After accompanying me to most of our climbs and travels, my North Face backpack hasn't yet lost its touch. It still gives comfort to my back even when it is stuffed to its full capacity and its tough exterior hasn't been damaged after the torture of more than 20 mountains.
However, there's still a lingering feeling in my chest that the decision of buying this quite expensive pack was a mistake. With this in mind, I am revisiting and reviewing the ups and downs of my most used pack: The North Face Terra 35.
First and foremost, I bought this pack at the SM Megamall North Face boutique for 8500 Php. Expensive as it was, I knew it would cause a dent on my pocket. But as I tested the bag on my back, I came to a firm decision that buying it would be the right choice. Of course, I knew a Deuter bag was a lot cheaper but as erroneous as I was back then, I kinda liked the thought that I would be using North Face gear. So for a certain amount of time, it was absolutely a catch. I think back then, it was the perfect backpack for my body as it hugged me comfortably even when it was bulging to its limit. It was with me during our major climbs, day hikes and even on our week-long trips.
Because of the Verticool System, it is quite cool on your back even during humid climbs. Yes, you will still perspire hard but come on, this is inevitable with any backpacks during hard treks. Using the waist strap for added lifting support is a bit special. The pad used on the bag is so soft and nice that tightening the straps would not hurt a bit. I think this is the one component that gives it an advantage compared to my brother's Deuter Futura. His bag's waist strap is quite stiff and it strains a certain part of my hip when carrying it in full capacity.
Terra 35’s adjustment straps can be used with ease. Unlike other packs I used, this bag's adjustment system is easy to maneuver. The straps lock securely when the lever is not pulled and loosen easily making adjustments a breeze.
For a specific amount of time, the only concern I had was the lack of daisy chain straps for other gear placements. I thought it was perfect and I had no good reasons to buy another pack but it unexpectedly changed when we started to plan our group's first multi-day climb. I started to test if it can fit all of our stuff for the event but it was not enough. Sharing other gear would be a great solution but having Agnes, a petite girl, as my climbing partner, I was forced to bring most of our heavy gear as having her to carry an enormous pack was rude.
I tried to tie our tent at the lower part of my pack so I could stuff more inside. I exceeded the maximum pack-weight which was 20 kilos; with the bag unable to support the heavy load, I had to suffer for 2 days as the pack was sliding down my waist. After that climb, my shoulders became unbearably sore and my whole body ached for days. I ultimately decided to buy a Deuter AirContact pro 60 + 15 for the succeeding multi-day climb and up to now, it remains to be the pack I use for longer and harder treks: I will expound on that later.
In the end, I found a fault on this "perfect backpack" of mine and it was definitely a turning point in my climbing life. Instead of buying another pack to use for 2-3 day climbs, I forced myself to pack the lightest things and adjusted my organizing habits to what the bag can only support.
This was quite a challenge for the first few climbs but I gradually adjusted and conformed to my bag’s limitation. It was nice to learn the basics of minimalist packing and at last, I'm now accustomed to using my 35-liter bag for our 2 - 3 day climbs or even week-long vacations.
I'm not saying that a Terra 35 is a bad bag. It certainly is great to use specially for backpackers as the bag can store many of your clothes yet can still be hand-carried at airports. It also has a very comfortable back padding and waist support such that carrying it around all the time will not be a burden.
As for climbing, I recommend you buy a bigger type of Terra bag like the Terra 45 - 60 instead of this one. It is just too big for a day hike bag and too small for a multi-day pack. But, if you're the type of hiker that has a minimalistic approach of packing your gear, this bag would suffice.
So in conclusion, the North Face Terra 35 is a great bag for backpacking enthusiasts but a bit too small for climbers. It is one of the most comfortable bags I used and up to now, it still holds the title as my favorite during climbs and backpacking trips. Is it worth the 8500 Php price tag? For some annoying reason, it kinda is. But if you're on a tight budget, a Dueter, Habagat or Conquer bag, among others, can do the trick.
Product: The North Face Terra 35 Pack
Place of purchase: The North Face, SM Megamall
Price: 8500 Php
Date of Purchase: June 2010
Times Used: Approx 20 mountains and beaches.
You can see the page of the product here: