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Bargain Load Haulers: Weekend Pack Review

High performance and low cost? These 6 weekend packs deliver.

Total Stability
The North Face Terra 40

“Zero sway.” That’s what one tester said after aggressive scrambling in the peaks surrounding California’s Saline Valley, and others agreed. The stability starts with the suspension system’s perfectly pre-curved aluminum stays and rigid polyethylene framesheet, which transfer weight efficiently and evenly to the hipbelt. Add thickly padded shoulder straps that cinch securely and a supportive hipbelt with two-way stabilizer straps, and the Terra will monkey-hug your back on the trickiest terrain. The channeled mesh back panel is well-padded and kept hikers cooler than any other pack in the test. Stretchy side and front pockets and the two-chambered top lid easily corral doo-dads and extra layers. (Bummer: There’s no hipbelt pocket.) Mesh side pockets are more horizontal than vertical, but still secure a liter bottle. Though capacity is on the smaller end of the range–largely because of the sewn-on lid and short collar–testers agreed that they’d pack light and carry it for up to a week in summer, or use it for backcountry skiing in winter. Reader Service #102

> Capacity 3,700 cu. in.
> Sizes 1 men’s, 1 women’s
> Weight 4 lbs. 4 oz.
> Price $119
> Info

A ladder-lock system lets you fine-tune torso length in seconds

Overall 4.0
Comfort 4.0
Loading 4.1
Stability 4.2
Durability 4.4

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