Best Black Diamond Backpacks

Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for Best Black Diamond backpacks

Excitement awaits on outdoor adventures, but whether you’re skiing, climbing, hiking, or camping, your enjoyment and safety require proper preparation and the right gear, such as a backpack. Black Diamond, named for the toughest ski slopes around the world, is a leading outdoor gear company that offers a variety of useful products, including backpacks, for the outdoor adventurer.

Black Diamond has a wide range of rugged and durable backpacks that are tailored to specific activities, such as trekking, ski touring, or mountaineering. They’re designed with support and comfort in mind and constructed to withstand the elements.

A Black Diamond backpack is an investment in quality, but with so many options available across a wide range of activities, finding the best backpack for you can be tricky. Our buying guide outlines the available options and handy features to look for and offers some pointers on how to narrow your search. We show you a few of our favorites too.

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The company has roots in the 1950s when an inventive climber made and sold outdoor equipment. In 1989, Black Diamond was founded, later moving to Utah and setting up operations in Europe and Asia.

Key considerations

Activity

Black Diamond backpacks are made for outdoor activities and excursions; they’re not meant for school, work, or casual outings. How you intend to use the backpack will largely determine which type to buy.

For example, backpacks designed for trail running are light and relatively small in size. A few weigh 6 or 7 ounces to make speedy treks more comfortable. Black Diamond offers heavy-duty backpacks for longer hikes and more arduous activities, and these are heavier with more storage compartments and increased weatherproofing.

Capacity

Consider what you need to take along with you on any given excursion to determine the size of the backpack you need. Every Black Diamond backpack has a number in the name, indicating the number of liters the backpack can hold. For example, small packs for trail running hold from 8 to 18 liters, while large packs for ski touring hold as much as 55 liters. The largest pack available is an alpine pack that holds 75 liters.

Size

For a backpack to be comfortable, it has to fit you correctly. Most Black Diamond packs come in a couple of different sizes, a small/medium option and a medium/large option, but the packs adjust to fit most bodies.

To determine which size backpack you need, measure your torso from the base of your neck to the narrowest part of your waist. This will make sure that the pack isn’t too long or unbalanced. Measure your waist at the narrowest part for any straps that wrap around the waist to distribute the weight of the pack.

Storage

The interior and exterior of Black Diamond backpacks include any number of zippered or open pockets and compartments for storage.  Note where the pockets are on the backpack and how easily accessible they are. Some can be reached while you’re wearing the pack, but others can only be accessed when the pack is off.

The exterior typically has mesh pockets that allow for quick access to items like snacks. The interior may be divided into compartments. Some packs have interior loops and mesh pockets to keep gear in place and secure pockets for valuables. Some components may be removable so you can adjust the interior layout as needed.

Material

Black Diamond backpacks are made of different forms of nylon, synthetics that are treated and manipulated to withstand rugged, regular use. Durable, thick ripstop nylon resists tearing, fraying, and water and is often incorporated into Black Diamond backpacks. Some use ballistic nylon, which can stand up to the toughest use as well as rain and snow. 

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Did You Know?
Black Diamond offers more than just backpacks. It also supplies gloves, boots, jackets, and a variety of tools and accessories for camping, climbing, hiking, and skiing. 
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Features

Comfort

A few different features help make Black Diamond backpacks comfortable to carry for long periods of time. For hiking, look for a backpack with waist straps to take some of the weight of the pack off the shoulders. Mesh panels help air to circulate and promote breathability so the backpack is more comfortable in hot, humid conditions. Foam panels increase comfort on the back and shoulders. And some backpacks have a suspension system that optimizes weight distribution for superior comfort.

Color

A backpack’s color doesn’t affect price or performance, but it can add visibility and some style. Black Diamond backpacks come in several colors, with most selections offering a choice of at least three. Black is the most common, but there are bright shades available, including pale yellow Sunflare, purple Mulberry, and Hyper Red. There are also shades of blue and gray. 

Specialized backpacks and storage

Some Back Diamond backpacks are designed to help alpine trekkers in the event of an avalanche. The JetForce line features airbags that activate with the pull of a trigger and are designed to work in tandem with avalanche beacons. Black Diamond also sells booster packs designed to supplement backpacks if you need more room for equipment. 

