Gear Guide 2012 Vaude Terkum 75 +10 Backpack

An innovative cinching hipbelt and customizable torso helps create a support system tough enough to handle your heaviest loads.

[custom-fit load monster]

This pack’s harness and hipbelt are beefy enough to support 70-pound loads, an increasingly rare feat. Credit a six-inch-wide, mattress like hipbelt with an innovative cinching system (more below), an extremely firm internal frame, and a customizable torso that you can micro-adjust from 19 to 22.5 inches.

Two testers spent a week using the Terkum in Yosemite, carrying heavy loads for the annual park clean-up. “I loaded the pack up with cans, bottles, and even someone’s forgotten boots,” reports one. “The hipbelt kept the weight off of my shoulders, and I never felt out of balance.” In addition to a standard buckle closure, the hipbelt features a dial-to-fit Boa cable system (commonly found on snowboard boots and ski helmets) that snugs the belt in toward the lumbar area, eliminating any extra space that might cause chafing or interfere with load transfer to the hips.

A tug and a twist of the small round knob on the wing of the hipbelt activates dual wires hidden beneath the lumbar panel—they allow the hipbelt to be adjusted (on the fly) in the lower back as well as the belly. Twin aluminum stays frame the backpanel, helping to distribute the load and direct weight to the mid-back and hips.

The top-loader also has a U-shaped zipper that opens the pack’s entire front panel, and while there are no water bottle pockets, two vertical map pockets are big enough for liter bottles. Damage report: One overzealous tester cranked the Boa wires too tight and broke the mechanism, causing the load to wobble. Fortunately, Boa offers a lifetime guarantee. $260; 6 lbs. 3 oz.; 85 liters; vaudeusa.com