1. Expert reviews

Top 13 Best backpacks of 2021

Katarina Stenskytt

Updated September 7, 2021

Top 13 Best backpacks of 2021

How we did the test

All of our testers have extensive experience of mountain hiking and backpacking, in the Swedish mountains, the Alps and the Rocky Mountains in the USA as well as various countries in Asia. All backpacks were tested on trips in the great outdoors, during flights and in an urban environment. Each pack contained a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, camping stove and other items weighing up to 25 kg. Backpacks were assessed on the basis of a large number of factors with emphasis on function, design and quality. The final score also takes the price into account. We only tested quality backpacks. Throughout the tests, we consistently use the word "compartment" for packing spaces that are closed with a zip and "pocket" for spaces that cannot be closed or are closed with buttons.

1. Haglöfs Ängd 60 litre - BEST CHOICE BACKPACK 2021

Very comfortable and well-thought-out backpack for longer trips

Weight: 2.5 kg (inc. stormcover) Volume: 60 litre Price class: Intermediate Compartments: One large bag, with compartment for a sleeping bag Internal: one separate upper compartment External: one front compartment, two side pockets, left hip belt pocket plus separate compartment for stormcover (stormcover included) Possibility to adjust the back length: Yes Daypack: Yes, best suited to several days External loops and brackets: Yes

Haglöfs Ängd 60 S/M - Midnight Sky/Dense Blue

This 60 litre backpack from Haglöfs is the perfect backpack for long hikes and so on, for situations where you spend longer periods out in the woods or if you’re travelling as a backpacker. You get plenty of space and lots of useful functions.

We really liked how well thought out this backpack is. On the front, for example, you have a handle that allows you to lift and move the backpack easily when you don’t want to put it on.

The adjustable back has dimensions printed on it so you can quickly see which setting suits you. This also makes it easy to remember for next time. This backpack is easy to adjust as you need and feels really user-friendly in terms of design.

On the left hip belt you get a pocket with a zip, two open side pockets and a large open pocket on the front – the latter can be tightened. The top lid is removable and has two individual zipped compartments.

The stormcover that comes with the backpack is attached to the bottom, so you never have to worry about losing it. When you need to use it, you just pull it out and over the backpack.

Haglof-angd-60-liter

There’s an opening under the top lid, to give access to the inside of the Ängd backpack, but you also have the option of opening up the entire front with a zip – which allows easy access to your equipment without you having to take everything out. There’s space for a sleeping bag at the bottom, and on the backplate there’s another open pocket.

This backpack weighs a fair bit, but it’s not unusually heavy for its size. And you don’t really notice the weight to any great extent as the backpack fits very well and is so easy to adjust to your own preferences. With its robust and comfortable hip belts, it even works well on longer walks and in rugged terrain.

The Haglöfs Ängd is ideal for anyone looking for a comfortable and sturdy backpack for longer adventures and trips. It’s a really functional backpack with many thoughtful solutions. The only thing that could be annoying are all the different buckles you have to undo when you open up the front with the zip. Apart from this, we can find nothing to complain about.

Lots of great functionsmeasurable back adjustmentcomfortable
Takes time to open up the front if you’re going to undo all the buckles

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Haglofs Ängd 60 Backpack S-M Midnight Sky / Dense Blue

£191.49

2. Haglöfs Ströva 65 – BEST BUDGET CHOICE

Light backpack with room for a sleeping bag

Weight: 1.1 kg Volume: 65 litre Price class: Intermediate Compartments: One large compartment that can be divided into two with a zip, top, front and bottom openings Internally: Two compartments, one for a sleeping bag Externally: Three compartments, of which two are net compartments on the hip belt, two pockets Possibility to adjust the back length: Yes Top lid: Can be raised/lowered. One inner and one outer compartment on the back. Day pack: Depends on what you want to do, but there are smaller and more comfortable backpacks for this purpose

Haglöfs Ströva 65 - Sage Green/Deep Woods

Haglöfs produce a wide selection of backpacks and the Ströva is one of their flagship models. It’s great for anyone looking for a lightweight backpack. The bag weighs as little as 1.1 kg, which is really good considering that it’s in the 60-70-litre class.

The Ströva is available in two colours, and you can choose between matte green and dark red. Both blend well into the countryside.

