The North Face Terra 40 Pack
By Raymond Estrella
May 15, 2006
Orange County, California, USA
6' 3" (1.91 m)
200 lb (90.70 kg)
I have been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, and in many of the western states and Minnesota. I hike year-round, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I have made a move to lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot meals at night. If not hiking solo I am usually with my wife Jenn or brother-in-law Dave.
Manufacturer: The North Face, Inc
Web site: www.thenorthface.com
Product: Terra 40
Model number: 16141
Size: One size
Year manufactured: 2004
MSRP: $ 99.00 (US)
Weight listed: 3 lb 3 oz (1.45 kg)
Actual weight 3 lb 6 oz (1.53 kg)
Volume listed: 2,000 cu in (32.8 L)
Torso length: 17-20 in (43-51 cm)
Color: Grey and Blue
Warranty: (from company web site), “Most The North Face products are fully warranted to the original owner against defects in materials and workmanship for the lifetime of the product. If a product ever fails due to a manufacturing defect, even after extended use, we will repair the product, without charge, or replace it, at our discretion.”
The North Face Terra 40 (hereafter called the Terra or pack) is a blue and grey internal frame day pack. The body of the pack is made of 420D “Enduratek” nylon. The top lid and front pocket is made of 1000D “IronFiber”. The bottom and side pockets are made of some extremely tough material they call “1680D Ballistics” nylon. A cord runs around the top of the pack body and through a cord lock, allowing the top to be drawn shut.
On each side of the main body is a bellows style pocket. They have a drawstring and cord lock, that when pulled tight, suck the pocket flat to the pack. This makes them like wand pockets for skis and such. When loosened the pocket is wide enough to accept Nalgene bottles with ease. Two Duraflex connector-equipped compression straps are on either side of the pack body.
On the front of the pack is a large external pocket that is accessed by a looping double zipper. Zigzagging across the face of this pocket is an elastic cord that goes through a cord-lock and nine nylon loops. On each side of this pocket is a quintuple loop daisy chain ending with an ice ax loop. At the top of each daisy chain is a hook and loop tool holder.
A fixed top lid sits on top. It is accessed by a zipper, which is covered by a flap of nylon. The lid closes the body of the pack by the use of two compression straps that run from the top of the daisy chains up to connectors on the lid. It does not hold very much. I keep my rain pants, wallet, whistle and light in it. The North Face logo is embroidered on the front of the lid.
Inside the pack body is a pleated pocket meant to hold a hydration bladder. The pleats allow it to sit flat when not using a bladder. A long black sleeve runs down the center inside against my back. Opening the hook-and-loop closure reveals a single aluminum stay. It was easy to take this out and bend it to conform to the shape of my spine (which is not as twisted as my mind).
The fixed-suspension contoured shoulder straps are padded with fairly dense foam. It feels like Ensolite to me. The shoulder straps have two adjustment straps on them. The ones at the top of the shoulder adjust the distance the pack body rides away from my body. The one at the lower end of the shoulder strap pulls the pack down onto my shoulders changing the balance of weight between hip and shoulders. A sternum strap crosses the between the shoulder straps. It is mounted on a sliding connection. Each shoulder strap has an elastic nylon loop (one of which has the North Face logo on it) and a D-ring on them also. I keep my knife clipped to one of them.
The hip belt on the Terra has a lot going on. It fairly wide and filled with the same dense foam as the shoulder straps. It is very comfortable. It connects at the front with a Duraflex Stealth Warrior buckle. On each side of the hip belt are a zippered pocket and a tool loop for carabineers.
The stitched foam back panel is pretty comfortable also. It is filled with lower density open cell foam.
This pack has been used a lot in the San Jacinto Wilderness areas (Sate and National). I have taken it to White Mountain, Mount Langley, Cleveland National Forest and San Bernardino peak for multi-day trips. Temperatures have ranged from the 70’s F (24 C), down to 15 F (-9 C). Elevations have ranged from 1,200’ to over 14,000’ (366 to 4,270 m). It has seen beautiful sunny days, along with snow, rain and high winds. The average weight carried is around 15 lb (6.8 kg), the highest double that.
THINGS I LIKE
The company positions this pack as a “Mid-capacity daypack for long hikes”. I bought it to use chiefly as a winter specific day pack. But have used it for two and three day hikes also.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
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I really like the suspension on this pack. Since I got it I have bought several packs that weigh less and/or hold more, but I still find myself breaking out the Terra. I like the way the pack sits against my body and the profile it has.
Mainly I carry it in the winter with 12 to 15 lb (5.4 to 6.8 kg) in it. I keep crampons in the front pocket, and carry a strap to go around it to affix my snowshoes when it is time to carry them.
On a trip to the Cottonwood Lakes region of the Sierra Nevada to climb Mount Langley, my brother-in-law (who is an aspiring ultralighter) wanted to do the three day trip at his lightest ever. At this time I was still in the 30+ lb (14 kg) range for multi day hikes, and was carrying a Osprey Aether as my normal pack. I decided to see how low I could get and used the Terra because I did not need the volume of the Aether. I got my pack down to 20 lb (9 kg) for that trip. (Dave was much lower, darn him.) What surprised me was how nice it wore during the hike. During the summit of Langley I took a (supposed) short cut that put me into some pretty hairy climbing. Dave opted to go back and approach the normal way, but since I was there I decided to stow my trekking poles and climb around the face. The Terra did not hinder me the way that other packs have done in the past.
On a trip to set caches in the area near White Mountain I slid a very full BV 300 Bear Vault into the Terra, than placed the rest of the gear I needed for the day on top of it and hiked it in. It handled it fine, although it strained the pack quite a bit because of the tight fit.
I did a winter overnighter with it once. As I was only up for one night I brought enough water to last so as not to have to melt snow. I had about 30 lb (14 kg) in it for that trip. It handled the weight with no problem. An elderly gentleman that I walked with for a few miles liked it so much that he asked me to email him a link to the Terra when I completed the trip.
The laced elastic cording on the back of the pack is very handy. On the multi-day trips I will strap my tent under it. On day trips I stick the bottom of my MSR Lightning snowshoes in it (see report). Or in inclement weather I will keep my rain gear under it ready for the hasty donning of some protection. After the rain passes it goes back to let it drip, keeping the contents of the pack dry.
In the winter I keep my ice ax and shovel handle in the loops on the back. I like the hook and loop keepers on the top. They are easy to access.
The size and placement of the exterior super-tough side pockets is perfect for me. Half the time I still use Nalgene bottles, and they fit great in them. I can get them out, and replace the bottles with no difficulty. When I do use a hydration bladder the pocket holds all of my different styles well. It only has a port on my left side though. I like my tube to come out on my right. Most of my other packs have both options.
I like the big pocket on the outside of the pack. Since the top lid pocket is so small, I keep my first aid kit in the front one along with my crampons in winter. In inclement spring hiking I can stuff both pieces of my Redledge Elite raingear (see report) in it with a little room to spare.
At first I did not think I would like the pockets on the hip belt. But I came to appreciate being able to keep my keys, sun-block, lip balm and such in one of them. I keep some hard candy (which I give away more than consume) in the other.
Altogether I like this pack enough to keep it in the gear room. I do not care for the weight of it. It is quite heavy, especially for the low volume that it holds. It has been redesigned for the 2006 season, and I see that it is lighter now.
Read more reviews of The North Face gear
Read more gear reviews by Ray Estrella