Gear Review: GoLite Terrono 70

This load monster's suspension is so dialed, it can induce a pleasant form of trail amnesia.

[best all-around]

This load monster’s suspension is so dialed, it can induce a pleasant form of trail amnesia. “I totally forgot how heavy my pack was (50-plus pounds) until I hoisted it after a break,” said one tester after a trek through Colorado’s Mt. Evans Wilderness. He credits two key features: 1) the wide, cushy hipbelt, which adjusts up and down and side to side, and hugs the hips from two points; 2) rigid load support courtesy of an inverted aluminum U around the frame’s perimeter and a vertical stay.

The combo provides the best weight transfer of any expedition pack we tested this year. It also rides an inch away from the back, which kept another tester from getting swampy in 90°F heat. The dual-access (top and bottom) main compartment packs out, not up, which preserves a full range of head motion, but can get a little unwieldy during scrambling. After a 15-foot free fall off a ledge, the Dyneema* packbag proved itself tough against punctures and abrasion. Pleasant surprise: Unlike most bags in its class, the Terrono has a supersized hydration sleeve that’s big enough for a six-liter reservoir.

Two unpleasant ones: The zippers for the hipbelt pockets lie directly underneath the hip stabilizer strap, making it difficult to fully close the zipper; and padding on the adjustable backpanel can slump at the top, exposing Velcro which chafes skin. The women’s version is the Terrono 65 (pictured). Eco-bonus: 50% of the pack is Tier 1 recycled fabric (for which GoLite earned a 2010 Editors’ Choice Green Award). $275; 4 lbs. 5 oz.; 70 liters

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backpack reviews from the 2011 Gear Guide