The Haglöfs Ströva has two large side compartments and a large front pocket. You also get compression belts on the sides. The front pocket provides plenty of storage space but unfortunately it lacks a vertical opening. Of course it has a regular opening and you can open it from the bottom. However, the addition of a vertical opening would have made it better. You also have the removable top lid, which has a pocket with a zip.

The Ströva is equipped with Haglöfs Instant IAS system which allows you to easily adjust the support for the back. The pre-printed measurements on the back make the backpack user-friendly as it makes it easy to remember which setting works best for you.

Haglofs-Strova-65

The hip belts are comfortable and fit well, but if you have a narrow waist, it’s a bit tricky to get them to sit really tight.

The Haglöfs Ströva 65 is essentially a functional backpack. The downsides are that there is no vertical opening for the large compartment and that there are few individual pockets. But that’s also a big part of the reason why this backpack is so light for its size, and you still get plenty of room for everything you need.

Lightweightremovable top
Hip belts not a good lengthno pockets on hip beltsno vertical opening

3. Osprey Aether AG – BEST FOR BACKPACKING

Weight: 2.39 kg (including rain cover) for tested size Osprey Aether 70 Compartments: One large compartment that can be separated into two, top, front and bottom openings Internally: pocket with attachment for fluid system Externally: one stretch pocket on the front, one stretch pocket, for example for a water bottle on each side Top lid: Detachable, one external compartment with key holder External loops and brackets: Numerous Weather resistance: Rain runs off the fabric, One weak point for moisture penetration is the seams

Osprey Aether AG 70 M - Adirondack Green

For many years, the Osprey Aetherv 70 has been one of America's favourite backpacks. If you walk in the Yellowstone or Yosemite National Parks, you’ll see Osprey packs everywhere. The Aether 70 is full of intelligent, practical details: rubberised brackets for hiking or ski poles, an individual moulded hip belt and a detachable top lid that can be used as a waist bag. The support system provides good comfort and stability with a thin flexible external aluminium frame in combination with a back plate. In warmer climates, the backpack is a joy to carry as the back plate and shoulder straps have good ventilation. There are compression straps on the sides, over the front opening and inside the snow lock, which makes it easier to keep the contents in place. The main compartment is easily accessible through a J-shaped front opening. The water-resistant zips are also protected with fabric covers, although the zips can withstand a rain shower but aren’t waterproof. Easy to grip loops make the zips easy to open even with gloves on. The Aether is a very affordable and versatile outdoor bag that works just as well on your local hiking trail as it does in Thailand. We name the Aether best for backpacking.

Excellent ventilation for warmer climateslots of intelligent detailsgood compression
The stretch pocket gets soaked in the rainso get the rain cover on quickly!

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4. Thule Guidepost 75 L

Comfortable backpack with plenty of compartments

Weight: 2.4 kg Volume: 75 litres Price class: Medium Compartments: One large one that can be divided off at the bottom for storing a sleeping bag, Openings at the top and bottom. Internally: Pocket Externally: Large pocket with opening at the top and on the side, Separate compartment for rain cover, Two side pockets at the bottom, Two compartments on the hip belt, one of which is watertight Possibility to adjust the back length: Yes, with velcro Top lid: Height-adjustable, with an inner and an outer compartment Day pack: Yes External loops and brackets: Numerous Accessories: Rain cover, water bottle holder and round storage bag to attach to the backpack are all included

Thule Guidepost 75L Men's - Obsidian

The Thule Guidepost 75 is a comfortable backpack in heavy fabric from Swedish company Thule, with plenty of compartments and pockets, which we've named as the best in test. The carrying system, called TransHub, shifts the weight to the hips, while the well-padded and sturdy hip belt is rotatable and follows the body's movements. Together with the comfortable chest strap, this makes the bag very comfortable to carry, even for a long time. After a while you almost forget you’re wearing a backpack, which shows how good it is. The material quality is high and all straps and fabric in the bag are sturdy and durable.

