
Made in Vietnam
Stockist details (01539) 822155; www.thenorthface.com

The The North Face Terra 65 is a brilliantly comfortable pack that is built to lug larger loads and will deal with longer trips when you’re spending a number of nights in the hills.

Review by Matt Swaine
First published in Trail magazine July 2010


The North Face Remedy 25

The shoulder straps are quite wide, and may feel uncomfortable for women with narrow shoulders. The hip belt has no padding, so will not feel as supportive as some. Roomy main compartment with zipped access and a compression strap on each side to keep contents stable. The mesh back system allows a nice flow of air and sits comfortably. Useful pocket on one shoulder strap and a spacious front pocket with compartments.

Capacity: 25L
Main compartment: Zipped
Back system: Concave/mesh
Other features: Hydration-compatible, three pockets, whistle buckle, reflective strips
Contact: 01539 738882, www.thenorthface.com

First published in Country Walking magazine July 2009.


The North Face Terra 30 2009

The The North Face Terra 30 is a stable, indestructible rucksack with all the features a hill-walker needs. Although second heaviest in the test at 1756g, it still wins. If you take out the 316g back stiffener and 85g rain cover, it weighs 1355g, which isn’t bad for a bombproof bag with 36 litres of space, extra comfy hipbelt, unobtrusive vented back and more useful features. There are a plethora of pockets and a useful, high-vis rain cover. Pole or axe attachments make the bag useable all year. You wouldn’t run in this, but for walkers who want a bag to last for as long as they do, this would be a fine choice. At first glance its shoulder straps look bulky, but they fit narrow shoulders and long to medium backs. But it is heavy, but it can be lightened. Our tests measure this ‘30’ bag as 36 litres, but to some this may be a plus. It is highly priced, but it will last summer and winter walks for years. Ladies with smaller backs might find it too big, so a smaller option would be a great addition to the range, with less bulky, more contoured shoulder straps.

 

Fabric Sabre 6, 420D Ripstop Nylon, Sabre 12
Features stable with heavy load; functional, bombproof; lid has top pocket with inner mesh pocket; hydration-compatible; 2 big stretch-mesh and 2 stretch side pockets, 2 pole 1 ice axe loops, large stretch front zip pocket; useful bottom compartment with toggled divider; yellow rain cover in side; removable back stiffener with unobtrusive venting curve; very well-padded hipbelt
Weight 1756g
Made in Vietnam
Stores in the UK 280
www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/62110357
The North Face – tel. (01539) 738882; www.thenorthface.com

Verdict: The The North Face Terra 30 is a very robust, well-featured daysack for summer and winter walking. It won ‘Best in Test’.

Review by Claire Maxted
First published in Trail magazine July 2009


THE NORTH FACE TERRA

Review: Good adjustment and heavily padded straps. Quite heavy at 1,890g, but proved as comfortable as any. The channelled back is stable and cool. The Terra is huge with a split main compartment that makes it a little like a small backpacking rucksack. It carries nicely whatever the load and has great pockets too, but some may find it just a bit too big and heavy.
VITAL STATS
Capacity: 35 litres
Main compartment: Lid/drawcord
Back system: Verticool back panel (channelled)
Other features: Split main compartment, waist belt, compression straps, stretch side pockets, hydration system-compatible
Colours: Deep water blue, Indian clay red, black
Contact: 01539 738882, www.thenorthface.com/euVerdict: A comfortable and well-built rucksack that bristles with features, but it’s very heavy and perhaps a little too over-engineered for a pack of its size.

The North Face Ray 20

The North Face Ray 20 women's rucksack has a channelled back system that's comfortable, but tends to bulge when full. The North Face Ray 20 clings to your back like a limpet, so it's very stable, but also quite sweaty. Lightweight, but the complex array of internal pockets – including a huge one for a hydration bladder – tends to get in the way when packing. We’d have liked more outside pockets for hat, gloves and snacks.

VITAL STATS
Capacity: 20 litres
Main compartment: Zipped
Back system: Exo Lite (channelled)
Other features: Chest strap with safety whistle, waist belt, multi-pockets, rain cover, pole attachment
Colours: Tofino blue, black
Contact: 01539 738882, www.thenorthface.com/eu
Verdict A lightweight pack that will do the job for summer walking and general leisure/office use, but there are better options for a big day out in the hills.

Reviewed by Country Walking 2008.

The North Face Primero 70 2008

The bigger the load, the harder it is to make it a comfy carry. It’s natural to want to backpack light, but sometimes you need a stack of gear lightweight sacks can’t hack. To carry 25-30kg you need a sack designed for the job. Cue the Primero 70.
The North Face designers started from scratch with this sack, looking at how the body moves to design the X Radial suspension system, a X-shaped alloy frame that sits inside the back system and twists at the pivot point in the centre of the X. Then they added a pivoting waistbelt. Finally, inspired by Crocs shoes, they used injection-moulded EVA to make vented back panels.
On first appearances the red EVA rubber back panel looks odd. But when you get it on your back the system works really well. It allows your body to move while remaining stable so you don’t feel like you’re tied to a tree trunk and the sack does not swing about. Heading into the hills with the Primero loaded to bursting point felt great – so good that I nearly forgot it was there.
While it was comfy, with good all-round airflow, I feel that covering the rubber in open-weave wicking material, like the hipbelt and shoulder straps are, would make it an even comfier carry.
The base of the sack has waterproof welded seams, which helps to protect the contents when dumping this sack down on wet ground. You get the usual side compression straps and wand pockets; there is a nice twist to these as they also fit a water bottle horizontally, making it easy to access a drink on the move. I liked this feature. Further more, hydration systems fit inside too.
Like many of today’s sacks you get a stretch front stash pocket. This is useful when you need to squeeze in extra kit for part of the day, particularly jackets.
The lid is a removable design and it can be extended to allow an extra 10 litres of capacity, making this ideal for expedition use. I’m not a fan of floating lids for backpacking in the UK, because I’ve found that some floating lids allow water into the main compartment. But there are lots of situations when a floating lid has advantages for securing extra kit, provided it doesn’t rain for your whole trip.
This is a huge, comfy sack that’s a delight to use. Weightwise it is superb for what it offers, as many sacks for a similar price that offer this level of capacity and performance tip the scales at 200-300g more  (that’s like an extra mid-weight fleece). At last you can go backpacking and carry the kitchen sink in comfort!

Price £180
Capacity 70+10 litres
Materials 630D Oxford nylon, PU-coated 210D nylon ripstop dual-sided PU coating
Features X Radial Backframe; EVA back panel with airflow channels; adjustable back length; one main compartment with removable base divider; zipped base compartment access; snow lock extension; extendible removable lid; side compression straps; stretch wand pockets; front stretch pocket; internal and external lid pockets; hydration system-compatible
Back lengths S: 36-43cm; M: 41-48cm; L: 46-53cm
Weight 2270g  (M back length)
Made in Vietnam
Stockist details – tel. (01539) 738882; www.thenorthface.com
Verdict
The back system is very comfortable; good weight; good price. But floating lid not ideal for prolonged, rainy backpacking; would it be even more comfy with covered EVA back panels? Overall, a comfortable big load-lugger at a competitive weight and price.

Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine October 2008