Black Diamond Epic 45 ReviewMay 11, 2013
- ErgoActive suspension can comfortably support large loads
- Thoughtful alpine-tool carry systems
- Tough textile and padded base
- Can feel very unstable if not packed carefully
- Poorly designed fixed lid
The Epic was purpose-built for gear-intensive mountain excursions, and was the toughest pack we tested this year. BD’s ErgoActive suspension is among the best for maintaining actual climbing mobility while carrying a multi-day load.
While it tended to polarize testers’ opinions, the Epic’s suspension got mostly rave reviews. Back panel ventilation was minimal when compared with the trekking-style packs we tested, but was typical of most climb-inspired bags.
This pack carried well regardless of its load—even the heaviest lumps of climbing kit seemed to float along whilst carried on-trail. In “balancey” situations, however, there is a shifty tendency to the independent suspension.
The fixed lid and minimal exterior attachment points are the only things keeping the Epic from carrying absolutely gigantic loads.
Top-only access is standard for this type of pack; a poorly designed lid is not. The Epic could have gained a couple of points here, were its lid not so floppy and prone to spilling its contents.
As a technical mountain rig, this pack should be more completely and more easily strippable. Though it seems BD has done their best considering the unique suspension configuration, a removable lid should be standard. Users with waists narrower than 36” will likely want to avoid racking ice screws on the hip belt, as the gear-carry slots are mounted too far forward to safely do so.
While reasonably priced for a full-featured alpine pack, the Epic is slightly pricier and considerably less versatile than many similar-sized bags we tested this season.
* One bonus point for BD’s SwingArm harness allowing for actual climbing movement.