Lots of intelligent functions

On the hip belt there are two pockets that are easy to reach while hiking, of which one is a practical watertight pocket with roller closure for things like your mobile or matches. The length of the back can be altered by up to 15 cm and there are three different settings for the width of shoulder straps, but adjusting the back is quite complicated, especially out in the field when the bag is packed, which is a bit of a minus. The top lid can easily be turned into a day pack, which is actually a bit flimsy but works fine. The top lid can also be extended if you have a lot of packing, and the included rain cover is generous enough to also cover external packing, such as a tent and sleeping pad.

The backpack has a separate compartment for a sleeping bag, which is reached from the bottom of the bag. Several accessories such as a bottle holder, rain cover and extra waist bag are also included in the purchase, which reinforces the overall feeling of generosity and quality. The numerous intelligent functions and accessories make the Thule Guidepost 75 L our test winner.

Comfortablepractical pockets & compartmentswatertight pocketday packseparate compartment for sleeping bag
Fiddly back length adjustment

5. Haglöfs Röse

Comfortable and stylish budget favourite

Weight: 1.8 kg Volume: 65 litres Price class: Budget (£199) Compartments: One large bag without separate compartment for a sleeping bag Internally: No compartments Externally: One large front compartment, two side pockets Possibility to adjust the back length: Yes, with velcro Top lid: Height-adjustable, two internal compartments Day pack: No External loops and brackets: Numerous Accessories: Rain cover.

Haglöfs Röse 65 - True Black

Swedish company Haglöfs make sleeping bags, outdoor clothes and backpacks. The Röse, their alternative for the slightly lower price class, performed very well in our test and works very well as a hiking backpack. The backpack has an Instant Adjustable carrying system, which makes it possible to adjust the back length between 43 and 58 cm. You can also choose between carrying system sizes of S/M and M/L, which give a very good fit for most body types.

The Röse is stylish, neat and light, and includes a generously sized rain cover and a practical height-adjustable top lid, which, sadly, can’t be turned into a daypack. The backpack is comfortable to carry even during longer trips, has a stable and comfortable hip belt and a comfortable chest strap. It’s very easy to set the desired back length, which makes it easy to swap with other hikers during the trip, if needed. One minus point is that the Röse consists of a single large bag without a separate sleeping bag compartment, and it’s also a little difficult to open at the bottom. There are also too few compartments for small items, although the elastic straps on the front of the backpack compensate for this to an extent, as you can attach sleeping pads and rainwear here. If you fasten your water bottle using the straps, it’s easy to reach for refilling when you pass a mountain stream. On the whole, the Röse is a very good buy, especially considering the relatively low price.

Easy to alter the back lengthgood rain protection includedlightweightgood quality straps and fabric
No separate sleeping bag compartmentno daypacknot enough compartments overall

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6. Ortovox Peak Light 32

A great choice for all outdoor sporting activities

Weight: 1.1 kg Volume: 32 l Price class: Intermediate (approx. £200) Compartments: A large bag without separate compartment for a sleeping bag Internally: large compartment Externally: 1 side pocket on one hip belt, 1 marked pocket with zip Possibility to adjust the back length: No Top lid: Yes, one external compartment Daypack: Yes External loops and brackets: Several functional mounts

Ortovox Peak 32 S

This alpine backpack from Ortovox is a relatively simple backpack offering many good external functions. The Peak Light feels like a really high quality backpack. Everything from seams to zips feels well-built.

As this is a backpack more adapted for alpine and mountain adventures, there is plenty of storage and mounts, such as attachments for your skis, ice picks and the like. You also get a zipped pocket on the front which is clearly marked so it’s easy to find. There’s also an open pocket on the left hip strap that has a removable top lid. On the top lid, you’ll also find an outer and an inner compartment, both with a zip, as well as a small plastic pocket with space for an emergency information card.

Ortovox-Peak-Light-32

The inside of the Peak Light 32 consists of a single large compartment which can be opened from both the top and the front to allow for quick access to your things. You can also remove the inner backrest to reduce the weight even more if you want it lighter.

In a purely practical way, this backpack is really comfortable and ideal for longer trips and hikes. The Peak Light is a great match for its target audience. It has plenty of space for equipment and generally feels very well thought out. Unfortunately it’s also a bit on the heavy side. The top compartment is optimal for storing ropes if you’re going on a climbing trip. During our test we easily stored a 60 metre long rope. In addition to the different compartments, you have lots of loops and straps to help store equipment on the outside of the backpack, which is another big plus.

