Vaude Terkum 65 +10 II backpack review by Jimbo Smith
It seems like 28 was the age when my body decided that it was time to start complaining. Pre 28, I could hammer my body as hard as I liked by hauling heavy packs in the hills, climbing bucket loads and tumbling off my mountain bike. All it took was a few cold beers to sooth the bruises followed by a good nights sleep on the ground and I was ready to hit it hard again. Then I turned 28 and the unthinkable happened! My body decided that it needed to be pampered. So much so, that it threatened me with lots of little niggles until I had no choice but to pay some attention to it. Worst hit, was my back, shoulders and neck, which constantly remind me of how much I have abused them in the past. So instead of taking more rest days or doing something silly like yoga, I decided to acquire some items that I though my body would appreciate. These included an ergonomic chair, an orthopaedic pillow and a backpack that fits well.
I have been using the Vaude Terkum 65 +10 II backpack for about 4 months now and am reviewing it for this article. I am pleased to say that that it is a truckload more comfortable than previous backpacks that I’ve used. It comes with a bunch of features which allow you to fully customize the pack to fit very comfortably. Another bonus is that all these adjustments can be made quickly and easily while the pack is on your back. At first glance, some of these features seemed a little gimmicky, but after testing them out, their accessibility really made a big difference when hauling really heavy loads.
Size: The pack is classified as a 75-liter pack. This sounds pretty bulky but the main compartment of the pack is relatively slim so it is perfect as a crag pack. It can also be easily turned into to a multi-day trekking bag by stuffing the pockets full of goodies and expanding the main section by extending the lid up high.
Shoulder straps: The pack has a ‘Tergo Light Easy Adjust Suspension System’. This is a fancy way of saying that you can easily adjust the torso height of the bag while it is on your back by tugging or releasing a red strap on the hip belt (which looks a bit like a rip cord for a parachute). The shoulder straps are comfortable, even without a shirt on and have all the usual adjustment straps. There is also sternum strap (which I never used).
Hip belt: The manual says the hip belt has a ‘reinforced polyethylene plate that is anatomically contoured’. Sounds quite cool! Even better, there’s a dial on the hip belt that you turn to adjust the angle of the belt so that it fits the shape of your your hips: crank the dial up tight if you have broad hips or leave it loose if you have narrow hips. This was surprisingly effective but funnily enough, I found it most comfortable cranked up tight which I guess would suggest that I have wide hips! Either way the hip belt was very padded and super comfortable and could be adjusted to distribute a lot of the weight evenly over my hips. I am not sure if it was designed for this in mind, but I also found myself adjusting the hip belt angle depending on whether I was going up or downhill. This helped to reduce an ache in my buttocks that I often used to get with my old pack.
Pockets: The detachable lid has a large main top pocket with a smaller pocket underneath which is suitable for flat objects like a pancake. There is also a pocket tucked away inside the main bag, probably for hiding make-up or that sort of thing. The side pockets are big enough for a two-liter bottle and are collapsible when empty. I really like this design because it means you can stream line the bag if necessary, but I know some hikers dislike this style of pocket. There is also a pocket on the front of the bag with a vertical zip down the length of the pocket. You have to watch out that your belongings don’t fall out if you open the zip while the pack is upright. It’s ideal for keeping a raincoat or warm top.
About the only thing that I really didn’t like about the bag were the water bottle pockets. These were situated low down at the sides of the pack. The problem is that they are way too flimsy to secure water bottles which wobble around and affect your balance. Worst of all is that your water bottles shoot out over your head when you bend over to tie your shoelace. One redeeming feature is that they can be concealed with a zip, so you can pretend that they are not there.
Compression straps: The pack has side compression straps and ones on the bottom of the main compartment, which help with stability by compressing the contents when the pack is not full. They are also useful for strapping on long items such as tent poles or bedrolls. I really like straps that run across the front of the pack so that you can attach a bedroll vertically so that it doesn’t get mauled by bushes. Unfortunately this pack doesn’t have them. There are also ice axe/trekking pole straps. You can tuck the bottom ones away in a pouch when not in use so they don’t get caught on things. The top ice axe strap is simply a piece of elastic with a toggle, which didn’t seem very sturdy to me. Its probably very unlikely but I pictured an ice axe being caught on a bush and then being catapulted out of its place by the elastic!
Other features: The pack has a detachable rain cover which tucks away in a pocket at the bottom of the bag when the sun is shining; a hydration bladder that you can stuff in and thread the hose through the pack’s dedicated opening; two zips on the front panel allowing easy access to forgotten items when the pack is full to capacity; a main compartment which can be divided in two with a zip so you can keep your smelly climbing shoes away from your lunch.
Colour: The bag I have is luminous yellow and it’s the first thing that people comment on. I can’t wait to see it under a UV light. Now a bag this color has certain advantages like being visible when Search and Rescue are hovering in your vicinity in a helicopter, but if you are a prone to dodging the authorities, you may want to choose a colour that is a little less conspicuous.
Over all opinion: A great pack that can be fully and easily adjusted to fit your back. It is suitable for day climbing or multi day trekking with really long walks and very heavy loads. Except for the water bottle pockets all the features were really useful and well designed. The workmanship on the pack seems really good and it looks like it is built to last but only time will tell whether the zips and seams will hold out.