The Black Diamond Speed 30 is a reliable alpine backpack that combines clever features with easy functionality and sold durability, all of which means it should feature high on any aspiring alpinist’s kit list. It’s low profile and easy to carry without being ultralight or minimalist, and it can be customized according to your mountain exploring and climbing requirements.
Tough and durable, with a welded front abrasion patch
Lots of removable elements for customization
Suitable for all-year use in mountain high alpine terrain
Rain cover needs to be purchased separately
Lack of pockets
Hip fins don’t feel particularly padded or comfortable
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Black Diamond Speed 30: first impressions
The technically advanced Black Diamond Speed 30 from the brand’s Ascent range makes the perfect peak attack pack for climbers and scramblers, and it’s one of the best daypacks around for mountain folk who like to head into the high hills all year round.
• List price: $185 (US) / £140 (UK)
• Size: S-M / M-L
• Volume: 30L
• Weight: S-M 990g / 2lb 3oz; M-L 1,140g / 2lb 6oz
• Materials: BD X-rip 210d nylon body fabric with UTS coating
• Colors: Graphite / Sulphur
• Compatibility: Climbing, scrambling, mountaineering and high-altitude hiking
The Speed 30 cleverly combines the light feel and ultra-tough durability of a high-performance alpine-orientated backpack, with a fully strip-downable design – including removable waist belt, lid and frame sheet.
On first use, my favorite features included the top-loading hood buckle that’s easily closable, even with hiking gloves on; a draw cord skirt at the top, which is useful for stopping spindrift and snow getting into the pack; and a welded front abrasion patch that protects the pack from jagged rocks and crampons.
The shoulder straps are made of dual density foam, which are comfortable to wear on long approaches and big days in the peaks, while the rear panel has been redesigned to improve its wicking performance.
Fans of fast-and-light design will appreciate the smart simplicity of this pack, which is easy to use even in extreme circumstances. A highly durable bag – made with Black Diamond’s new “X-rip” 210d nylon body fabric with a UTS coating that’s ultra-tough and resistant to scuffs – the Black Diamond Speed 30 is ideal for all-year-round use on mountain terrain.
As with most mountaineering and climbing packs, there’s a lack of pockets, but the Speed 30 boasts plenty of useful tool attachments, including a new custom metal dogbone ice tool attachment with micro ice tool PickPockets and removable 20mm crampon straps.
Black Diamond Speed 30: in the mountains
Rock, snow, ice, crevasse, grass, trail, meadow… no matter what kind of landscape your alpine trip takes in, the Black Diamond Speed 30 is a reliable and highly useful backpack for carrying loads quickly and efficiently in all seasons, but it’s lighter than a traditional pack.
I tested the Speed 30 backpack in the wonderful alpine environment of the Dolomites in the north east of Italy. While crossing steep iron bridges and hanging on to sheer dolomitic cliffs, the bag proved comfortable (including when worn with a harness), easy to carry and well proportioned, even for those who – like me – are on the smaller side. Plus, it’s a backpack crammed full of useful features to securely and efficiently carry ropes, tools and winter gear, while keeping it all nice and accessible.
The only real flaw in the Speed 30 I found is in the design of the hip fins, which on test felt under-padded, especially for the female form – this is where “gendered” packs might allow for a more customizable fit. I would prefer a sculpted, molded hip belt, with cutaway sections, or even breathable webbing – rather than solid molded foam panels, which span when I was trying to do them up.
I’m also a fan of traditional hip buckles, rather than the interlocking hip buckles on Speed 30, which I think are slower and more fiddly to do up with gloves on.
The shoulders have some dual density foam, which really improves comfort levels when weight (especially heavy items like rope) is evenly distributed. The back panel has ribbed foam to stop it from sticking to you when you’re moving quickly – which makes it more breathable and comfortable in hotter weather.
On the steep cliffs of Corvara valley in the Dolomites, I really appreciated the nifty design of the Black Diamond Speed 30. This well-considered, ideally proportioned pack has a streamlined profile and a top-loading design, and it swallows everything you need. The removable back panel gives the bag some sturdiness – some traditionalists might perhaps prefer stiffer support, but for me the design is a good compromise offering high functionality while remaining lightweight enough for people who want to travel through the mountains fast.
The Black Diamond “PickPocket” threads, crampon attachments, red grab handles, rope straps and simple-to-stow ice axe attachments made it easy to attach technical kit to the outside of the bag, whilst the interior facilitates good, efficient organization, with kit arranged so it doesn’t move around too much.
The Black Diamond Speed Ascent 30 makes sense for those who want simplicity without sacrificing durability. I really like how the material literally feels reinforced.
Thanks to the use of Black Diamond’s X rip 210d fabric, the bag remains upright, without slouching, even when I pack climbing harnesses, shoes, trad racks and clothing. It also manages to support additional attachments, including trekking poles and a climbing rope on the outside.
I tested this pack primarily in dry summer rock conditions, and while it demonstrated some water resistance when required, I’m yet to see how the bag will fare in torrential downpours, or use in mid winter. I’m especially keen to test the limitations of the draw cord skirt, to see how much it can really keep rain and snow at bay without the buckle lid. I’m impressed that the bag is lined, which helped reassure me that the contents wouldn’t suffer damage.
With a list price of $185 (US) / £140 (UK), the Black Diamond Speed 30 is a mid-range backpack that boasts a lot of excellent features without sacrificing easy functionality and durability, or adding carry weight to your load. Comparable to the Mountain Equipment Tupilak or Exped Serac, the Black Diamond Speed Ascent 30 is a bag I’d highly recommend for year-round use for alpine adventurers and climbers. It’s a great pack that will see many future trips to come.
A former brand ambassador for Merrell and current Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion, Jessie Leong’s lifelong outdoor odyssey began with Duke of Edinburgh’s Award walks in the Peak District. This segued into long hill hikes in the Yorkshire Dales, multi-day treks in the Lake District, scrambles in North Wales and adventures scaling alpine pinnacles. When not walking, she can be found rock climbing, wild swimming, cycling, photographing, filmmaking, writing and modelling. Jessie’s most recent claim to fame is playing a Miss World contestant in the 2020 feature film Misbehaviour.
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