This bag is suitable for alpine adventures, but it’s also a functional backpack equally suitable for day trips or climbing where you have need plenty of room for different types of equipment that must be readily accessible. In this respect the Peak Light makes a great backpack.

Functional straps & loopsgood qualityplenty of compartments
Heavy for its size

7. Klättermusen Ydalir Duffelbag 80l

Minimalist lightweight duffel bag-style backpack

Weight: 1.1 kg Volume: 80 litres Price range: Medium Compartments: One large bag without separate compartment for a sleeping bag. Possibility to adjust the back length: No Daypack: 1 to several days. Exterior loops and mounts: Lots

Klättermusen Ydalir Alpine Haul Bag 80L - Raven

If you don’t need lots of side pockets and straps on the outside of a backpack, then a simple duffel bag is a good alternative. But the focus in such bags is often pretty basic. A single large compartment holds all your stuff. The Klättermusen Ydalir Duffelbag is that kind of backpack but with lots of loops and mounts. The design is simple and basic, combining a large packing volume with low weight.

Seams and materials are high quality and feel robust. For example, the outside offers aluminium loops instead of the plastic ones that many manufacturers use. This means better and longer durability, even on the toughest of hikes.

The Ydalir’s exterior has a whole bunch of small loops that you can attach carabiners or other equipment to. You will also find two robust handles on the sides, two more on the top and one on the bottom of the bag. You can use these to carry the backpack in your hand, or as attachment points on a bike or motorcycle.

The inside of the Ydaril, however, offers no pockets beyond the main compartment. In this respect it’s essentially just a duffel bag. You can open the whole bag with a zip, instead of just opening it at the top with a drawstring, and the advantage to that is that you can then access things further down without having to take everything else out. You also have the option to compress the Ydaril once it is packed.

Good if you prioritise low weight

We weren’t keen on the shoulder straps. They aren’t the most comfortable we’ve tested, and they chafe over longer distances.

On the other hand, the weight of the bag is low at 1.1 kg, which is pretty impressive considering how much you can fit in this bag. There are no extra pockets for you to be able to quickly access car keys, your mobile or the like. During our test, we solved this problem by packing everything in smaller bags, and that worked well thanks to being able to open up the whole bag. So if you don’t mind the lack of extra pockets, you do get a lot of packing space with a low weight and at a reasonable price.

Low weightlots of mounts and loopsvery high quality
No extra inner pockets for organisationuncomfortable over long distances

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8. Bergans Helium 40

A flexible backpack for those who want to travel light

Weight: 960 grams Volume: 40 litre Compartments: One large bag without separate compartment for a sleeping bag Internally: Large compartment with pocket Externally: 2 side pockets, 1 pocket with zip on the upper part of the top lid Possibility to adjust the back length: Yes Top lid: Yes, one external compartment Daypack: Yes External loops and brackets: Yes, both right and left side and on hip straps and standard straps

Bergans Helium 40L - Solid Charcoal/Black

The Bergans Helium 40 is a lightweight backpack from the well-known outdoor gear manufacturer. Weighing only 960 grams, it’s excellent for hiking or for anyone with back issues. Despite its light weight, the backpack can still carry a fairly substantial load without beginning to negatively affect the wearer. However, this backpack is primarily suitable for day trips of at most two days.

The Helium 40 is equipped with the Quick Adjust PRO system, which means you can adjust the backpack according to your body type and height. This is very useful, and the range of adjustment is about 4-5 centimetres. This can make a big difference as to how the backpack sits on your back as well as how the weight is distributed. You also have the option of compressing the backpack and the contents via the compression cords on the sides.

The hip belt is both robust and relatively stiff. The entire backpack feels very stable when you put it on. It’s very easy to adjust the length and spread the load evenly. The buckles for the shoulder straps are also relatively easy to adjust, but rather small.

Bergans-Helium-40

There are also loops for things like ice picks and walking sticks on the hip belt, shoulder straps and sides – where you also have two pockets for storing water bottles. Compared to the competition, however, there aren’t very many pockets on this backpack. We’d have liked there to be more separate compartments.

