One tester called this practical, cavernous top-loader “great for climbing, snow sports, and gear-intensive winter tours, and just as good for straight-up backpacking.” The molded foam hipbelt is thinly padded yet wide enough for good weight distribution, and the shoulder harness is well-padded yet supple. (You can replace the padded hipbelt with a two-inch flat belt–included–for outings when you’re wearing a climbing harness.) Load transfer comes from V-shaped aluminum struts that reinforce a stiffened backpanel. The combination easily handled loads up to 45 pounds.
The pack tapers larger toward the top for easy loading, and that shape, along with the suspension, focuses the weight right between the hips, with a high center of gravity. It was good for trail-walking, allowing testers to stand tall, but a bit unstable on tippy boulders. The Predator has tool and ski holders, along with a divided, extendable top lid and a huge bellows pocket that can take crampons, extra layers, or small sleeping pads. $195; 3,052 cu. in.; 3 lbs. 15 oz. Blackdiamondequipment.com