Black Diamond Blitz 28L Review
Cons: Less durable, less versatile, no side straps
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Black Diamond Blitz 28 is an awesome "sending" pack for your fast-and-light alpine routes. This pack prioritizes comfort on route over versatility and durability, and is well worth it to add to your quiver of packs for those routes where you're pushing your grades on steep, technical terrain in the mountains.
The Blitz 28 crushes the competition with its extremely light weight-to-volume ratio. This is a very specific use pack, but for its specific uses, it is one of our favorites. This is not the most versatile pack, but it excels in its simplicity. This simplicity is what keeps this pack so lightweight. It has a large main compartment with just two small zippered pockets, two ice tool attachments on front, a minimal waist belt, and a simple rope carry strap—that's it.
The Blitz is designed to be a fast-and-light summit pack, excelling on technical terrain and allowing freedom of movement due to its minimal weight and bulk. Comfort, as we typically think of it, with cushy padding and burly suspension, is not the design strategy with packs like these. However, we still found this pack to be reasonably comfortable for its intended use. This is not a pack to weigh down with a heavy load to get you to basecamp. This is a pack to stuff into a bigger backpack or otherwise haul to basecamp and use for your summit bid. It also works for cragging and is excellent for fast-and-light alpine climbs, such as those done in a push, car-to-car, without bivy gear, or with a very lightweight sleeping kit.
If you keep your kit small and light and pack it well, it will be comfortable on your back and move well with you through technical terrain, because it is small and close to your body. If you are sloppy in your packing, and you put sharp or hard objects next to your back, you might feel it through the thin back panel.
The hip belt seems egregiously small on this pack. We thought it would be the main limiting factor in the comfort of this pack, but again, it works well for its intended uses. This pack is an alpine mission specialist, and when alpine climbing, you're often wearing some layers. The layers, therefore, provide the padding over your hips, and the waist belt rests easily above your harness. Even when we weren't wearing lots of layers or a harness, we found that the hip belt would rest perfectly on top of our hip bones (right on the iliac crest), without cutting in to our bellies. If you size this pack just right for your structure, we think you will love this pack (read: try it on loaded with some gear before you buy it).
This pack is made of lightweight Dynex ripstop fabric. We found this to be durable enough for less frequent, fast-and-light use, but not durable enough for regular use, or as your main backpack. This makes the Blitz a great lightweight pack for steep, challenging rock and alpine routes.
When we carried our rack of climbing gear, it would often make the pack lumpy, since the fabric is so thin. We packed the bag with care after hearing of a lot of issues with the durability of this lightweight fabric. This meant packing metal items centered in the bag to minimize any protrusions. At the end of our field testing, we had a couple of small holes, one in the bottom of the bag, likely from dropping the bag on the ground repeatedly. The ripstop material prevented the hole from becoming any bigger, and the light padding in the bottom of the bag still kept the bag sealed, providing a second layer behind the outer ripstop fabric.
Since there is nowhere to attach crampons on the outside, we had to put them inside. This meant that sometimes the crampon points would poke at the side of the bag, but we did not manage to puncture the side of the backpack during our testing (again, we did try to be careful in our packing, keeping crampons centered, without obsessing too much or taking too much extra time).
The Blitz does not get particularly high marks for versatility, but this is not surprising as it is a pack designed specifically for summit bids and fast-and-light day missions. Sometimes we lamented the lack of side straps, because we couldn't attach a picket on the side of the pack. There is only a front attachment for ice tools (which also works for stashing trekking poles). However, this helps restrict the amount you can carry on (or in) this pack, ensuring the pack does not become uncomfortable—with such a thin hip belt and lightweight shoulder straps and back panel, you don't want to carry heavy loads with this pack.
This backpack is most well suited to alpine climbing, including alpine rock, steep snow, and ice routes. This is not a great pack for ski touring as there is no easy way to attach the skis to the pack.
We loved this pack for long, steep rock routes in the mountains. It is light and simple, and the main compartment and zippered pockets allow easy access to necessities like sunscreen and snacks and layers.
The Blitz has a single large compartment and two small and slender zippered pockets. The suspension consists of just of a simple foam pad in the back panel, slim and stiff shoulder straps, and a very thin removable waist belt without padding. It has very few features: just two ice tool attachment spots on the front, and otherwise no straps for attaching skis or pickets or anything else to the outside.
The pack does have a useful rope carry which allows you to max out the main compartment with your gear and drape the rope over the top of the pack. This also keeps the pack smaller overall, making it an ideal backpack for long rock route. Carrying the rope on the outside of the pack means the pack can be lower volume overall, which is preferable once you are on route.
The Blitz 28 is best suited to long summer rock routes in the mountains. This pack is designed to allow freedom of movement in steep, technical climbing terrain. Once on route, the thin waist belt, while not designed for hiking comfort, helps to keep the pack secure and centered and out of the way of your harness—and the gear hanging on it.
The ice tool attachments allow you to add snow, ice, and glacier travel equipment to your kit, but as we mentioned, crampons will have to go inside the pack. The tradeoff is in simplicity and the external smoothness of the pack, which we love in our alpine equipment. There is (almost) nothing worse than an excessively strappy pack when the wind kicks up at the crux of your route and you find yourself getting thwacked in the face with the excess side strap material on your pack.
What we loved most about this backpack is how well it carried on steep, technical terrain. This pack is like a "bullet" pack, or another small pack used on route, that can actually carry all of your gear to the base and on the descent. For so long, we have jingled our way to and from our climbing routes, harness on and gear hanging (loudly) from it (especially if you still climb with hexes), so that we could climb with as small and light of a pack as possible on route. With the Blitz, there is no need to bring that smaller pack, which then forces you to return to the base of the route to retrieve your pack. You'll have the luxury of removing your harness and gear at the top of the climb to walk off the route in a more dignified manner.
— Lyra Pierotti