The main compartment consists of one large compartment with a separator. You can open it from the top to quickly pack your stuff, or vertically if you want to easily access things that have been buried deep inside. The lower part of the large compartment tapers at the bottom of the backpack, which is a bit annoying after a while, because things get unnecessarily tight and difficult to access in the bottom of the bag.

On the top is a zipped top lid. This is ideal for storing a mobile phone or other gadgets you may want to be able to get at quickly.

This bag works very well as intended, for alpine travel or climbing trips. But when it comes to hiking, it fails on the goal line as it has only a limited number of pockets, and we feel the bag is more adapted for larger equipment.

Lightweightcomfortablesturdy zips
Few individual compartmentsstuff gets tightly packed at the bottom

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9. Haglöfs L.I.M

Very lightweight backpack for day trips

Weight: 980 g Volume: 35 litre Price class: Intermediate Compartments: One large bag without separation. Opening at the top. Internally: One compartment Externally: Pockets on hip belt, open side pockets and one on the top lid Possibility to adjust the back length: No Top lid: Yes Day pack: Yes External loops and brackets: Two on the shoulder straps plus compression cord

Haglöfs L.I.M 35 - Magnetite/True Black

From their L.I.M series, with a 35 litre capacity, this lightweight backpack from Haglöfs is relatively compact but has some ingenious functions.

At first glance, it has a very minimalist look. It is stylish, the seams feel well made and the quality looks good. What you soon notice is that this model lacks a vertical zip to allow quick access to the lower part of the bag without having to remove the upper contents first, which is a shame. However, there are two large side pockets that you can store water bottles in, and two pockets on the hip belt that work really well for a mobile phone or the like.

This backpack is also equipped with a compression strap on the outside from which you can also hang things. This is excellent for those who have water-resistant equipment with them that they want to be able to access quickly.

Haglofs-L.I.M

The steel frame along the back can’t be removed, and the shape is curved, which at first makes it feel a little space-limiting. But once you start packing it’s fine, and the good thing about the space between the backpack and the frame is that you can also push things in there. That might not be the most comfortable solution, but it can be done and works well in an emergency situation.

Haglöfs’ L.I.M Series 35 is ideal for anyone who wants to be light on their feet during one-day excursions or two overnight stays, where minimal packing is the focus.

Lightweightminimalist designwell built
No vertical zip front

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10. Fjällräven Abisko

Weight: 2.44 kg (2.53 kg including rain cover) for tested size Fjällräven Abisko 70 Compartments: One large compartment, top and front opening Internally: Security compartment, pocket for fluid system Externally: Stretch side pockets for e.g. a water bottle on each side, one large compartment on the front, one stretch compartment on the right side of the hip belt Top lid: Detachable, one internal (mesh) and one external compartment External loops and brackets: Numerous (primarily for the removable compression straps), elastic on the top lid Weather resistance: Rains rolls off the fabric, One weak point for moisture penetration is the zips and seams

Fjällräven Abisko 75 - Olive

The Fjällräven Abisko is a light, pared down backpack made of partially recycled nylon. The carrying system is thinner than on the Kajka, its sibling backpack, but can still handle a fairly heavy load. A plate and with two aluminium rails distributes the weight onto the hips. Unlike the other backpacks in the test, the Abisko doesn’t have a separate lower compartment. Instead the front opening goes all the way down to the bottom. As the Abisko also lacks side compartments, organising your stuff feels a bit of a challenge. But we still think that the Abisko is easy to pack and in combination with the light interior, the contents are easy enough to find. The tough moulded base plate lacks seams and thus provides excellent wear and moisture resistance. The bottom plate also stiffens the backpack so that it can be placed upright fully loaded, if it has the centre of gravity in the right place. The compression straps have velcro on the ends and are movable, which allows you to adjust where compression takes place or use them to attach external objects. The Abisko is a good backpack, but a bit expensive.

