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Gear Review

5 5

Like carrying a cloud

I know, pretty broad statement, right? Well, that's what it felt like on a 8-day trip in the Pyrenees. At first, I was a little concerned if the 65 might hold all the backpacking (2P tent, sleeping bag and pad, clothing, rain gear, food), plus camera equipment (tripod, body, 4 lenses and accessories) for a week-long trip but the Mercury did awesome.

+ Back ventilation was superb, even in the 90 degree temperatures on the valley floors.
+ The ErgoActiv system worked as it is supposed to and exceeded my expectations. It moved really well with me on the narrow Pyrenean trails and scree sections, while always being supportive and feeling well designed, something I wouldn't say about another manufacturer other than BD.
+ Shoulder straps felt a little stiff at first but after a couple of miles, they wear in and you appreciate the support of the Swing Arm technology. Overall, the pack felt much lighter than it actually was (mid 40lbs. range I would guess) and I have to applaud Black Diamond (again) for designing a pack that allows you to hike more miles with seemingly less weight to carry.
+ The removable hip belt is gold when air travel is involved. You can board the plane knowing you can attach the hip belt once you picked up your pack, nothing gets ripped off. Easy call. The hex key stores away in the right pocket of the belt - perfect.
+ The hiking pole loops are cleverly designed and so are the additional straps that just store away in little pockets under the top lid and in the smaller front compartment, which is large enough to fit rain jacket and pants, maps, etc. at the same time for easy access.

Easily the best backpack I ever carried and I wouldn't hesitate recommending it.

Oh, and I got the Stone color, which is actually a little more on the olive-ish green side, yet, a color I would still classify as brown, just with said super light olive-ish color cast.