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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Black Diamond Mercury 75 pack > Test Report by Ryan Lane Christensen

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courtesy of blackdiamondequipment.com

Black Diamond

Mercury 75L Backpack

Test Series by
Ryan Christensen

Last Update - January 13, 2013

Mercury 75
image courtesy of blackdiamondequipment.com

ACCESS MAIN REPORT SECTIONS VIA THESE LINKS:

INITIAL REPORT
Jul 18, 2012
FIELD REPORT
Oct 11, 2012
LONG-TERM REPORT
Jan 13, 2013

INITIAL REPORT
July 18, 2012

Reviewer Information Backpacking Background
Name:  Ryan L. Christensen
Age:  47
Gender:  Male
Height:  6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:  235 lb (107 kg)
Email:  bigdawgryan(at)yahoo(dot)com
City, State, Country:   Idaho Falls, Idaho, USA

I began backpacking at twelve, continuing until 25. After an extended hiatus, due in part to a bad back, I resumed cycling, hiking, and backpacking several years ago. I also began snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. I share my love for backpacking and these sports with my children. I am a midweight backpacker, but carry a full array of necessary gear.
 

Product Information:

The information below came from Black Diamond's website and product instructions.

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Black Diamond Men's Mercury 75L Backpack
Manufacturer: Black Diamond Equipment, Ltd.
Manufacturer website: http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com
Place of Manufacture: the Philippines
Year Manufactured: 2012
Materials: Pack: 400d polyester twill and 420d nylon twill
Framesheet: HDPE
Stays: 6061 Aluminum
Sizes Available: Medium:
fits Torso = 17.5-20 in (45-52 cm) Waist = 29-34 in (73-86cm)
Large:
fits Torso = 19.5-23.5 in (50-57 cm) Waist = 34-39 in (86-99cm)
Volume: Medium: 75 L (4,577 cu in)
Large: 77 L (4,699 cu in)
Size Tested: Large
Colors Available: Coal (black)
Stone (taupe)
Color Tested: Stone
Warranty:

Limited Warranty

Black Diamond warrants for one year from the original purchase to the original retail buyer (Buyer) that its products (Products) are free from defects in material and workmanship.

MSRP:
$279.95 US

Product Specifications
Manufacturer's Specifications  

Dimensions:

Large: 33 x 33 x 89 cm (13 x 13 x 35 in)

Weight:

Large: 2.22 kg (4 lb 13 oz)
Tester's Actual Measurements  

Dimensions:

Large: 33 x 33 x 89 cm (13 x 13 x 35 in)

Weight:

Large: hipbelt: 15 oz (426.4 g)
Large: pack: 4 lb 6 oz (1,971.3 g
Large: TOTAL: 5 lb 5 oz (2.4 kg)

Product Description:

The Black Diamond Mercury 75 backpack, hereafter referred to as "Mercury" or "pack" is a top-loading/panel loading, internal-frame backpack. The Mercury 75 is a member of Black Diamond's Access Series of technical packs. Unlike traditional top-loading packs, the Mercury also has a waterproof zippered front access, thereby making it a panel-loader as well. The Mercury has a number of additional features that include:

Detachable Top Pocket: There is a floating top pocket, which is detachable and useable as a daypack with the included buckled waist strap. The main zippered access to the top pocket is waterproof. Inside there is a clip attached to the pack via webbing (I assume this is to secure keys, etc.) There is a non-waterproof zippered pocket on the underside of the top pocket.

Front Pocket: On the front of the main pack body is a zippered pocket with a waterproof zipper. Inside the front of this zippered pocket, near the top, is a zippered mesh pocket.

Hydration Pocket: Inside the main pack body, at the back covering the framesheet, is an elasticized pocket for a hydration bladder. At the top of the main compartment, there are two hydration ports, one on each side.

Zippered Mesh Pockets: In the main pack body, on the inside front, there are two zippered mesh pockets, one above the other, to aid in organizing one's gear.

Side Pockets: On the outside, at the bottom of the main pack body, there is an elasticized pocket on each side for water bottles, etc.

Hip Belt Pockets: There is a zippered pocket on each side of the hip belt.

Compartment Divider: There is a fabric divider that can be attached inside the main pack body to create a division for a sleeping bag or other gear at the bottom of the main pack body.

Retractable Trekking Pole/Ice Axe Loop: Tucked away in a garage along the left side of the front pocket is a retractable gear loop for use with trekking poles, ice axe, etc.

Retractable Sleeping Pad Straps: Tucked away in garages near the bottom of the front pocket are two webbing straps for use with a sleeping pad, etc.

