Black Diamond Blitz 28L Review
Cons: Less durable, less versatile, no side straps
Manufacturer: Black Diamond
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Black Diamond Blitz 28L
|Price||$99.95 at Amazon||$170 List|
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|Check Price at REI|
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|$200.00 at Amazon||$170.00 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Lightweight, simple, excellent pack for steep, technical terrain||Comfortable, affordable, durable, fully featured||Versatile, simple, durable, well-priced||Durable, versatile, fully featured for all mountain pursuits||Durable, comfortable, optimized for ski mountaineering|
|Cons||Less durable, less versatile, no side straps||Not as lightweight as some packs||Less features, some wonky strap designs||Closure system limits ability to overstuff, larger size less ideal for more technical routes||Heavier, novel front access zipper can be difficult to use|
|Bottom Line||This 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 in all alpine terrain||This is a pack-of-all-trades well suited to a variety of mountaineering pursuits||The Mutant series has been a favorite, and the 52 liter version fills an excellent niche for colder and longer climbs||The durability and feature set of this pack make it particularly well suited to ski mountaineering|
|Rating Categories||Black Diamond Blitz...||Osprey Mutant 38||Black Diamond Speed 40||Osprey Mutant 52L||Ortovox Peak Light 32L|
|Weight To Volume Ratio (20%)|
|Specs||Black Diamond Blitz...||Osprey Mutant 38||Black Diamond Speed 40||Osprey Mutant 52L||Ortovox Peak Light 32L|
|Measured Volume (liters)||29||37||45||47||30|
|Measured Weight (pounds)||1.09||2.84 (without lid), 3.25 (with lid)||2.93||4.19||2.53|
|Measured Weight (grams)||496.1||1288.2||1330||1899.4||1148.2|
|Weight to Volume Ratio (grams per liter)||17.11||34.82||29.56||40.41||38.27|
|Frame Type||Foam pad||Inner framesheet with aluminum stays||Removable foam and plastic framesheet with 3 stays||Removable framesheet and dual stays||Swiss Wooltec knit back construction|
|Fabric||Dynex ripstop||210D nylon with 420HD nylon packcloth on bottom||210d ripstop main, 420d abrasion||210D High Tenacity Nylon||Nylon 420D Oxford|
|Pockets||1 main compartment, 1 waterproof top lid, 1 internal zippered||1 zippered lid||1 main, 2 zippered lid, 1 internal hydration||2 zippered lid||1 lid with 2 compartments, 1 hip belt pocket|
|Hip Belt?||Yes - removable webbing belt||Yes - reverse wrap hybrid EVA foam w/ gear loops and ice clipper holsters||Yes - padding removable, not belt||Yes- removable||Yes - removable hip belt|
|Removable Suspension Padding?||Yes||Removable framesheet and/or dual stays||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Lid?||Yes - removable||Yes - removable with stowable FlapJacket for lidless use||Yes - removable||Yes||Yes|
|Hydration System Compatible?||Yes||Yes - internal pouch with buckled hanging loop||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Blitz 28 is an awesome "sending" pack for your fast-and-light alpine routes. This pack prioritizes comfort on route over versatility and durability. It is well worth it to add this to your quiver of packs for those routes where you're pushing your grades on steep, technical terrain in the mountains.
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) the pack, ensuring it 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. We love it 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, snacks, and layers.
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 those 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 it 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 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, this will be comfortable on your back and move well with you through technical terrain because it is small and fits close to the 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. When nearly empty, this pack can look a little sloppy, but it is then so lightweight and still carries close to the back, so this observation is more aesthetic than anything.
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 into the belly. If you size this pack just right for your structure, we think you will love it (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 it 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 everything 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 the pack. 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 period (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 has a single large compartment and two small and slender zippered pockets. The suspension consists of just 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 bag. This also keeps the pack smaller overall, making it an ideal backpack for long rock routes. Carrying the rope on the outside of the pack means it can be lower volume overall, which is preferable once you are on route.
The Blitz is way more affordable than many climbing packs. It is important to note that this is not a super durable or versatile pack, two qualities that add tremendous value to a climbing pack. It is, however, very well suited to fast-and-light alpine rock and ice routes and is an excellent pack to have in your quiver. If you need a pack for high performance on alpine routes, this may be exactly what you want to spend your precious dollars on.
What we loved most about this backpack is how well it carried on steep, technical terrain. The Blitz 28 is an excellent, small pack to be used on route that can also carry all of your gear to the base and back 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 climb with hexes aka "cow bells"), 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 other 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 much more dignified manner.
— Lyra Pierotti