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Hands-on Gear Review
Black Diamond Bullet Review
Cons: Uncomfortable shoulder straps, no external carrying options
In our previous small climbing daypack review, the old version of the Black Diamond Bullet won the Editors' Choice award. Back then we praised its durability and streamlined exterior. The new Bullet is even stronger and sleeker than its predecessor. It's also got many of the features we're looking for in a climbing daypack: a removable hip belt, removable foam back panel, and an emergency whistle. However, the competition has caught up and now surpasses this pack in overall utility. The Bullet's exterior lacks anchor points to enable you to carry a rope or gear on the outside for approaches or descents. And even though it's the most streamlined pack reviewed—with a special flap to tuck the shoulder straps inside—it lacks a reliable way to backup its single grab loop for hauling. In addition, we heard universal complaints about the shoulder straps which seem prone to sliding off during any athletic movement.
We feel gratitude towards the Bullet because it popularized many of the features we love that are now ubiquitous on rock climbing daypacks. Nonetheless, we're forced by several glaring problems in the current version to steer shoppers towards today's well-rounded, Editors' Choice winner, the Patagonia Linked Pack 16L, or other options in The Best Rock Climbing Daypack Review.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The updated version of the Black Diamond Bullet features a streamlined exterior and casual styling. It is undeniably well made and durable.
Stock from the factory this bag weighs just over a pound, 17.6 ounces. This places it towards the top of climbing daypacks whose weights ranged from 12.0 to 20.3 oz. You can remove the foam back-panel and hip belt to subtract an additional 1.9 oz, making its lightest possible configuration at 15.7 oz, slightly heavier than the stock Patagonia Linked.
Mountain Hardwear Hueco 20, were able to offer this option while still coming with fairly smooth exteriors.
In the same way that climbing utility is limited by the lack of external carry options, so too is overall versatility. We like the Bullet's stylish exterior for everyday uses like going to class or toting your laptop to a coffee shop. It's also great for other activities like biking, caving, or skiing where you wouldn't want to carry anything on the outside. Yet its small overall capacity limits its potential use as a mountaineering summit pack—perhaps the most popular secondary purpose of a rock climbing backpack.
This pack's compact construction and durability make it ideal for actual rock climbing. Its small capacity probably limits its use for most climbers to shorter objectives, completable within 8 hours or less. We don't recommend it for carry-overs or marathon days.
At $54.95 MSRP, this is the second lowest-priced bag we tested. As long as shoppers understand and are comfortable with its limitations, it could be a potentially great deal.
Other Versions and Accessories
Today's Bullet comes in one size in red, yellow, or black. The older version was the Editors' Choice winner in our previous review and could be a great find used or on sale.
— Jack Cramer
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