It took me about 8 months, but I finally realized I’m an avid fan of Black Diamond. My first piece of tech I picked up from them was a belay device and carabeaner combo back in fall of 2016. Since then, I’ve acquired small items here and there from BD without realizing it.
Fast forward to December 2017. Ski season was basically in full swing and I was getting my final prep work done to be certain I’d own the season. After my first day skiing the slopes, I realized the Jansport I’d been using was inadequate to meet the needs of my days out on the slopes. Whether it be gear storage, compartmentalization, or construction itself, the Jansport made for a great hiking and book bag, but lacked some necessary features to help my skiing.
Enter the Black Diamond Dawn Patrol 25L pack.
I’ve now had this bag for 6 months, and it’s not only gotten well over 15+ days on the lifts (meaning likely 300-400 miles), but also trekked in backcountry for some light ski touring near the house AND trekked in GlacierNP with me for about 20 miles so far. And, in actuallity, I use it as en everyday working backpack. So, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised it it’s got nearly 1K miles of travel under it’s belt.
Why haven’t I written about this bag yet then? Well, to be frank… I hadn’t considered it. Being new to the whole – let’s write our thoughts on every piece of gear we own – thing, it was just another everyday tool for me. So, let me rectify that error right now.
I picked up the 25L version of the pack (it also comes in 35L and 15L versions) so the average weight is 2 lb 5 oz. It’s constructed of Dynex non-rip material (210d + PE200d, 840d nylon oxford) so it’s super sturdy. In the 6 months of use, It’s only got scuffs and some frayed stitching from encounters with rocks and some chairlift mishaps haha.
The bag itself is of the top loading variety, meaning you will need to be thoughtful about loading out and put your highest priority items up top. The outermost pocket is fairly large, and is fitted with an internal pocket system in the event you want to carry some avi tools or trekking poles. The second pocket is fairly shallow, but can house your easy access items such as lightweight gloves, hand/foot warmers, beanies, snacks, etc. The final pocket, located on the back, can only be accessed if the pack if put down. This typically will house the Avalung tech for backcountry skiers, but can also house hydration packs, and other gear (I like to put my drone and camera gear in this pocket). (for more info on avalung tech go here)
In addition to these, this backpack is outfitted with straps and slings for ice tools and skis. The skis can either be mounted cross-pack or a-frame without the addition of external straps or tie-downs.
To this point, I’ve used it for skiing and mountaineering. The features such as helmet holder and ice tool straps make this a very solid piece for the kit. As I picked up the 25L, it is rather low impact on the back, even when I have it fully loaded out. This is in part due to the heightened design to help items stay close to the users center of gravity. All the items in the pack have to be stacked vertically, meaning they will all keep a solid center for the weight, meaning the user can more readily stabilize themselves.
My summer expeditions (day) will typically include a climbing helmet, mountaineering axe (not an ice tool – will provide an update once data has been collected), harness and accompanying items, layers, maps, small snacks, water, gloves, compass… basically all the standard stuff you’d expect for 10-15 mile treks off trail, but with the added camera gear such as a couple lenses and maybe a drone. Depend on the trek, I’ll slap on my tripod too (although a monopod may be a better choice in future outings to save on weight.
So far it has been exceptional at providing the adequate support and stability on these treks, keeping me centered and balanced.
I haven’t had any true ski mountaineering or touring experience with the pack as of yet, but this coming season I will. When this happens, I will provide a more in depth review of the pack and hopefully be able to better guide you towards something YOU can use.
One major drawback if you want to use this during the summer is VENTING – or lack thereof. IT does get HOT, and you will sweat all over this pack if you do any strenuous treks with this pack in summer, so be warned.
All in all, if you are looking for a new pack for your mount expeditions, hauling around town, or hitting the ski lifts with, the Dawn Patrol 25L very solid choice. I highly recommend checking it out.
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Have a great day – get out there and enjoy YOUR adventure!