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Dana Design Terraplane

rated 5.0 of 5 stars

Dana Design is no longer in business, and the Terraplane has been discontinued. It was replaced by the Mystery Ranch Terraplane.

I bought my first Dana (Terraplane) back in '91. I've used it on many trips on the AT, PCT, CDT, Grand Canyon and in Bolivia, and Ecuador. I've been out three weeks at a time and over many weekends. The pack carried consistently well, never had any sore spots, hipbelt felt great and load distribution was very managable.

I love the two back pockets for the need to get items during the day, and the top pocket plenty large and very easy to convert to a fanny pack which rode very comfortable when attached to a very comfortable hipbelt. The internal compression strap is a plus for getting big loads close to you're back and center of gravity. Even with a heavy load (50-60lbs) the pack moves with you as one unit. The load stabilizer straps on the side of the pack that pull the weight into you I hardly ever used except heavy loads and It didn't seem to make any appreciatable difference.

The only complaint I may have is the lack of water bottle pockets (which is not the fault of the pack) and some threads' ends coming loose, didn't seem to affect the integrety of the pack but it was happening.

After 15 years I decided to donate the pack to Big City Mountaineers since it was still in good shape and had many years left. Then I went and bought a Terraplane LTW in a Med., the first pack was a Lg. During the initial fitting on the first pack I was told I could go either Med. or Lg. I decided to try the medium this time.

Same result only better, the pack is lighter, water bottle pockets on the side. The pack is just about perfect.

Design: top-loading internal
Size: 5800
Number of Pockets: 3
Max. Load Carried: 65 lbs
Height of Owner: 5'10"
Price Paid: $369

I've had this pack for little more than a year and am happy to say that I've had no problems whatsoever with the quality of workmanship. I've used it in rain, snow, and desert conditions without a complaint. As my first pack, I based my purchase largely on the company's impecable reputation for quality and fit, a mistake in shopping judgement at best. But luckily, I didn't go wrong in my selection. I'm not one to baby my gear and tend to thrash my pack in chapparal and rocks. I am indeed fortunate to own a pack as bombproof as it is.

One problem that I did have with the fit reared its head on the very first day I carried the Terraplane. The shaped stays on the internal frame left a gap between the pack and my lower back, resulting in aches and a sharp pain by day's end. A removal of the center aluminum stay (the two others on the side are carbon fiber and are not reshapable) and a quick bending to accentuate the lower curvature handled the problem.

The Terraplane has carried varying loads of 40 to 60+ pounds with equal aplomb. Support and adjustment are mind boggling. The selection of compartments may seem minimal at first, but they are well thought out and I have found that there is little need for any more.

One feature that I sorely miss however, is the side zippers found on the 10th Anniversary Edition and the Overkill models. After having borrowed a friend's Astralplane Overkill with this feature, I am determined to add it to my Terraplane by taking it to a seamstress knowledgable in backpacking gear. Otherwise, I am confident in my purchase and hope to enjoy it many more for years of use.

Design: Internal
Size: 5000+
Number of Pockets: 1+2
Max. Load Carried: 60
Height of Owner: 5'10"
Price Paid: $430

I bought this Dana Design Terraplane in 1988 from the Benchmark in Farmington, MI. The staff took great care in fitting the pack to me which impressed me somewhat.

I have done dozens of weekend trips in Michigan. My trips to the west include Grand Canyon R-R 3 times, Zion twice, Bryce twice, Paria Canyon and the Canyon Lands. This pack has been with me every step of the way and I wouldn’t trade it for anything I have seen along the way.

Durable, comfortable, and can hold more than I need to carry ever. I do wish I could get a “Brand New” clone of the original…

Design: Dana Design Terraplane
Size: Large @7000
Number of Pockets: many
Max. Load Carried: 65 lbs
Height of Owner: 6 ft
Price Paid: About $400

My first pack was a Jansport internal. When I decided to upgrade I went with the big boys (and big bucks) and made it a Dana. I am so glad I did. I have used this pack for almost three years now, and it's holding up beautifully. It can be cinched down for light overnights, or you can load it with more weight than should be permitted. I went to the San Juan mountains this August for two weeks with a friend of mine. We carried all of our fuel and gear for two weeks, and one weeks worth of food at a time. Average load in the pack with water was about 60 lbs. On the tenth day, his packframe snapped, so I carried much of his gear for the climb to the Continental Divide. The only thing that would have made that climb easier is if my legs were stronger. This is a great pack. Great fit, great durabillity, great comfort, great balance. If you can afford it buy it.