Compression Straps: There are two webbing compression straps with buckles on each side of the main compartment.

Webbing Handle: There is a webbing handle just above the shoulder straps on the backside of the pack.

Drawcord: The top of the main pack body is closed via a drawcord and cord lock.

Adjustable Sternum Strap: The sternum strap is adjustable and the male portion of the buckle includes a safety whistle; another quality detail.

A major component of the Access Series of packs Black Diamond's ergoACTIV XP suspension whose key features include:

  • SwingArm shoulder straps [dynamic straps rise and fall with shoulder movements]
  • ergoACTIV hipbelt [3D pivoting hipbelt, moves independently from pack body]
  • OpenAir backpanel [for enhanced air movement]
  • Torso adjustment

Care and maintenance instructions for the pack, as listed in the instructions are:

  • Hand wash in cold water with a mild detergent.
  • Do not use bleach.
  • Hang to dry.

Initial Impression:

I was immediately impressed with the overall quality and attention to detail evident in this backpack. The number of pockets and straps should truly help me keep my gear secure and organized. I like the Mercury's detachable top pocket with buckled belt for use as a daypack. I really like the fact that the zippers to the interior of the pack are waterproof. The waterproof seam taping on the top and bottom of the pack further demonstrates the quality of workmanship that went into the Mercury. I like the stowable gear loops, another quality detail.

Initial Testing:

My initial testing included thoroughly inspecting the pack. It was during this inspection that I found the numerous pockets and features this pack sports. I found everything to be in order. There were no noticeable flaws in the material and all seams appeared tight and even, with those at the top and bottom of the pack being taped. The hipbelt was not attached to the pack.

After my inspection, I wanted to attach the hipbelt prior to trying the pack on for size. I was somewhat perplexed, as I could not figure out how to attach the hipbelt to the pack. It was only after looking at the instructions, which showed how to adjust the torso length, that I got a vague idea how to attach the hipbelt. The instructions showed using an Allen wrench (also known as a hex key, hex wrench, or Allen key) to make the adjustment. Upon further investigation, I found an Allen wrench secured in the right hip belt pocket. I used the Allen wrench to loosen the torso adjustment. Upon inspecting the piece that came out and the hip belt, I figured out that the piece taken out of the torso adjustment location needed to go through the cone-shaped hole in the hip belt. Needless to say, I feel Black Diamond fell down in regards to this. I expect more from a top-shelf company.

Initial Pros:

Initial Cons:

  • number of pockets
  • stowable gear loops
  • detachable top pocket
  • waterproof zippers and taping
  • poor instructions for attaching hipbelt

Top of Page


FIELD REPORT
October 11, 2012

Summary:

I have worn the backpack on four overnight backpacking trips. Thus far, the pack has performed very well.

Pros Thus Far:

Cons Thus Far:

  • ergoACTIV hipbelt
  • number of pockets
  • stowable gear loops
  • detachable top pocket
  • waterproof zippers and taping
  • poor instructions for attaching hipbelt

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

In early August, I used the backpack on an overnight backpack trip in Island Park, located between Ashton, Idaho and West Yellowstone, Montana. Island Parks is approximately 6,500 ft (1,981 m) above sea level.

Near the end of August, I used the pack on an overnight backpack trip to the Menan Buttes, located approximately 38 mi (61 km) northeast of Idaho Falls. The North Menan Butte is designated as a National Natural Landmark.

In September, I wore the pack on another overnight trip in Island Park and on an overnight backpacking trip in the Kelly Canyon Nordic Area, which is located 26 miles (42 km) northeast of Idaho Falls, in the Targhee National Forest. The Nordic Area starts at an elevation of approximately 5,900 ft (1,798 m) and reaches elevations of 6,700 ft (2,042 m).

Observations:

I must admit, I have yet to use the Mercury 75 to its fullest; neither all its capacity nor all of its features. Let me expand on that. On each of my outings, carrying normal items which include sleeping bag, tent, stove, cook set, a change of clothes, jacket, headlamp, first aid kit, GPS, and hydration bladder, I have yet to completely fill this backpack. I say this in hopes of helping the reader appreciate just how much this pack can hold. I am anxiously looking forward to using it on snowshoe and cross-country ski outings to carry bulkier clothes etc.

