Black Diamond Mercury 65 Pack Review
Anyone who’s ever used a product from Black Diamond is sure to be impressed with their commitment to functionality and quality and the Mercury 65 Pack contributes to this experience. The Mercury 65 is a highly durable, very stable, load-hauling pack for big weekends and lighter weight week trips. 40-45 pounds is no problem for this bag and it can be pushed to 50. For longer trips, check out the larger capacity Mercury 75 and for lightweight packers, check out the Mercury 55. Women should look at the companion women’s-specific Onyx series.
In my opinion, a pack bag is only as good as its suspension system and Black Diamond has put a lot of thought into their unique ergoACTIV XP setup. The company wanted to create a system that would keep the load stable while allowing a full range of movement and they hit the nail on the head. A 3D pivoting hipbelt is the key component and it stays firmly on your hips while you walk and navigate varied terrain. The forward pull straps distribute the load to four attachment points. The fit is also adjustable with an included allen wrench that lets you move the hipbelt up and down for torso length. Most adjustable torso systems rely on moving the shoulder harness and I am a fan of Black Diamond’s choice to break from convention because I think it makes more sense for the harness to be stitched directly into the bag. BD didn’t stop with the pivoting hipbelt and the system also features SwingArm shoulder straps that also move with you. The bottom of the straps attach to a internal pulley-like system that allows them to lengthen and shorten as needed. This adds to the feeling of the entire suspension system staying totally attached as you move around, which enhances all-day comfort. Finally, the back panel uses two meshed sides with an air channel down the center. Overall, I found the suspension on the Mercury 65 to be absolutely phenomenal. Once you get passed the feeling of the pack moving around and just let it do its thing, the stability is really quite amazing. When you go to make a big step up move, the pack gets out of your way while still staying firmly connected to the load supporting parts of your body. Even regular walking feels better because of the system. I give the suspension a solid 5/5!
The Mercury 65 is a top-loading pack and can swallow up a ton of gear through the top but it also has an excellent front zipper for access. The top load “sleeve” is one of the two stage tightening type and has a pull string at both the very top and at the top of the reinforced part of the pack bag. This is handy for when you want to secure a load that isn’t overflowing above. The floating lid has a ton of capacity and includes hide-away straps for converting into a daypack fanny pack. Nice touch: the lid attachment straps don’t have stoppers on the ends, making them easier to remove when detaching the lid. The Mercury 65 is all about organization and has a ton of pockets that I find to be a godsend. The hipbelt has two large pockets that can easily fit a larger high end point and shoot camera like a Canon G12 or Olympus XZ-1. On the front of the pack is a large zippered pocket that I used to store books and electronics but could fit clothes or a jacket if you are so inclined. Also in the front pocket is a smaller zippered mesh pocket for storing smaller items for easy access. Now to the simple feature that I am obsessed with; the zippered front access. When backpacking, it is always a good idea to pack your most used items at the top of the bag for easy access but this isn’t always the way it works out. Sometimes I need to access something lower in the bag and don’t want to have to rummage through everything from the top. This is why I love the big, waterproof zippered front access to the packbag of the Mercury 65. It opens like a suitcase does in the the long end stays attached on one side, giving you really good access to everything inside. This is great for backpacking and great for using the bag for travelling. The zippered panel also has a few good-sized zippered pockets that add to the organization even further.
Overall, I found the Black Diamond Mercury 65 to be a phenomenal pack and I strongly recommend it to anyone looking for a weekend to light week long backpack. I really couldn’t find any issues to complain about and I expect Black Diamond to sell a ton of these to serious backpackers. You could say the weight is slightly on the heavy side at 4 lbs, 12 ozs, but I believe any bag under 5 pounds is perfectly acceptable and you end up with a more durable product. At $259, the Mercury 65 is an expensive pack but in this case, I feel that you get what you pay for.