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Black Diamond Blitz 20 Review

This small climbing pack is optimized for alpine action.
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Price:  $80 List | $79.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Light, great features, roomy
Cons:  Fragile, not super versatile
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond Equipment
By Ian McEleney ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 15, 2019
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63
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 11
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Climbing Utility - 25% 8
  • Durability - 20% 3
  • Versatility - 20% 6
  • Weight - 10% 7

Our Verdict

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.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award    
Price $79.95 at Backcountry
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$99.00 at REI
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$69.95 at Backcountry
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$80 List$58.03 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Light, great features, roomyLight, stylish, comfortable, versatileComfortable, easy to packSimple, great zippered pocket, streamlinedDurable, sleek, stylish
Cons Fragile, not super versatileExpensive, no emergency whistleHeavy, below average durability, no emergency whistleLimited attachment points, easy to drop stuffUncomfortable shoulder straps, no external carrying options
Bottom Line This small climbing pack is optimized for alpine action.This light and comfortable pack is an expensive but durable choice for multi-pitch climbing.Comfortable but at or below average in most other ways.This simple pack does what you need with nothing extra.This classic is still going strong, though you cannot carry anything on the outside of the pack.
Rating Categories Black Diamond Blitz 20 Patagonia Linked Pack 18L Petzl Bug The North Face Route Rocket Black Diamond Bullet
Comfort (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
6
Climbing Utility (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
Durability (20%)
10
0
3
10
0
8
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
7
Versatility (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
6
Weight (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
6
Specs Black Diamond... Patagonia Linked... Petzl Bug The North Face... Black Diamond Bullet
Capacity (Liters) 20 18 18 16 16
Measured Weight 0.88 lbs 1.23 lbs 1.1 lbs 1.1 lbs 1.1 lbs
Padded back? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Fabric Type Dynex (210d + PE 200d) 940D Cordura Ballistic nylon 400d nylon 420D nylon 420d nylon, 1260d ballistic nylon
Whistle? No No No Yes Yes
Accessory Pockets? One external zip, one internal zip One external zip, one internal zip One external zip, one external open, one internal zip One external zip One external zip, one internal zip
Outside Carry Options? Top strap, ice axe attachments Top carrying handles, 2 external daisy chains Top strap, one daisy chain External daisy chains No
Hip Belt Yes, removable Yes, removable Yes Yes, removable Yes, removable
Hydration System Compatible Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Key Clip? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

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.

Performance Comparison


The Blitz in its natural environment.
The Blitz in its natural environment.

Weight


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.

Weighing in.
Weighing in.

Durability



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 ice axe attachments feature velcro and glove-friendly buckles.
The ice axe attachments feature velcro and glove-friendly buckles.

Climbing Utility



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.

The outer zippered pocket can be tough to use when the pack is full.
The outer zippered pocket can be tough to use when the pack is full.

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.

The interior zippered pocket has a key clip.
The interior zippered pocket has a key clip.

Versatility


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.

No side attachment points make stabilizing a rope difficult.
No side attachment points make stabilizing a rope difficult.

It's light enough, and packs down small enough that it can work well carried in a bigger pack to an alpine base camp.

Comfort



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.

A simple girth hitched attachment for both the sternum strap and hip belt.
A simple girth hitched attachment for both the sternum strap and hip belt.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

The Blitz did not impede balancey mantels.
The Blitz did not impede balancey mantels.


Ian McEleney