Pros and Cons
Filed under:Backpacks, Climbing & Mountaineering Packs, Gear reviews, Exped Black Ice 30 review, Mountain packs, Technical daysack
Chris Kempster tries out a waterproof mountain pack from Swiss brand Exped
The Black Ice pack is available in 30L and 45L versions and, according to Exped, is aimed at ‘high altitude climbers and alpinists’. That’s not what it’s limited to however, and we found it to be an excellent all-round technical pack that is ideal for climbing and scrambling, summer alpine, Scottish winter (in the case of the 45L version) and can certainly turn its hand to hillwalking or trekking duties too.
Its key features are its waterproof construction, simple and lightweight design, and its rolltop enclosure. The material of the pack is a tough, 400-denier ripstop nylon, with TPU film laminate, which gives a hydrostatic head of 10,000mm. The seams are taped on the inside, and with a restaining strap on the rolltop enclosure you can be confident that the contents of the pack will stay dry. There’s a simple back system consisting of a removable PE foam board, and the shoulder straps are contoured and lightly padded, which means they don’t get in the way when climbing.
As well as the main compartment, the Black Ice comes with two pockets – one inside that’s ideal for valuables, and one on the outside that could fit snacks or even a small water flask. There’s two strips of webbing down the front of the pack which you can attach bunjee cords to (you only get two with the pack, though), and there’s an ice axe/pole loop at the bottom of each of these strips. In use, the Black Ice is a pleasure to use, such is its simplicity. The main compartment is slightly tapered so it’s easy to pack and remove items, and the rolltop itself is quick and easy to use, with its additional strap useful for securing a rope over the top. The Black Ice doesn’t have compression straps to reduce volume, but it’s not a problem as you can just roll the top down further when you take gear out to use.
Having used Arc’teryx Alpha FL packs a lot, I found the Black Ice similar in design and build, however without the sometimes fiddly expansion collar of the Alphas. For ice climbers, the pack’s axe loops won’t carry technical tools (without an adze) easily, however there is an alternative which is to carry them vertically at the sides of the pack, using the webbing loops provided and some bungee cord – or you could thread the ice axe loops through the axe heads and lock off with karabiners. Overall, though, we really liked the Black Ice pack – it’s well-made and versatile, and for those who want one daysack for all their activities, it could very well fit the bill.
More info: www.exped.com