The Black Diamond Blitz 20 is a climbing pack that's designed specifically for alpine climbing. Backcountry rock, ice, and snow are its forte. This means it's pretty lightweight for the volume. It carries ice tools with aplomb and is pretty comfortable when the terrain gets steep. A product with a design this simple and a weight this low must be made of lighter materials. This means that some durability has been traded for weight. Keep this pack within its design envelope and you'll be rewarded.
Black Diamond Blitz 20 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Light, great features, roomy
Cons: Fragile, not super versatile
Manufacturer: Black Diamond Equipment
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Black Diamond Blitz 28 is a small climbing pack designed for alpine missions. Being optimized for that type of climbing means that it has an Achilles heel when it comes to "normal" multi-pitch climbing: durability.
The Blitz 20 checks in at a svelte 0.88 lbs (or just under 400 grams). This isn't surprising, given its 200 denier fabric, but it's still impressive for a pack that holds 20 liters of your stuff.
Our testers didn't expect a pack built for fast-and-light alpine missions to be very durable, and the Blitz isn't. That being said, the fabric (a 200 denier blend of Dynex and nylon) will last for your alpine rock missions as long as you're not hauling or climbing too many rowdy chimneys with the pack on. The ice axe attachment points seem to able to survive some abuse.
The Blitz 20 does a great job in this metric. All of the usual convenience features are present. There isn't a dedicated pocket for a hydration bladder, but everything else you need is here. A key clip lives in the internal zippered pocket. Neither this pocket nor the external zippered pockets have a spacious pocket bag, accessing your snacks when the bag is full can be difficult.
This pack is pretty streamlined. The only features to get hung up on aggressive vegetation are the ice axe attachments, which are partially removable. This pack doesn't have any hauling specific features, which is fine, because it shouldn't be hauled. The sternum strap buckle is not an emergency whistle. It does, however, have a hip belt. This attaches with a simple girth hitch and is easily removable.
We really liked the simple one-handed open and closure system. This, coupled with the easy-to-find red haul loop, make getting into this pack at belays a breeze. The top strap works well to hold a rope, though we missed attachment points on the side to keep the "wings" of the rope from flopping around. On long approaches wrap a double-length sling around the packs and rope to secure it.
Our testers did not find the Blitz to be particularly versatile. As a simple backpack, it can certainly be loaded with books, groceries, or whatever. However, it's fragile fabric gave us second thoughts on using it as our daily backpack.
The lack of attachment points make strapping things like skis or bivy gear to the outside a difficult proposition. Many of our testers thought it looked a little too technical for urban use.
It's light enough, and packs down small enough that it can work well carried in a bigger pack to an alpine base camp.
We were pleasantly surprised by how well this pack climbed. It remained fairly comfortable even when fully loaded. The padded back protected us from pointy gear. Though this pack is slightly tapered, the back length is not short. Our tall testers didn't notice. Our average sized male testers had to cinch down the shoulder straps to preserve chalk bag access. Shorter folks should try this one on before committing.
We think this pack's value depends on how you intend to use it. If its mostly for cragging or front-country climbs, the Blitz 20 isn't the best value. If you're going to be bringing this pack on alpine rock, snow, or ice routes where low weight is really important, then it's actually a pretty good value.
The Black Diamond Blitz 20 is a small climbing pack purpose-built for alpine pursuits. As such it's light and has great climbing-specific features. That low weight comes at the cost of durability, be conscious of what this pack is for and it will serve you well. If you need something bigger, consider the almost identical Blitz 28.
— Ian McEleney