Design: Internal
Size: 6400
Number of Pockets: 4
Max. Load Carried: 95 lbs.
Height of Owner: 6'6''
Price Paid: $400

When I was first looking for an internal to replace my Jansport external that always left me bruised I did not think I would be able to afford a Dana so I did not really even look at them to start out.

I almost bought and Osprey but then I found the Dana on sale for $350 which was the same price as the Osprey.

After talking to several people they all suggested the Dana. So far I've used it on less than 10 hikes but it has been great. I had some mild discomfort on the first hike as the hipbelt broke in. This September I did an overnight in Zion on the West Rim Trail. I had mild shoulder pain but I think that is mostly related to me still learning how to adjust the pack.

I would recommend one to anyone but unless I could find one on sale I could not pay that much.

Design: Internal
Size: 5000+ (medium)
Number of Pockets: 2
Max. Load Carried: 65 lbs
Height of Owner: 6 feet
Price Paid: $350 (close out sale)

Version reviewed: 1999

I've had this pack for a year now and have used it a number of times but for no more than four days at a time. However, there is plenty of room and this pack could definitely be used for longer trips. This is my first internal frame pack and I've been very happy with it. I've always had a sore back at the end of a day of packing with externals but this pack has proved to be very comfortable--especially after I figured out how to tweak all the load adjusters. The pack doesn't come with a place to store a water bottle so that it can be reached easily. But overall I have been very pleased with the Terraplane and would strongly recommend it to anyone else. Also, my recommendation is to look for a '99 model because if you look you can find them at a significantly lower price than the 2000s.

Design: internal frame
Size: 5600
Number of Pockets: 3
Max. Load Carried: 50
Height of Owner: 6'1''
Price Paid: $230

I got my Terraplane in the mid '90s. The SEAL version not a make on it after many miles in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan.

I have an 85lbs Siberian Husky that decided the right hip belt buckle and strap tasted good. Who knows where I can get it repaired?


  • Everything is great!


  • N/A

Great pack. I have had it for 23 years with no problems.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $370

As others have confirmed, this is an awesome pack (at least mine which is a 1996 model before Dana got bought out). Buy from a good dealer who will take an hour or two to fit you and you'll be very happy with this pack. The interchangeable parts make it fit better than anything else I've tried. I don't think packs get much more comfortable.

The only downsides to this pack are the weight (it's average for its size but a bit heavy for my tastes) and the lack of a size zip on the main bag. The latter just adds weight and a possible failure area so I don't miss the zipper but it does make it hassle if you need something from deep in the main compartment.

Design: Internal Frame
Size: 5500?
Number of Pockets: 3
Max. Load Carried: 40 lbs
Height of Owner: 6'2"
Price Paid: $439

Version reviewed: 10th Anniversary

The carry is stable on difficult terrain and supportive under very heavy loads. The packbag is easy to organize and live out of (I especially appreciate the side-entry zips on the 10th Anniversary model). The modular design of the suspension means you can get an exact fit no matter what your body's configuration.

What else is there? Oh yes, the sticker price will make your knees buckle. Definitely not for everyone. But if your trips require large and heavy loads of gear, get a Terraplane, or one of the ArcFlex packs anyway. Or you'll regret it. Maybe not today, but soon (like your next hard trip) and for the rest of your (other pack's) life. Still the best.

Design: Internal frame expedition pack
Size: just over 6000 cu. in.
Number of Pockets: 3 (top and 2 on back)
Max. Load Carried: 70 - 75 lb
Height of Owner: 6' 1"
Price Paid: $459

I have owned my Terraplane now for three years and it has held up incredibly well. I have used the pack alot over that time, including a three-month mountaineering course. The pack was used and used hard. Everything from carrying 75 lbs. on a 10-day glacier trip to 10 pounds as a lightweight summit pack. The fit is superb. Dana has enough options for fitting that anyone can be comfortable. And the construction is also the best quality. The only thing the pack couldn't repel was a curious pika who chewed a hole in one of the outside pockets. I would recomend this pack to anyone. It is worth full price but definitely find a sale if you can.

Design: internal
Size: 6100
Number of Pockets: 4
Max. Load Carried: 75 ibs
Height of Owner: 5-10
Price Paid: 360 Can.

While working in the Huts for the AMC I heard a lot of thru hike horror stories concerning their packs. Everyone that had a Dana loved it, so I went to IME and tried on every pack they had. In the end the Terraplane fit the best. Eight years later, I still get excited everytime I load up this pack. It carries megaheavy loads with grace, day after day. I've backpacked/climbed in the Whites, Greens, Daks, Rockies, Tetons, Cascades, Sierras, Alps, and Himalaya and have never had a strap, buckle or seam fail. This is an outstanding pack, but only if it fits! Try one several packs from different manufactures before you buy.

