This has an unusual harness system that feels odd at first but that works well once you’re used to it. The shoulder straps are linked across the base of the pack so that when you raise a shoulder the strap on that side lengthens. This means the pack follows your movement closely. The hipbelt also pivots so that it too moves up and down with you. Side tension straps can be used to minimise the hipbelt movement if you prefer. The hipbelt is also adjustable up and down. It attaches via a screw that is tightened with a small allen key. I found fitting and adjusting the hipbelt awkward as there isn’t really room for the allen key under the hipbelt padding. But once in place the belt can be left alone. The internal frame transmits the load to the hipbelt well.

Two long mesh-covered ribbed foam panels run down the back with a ventilation channel between them. The result of this harness system is a pack that is stable and supportive yet feels less restrictive than many packs. It supports heavy loads well and comfort is good. There are two sizes available for different back lengths. There’s also a women’s version, the Onyx 65, that also comes in two sizes.

The pack is made from a very tough-feeling fabric. There are seven external pockets and a zipped front panel so access to the contents is excellent. All the zips are chunky and water-resistant, which makes them a little stiff. The Mercury 65 is the heaviest pack tested. However the harness system does work well and it should prove very durable.

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Reviewed in October 2015 issue