Gear Review: Black Diamond Epic 45 Backpack

The dynamic suspension system of the Black Diamond Epic makes carrying loads up to 45 pounds a walk in the park.

Best All-Around

“The more you put in it, the more the Epic responds and the better it feels,” raves one Colorado tester, who used it for ice climbing, mountaineering, and overnights. Can more weight really enhance load control? Yes, thanks to BD’s dynamic suspension system—a swiveling hipbelt and sliding shoulder straps (as one is tensioned, the other gives, keeping the frame centered). The more weight you pack, the more freely those features move, maximizing the benefit. Result: no gapping or friction, and a profoundly comfortable carry with loads up to 45 pounds.

“The pack responded to my every twist when I was navigating boulder fields and crossing streams,” said one tester after a trek in Oregon’s Mt. Hood Wilderness. The tough, 420-denier nylon packbag skews toward the alpinist, with a clean, top-loading, single-sack design and climber-friendly tool attachments, yet it works well for the no-nonsense weekend backpacker who doesn’t need a lot of pockets.

A rope strap under the toplid secures a pad or tent. Side slots and compression straps hold skis, tent poles, or trekking poles. Minor gripes: The small hipbelt buckle is tough to work with gloves, and we wished the fixed toplid was floating, so we could load this pack up with long-weekend loads—the suspension can take it. And it’s a tad heavy.

45 liters

Sizes 3 unisex (15.5-23.5 in.)

Weight 3 lbs. 11 oz.

Price $180

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small commission. We do not accept money for editorial gear reviews. Read more about our policy.