Dana Design is no longer in business, and the Terraplane X has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best expedition packs for 2020.
Historic Range: $75.00
Reviewers Paid: $360.00-$450.00
I've been using this pack since 1996 when Dana Design released it as their tenth anniversary edition. I tried out the Gregory Denali Pro at the same time, but I just thought this pack felt more comfortable. Since that time I've used this pack the way that it was meant to be used. It has been to the top of Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker, along with logging numerous trail miles all over the East Coast of the US. During training hikes I have had 75 pounds in this pack, and while I won't go so far as to say that I couldn't feel it, the pack itself was fine.
I guess the best compliment that I can give this pack is to say that in preparation for a Denali climb in the upcoming few years, I decided to buy a used 1996 Dana Design Astralplane (that wasn't much cheaper than its original MSRP) rather than going with any of the packs currently on the market.
Design: top- and side-loading
Size: 5800 cubic inches
Number of Pockets: 2 + removable top lid
Max. Load Carried: 75 pounds
Height of Owner: 5' 10"
Price Paid: $360
In short, a great pack.
I'm primarily a trail walker (800 miles on the A.T. and Long Trail), and a long-time owner of external frame Kelty packs. I had to buy an all-new pack for this trip and scoured the Internet to research my options. I narrowed my list to several external frame packs and tried on the Kelty Super Tioga and Dana Designs Terraframe at a local outfitter. The salesman had hiked the A.T. in the mid-'90s using a Terraplane X and talked me into giving it a go (since they didn't have a Terraframe in stock in my size). I spent a week on the A.T. in western Vermont and eastern New Hampshire and loved the way the pack performed. It took me at least four days to get used to packing it differently than my old Kelty, and all the adjustment straps seem to take me 10 minutes longer to get going in the morning, but the end result was incredibly comfortable handling the 35-45 pound loads I was carrying.
I also used the pack to carry perhaps 18-20 pounds for eight miles and noticed that, while very capable, the pack no longer curved to my back since there wasn't enough weight to push into my lower back. I also used the HipLid as a daypack, stuffing a water bottle, two pairs of socks (my feet sweat a lot on a 20-mile hike), a first aid kit and snack food in easily. The hipbelt and hip cinchers did a great job of keeping the weight pretty tight against my hips, although I did have to pull the belt very tight.
I'm still a little concerned about heat build-up with an internal frame pack on a very hot day (80+ degrees), but everything gets hot to some extent and this pack rides great with at least moderate weight.
Design: Internal Frame
Number of Pockets: 6
Max. Load Carried: 45
Height of Owner: 5' 9"
Price Paid: $450