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Black Diamond Mission 75 Review

An excellent, versatile mountaineering pack that carries a lot but still feels nimble enough for technical ascents.
Black Diamond Mission 75
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $240 List | $249.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Durable, versatile, streamlined and functional features, good weight-to-volume for bigger pack
Cons:  Framesheet does not integrate into bivy system, somewhat tricky to slim down for summit push
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 30, 2018
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 11
  • Weight to Volume Ratio - 30% 7
  • Comfort - 20% 4
  • Durability - 20% 8
  • Versatility - 20% 5
  • Features - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Mission 75 from Black Diamond is a decent all-around mountaineering pack. It is on the large side of the packs we reviewed, but it held its own against the smaller packs. It has impressive weight-to-volume, meaning it did not feel as cumbersome as we expected on summit pushes and lighter weight or shorter alpine missions. We could remove the suspension and lid to make the pack even lighter and more nimble, a feature that added to its versatility. If you tend to enjoy longer trips, this is an excellent pack. It is on the smaller side of most expedition style packs. But, with a thoughtful and well-packed kit, it makes for a versatile climbing pack in the remote and rugged mountain ranges of the world.


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Price $249.95 at Amazon$169.95 at Backcountry
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Pros Durable, versatile, streamlined and functional features, good weight-to-volume for bigger packComfortable, affordable, durable, fully featuredSimple, light, comfortable, highly modularSimple, good weight to volume ratio, durableLightweight, simple, excellent pack for steep, technical terrain
Cons Framesheet does not integrate into bivy system, somewhat tricky to slim down for summit pushNot as lightweight as some packsDifficult to overstuff for the approach, some finicky featuresCan't remove the foam suspension pad, not best for heavy loads, requires thoughtful packingLess durable, less versatile, no side straps
Bottom Line An excellent, versatile mountaineering pack that carries a lot but still feels nimble enough for technical ascents.This is an excellent pack for most mountaineering uses, excelling in comfort and versatility, and climbs very well.The Ascensionist is a master of technical ascents with its light weight, versatility, and comfort on the climb.This is a light and durable pack which is a pleasure to use, and quickly became our go-to for a wide variety of climbing adventures.The Blitz is an excellent on-route climbing pack for challenging, steep terrain in the mountains.
Rating Categories Black Diamond Mission 75 Osprey Mutant 38 Patagonia Ascensionist 40 Arc'teryx Alpha FL 45 Black Diamond Blitz 28L
Weight To Volume Ratio (30%)
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7
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7
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9
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10
Comfort (20%)
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4
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9
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7
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8
10
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7
Durability (20%)
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9
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8
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7
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4
Versatility (20%)
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5
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5
Features (10%)
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5
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Specs Black Diamond... Osprey Mutant 38 Patagonia... Arc'teryx Alpha FL... Black Diamond...
Measured Volume (liters) 70 37 35 34 29
Measured Weight (pounds) 4.1 2.84 1.95 1.47 1.09
Measured Weight (grams) 1859.7 1288.2 884.5 667.38 496.1
Weight-To-Volume Ratio (grams per liter) 26.57 34.82 25.27 19.63 17.11
Frame Type Active suspension Inner framesheet with aluminum stays None Rigid, formed back panel Foam pad
Fabric 420D nylon 210D nylon with 420HD nylon packcloth on bottom 210D cordura N400r-AC2 nylon 6 ripstop Dynex ripstop
Pockets 1 zippered lid 1 zippered lid, 1 small zippered internal 1 front zippered 1 main compartment, 1 waterproof top lid, 1 internal zippered
Hip belt Yes Yes - reverse wrap hybrid EVA foam w/ gear loops and ice clipper holsters Yes Yes - webbing hip belt Yes - removable webbing belt
Removable Suspension Padding? Removable framesheet and/or dual stays Yes No Yes
Lid? Yes Yes - removable with stowable FlapJacket for lidless use Yes, attached No Yes - removable
Hydration System Compatible? Yes Yes, internal pouch with buckled hanging loop No No Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


The Mission 75 is a solid performer across all of our metrics. It is designed for bigger climbs and longer trips, but can still hold its own against smaller, lighter packs. Though we measured the volume at 70L with our ping-pong ball volume test, we still found plenty of room for our test kit.

Standing on top of Europe with energy to spare thanks to the streamlined efficiency of the Mission 75. Mt. Elbrus  Caucasus  Russia.
Standing on top of Europe with energy to spare thanks to the streamlined efficiency of the Mission 75. Mt. Elbrus, Caucasus, Russia.

Weight-To-Volume Ratio


The Mission 75 is a large pack, but that doesn't mean it has to be bulky, cumbersome, or heavy. This pack still ranks well above average in this review for weight to volume ratio. This is not the best pack for fast-and-light weekend missions. It's better suited to bigger and longer climbs. But, if you're aiming for some bigger mountain objectives in fast-and-light alpine style, this might be your go-to pack.

