Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Gear Review - Black Diamond Mission 50 Backpack

This is the mother of all technical backpacks.  I would describe this pack as comfortable, versatile and feature rich.  Heavy loads are no problem, stripping weight is no problem, carrying a rope, ice tools, crampons and all the usual alpine/ice gear is no problem and even skis can be carried by the Black Diamond Mission 50.  This pack really does everything you need it to do and more.  I highly recommend it for everything from high alpine mountaineering to ice cragging in Ouray, CO.

I have always be a proponent of Black Diamond packs.  Whether it is the old school Bullet or the tried and true Sidewinder I have always found Black Diamond's packs to be comfortable and feature rich.  Black Diamond always seems to be able to put in the little extra features without over engineering the pack or making it a porker.  One of my favorite Black Diamond packs was the Predator (circa 2007 -2008 ish) and this pack had it all; ski carry, rope strap, external crampon pouch, helmet trapper on the lid and a back panel and internal stay that made the pack comfortable even with 40+ lbs. loads.  I really didn't think there would ever be a better pack for ice/alpine climbing.  Low and behold Black Diamond blew that notion out of the water this past year with the Mission 50.  It has everything the Predator had plus a better carrying system and side entry zipper (no more helmet trapper though...sad face).  I have to admit the first chance I got to use this pack was for ice climbing in the Long's Peak cirque and I was worried about the long hike and how the new pack would perform.  We carried in a good amount of gear and of course the hike was a slog.  The Mission 50 was incredibly comfortable and shouldered the load very well.  The main storage tunnel is cavernous and with the side entry zipper you can access pretty much anything with ease.  There are compression straps all over the pack for attaching more gear, lifting shoulder straps and cinching down certain parts of the pack.  All the zippers are water resistant and the top lid pocket is big enough to fit lunch a camera and an extra pair of gloves.

Black Diamond Mission 50 with side pocket in view
Black Diamond Mission 50 with back panel and carry system in view
As always Black Diamond has done an incredible job providing an external crampon pouch. I love this feature and it makes things so much easier at the end of the day to put my wet crampons on the outside of the pack to dry before I even get back to the trailhead.  The ice tool PickPocket slots are the same as well and hold tools perfectly.  The only complaint here is that the bungee near the top of the pack that wraps around the handle of the tool is not a bungee and therefore does not stretch much.  It is kind of difficult to get them wrapped around my Viper and Rage ice tools.  Lastly the pack is pretty lightweight for what it does.  The carry/fit system combined with this makes for a great hiking pack.  You can even pull off the top loader lid and the hip belt to slim down the pack to a summit bid rig.  Very cool.

Final Say:
If you want a mountaineering pack for high alpine summits and ice cragging look no further than the Black Diamond Mission 50.


Have you seen REI's pinnacle packs? Generally I'm not much of a fan of their branded gear but it seems like a pretty intuitive climbing specific pack. I really like the internal gear loops for organizing in the pack.

Good review B, thanks for posting.

Glad you like the post Nate. I have seen those, but it looks a little over engineered. Gear racking loops on the inside sound cool, but a few companies have tried that and haven't done well. Typically I just throw gear in a stuff sack or mesh bag for easy packing and organizing. It also seems like the Pinnacle packs might be a little heavier than others. Not sure though.

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I would like that backpack.

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