Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Innovative design features like measurement marks on the highly adjustable, ergonomical shoulder straps and stretchy exterior pockets.
Cons: The ergoACTIV suspension is not covered with padding and therefore the spine painfully rubs on it when bending down under obstacles.
Best Uses: gym/school/light hiking stylish daypack
The simplicity of a top loading mountain backpack with freedom of movement is what Black Diamond says about the Black Diamond Boost. The ergoACTIV suspension is a cool idea - it is a shock absorber as well as a quick, custom-fit size adapter. The waist belt is attached to the pack with an apparatus that allows for vertical sliding/shifting, making for a quick fit as well as a smooth carry. We only found one obvious (but major) flaw with the design. If that major flaw (see Dislikes below) is fixed on future models this could become a cool feature of almost all backpacks. Until it is fixed you should read the rest of this review to find out exactly how and why it failed and why we think it may not be better than a traditionally designed pack. The other parts of the pack are all well put together and made from the best quality materials with some very innovative features. So it may come down to personal preference.
Compared to the other, very similar Black Diamond Axiom 30 I would choose the Axiom 30 because it has a normal, well padded back and no ergoACTIV suspension that can be a literal pain the back when you have to bend down. Or I would try another pack from another company since the Axiom 30 has its own flaw. View all other technical backpack reviews to see how this product compared to the others.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The entire pack is nicely made with innovative features and good materials. Often the innovations are so new that they are not tested enough (see Dislikes below) but they are heading in the right direction for the most part. For instance, the cool shoulder strap measurement marks allow you to quickly check that your shoulder straps are even. The easily, highly adjustable waist and shoulder straps make this a great multi-season/multi-use pack. The straps also have elastic at the stress points to act as shock absorbers. The handy pocket on the waist belt is good for keys and/or cell phone. (It could have a matching one on the opposite side, but whatever). Very useful side and back stretchy pockets allow for quick access to water bottles, extra layers or guidebooks - and it has a good looking, stylish, modern design.
The first of the dislikes was simply a matter of body size. The elastic on the horizontal shoulder strap connecting the chest strap is on the wrong side. If the chest strap was on the side with the buckle then it could tighten a little tighter. This is not an issue if you have an average size chest, but if you are skinny then it might not tighten enough. The major dislike is the ergoACTIV suspension. This pack would actually be a contender for one of the best packs were it not for the suspension. Upon first look at the big metal/plastic gizmo barely covered with padding in the middle of the back of the pack I thought, "wtf!?" But I figured they had tested it.
Ergoactiv suspension - metal/plastic gizmo seen here;
Credit: Black Diamond Equipment.com
Well, they must have forgotten a crucial part of the test. Maybe they don't have a lot of bushes in Utah but in Northern California we do. In fact it's hard to find a trail that doesn't have a bush or fallen tree (or several) across it from time to time. When I bent down to get under a tree, bush or other obstacle then the suspension piece in the center of my back was exactly where my center vertebrae was located. The vertebrae hit the suspension piece three out of four times I tested it. And it hurt. This is a MAJOR FAILURE as far as I am concerned. I would not buy this pack or recommend it.
That said, in the tests that Chris McNamara did with the pack he didn't have to duck under fallen trees or bushes and so he never came across this issue. So it comes down to preference. Try it out in your local shop.
If you don't ever hike on overgrown trails then this could be a good value, given that the rest of the pack is innovative and well made of quality materials.
A stylish daypack for the gym, school or for light hiking or walking.
For a similar BD pack but without ergoACTIV (pain in the back) suspension check out the Black Diamond Axiom 30.
— Chris Summit
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: September 25, 2010
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