While Black Diamond backpacks include various compartments and slots for general use, many also boast loops, straps, and pockets designed for specific outdoor gear, such as loops to hang hiking or ski poles or an ice axe. Other straps are designed to hold a helmet or lights. Some high-end options have a place to hook skis or a snowboard for cross-country adventures.

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Did You Know?
Black Diamond also offers chalk bags for climbers, duffels for gym goers, and haul bags for tackling the big walls.
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Accessories

Hiking poles: Black Diamond Trail Pro Shock Trekking Poles
Hiking poles are useful accessories for safely and efficiently traversing tough terrain. These lightweight, durable poles from Black Diamond are easily adjusted and comfortable to grip.

Dog backpack: Outward Hound Dog DayPak
If you like to hike with your canine friend, let your pet share the load. This brightly colored pack by Outward Hound is light and breathable and features a variety of easily accessible pouches.

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Did you Know?
More elaborate backpacks allow for adjustability and customization. In addition to adapting to your body for the ideal fit, some straps and compartments can be removed as needed.
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Pricing

Inexpensive: For around $50, Black Diamond has light, simple backpacks for running, casual hiking, or camping.

Mid-range: Most Black Diamond backpacks cost between $50 and $125, including a range of options in various colors for different activities.

Expensive: The largest, most feature-packed backpacks cost over $125. These are designed with high-end performance in mind, including avalanche safety features.

Tips

  • Plan ahead and exercise caution. Black Diamond backpacks are designed to make your outdoor excursions safer and more comfortable. However, it’s still vital that you plan ahead, take precautions when on trails and mountains, and understand your surroundings.
  • Pack your backpack efficiently. Black Diamond backpacks are made to be as light as possible while offering creative storage solutions. However, it’s up to you to effectively pack yours and place items where you can access them when you need to.
  • Check the denier rating. To get a better understanding of the strength and thickness of a material, check the dernier number, denoted by the letter D or d. Backpacks for recreational use may boast 100- to 200-denier nylon, while heavy-duty options can exceed 1,000 denier.
  • Clean your backpack regularly. Accumulated dirt can potentially damage accessories and tools and ruin the waterproof coating on your backpack. It’s a good idea to clean it after every use. Let the pack completely air-dry before using it again.
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While Black Diamond backpacks are strong, tears or rips can occur. The company’s website can help guide you through repairs, though you might want to send the product to a specialist. 

FAQ

Q. How important are the names of the backpacks?

A. Black Diamond backpacks have different names that don’t necessarily tell you exactly what the product does, which can make shopping tricky. Names like Creek, Cirque, and Dawn Patrol are evocative but don’t quite detail what the packs are best used for. Other backpacks like Speed, Blitz, and Bullet at least indicate that the packs are lightweight and ideal for fast-moving activities. In any case, it’s best to narrow down your search through the main activity and mostly ignore the names, other than the number, which indicates capacity in liters.

Q. How do I clean my Black Diamond backpack?

A. Backpacks get dirty, but most of them are fairly easy to clean. Nylon can be spot cleaned as needed with warm water and mild soap. Avoid abrasive cleaners and washing machines because these can break down materials, remove any waterproof coatings, and weaken the backpack. Cleaning the interior requires emptying the contents and opening all the compartments and pockets to dump out any dirt or debris before wiping it out with a damp cloth.

If a deeper cleaning is needed, submerge the empty backpack in a tub of warm water to tackle lingering stains and odors. Use detergent-free soap and gently scrub particularly dirty areas. Rinse thoroughly and let the backpack air-dry.

Q. Does Black Diamond make any backpacks for city living?

A. While Black Diamond focuses on outdoor adventures like climbing and hiking, it does offer a few options that are geared toward active city life. These offer mid-range capacities with secure zippers and various internal storage compartments, including a sleeve for a laptop. These backpacks are designed for regular commuting and frequent use, especially if you travel by bike, go to the gym, or brave inclement weather. These backpacks can also be used for sightseeing and traveling.
 

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