The North Face Terra 45 vs. Osprey Hornet 46 – Product Review
For my upcoming RTW, I’m currently picking the right travel bags.
I’m currently looking for the perfect carry-on sized backpack/framepack.
My requirements: It must be as big as possible while still meeting all of the dimension standards for airline carry-on luggage in the United States. It must be comfortable. And it must be something I will not have problems walking 500 miles on the Camino de Santiago with. Not asking a lot, right?
My product comparison and reviews, after initial packing and fitting:
Osprey Hornet 46
This is an ultralight-class backpacking pack. Great for multi-day treks for people who really know how to pack light! The pack weighs in around 1.5lbs.
Osprey Hornet 46 Pros:
-True US carry-on size for flights
-The mouth opens very wide, making it really easy to pack
-Not rigid, can conform to the shape of your gear.
-Loads of expandable parts and straps for gear.
-Felt VERY light, even when fully-loaded (especially after trying on the North Face pack, loaded with the same burden.)
-Osprey’s AMG: All Mighty Guarantee. There really is no better warranty on a bag than Osprey’s. If your bag is damaged, they will fix it. If they can’t fix it, they’ll replace it. I’ve had nothing but great experiences so far with Osprey products.
-Exterior water bladder sleeve (stiff osprey bladder available, which will add stiffness and structure to the overall pack)
Osprey Hornet 46 Cons:
-The pack took quite a lot of adjusting to get it to optimal fit and it never really sat right on my hips. I loaded this pack with a stack of books and then stuffed it full with a heavy blanket. The weight seemed distributed onto my shoulders and pulled on my neck, which is very bad for me. If you don’t have back/neck/shoulder issues like I do, this may not bother you, but overall, the weight of any pack ought to sit on your hips, not pull on your back. Men may not have this problem.
-The hip straps and straps overall are very, very thin. The hip straps are not padded at all. I trust Osprey when they say they stand behind this bag, and I know it’s an “ultralight” so things should be slim, but the thin straps and hip belt made me nervous about the durability of this bag. As did the very thin construct material.
– Felt more like it was designed for a man than a woman. It probably was, but I usually have to buy men’s packs as I’m straight-waisted. Because of this, I look for men’s packs that have high-sitting sternum straps (so as not to smash “the girls”). The Hornet’s sternum straps just barely sat high enough. Ideally they would have been adjustable slightly higher.
The North Face Terra 45
The Terra is the first backpacking pack I’ve tried and I was quite impressed. It weighs in at just over 3lbs, which is great for a backpack.
The North Face Terra 45Pros:
-Airline carry-on size (truly)
-Top loading AND side-zip access to main compartment.
-Bottom zip compartment for sleeping bag or laundry
-Font zip compartment
-Stiff build with a removable hard-sheet
-Great ventilation system and padding on hip and shoulder straps
-The North Face makes excellent products. I’ve used them for years with no complaints.
The North Face Terra 45 Cons:
-One pound+ heavier than the Hornet. And it felt heavier.
-It is bulkier despite having the same dimensions as the Osprey Hornet, and has one liter less capacity than the Hornet.
I’m simply not comfortable with the idea of traveling (on foot) for 500 miles without a padded hip-belt. And less comfortable with a pack that will weigh on my shoulders. So, the North Face Terra 45 is the bag for me. It is comfortable, stiff and has enough strap padding on both the hips and shoulders. It sits firmly on my hips and feels substantial enough to last me around the world.
UPDATE, January 2015:
After traveling the world for the past 15 months with my North Face Terra 45 I am happy to report that it was a STELLAR choice. It fit perfectly in overhead bins and provided me with ample space for everything I needed on shorter trips afield. (I frequently stashed my big suitcase in a “home base” location and traveled to remote islands and the like for several days at a time.) The Terra 45 has been the perfect carry-on sized backpack. It is comfortable, durable and well-constructed.
Tip: Purchase yourself a rain-cover for the Terra to help protect it from rips, tears and weather. I purchased a size medium rain cover, and it fits fine, but if I were to to it over again I’d purchase the size Large just for a bit more ease.