Black Diamond Mission 75
- Best value
- Second lightest bag in test set
- Wide body compartment
- Crampon sleeve
- Good expandability and compression
- Difficult buckles
- Backwards leaning center of gravity
- Lack of torso length adjustment
The second-from-the-top spot and the Best Value badge go to the Black Diamond Mission 75, which had the most consistent performance of all packs in the test. Its biggest sell is its light weight and adaptability to a variety of conditions. The only real complaint we had is its tendency to pack with a backwards leaning center of gravity.
The waist straps on the Mission 75 are underpowered, but the firm and flexible padding enables the user to get a snug fit with a heavy load. The pack has a flat, flexible frame that enables the spine to move but also provides a firm foundation upon which the shoulder harness and waist strap can be mounted. This is a category where this pack struggles, mainly because of its intended use for mountaineering (hauling heavy, big loads for shorter distances), rather than traditional backpacking use. It is not possible to adjust the torso length.
The body compartment of the Mission is wide, allowing for huge loads despite its light weight. The compartment opens with a drawstring cinch on the top, and also has a button and zipper that open farther to accommodate any load. There is a water bladder sleeve and a reinforced seat. There are also two lateral buckled straps on either side that allow for a wide range of compression and expanding, further advancing this pack’s ability to swallow loads of all sizes.
One of the only complaints we had about the Black Diamond Mission 75 is its tendency to adopt a backwards-leaning center of gravity when fully packed. This is caused mainly by its wide, squat construction, and can be partially alleviated with careful packing and use of the compression straps. There is a small amount of pivot action where the waist straps connect to the frame, which helps keep the user balanced when they have a heavy load.
The Mission features a reinforced seat that protects a vulnerable area of the pack and also works to keep cargo dry when the bag is set down in snow. Obvious places of vulnerability, such as the seam where the shoulder strap connects to the frame or where the waist straps join the body, are reinforced with extra fabric and stitching, making this bag very durable. The exterior treatment provides a basic level of water resistance.
The Black Diamond Mission 75 is loaded down with extras. Many of these extras stem from its mountaineering focus, such as the single harness gear loop on either side of the waist strap, the well-protected crampon sleeve on the back, and the buckled ice tool slots, which are secured at the top by velcro. There are no hip pouches on the waist straps, but there is a whistle on the sternum strap.
How We Tested It
The packs in this test were used throughout the winter and spring of 2017, during day hikes and overnight backpacking trips from 1-4 nights, with mileage hovering around a dozen miles a day. Tests were conducted on Maryland’s Western Shore, in the Olympic Range of Washington State, the Cascades of the Pacific Northwest, and in the central Sierra Nevada. This geographic diversity of conditions allowed for a look into each pack’s strengths and weakness. Each pack had at least 20 pounds in them, and some had as much as double that.
For more reviews beyond this 2017 test, check out our Best Weekend Backpacking Tents of 2017 and Best One Person Backpacking Tents of 2017, along with our sleeping bag tests and stove tests, as well as other related hiking and camping gear tests.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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- Type of Backpack: Expedition Pack
- Volume (unverified): 75 L
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