Black Diamond loaded the Shot with features, while keeping the pack streamlined and lightweight. The Shot weighs in at 13 ounces (370 g), which is quite light for a pack with its materials and features. It is made of burly 840 denier ballistic nylon throughout to hold up to abrasion and every-day wear and tear. The front of the pack is completely streamlined, with nothing to catch while bushwacking on an approach or during hauling.
The Shots really innovative feature is the removable waistbelt design that is quick and easy to use, and really is ideal for climbing. The strap cinches opposite to that of the standard waistbelt; the excess strap hangs near the pack and out of your way, rather than in front of your waist. If you choose to climb without the belt, simply unthread the strap from the fixed plastic piece, and stow the strap. Or, if you really want to shed weight, leave the strap at home.
The hydration system is also the best weve seen, with ports that feed out onto each shoulder strap individually but are completely flush with the pack when not in use. This gives you control over which side your tube is on while keeping the tube completely out of your way.
The Shot offers some other features worth noting. There is an easy-access external zipper pocket for all the essentials, complete with key clip. The long, narrow handle design makes clipping the pack to an anchor easy and secure. Finally, the back padding keeps you from getting poked by awkward or sharp objects you are carrying, and gives you some additional support when carrying small but heavy loads (that dont fill up the pack).
In addition to its on the rock attributes, the Shot performs fairly well off the cliff; its large main opening easily accommodates groceries or books, and its styling makes it at home in the office or at school.
The Black Diamond Shot was the least comfortable pack we tested. Its padding system actually seems to work against the comfort of the pack when loaded, the padding keeps the pack from conforming well to the shape of your back and instead puts all the pressure at a certain point. It also takes away from the ability to pack the bag small, so the Shot becomes much less effective as a summit pack. Lastly, it seems to go against the whole classically simple (pulled from Black Diamond product description) design of the pack, adding excess weight and bulk to an otherwise no-frills product.
The shape of the Shot also takes away from the climbing utility of the pack. The design is attempting to make the pack as low profile as possible (i.e. closer to your back), but by doing so the pack must therefore be wider in order to have the same volume (the pack cannot be longer, since it would then interfere with access to a harness or chalk bag). This width is very noticeable when climbing, and limits (if slightly) stemming moves and liebacks.
The Shots handle, designed specifically to be clipped in at belays, can be a pain in everyday use, and the back padding is as much of an issue off the wall as it is on it.
School or work bag, occasional multi-pitch climbing, trips to the rock gym.
The pricetag is right on par with packs of this style, but it's not worth the money if you are looking for a climbing-specific pack.