The Mission 75 gobbled up all of the gear in our Test Load with room to spare. On the left is a typical kit for a technical alpine route where your partner is carrying her or his share of the equipment.
The Mission 75 gobbled up all of the gear in our Test Load with room to spare. On the left is a typical kit for a technical alpine route where your partner is carrying her or his share of the equipment.

One of the best packs in this category is a completely different style of pack. The Hyperlite is the strongest performer in the strictest sense — its weight to volume ratio is phenomenal. But at a maximum of 50 liters capacity, it's not useful for the same objectives as the Mission 75. This metric helps to compare these packs on a more level playing field — and the Mission is still a strong competitor.


As pack size increases, it often requires more sturdy materials and overall design. This inevitably increases the weight to volume ratio. The Mission minimizes this cost better than any other expedition pack in our review. Still, it might be more weight than you want if you don't need the volume. We loved this pack for shorter expeditions where we wanted to keep things as light and streamlined as possible.

If you know you're mostly going to be climbing technical objectives or taking shorter trips, you might be much happier with the lightest packs in this review, such as the Patagonia Ascensionist 40 or the Arc'teryx Alpha FL 45. For a fully featured, expandable and easily overstuffed pack, we love the Osprey Mutant 38.

Hustling to catch a plane on the Ruth Glacier was a breeze in the Mission 75  even when hauling a loaded sled full of gear (out of picture).
Hustling to catch a plane on the Ruth Glacier was a breeze in the Mission 75, even when hauling a loaded sled full of gear (out of picture).

Comfort


Our biggest question in this review was how the Mission would stack up next to its cousin, the Black Diamond Speed 50. We assumed a pack 25 liters bigger would be much less comfortable. Ultimately, the two were similar. When maxed out, however, the Mission can become cumbersome and painful on the shoulders.


We could compress the Mission down to a size that was comfortable and agile enough for more athletic ascents. Then we could turn around and weigh it down with expedition loads, and it was still a little more comfortable than the two expedition packs in this review, the Osprey Xenith 105 and the Gregory Denali 100. This, of course, comes at a cost to volume, so be sure your kit is compact enough to fit.

We would not have imagined preferring a 75-liter pack over a 50-liter pack, but ultimately, we did. Admittedly, the Mission is a 60-liter pack that can be extended to 75 liters, so that helps. And when overstuffing to 75 liters, it is often with bulky, lighter gear such as a big down parka. As such, this pack carries more like a 60-liter pack than a 75-liter pack, even when filled to the brim.

The Mission is made of fabric durable enough to stand up to crampons and ice axes.
The Mission is made of fabric durable enough to stand up to crampons and ice axes.

If you can manage a little less volume, we preferred the Osprey Mutant 52 among the larger packs in this review. It retains nearly all of the comfort and features of it smaller 38 liter cousin, without the long term strain on your shoulders.

Durability


The Mission is a very durable pack. It ranks well above average due to the 420 denier nylon fabric used, but that doesn't tell the whole story. When compared with the expedition packs, we found it to be plenty durable to handle the weight and abuse of large, heavy loads. If you're looking for the most rugged expedition pack in this review, check out the Osprey Xenith 105.


The more interesting comparison, however, was with its cousin, the Black Diamond Speed 50. The Speed pack did not hold up as well to heavy loads as the Mission, showing wear on the suspension, and also the fabric. (The Speed has a mix of lighter weight 210 denier and 420 denier nylons.) Since the Mission was still plenty comfortable for climbing, we ultimately preferred it for longer mountaineering trips. In the end, we didn't see a tremendous climbing comfort benefit by trimming down to the 50 liter Speed pack. We think the 40-liter version of the Speed pack is more well balanced and likely a strong competitor for that volume.

The Mission 75 was comfortable on long glacier slogs  hauling sleds  and up high on ridges like this one near Denali Basecamp  Alaska Range.
The Mission 75 was comfortable on long glacier slogs, hauling sleds, and up high on ridges like this one near Denali Basecamp, Alaska Range.

Versatility


The Mission 75 earned high marks for versatility. We did not expect it to climb as well as it did on technical routes due to its relatively large size. But this pack carried the weight of an expedition relatively well and then slimmed down very nicely for summit day pushes.


This is a great pack for any mountaineering mission, from expeditions to alpine climbs, ski mountaineering trips, and even for a day of rock climbing at your local crag. We would not enjoy taking this 75-liter pack on a steep multi-pitch rock climb though. For that, you might consider the Mountain Hardwear Scrambler. However, the pack can be stripped down. You can remove the hip belt padding, so you have only a webbing belt, the lid comes off, and the framesheet can be removed, leaving only a flexible foam back panel. In this manner, the pack is lighter and climbs better for summit pushes with just the essentials.

