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Black Diamond Blitz 28L Review

The Blitz is an excellent on-route climbing pack for challenging, steep terrain in the mountains.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $100 List | $98.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Lightweight, simple, excellent pack for steep, technical terrain
Cons:  Less durable, less versatile, no side straps
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By Lyra Pierotti ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 25, 2019
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67
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 11
  • Weight to Volume Ratio - 30% 10
  • Comfort - 20% 7
  • Durability - 20% 4
  • Versatility - 20% 5
  • Features - 10% 5

Our Verdict

The Black Diamond Blitz is aptly named for its ability to charge forward on an intense, singular mission: to get to the top of that alpine route you've been dreaming about all summer—you know, that one, that's steep, physical, technical—and super intimidating. The Blitz is not a versatile mountaineering pack. It has no side straps for pickets or skis, and the 28-liter volume isn't enough for most overnight missions. But what it lacks in versatility it more than makes up for in its lightweight, comfort, and convenience on route. This is a great pack to add to your climbing pack quiver for those special missions. It is not the most durable pack we have used. It is best reserved for those exceptional fast-and-light adventures, though it is also very suitable for pure rock routes which likely won't beat it up as much as a day in the mountains. It is reasonably priced, so if you want something to give you that extra edge for your goal route at the end of the season, this might be what you're looking for.


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Pros Lightweight, simple, excellent pack for steep, technical terrainComfortable, affordable, durable, fully featuredSimple, light, comfortable, highly modularSimple, good weight to volume ratio, durableExtremely light for volume, very comfortable on approach, good ice tool attachment, 100% waterproof
Cons Less durable, less versatile, no side strapsNot as lightweight as some packsDifficult to overstuff for the approach, some finicky featuresCan't remove the foam suspension pad, not best for heavy loads, requires thoughtful packingOpening the pack is a pain, not durable, no removable bivy pad
Bottom Line The Blitz is an excellent on-route climbing pack for challenging, steep terrain in the mountains.This is an excellent pack for most mountaineering uses, excelling in comfort and versatility, and climbs very well.The Ascensionist is a master of technical ascents with its light weight, versatility, and comfort on the climb.This is a light and durable pack which is a pleasure to use, and quickly became our go-to for a wide variety of climbing adventures.This is a very comfortable and lightweight pack with a few hangups in ease of access and durability.
Rating Categories Black Diamond Blitz 28L Osprey Mutant 38 Patagonia Ascensionist 40 Arc'teryx Alpha FL 45 3400 Ice Pack
Weight To Volume Ratio (30%)
10
0
10
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
10
Comfort (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
Durability (20%)
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
2
Versatility (20%)
10
0
5
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
5
10
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6
Features (10%)
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5
10
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9
10
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7
10
0
5
10
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5
Totals (%)
10
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10
10
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10
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
10
Specs Black Diamond... Osprey Mutant 38 Patagonia... Arc'teryx Alpha FL... 3400 Ice Pack
Measured Volume (liters) 29 37 35 34 50
Measured Weight (pounds) 1.09 2.84 1.95 1.47 1.7
Measured Weight (grams) 496.1 1288.2 884.5 667.38 771.8
Weight-To-Volume Ratio (grams per liter) 17.11 34.82 25.27 19.63 15.44
Frame Type Foam pad Inner framesheet with aluminum stays None Rigid, formed back panel Removable, contoured aluminum stays
Fabric Dynex ripstop 210D nylon with 420HD nylon packcloth on bottom 210D cordura N400r-AC2 nylon 6 ripstop Waterproof dyneema composite fabric
Pockets 1 main compartment, 1 waterproof top lid, 1 internal zippered 1 zippered lid 1 zippered lid, 1 small zippered internal 1 front zippered Internal zippered pocket,
Hip belt Yes - removable webbing belt Yes - reverse wrap hybrid EVA foam w/ gear loops and ice clipper holsters Yes Yes - webbing hip belt Yes - Dyneema
Removable Suspension Padding? Yes Removable framesheet and/or dual stays Yes No No
Lid? Yes - removable Yes - removable with stowable FlapJacket for lidless use Yes, attached No No
Hydration System Compatible? Yes Yes, internal pouch with buckled hanging loop No No No

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.

Performance Comparison


The Blitz 28 is an excellent backpack for in-a-day  fast-and-light alpine rock and ice routes.
The Blitz 28 is an excellent backpack for in-a-day, fast-and-light alpine rock and ice routes.

Weight-To-Volume Ratio


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.


In our Test Load  it is easy to see that the Blitz is not designed for gear-intensive climbs or multi day trips.
In our Test Load, it is easy to see that the Blitz is not designed for gear-intensive climbs or multi day trips.

Comfort


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 may be small  but that means it stays completely out of your way in technical terrain  allowing easy access to the cams and draws on your harness.
The hip belt may be small, but that means it stays completely out of your way in technical terrain, allowing easy access to the cams and draws on your harness.

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).

Durability


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.

We loved the easy access drawstring system  though beware  there have been notable durability issues with it. It held up well in our testing  for which we were grateful.
We loved the easy access drawstring system, though beware, there have been notable durability issues with it. It held up well in our testing, for which we were grateful.

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).

Versatility


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.

With an external rope carry  the Blitz performs well on the approach to technical routes.
With an external rope carry, the Blitz performs well on the approach to technical routes.

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.

Features


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 simple design features of the Blitz make it a very useful and comfortable pack for steep  technical routes.
The simple design features of the Blitz make it a very useful and comfortable pack for steep, technical routes.

Best Applications


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.

We love the simplicity and smooth profile of the Blitz 28. It makes the pack very nice to have on your back in steep technical terrain.
We love the simplicity and smooth profile of the Blitz 28. It makes the pack very nice to have on your back in steep technical terrain.

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.

Value


The Blitz will allow you to charge ahead on alpine rock and ice routes.
The Blitz will allow you to charge ahead on alpine rock and ice routes.
The Blitz is more affordable at around $100 retail. It is important to note that this is not a super durable or versatile pack, two qualities which add tremendous value to a climbing pack. It is, however, very well suited to its fast-and-light alpine rock and ice routes, and an excellent pack to have in your quiver. If you need an excellent pack for high performance on alpine routes, this may be exactly what you want to spend your precious dollars on.

Conclusion


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.
We loved the Blitz 28 for steep alpine rock routes.
We loved the Blitz 28 for steep alpine rock routes.


Lyra Pierotti