Wear and moisture resistant base platemovable compression straps
Price a bit highnot enough compartments

11. Fjällräven Kajka

Weight: 3.23 kg (3.38 kg including rain cover) for tested size Fjällräven Kajka 65 Compartments: One large compartment that can be divided into two with a zip, top, front and bottom openings Internally: Pocket for fluid system Externally: One side compartment on each side, mesh pockets for water bottle on each side with openings both from above (drawstring) and from the side (button), mesh compartment on each side of the hip belt Top lid: Detachable, one internal and two external compartments, with rain cover in one, belt for waist bag function External loops and brackets: A few at the bottom, brackets on the shoulder straps to attach the top cover as a chest bag, elastic on the top lid Weather resistance: Rain runs off the fabric, One weak point for moisture penetration is the zips and seams

Fjällräven Kajka 65 - Forest Green

Fjällräven, based in the small Swedish town of Örnsköldsvik, are behind several innovations which are now the norm in the outdoor industry, including the support frame that revolutionised hiking backpacks in the 1960s. The Kajka, their premium model, has a stylish and functional design. The fabric consists of classically impregnated Vinylon F, the same material as the Kånken. The impregnated surface quickly develops a seasoned finish. Nothing is left to chance and several parts have a variety of functions. For example, the top lid can be used as a waist bag/chest bag, and the bottom compartment is separated off with mesh for storing wet gear. The Kajka has the best adjustment options of all the backpacks in the test, which is good as the dead weight of the pack alone is 3.2 kg. The support system can be adjusted in both length and width and sits very well on the back. All surfaces in contact with the body are ventilated and the hip belt has openings for better comfort. The front opening, combined with the light lining, makes it extremely easy to find whatever you’re looking for inside. The long expandable side compartments are very spacious and easily accessible even with a rain cover on. The Kajka is an excellent mountain hiking backpack, but the robustness costs both in terms of weight and money.

Many adjustment optionsrobusteasily accessible pockets even with rain coverclimate-compensated
Relatively heavyzip lacks protective cover

12. Haglöfs Nejd 65

Ambitious backpack which unfortunately causes chafing

Weight: 2.4 kg Volume: 65 litres Price class: Medium (£270) Compartments: Main compartment divided into two with a removable divider, lower compartment accessible from the bottom, top and front opening Internally: One compartment Externally: Five compartments, one of which is on the hip belt. Three pockets, one of which is a large front pocket. Possibility to adjust the back length: Yes, with metal rods and hooks Top lid: Height-adjustable, can be converted into a daypack. One internal, two external compartments Day pack: Yes External loops and brackets: A few Accessories: Rain cover included

Haglöfs Nejd 65 M/L - Magnetite/Rock

Swedish company Haglöfs make many types of equipment for outdoor life. Their Nejd backpack is good and well-designed in many ways, and meets most of the test panel's requirements. There’s a separate section for a sleeping bag, reachable from both front and bottom, plenty of well positioned compartments, such as the easily accessible mobile compartment on the hip belt, and simple back length adjustment. The top lid can be raised and lowered and can easily be turned into a handy daypack. A generous rain cover comes with the purchase and the backpack screams quality and stylish design.

In short, a real winning candidate, except for one big problem: The Nejd isn’t very comfortable to wear. The backpack has an Instant Adjustable carrying system, which makes it possible to adjust the back length between 43 and 58 cm. You can also choose between carrying system sizes of S/M and M/L, which should allow for a good fit. And the Nejd does sit well on the back, too. But our tester developed major chafing from the hip belt, which wasn’t padded well enough, and had to swap backpack with another hiker, whose arms soon became numb from the rather stiff shoulder straps. Another tester experienced similar numbness. Unfortunately, this lowers our score for an otherwise pretty good and ambitious backpack.

Plenty of compartmentsclever hip pocketseparate sleeping bag compartmenttop and front openingday backpackeasy to set back length
Hip belt chafesarms become numb due to shoulder straps

13. The North Face Terra

Weight: 2.32 kg (2.43 kg including rain cover) for tested size The North Face Terra 65 Compartments: One large compartment that can be separated in two, top opening, straight zip on front and bottom opening Internally: Pocket with attachment for liquid system Externally: One mesh pocket for e.g. water bottle on each side, one stretch compartment on the front, pocket with rain cover in one of the side pockets Top lid: Non-detachable, one external compartment with mesh pocket and key holder inside External loops and brackets: A few on the lower part of the bag Weather resistance: Rain runs off the fabric. One weak point for moisture penetration is the seams