Likewise, I have yet to take full advantage of the pack's numerous features. However, the most noteworthy feature thus far for me has got to be the ergoACTIV hipbelt. It took a little to get used to the pack body moving separately from the hipbelt, but I have come to believe the ergoACTIV hipbelt is the coolest thing ever. With the pack secured snugly to my body and the shoulder straps rising and falling as my shoulder move, the hipbelt moving independently from the pack body feel comfortable to me. In conjunction with the hipbelt, the other suspension components: the SwingArm shoulder straps and the Torso adjustment are also worth noting. With the torso adjustment set where I have it, the hipbelt rides a bit higher on my hips than some other packs I own. However, I believe the hipbelt and its location do a better job of transferring much of the pack's weight to my hips. Having had lower back problems for years and lumbar fusion surgery a couple of years ago, this is of great benefit for me. I have less low back pain thus far with this pack. The effective transfer of weight to the hips has been even more evident due to a recent shoulder injury. I do not feel as much weight hanging from my shoulders as I have with other packs I have used. I must say, Black Diamond's ergoACTIV XP suspension system has impressed me thus far.

Because I did not fully load the pack, the two compression straps on each side of the main compartment enabled me to secure my gear and hold it in place. In addition to the compression straps, the internal compartment divider (between main compartment and sleeping bag compartment) helped me keep my gear neatly organized. I really like packs with zippered, front-panel access like the Mercury 75. The front panel access allowed me to quickly find what I was looking for, without having to root through all of my gear. In my opinion, front-panel access is a definite highlight. I used a hydration bladder with this pack. My 100 L bladder fit nicely in the bladder envelope and I really like the webbing with hook and loop closure above the envelope to suspend the bladder; much nicer than a simple loop. It took a little extra time to work the bite valve through the opening than it does with some of my other packs, but not so much that I would deem it a problem. I really like the clip on the right-hand side of the sternum strap to hold the tube of my hydration bladder. However, if one prefers their hydration tube on the left side, there is no such clip on that side of the sternum strap.

The pack is still in great shape. No signs of weakening fabric or seams. The zippers, buckles, cordlocks, etc all operate as smoothly as the day it arrived. This concludes my Field Report on the Black Diamond Mercury 75 backpack. Please check back in approximately two months for more test results.

Top of Page


LONG TERM REPORT
January 26, 2013

Summary:

I wore the backpack on one additional overnight backpacking trip during the long-term test phase. The pack has performed very well and is in great shape. No signs of weakening fabric or seams. The zippers, buckles, cordlocks, etc all operate as smoothly as the day it arrived.

Pros:

Cons:

  • ergoACTIV hipbelt
  • number of pockets
  • stowable gear loops
  • detachable top pocket
  • waterproof zippers and taping
  • poor instructions for attaching hipbelt

Field Locations and Test Conditions:

In late October, I wore the Mercury on an overnight backpack to Aldous and Hancock Lakes north of Kilgore, Idaho near the Continental Divide Trail, in the Centennial Mountains. Located along the Idaho / Montana border, these mountains are one of the few mountain ranges in the United States that run east to west. Aldous Lake is 7,340 ft (2,237 m) above sea level. It is a steep 1 mi (1.6 km) hike from Aldous to Hancock Lake. However, the trail drops down into Hancock Lake, which sits in a bowl formed by a landslide. At Hancock Lake, one can see the Centennial Mountains and the Continental Divide ridge. Weather conditions were good, clear skies, no wind, and overnight low temperature was near freezing.

Observations:

There is not much new to add to what I reported in my Field Report; at least in terms of performance. The ergoACTIV hipbelt, the SwingArm shoulder straps, and the torso adjustment: in short, the ergoACTIV XP suspension, continues to perform very well. I really like the support and comfort it affords me. The zippered front access continues to be a boon; access to the pack's main compartment is quick and easy via this front zipper.

An automobile accident as well as being sick between Christmas and New Years and a hectic work schedule precluded me from going on more backpacking trips, including my first scheduled overnight cross-country ski trip. However, I have not yet needed all the Mercury's full 77 L (4,699 cu in) of gear-hauling capacity. However, I did fill it up for my first overnight cross-country ski trip on January 24, 2013. The pack was up to the challenge, and handeled it very well.

The only compliant I have is not even with the pack itself. But rather, as mentioned in my Initial Report, with the lack of clearly written instructions for attaching the hipbelt to the pack. Other than that, I have been very pleased with the features and performance of Black Diamond's Mercury 75 backpack. There are no signs of weakening fabric or seams. The zippers, buckles, cordlocks, etc all operate as smoothly as the day it arrived. The Mercury 75 will be my high-capacity backpack of choice going forward.

This concludes my test series. Thanks to Black Diamond Equipment and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to test this backpack. Top of Page



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