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Laser 35 Pack Put Through Its Paces On The Gruelling Spine Challenger Event

Posted on February 17th, 2015
Laser 35 lightweight test hard at work

Paul McCarty chose the Terra Nova Laser 35 pack over other brands for the recent Spine Challenger Event, here’s what he thought

The TN Laser 35 was the lightest of all the packs assessed and so was my pack of choice during the Spine Challenger race.

I tested the pack on several walks and runs (up to 15 miles) prior to using it during the ‘Spine Challenger’ ultra-marathon. The Spine race is dubbed ‘Britain’s most brutal race’ owing to the fact it takes place in January on the Pennine Way. The Spine Challenger event covered the first 112 miles of the Pennine Way from Edale to Hawes.

Laser 35 rucksack contents

Required kit for the Spine Challenge


The race requires participants to carry several items of mandatory equipment, including sleeping bag, bivi bag or tent, stove, full waterproofs, food, water, first aid kit, maps, head torch, GPS and spare clothing.

In addition competitors were instructed to carry a sleep mat. To meet the kit requirements I removed the foam back pad from the Laser, and using it as a template cut out a double sized pad from a foam sleep mat.

During December I trained with a full pack (just below 20lbs). The race day pack weighed 16lbs as I was wearing full waterproofs (including hat and gloves), as I did throughout the race. In addition to the mandatory equipment I carried walking poles which were stored in one of the side pockets.

The race began at 6.30am on Saturday 10th January 2015 in difficult weather conditions, which included rain and strong winds of up to 70 mph. The winds continued throughout the event; however rain was followed by hail, then snow. The temperature dropped to minus 7, with wind chill this was reported to be minus 21.

Laser 35 lightweight rucksack

Terra Nova Laser 35 packed with the required kit for the Spine Challenger race


Unlike traditional packs the main compartment of the TN Laser 35 is accessed via a zip that runs the length (top to bottom) of the pack. This afforded instant access to contents, saving time and ‘unnecessary faffing’ in the extreme weather conditions.

I found the pack very comfortable and stable with the pad preventing kit rubbing or poking me in the back. This is a problem I have experienced with other packs from Inov8 or Salomon; it can be quite uncomfortable and annoying.

The pack is very lightweight and it was easily able to contain the vast amounts of gear required. I spoke with a couple of other competitors using the same pack; they were largely impressed,


Overall, the pack performed very well, I would definitely use it again and recommend it to other racers. I did not suffer from any rubs, something I have done with other packs. Unfortunately I dropped out of the race at 87 miles, after 36 hours due to my race partner suffering from exhaustion. We were 11th and 12th at the time with 25 miles to go. However, we have already decided to go back next year.

More in formation about the Laser 35 and other lightweight packs in the range.

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