Black Diamond Mercury 75

BEST FOR: Multi-day backpackers. THE TEST: Testers couldn’t believe how good this 75-liter behemoth felt on their backs—“Much more comfortable than any pack this size I’ve tried,” was one typical comment. Credit the innovative suspension, pivoting hipbelt, and straps that shift with the torso. On tricky alpine scrambles and teetering creek crossings, that movement kept the load from throwing us off balance. Though the Mercury has a clean-looking exterior, there are three pockets, a retractable trekking-pole loop, and a huge zipper into the main compartment. And even on warm days with a big load—in the 70-pound neighborhood—it stayed prettty cool, thanks to an airy back panel. THE VERDICT: Our favorite for full-on backpacking trips. 4.8 lbs


Brand: Black Diamond $280
From 2012 Summer Buyer's Guide Get the Latest Issue