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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Black Diamond Rock Blitz 15
$59.95 at Backcountry
|$80 List||$70 List||$69.95 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Simple, sturdy, light||Simple, great zippered pocket, streamlined||Comfortable, easy to pack, great packing volume||Comfortable, light||Durable, sleek, stylish|
|Cons||No emergency whistle, draw cord and cord lock blend into pack||Limited attachment points, easy to drop stuff||Heavy, average durability, no emergency whistle||Small, flimsy, not versatile||Uncomfortable shoulder straps, no external carrying options|
|Bottom Line||This is a great pack for multi-pitch rock climbs at a very fair price||Though there are no extra features, this bag ticks all the boxes for multi-pitch climbing||This pack is great to climb with and easy to load, though it's not particularly light||Though it's one of the most comfortable small climbing packs, this bag isn't very abrasion-resistant||This classic is still going strong, though you cannot carry anything on the outside of the pack|
|Rating Categories||Black Diamond Rock...||The North Face Rout...||Petzl Bug||Mammut Neon Light 12||Black Diamond Bullet|
|Climbing Utility (25%)|
|Specs||Black Diamond Rock...||The North Face Rout...||Petzl Bug||Mammut Neon Light 12||Black Diamond Bullet|
|Measured Weight||0.9 lbs||1.1 lbs||1.1 lbs||0.9 lbs||1.1 lbs|
|Fabric Type||840D nylon||420D nylon||400D nylon||70D nylon||420D nylon, 1260D ballistic nylon|
|Accessory Pockets?||One external zip, one internal zip||One external zip||One external zip, one external open, one internal zip||Two external zip, one internal zip||One external zip, one internal zip|
|Outside Carry Options?||Top strap doubles as rope strap||Daisy chains||Top strap, one daisy chain||Daisy chains||No|
|Hip Belt?||Yes, removable||Yes, removable||Yes||Yes, removable||Yes, removable|
|Hydration System Compatible?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Over the years, Black Diamond has made a number of packs that have defined the climbing daypack category. They introduced their Blitz series several years ago with two models aimed at alpine climbing. The Rock Blitz 15 shares some of the DNA from those original packs — a simple design, one-handed top-loading opening, and a top strap — but has some important differences that make it more ideal for multi-pitch rock climbing.
Our 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. Testing team members with medium to shorter torsos found that the pack regularly interfered with access to their chalk bags or gear clipped to the back of their harnesses. We strongly advise climbers with shorter torsos to try this pack before buying.
The back 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 easy chalk bag access.
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 — it's also a very protected spot to stash a phone. While this pocket is pretty much impossible to access while the pack is on, if you slip the left shoulder strap off and swing the pack around, you can get in there. This makes 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 on 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 or one of the shoulder straps. 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. This is a really nice feature that some of our shorter testers appreciated.
Unfortunately, the sternum strap buckle does not double as a whistle. The black color, which we tested, can also make smaller items disappear inside the pack — we would recommend any other color option. 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. Our tester pack was hauled for 4-5 pitches from the grab loop and showed little sign of wear or tear.
We read a few online reviews from climbers who had the cord lock on the top of the pack break. After about 20 days of use, we also broke the cord lock. This is too bad because that particular style of cord lock makes it really easy to open and close the top of the pack quickly.
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 its 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 makes 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. Little else can be easily attached to the outside without spending some time rigging.
At 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 think this low weight is due in large part to the pack's simple design. Lightweight materials enhance this: the webbing and buckles are narrow and small, and the fabric in the body walks the line between durability and low weight. We don't think a rock climbing pack could get much lighter without sacrificing durability or important features.
This pack is a great value. Few small climbing packs have a lower MSRP, and those that do will either be missing some features or be significantly less durable (or both).
When it was time to pick a pack from the pile for a day of climbing, the Rock Blitz 15 was one of the most often chosen. That, combined with the more-than-reasonable price, earn it our Best Buy Award. The simple design allows for all of the features we like plus decent durability while still 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
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