Black Diamond Rock Blitz 15 Review
Cons: No emergency whistle, draw cord and cord lock blend into pack
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Black Diamond introduced their Blitz series of packs several years ago with two models aimed at alpine climbing. The Rock Blitz 15 shares some of the DNA from those packs: a simple design with a one-handed top-loading opening, but has some important differences that make it more ideal for multi-pitch rock climbing.
Our male testers who are on the taller end of the scale found that the Rock Blitz rode in just the right place on their backs - not so low that it blocked access to their harnesses, but not so high that the back of their helmets hit the top of the pack when they looked up. The pack of the pack tapers noticeably, so there's excellent freedom of movement and no chance that it will interfere with the movement of a climber's arms. This taper also contributes to the ease of chalk bag access.
Testers with shorter torsos found that this pack occasionally interfered with access to their chalk bags or gear clipped to the back of their harnesses. Climbers with shorter torsos should try this pack before buying.
The Rock Blitz is about as simple as a climbing pack can get while still having most of the features our testers think are important. It doesn't have a dedicated pocket for a hydration system (not all of our testers want one) but it does feature a small plastic tab to hang a bladder, a spot for the hose to pass out of the pack body, and two ribbons of webbing on each shoulder strap to secure the tube.
Aside from the top-loading main compartment the Blitz sports two zippered pockets, one in a fairly standard spot inside and one external pocket that sits against a climber's lumbar spine. The interior pocket sports a key clip and is big enough to hold a phone, headlamp, sunscreen, and maybe a bar or two. The exterior lumbar pocket is big enough to hold most guidebooks. While this pocket is pretty much impossible to access while the pack is on completely, if we slipped the left shoulder strap off and swung the pack around we could get in there. This made it easy to quickly pull out a topo, guidebook, or phone without stopping on approaches.
The outside of the pack is streamlined, there's nothing to get hung up while bushwhacking or hauling. Speaking of hauling, this pack doesn't have any features that are designed for that purpose. Climbers who want more peace of mind can back up the standard grab handle with the attachment point for the top strap. The hip belt and sternum strap are attached with a simple girth hitch system. The pack features an optional higher hip belt attachment point for climbers who want the belt but don't want it interfering with their harness.
Unfortunately, the sternum strap buckle does not double as a whistle. The black color, which we tested, can make smaller items disappear inside the pack, we recommend the other color options. We also wish that the drawcord and piece of webbing that's pulled on to open the pack weren't black. This would help them stand out from the surrounding fabric, making the pack faster and easier to open.
This pack is made of 840 denier nylon. This is among the more durable fabrics in our test. The simple design of the pack keeps the weight low while still using this high denier material. The simple design also means there is less to break or wear out.
We read a few online reviews from customers who had the cord lock on the top of the pack break. We did not experience this, though we also do not do any specific durability testing in this review.
The Rock Blitz is a reasonably versatile small pack. It does the trip around town as well as any of the competition. Some of our testers did not think it's stripped-down look was stylish, others did. While it's not the lightest pack in our test it's not far off, and it packs down quite well. This made it a good choice to carry inside a larger pack when climbing rock routes from a base camp in the backcountry.
Hopefully those routes won't call for any snow or ice climbing gear though as the Rock Blitz has no points on the exterior to attach that stuff. The only attachment point for a rope is with the top strap of the pack. This can be a challenge if your rope is long, thick, or the pack is overstuffed.
At 0.85 lbs (13.6 ounces, 385 grams) this is one of the lighter packs in our review. Additional weight can be shed by removing the hip belt and sternum strap. We don't think a rock climbing pack could get much smaller without sacrificing durability or important features.
We think this pack is a great value. You can pay less for a small climbing pack, but it will either be missing some features or be significantly less durable (or both).
The Black Diamond Rock Blitz 15 is one of our favorite small climbing packs. When it was time to pick a pack from the pile for a day of climbing it was one of the most often chosen. Its simple design allows for all of the features we like and decent durability while keeping the weight low. It's also pretty comfortable. It has few options for attaching things to the outside, and while that could be an issue for routes that involve snow or ice, if your climbing tick list is all rocks all the time this just might be the pack for you.
— Ian McEleney