The North Face Terra 50
- Lowest cost pack in test set
- Good expandability
- Tool loops
- Tall frame with high center of gravity
- Long tag ends on most straps
- High brain buckles prevent much compressibility
- No hip pivot, hindering stability
The North Face Terra 50 is the least expensive pack in the test set, which makes it accessible, but it is hobbled by design annoyances, most consequently its lack of pivot and the stability concerns of a tall pack with a high center of gravity.
The Terra’s padding is comprised mostly of large blocks of padding. These blocks run the length of the back, with little accommodation for the arch of the lower back. The frame is flexible, which adds a bit of comfort for the back. The sternum strap has an adjustable slide, but moves position during use.
The North Face Terra has both top and bottom entry points. Within the body compartment, there is an optional interior divider and a permanent water bladder sleeve. There are two small zippered pockets on the back that we found little use for.
There is not much structure to the waist harness of the Terra, which means that whatever pivot does occur is a byproduct of padding bending and bunching. The Terra also has a tall and narrow body, which sits high on the body of the user. This high center of gravity is more dramatic than even bigger backpacks.
The biggest durability concern on this bag are the basic plastic buckles. The wide waist buckle is hefty, but other buckles seem to be at risk of failure after prolonged or strenuous use though they never failed during testing. The mesh that forms the water bottle sleeves will be quick to tear if the user takes this pack off trail.
The Terra has all the basic extras of this test set, beginning with a sternum whistle and four small loops on the brain to mount a solar panel or dry socks. There are two hip pouches, one mesh and the other water resistant, both with zippers. There are also two gear/tool loops on the back that are fastened at the top with stiff velcro.
How We Tested It
The packs in this test were used throughout the winter and spring of 2017, during day hikes ranging from a few miles to a summit attempt on Mount Hood. Tests were conducted on Maryland’s Western Shore, in the Olympic Range of Washington State, and in the Cascades of the Pacific Northwest. This geographic diversity of conditions allowed for a look into each pack’s strengths and weakness. Each pack was loaded down with at least 15 pounds.
For more reviews beyond this 2017 test, check out our other backpack tests, our Best 3 Person Backpacking Tents of 2017, along with our sleeping bag tests, and other related hiking and camping gear tests.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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- Type of Backpack: Weekend Pack
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