The most unique of all the crag packs we reviewed is the Black Diamond Pipe Dream. Designed as a slimmed down version of a crash pad, this pack can carry all your stuff to the cliff and let you relax in luxury when you get there. A pair of aluminum buckles and a Velcro strap seal up its 45 liter compartment. Unpack it and it folds out into 50" X 29" mat of closed cell foam. Lots of our testers loved this feature, particularly for resting between redpoint burns or seated top-rope belays. Others were less enthusiastic; when first seeing it in action, one tester remarked, "Great… Now I can bring all the worst parts of bouldering with me to the crag." Sarcasm aside, there is some truth to this criticism. Like most bouldering pads the Pipe Dream is bulky, awkward to carry, and its folds can be a pain to pack and unpack. Nevertheless, if you can put up with these minor weaknesses, crag-side comfort is now available.
Black Diamond Pipe Dream Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Becomes a comfy pad to sit on, beefy suspension handles heavy loads
Cons: Expensive, annoying to open/close, heavy
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Pipe Dream is a unique crag pack that features a fold out pad for comfortable lounging. It is the largest capacity pack that we tested, holding 300 meters of rope in our comparative test, but it is also bulky and awkward to carry.
Weighing in at a little under 4 pounds, this pack was the heaviest we tested. This is perfectly understandable when you consider the extra foam padding it includes. Its beefy suspension system is more than capable of comfortably handling the added weight of the bag itself and whatever else you decide to carry.
The padding of the Pipe Dream is held inside a combination of 840 and 1260-denier nylon. Thinner on the body, thicker on the base. We found this fabric to be strong and durable; no tears or rips were seen after a few months of regular use. The aluminum buckles on the crash pad closure are also sturdy. These qualities placed it towards the front of our field in durability. Our long-term concerns are how long will it be before the foam padding compresses and when will the Velcro used on the fold strap and accessory hood wear out? We didn't see any of these fail in our tests but our familiarity with the materials makes us suspect they're not completely indestructible.
Although the pad this pack folds out into has many uses—sitting, stretching, or sleeping—the pack itself has limited applications. Unlike a lot of packs you see out cragging, this pack doesn't work well for overnight backpacking. It's too bulky and heavy. There are also a lot of other options we'd prefer for multi-pitch or winter climbing. These limitations contributed to it receiving the lowest score in versatility.
This is the ideal crag pack for climbers that like to take things slow. It instantly turns any location into a plush spot for a seated top-rope belay or repointing rest. Parties of three will also appreciate having a nice place to chill during the break from belay duty. In a pinch, it can also be used as a sleeping pad or a mat for yoga/other warmup stretches.
At $169.99 this pack is the second most expensive reviewed. All the crag packs we tested can get your climbing gear to the base of the cliff but only the Pipe Dream can fold out to create a comfortable seat. If this feature is important to you, then the high price should be reasonable.
— Jack Cramer