c.a5546718wrote a review of Black Diamond Element 60 Backpack - 3661-3783cu in on April 30, 2016
Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer
I have used this pack extensively for more than 1000 trail miles, mostly on the southern Appalachian Trail.
1. Absolute Genius side pockets. The number one best feature is the bellowed side pockets, easily opened and closed with one hand without contorting elbows and wrists. They are huge and hold everything on the trail. The cinch cord can be replaced easily when worn thin.
2. Superb choice of fabrics. The side pocket and front pockets are made of the same tough fabric, and not made of mesh that always snags on things or stretch fabric that eventually sags.
3. Decent and flexible back panel. The plastic framesheet is fully sewn in between the back padding and inside fabric layer. The frame is a removable 1/8 inch spring steel rod shaped around the inside perimeter and attached with sleeves and Velcro tabs. The frame is just rigid enough to maintain shape with lighter loads, but the frame is maybe a bit too flexible so that the lumbar bows out with heavier loads. However, this flexibility allows the back panel to conform perfectly to the body and you can easily just wiggle the pack into shape.
4. The lumbar pad is soft, comfortable, and supportive, as are the shoulder straps. However, the least favorite feature is the single yoke attachment that combines both shoulder straps. It does take getting used to and, if not fitted just right, can be a little annoying or chaffing on the shoulders. With a smaller neck I have little problem, but I imagine a larger neck would not fit well. I would prefer no yoke and to have each shoulder strap attach directly to the pack.
5. Sleek and elegant, stealth design. No silly flair. Single shiny black color matches everything.
6. Looks good without lid, has two collar cinches. I usually put lid inside pack and cinch the bottom collar to give the sleek design on top. However, the front straps that attach the lid are long will have to be stowed somewhere, like in the side pockets.
7. Voluminous lid with good sling straps. I have used the lid for many day hikes, often for three hours or more. Fits everything for a day and slings well over one shoulder.
8. Light. You get a lot of bang (capacity and comfort) for the low weight. On my scale the main pack mass is 1499 g (52.9 oz) and the lid mass is 161 g (5.7 oz).
9. Sizing is just good enough for the tall and skinny. I am 5'11" with 21" torso and 32" waist. The size L fits the torso perfectly (size M was too tight), but the waistbelt has to be cinched most of the way, which means I'd better not lose weight! A removable/interchangeable hipbelt is preferred.
10. Overall, the best pack with the best feature set I have ever carried. View: https://youtu.be/SGPLzKz-Bxs and https://youtu.be/YecSSy2Ovvc