Fall/Winter Gear Guide 2011: Black Diamond Agent Backpack

A lightweight ski pack that is super stable.

For quickie dawn-patrol missions and side-country hikes, the Agent is the next best thing to no pack at all. The trim design is wafer-thin—just six inches deep. “It feels way less bulky than most ski packs,” reports our tester, “and rides super-stable against your back.” The suspension—a plastic framesheet attached to a cushioned backpanel—is similarly minimalist, with just a webbing strap for a hipbelt, but testers deemed it plenty supportive with up to 15 pounds. And it holds more than expected:

The easy-access, clamshell-style main compartment stashes several layers, and an interior sleeve secures a 70-ounce hydration reservoir (an insulated casing on the chest strap helps prevent hose and bite valve freeze-up). A separate, zippered pocket stores an avalanche probe and shovel. An exterior pouch conceals a helmet strap, and the diagonal ski-carry system is a standard setter: A plastic-sheathed steel cable on the bottom attaches to a buckle closure at the top, and when you cinch the buckle, the steel loop tightens simultaneously.

Bonus: Fast-and-light doesn’t mean flimsy—a full season of use didn’t even scuff the burly fabrics (420- and 840-denier ballistic nylon).


2 lbs

18 liters