Gear Guy

Can a pack really be worth $400?

I have a Gregory Palisade pack and love it. A number of recent comments and reviews of the Dana Designs Terraplane pack have suggested it is the best pack on the market. However, I find the price of over $400 extreme. Is there something inherent in this pack that would suggest such a premium over the $200 to $300 internal fre packs in its category? David R. Eitemiller Colorado Springs, Colorado

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The Dana Designs Terraplane ($439) has been the bar other packs have tried to leap over ever since it was introduced more than years ago. There are a few custom packs that might carry a load a bit better, but only if you shell out another $300. A Terraplane has been my main pack for eight-plus years, and I’ve never carried a pack that could beat it.

Still, some come very close, and when matters of taste are brought to bear, may match it. Certainly, Gregory’s packs offer a terrific combination of solid features and performance coupled with reasonable pricing. That company’s Whitney ($350) is a terrific all-around pack, with 5,500 cubic inches of capacity in the “regular” size, lots of pockets and packing options, and a suspension that some people find equal or superior to the Terraplane’s. It’s definitely a good pack to check out.

In the next price range down, Lowe Alpine’s Liberty 75 + 20 ($269) gives you about 5,000 cubic inches and a lot of great load-carrying ability. The hip belt on the Liberty is very firm, permitting big loads, and the back is well ventilated so you don’t sweat too much. Lowe Alpine’s packs always come out on top in the bang-for-the-buck category.

So, there are two packs that will let you carry 40-plus pounds, leave you enough cash for a new stove, and won’t leave you thinking, “Wow, I should have bought a Terraplane.”

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