The Mission 75 can be stripped down for summit pushes with its removable lid  framesheet  and hip padding.
The Mission 75 can be stripped down for summit pushes with its removable lid, framesheet, and hip padding.

But if you don't see yourself needing 75 liters of capacity, we strongly recommend the Editor's Choice winner, the Osprey Mutant 38. This pack can be overstuffed (carefully and with very lightweight equipment and food) to accommodate trips up to 5 days in length, which is stunning. Then you have one of the most comfortable, nimble, and lightweight packs in this review for the technical challenges of your summit day. If you plan on making a habit of overstuffing the Mutant 38, check out the bigger version, the Mutant 52, a strong competitor for the Mission.

Three pockets in the lid of the Mission 75 seemed a little excessive  but the internal zippered pocket proved useful for keeping small  important items safe in such a large  cavernous backpack.
Three pockets in the lid of the Mission 75 seemed a little excessive, but the internal zippered pocket proved useful for keeping small, important items safe in such a large, cavernous backpack.

Features


The Mission pack is a relatively simple pack with well-designed features that make sense for its purposes. This is a great pack for longer, multi-day technical routes in the Alaska Range, so we were psyched to have our crampons easily accessible in the external crampon pouch. The side access zipper is also a great addition and made it possible to retrieve items from low in the pack without unpacking all of the contents. This is great when dealing with expedition sized loads that you don't want to unpack on a glacier to find a layer buried near the bottom.

The side zipper pocket was very useful to access all of the pack's contents without disturbing our packing job too severely.
The side zipper pocket was very useful to access all of the pack's contents without disturbing our packing job too severely.

The simple, lightweight side straps accommodate skis in an A-frame carrying style, and you can attach ice axes and ice tools to the front. The picks secure behind the crampon pouch for reduced snagging and more streamlined carrying. We like this system, especially when hauling sleds on expeditions. It reduces the number of snag points on our pack that can tangle the ropes in our system. Sled hauling lines and ropes for glacier travel catch easily if you have anything protruding from your pack when you take it on and off for breaks.

The ice tool/axe attachments keep the picks tucked in and out of the way.
The ice tool/axe attachments keep the picks tucked in and out of the way.

When compared to the expedition packs in this review, we found the Mission to be on par with the Osprey Xenith 105. This is not because it has as many features (the Xenith has many more, in fact) but because the Mission pack is well thought out and streamlined. It has all the features we want it to without becoming cumbersome.

We liked the gear loops on the Mission's hip belt as well. These are great for long glacier walks when you are roped to your teammates. You can clip your crevasse rescue kit to the hip belt to ensure the pack rests more comfortably on your hips. This is also great for ease of access on more technical climbs.

We loved the hip belt design with gear loops and a sleeve for a carabiner to hold ice screws.
We loved the hip belt design with gear loops and a sleeve for a carabiner to hold ice screws.

Among the smaller packs in this review, we really liked the Osprey Mutant 38 and the Patagonia Ascensionist 40 for the same reasons. For a different take, you can check out the Arc'teryx Alpha FL 45, which uses a minimalistic webbing hip belt designed to ride above your harness and stay out of the way on summit pushes and when carrying lighter loads. We loved this design.


Best Applications


The Mission 75 is a great pack for expeditions under three weeks or those planning to climb a bigger mountain objective in fast-and-light style. This pack carries heavy loads well and is agile enough for moderately technical, steeper terrain. We liked this pack for year-round ascents of Mount Rainier, as well as longer trips in the Alaska Range. It carries heavy loads well and then trims down enough to inspire confidence on moderate alpine ice and rock objectives. This is an excellent all-around mountaineering backpack.

Value


The Mission 75 is an excellent value. It could handle bigger objectives and longer trips, competing with the 100-liter expedition packs in this review, but it is almost half the price. Then it can turn around a compete with smaller, lighter packs. This backpack gives a lot of bang for the buck.

All packed up and ready to fly home after several weeks in the Alaska Range. We were grateful the Mission 75 was easy and fast to pack up and connect to a sled. When the weather finally cleared briefly. Iconic Alaska Range pilot Paul Roderick swooped in to pick us up and we did not want to delay.
All packed up and ready to fly home after several weeks in the Alaska Range. We were grateful the Mission 75 was easy and fast to pack up and connect to a sled. When the weather finally cleared briefly. Iconic Alaska Range pilot Paul Roderick swooped in to pick us up and we did not want to delay.

Conclusion


The Mission 75 was a pleasant surprise for our reviewers. We can get a bit snobbish about bigger packs—and 75 liters is big. But the Mission 75 has the profile of a 60-liter pack, making it competitive with 50-liter packs. And it's able to carry expedition loads nearly as easily as 100-liter packs. We were impressed. For general mountaineering purposes, the Mission will help set you up for success.


Lyra Pierotti