Design: Internal Frame
Size: 6500
Number of Pockets: 1 main, 2 Outside
Max. Load Carried: 80 lbs
Height of Owner: 6' 3"
Price Paid: $420

I know that Dana owners get annoying with their barrage of praise for their packs and before i got one i wondered if they were just backing up the price they paid for it with undue praise. let me tell you--this pack is AMAZING. i will never carry my daypack again. i've never had a pack-related ache or pain and the load always feels like 20lbs whether it's 20 or 50. i tried on every pack made and decided grudgingly that i'd pay the price and stick with the pack that felt best. it's been worth every penny through some very intensive trips... i wouldn't trade it for anything!!

Design: internal
Size: 5800
Number of Pockets: 2 long ones
Max. Load Carried: 50lbs
Height of Owner: 5'6"
Price Paid: sale $340

Expensive, but the best pack out there for making insane loads bearable. I thought I liked my Gregory untill I tried the Dana. I humped it up Glacier Peak with way too much weight, and it was tolerable, if not downright comfortable. It climbs well and fits tight to the back, so bushwacking and scrambling aren't a problem. My housemate finally got so tired of hearing me crow about mine, he bought his own and swears that he will never carry any thing but a Dana. If you're serious about backpacking, this is well worth the money. IMNSHO, the best pack out there.

Design: Internal Frame
Size: 6100
Number of Pockets: 4
Max. Load Carried: 75 lbs
Height of Owner: 5'11"
Price Paid: $425

Version reviewed: 1996

This pack was one of only two I tried on locally which felt like it fit. I carried the same load on this pack that I carried three weeks ago in an MEI and it felt 10 pounds lighter in the Dana. This model uses the main pack's hipbelt for the convertible top/fanny and it worked well. It uses the load lifter on the fanny pack, which helps.

Features I like include the internal straps to make the sleeping bag compartment disappear, space for tilting your head back, extra material on top for crampons, and simple, effective adjustments.

Design: internal frame
Size: 5800 cu. in.
Number of Pockets: 2
Max. Load Carried: about 55 lbs.
Height of Owner: 6'0"
Price Paid: $335 on sale (US)

I bought my first Terraplane back in 1990. Many trips on the Appalachian Trail, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming the pack had always carried the same way. The weight spread evenly across my back and aound the hipbelt, never any pressure points. Always a comfortable ride. I always try to keep pack weight down (below 50 lbs). Except a few trips in So. America had weights up over 60 lbs.

Recently bought a Terraplane LTW, a little lighter but the same ride, like the added feature of wand pockets.

Design: Rucksack
Size: 5800 Cu. in.
Number of Pockets: 3
Max. Load Carried: 65 lbs
Height of Owner: 5' 10"
Price Paid: $350

I bought my Dana about five years ago and it is still going strong. Except for the weight of the pack it's the best around. I however prefer not to carry over 50 lbs with it, any more and you should be looking at an external. I met Dana last year at trail days in Damascus, Va. He upgraded my hip pad and suspension system with no questions asked. The old pad had been slowly wearing a hole on my hips. anyway great pack, spend the money.

Design: internal
Size: 5-6000
Number of Pockets: 6
Max. Load Carried: 60lbs
Height of Owner: 72"
Price Paid: $419

I spent a lot of time researching backpacks and the day I finally desided to go out and buy one the Terraplane was on sale. How grateful I have been ever since. My first trip was a day trip up Tuckerman's Ravine on Mt. Washington. Fully loaded with skis, boots, poles, food, winter clothing, and etc., the load was barely noticeable and even with skis the pack kept the load perfectly balanced. As all Dana Design pack owners, I can't say enough about my pack.

Design: internal
Size: 5000
Number of Pockets: 4
Max. Load Carried: 60 lbs
Height of Owner: 6'-2"
Price Paid: $360

I tried on every pack made before deciding on this one. It was fitted for me by the dealer, and it left all other packs in the dust. It has won numerous contests in magazines, and is the most comfortable pack I have ever worn. Wait for a sale. Even I wouldn't pay full price for it though; that is its only downside.

Design: Internal Frame
Size: 6100
Number of Pockets: 2, not including top
Max. Load Carried: 65-70 lbs.
Height of Owner: 5' 11''
Price Paid: $439

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