The North Face Terra 65 L/XL - Grisaille Grey/Asphalt Grey

The Terra 65 is a light, stylish and relatively cheap backpack from the American outdoor giant The North Face. The carrying support system has a large back plate and an integrated V-shaped aluminium rail that distributes weight onto the hip belt. A wide ventilation channel runs along the entire back. Shoulder straps and hip belt are comfortable but a bit thin in terms of padding if you’re going to carry the backpack far or with a heavy load. The main compartment is accessible from above, through a hatch at the bottom and through a straight zip on one side. But if the bag is full, it’s still difficult to find individual items with any kind of accuracy. Along the outside there’s a practical stretch pocket that can be used even when the backpack is full and can easily hold extra garments. The side pockets only have vertical openings, which makes it difficult to reach the water bottle with the bag on your back. The top lid isn’t removable, which limits the possibilities in terms of packing the bag. Straps and belts can be tightened extremely tight, which makes the bag very easy to handle when flying. The Terra is a good and versatile backpack, best suited for backpacking.

Very flight-friendlyrelatively good ventilation
Fairly thin paddingnon-removable top lid

Everything to Know about backpack

We tested backpacks designed to carry heavy loads, from several of the market's leading brands. The Lundhags V12 and Ospray Aether are the best in test in the hiking and backpacking categories respectively, and are our buying recommendations for 2015. And we nominate the surprisingly cheap Bergans Glittertind backpack as the best budget choice. All backpacks in the test, including models from Haglöfs, Fjällräven and The North Face, are high quality with plenty of adjustment options. A higher price usually means more intelligent details and more durable carrying systems. Whether you’re planning to hike with the kids on the moors or backpack with friends in Thailand, you’ll find the right backpack in our tests.

Things to consider before buying a backpack

A stable carrying system with lots of adjustment options provides better opportunities to adapt the bag to your own back. You should try on any backpack you’re interested in, but it’s not enough to stroll around among the shelves in the store. It’s much better to test the backpack at home with weight in it during a few evening walks, both on roads and hills. Some online stores have free exchanges, which makes it easy to try several different backpacks at no extra cost. Don’t worry too much about the backpack's own weight – what’s of greater relevance is that the bag has a good carrying system that relieves the weight of the contents.

Some backpacks have size indications for different back lengths, while others have a wide range of adjustments that fit different sizes. Settings for back length can be made with straps or velcro. After a long period of use, velcro can lose some of its grip due to wear. So straps are more durable and reliable, even if they’re slightly more difficult to adjust. Many of the models tested are also available as women’s models. These primarily have adapted hip belts and shoulder straps to provide better space for the bust. They are often also slightly narrower and have a shorter back length. Read more about how to adjust your backpack and other useful tips at the bottom of the page.

About the functionality of backpacks

All backpacks are made of water-repellent material (but not watertight), with the exception of parts in mesh or stretch material. Leakage during rain occurs mainly at zips and seams, and the fewer of these there are, the more water-resistant the backpack is.

Removable top lids make it possible to really fill a bag and still get good compression and weather protection. Many bags have loops and brackets on the outside to attach external items such as sleeping pads. When adding items to the outside, however, it’s important to remember that the centre of gravity shouldn’t be moved too far away from the body. The rain cover included with the backpack isn’t usually dimensioned to accommodate external items either.

How to adjust your backpack

The hip belt should sit firmly in the middle of the hip bone as it’s mainly the large muscles in the legs that should carry the weight of the backpack. Straps between the hip belt and the bottom of the backpack stabilise the hip belt and ensure that the backpack sits close to the body.

The back length should be adjusted so that the shoulder straps have body contact all the way from the attachment to the backpack. The shoulder strap attachment should start at least 5 cm below the seventh vertebra or the top of the shoulders. There must be no gaps between the strap and the body. Shoulder straps shouldn’t carry any major weight but should lie over the shoulder to balance and keep the centre of gravity as close to the back as possible.

The angle of the bag is adjusted with straps between the shoulder strap and the top of the backpack. To get optimal weight balance, the angle of the straps should be between 45-60 degrees. If this adjustment creates gaps between the body and the shoulder straps, they need to be tightened further. The angle and balance of the backpack is crucial for comfort if you’re carrying a heavy load.

The chest strap should sit about 5 cm below the collarbones, and should keep the shoulder straps away from the armpits so the arms can move more freely.

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