by Tony Lourens
I’m constantly on the lookout for the perfect sized pack, with the right design and features for long multi-pitch rock climbs and single day peak bagging missions, and I think my long search has come to a happy ending. BD’s new 30-litre Pursuit is what I have been looking for, for a long time.
What was I looking for exactly?
• Size: A small pack, but not too small.
• Weight: Must be as light as possible, within reason.
• Comfort and fit: The pack must sit comfortably, well within the parameters of your back. It should hug your back, and the bottom of the pack should be high enough above your waist to accommodate your harness and chalk bag, and must not restrict head movement. In essence, you should not really feel that you have a pack on your back.
• Features: Should have sufficient features to do the job.
• Durability: Should be durable, within reason (given that one sacrifices some durability with lightweight materials).
Let’s break down the points above. When I got my hands on the Pursuit 30, the very next day I guided a client up a 230-metre, 9-pitch rock climb on Cogman’s Buttress. What a perfect testing ground! I was thrilled with the result, feel and functionality of the pack.
For me 30 litres is about the perfect size for climbing and scrambling. Not too small, that you have to cram stuff in (making the pack bulge in a cumbersome fashion) and/or hang kit on the outside (which is irritating and a complete no-no for me), but also not too big, which makes the pack extend beyond the dimensions of your back. For our climb I took along a small puffer jacket, a light fleece, and a wind stop jacket. A small flask of tea, a half-litre water bottle, a standard sandwich tin with some lunch and snacks, my approach shoes, and some smaller stuff, like an energy bar, mini first aid kit, tissues, and my phone and keys. Everything fitted in really well, and there was even room for more stuff. And one of the excellent features is the compression system, which allows you to synch the bag down to size, depending on load, with one pull at a central point.
Constructed with lightweight materials, but keeping functionality a priority, the Pursuit comes in at less than 800 grams, which is quite impressive, considering what it offers the user.
Comfort and fit
The Pursuit is a masterpiece of engineering and design. It comes with a ‘Continuous Fit Harness’ which is aerated, contours your back, and is thinly but perfectly padded; sort of the ideal mix between comfort, flexibility and stability. Same goes for the broad hip belt that has a double adjustable system, and the shoulder straps, which are adjustable top and bottom with thumb loops for ease of pulling. Once you have the pack on with shoulder straps and hip belt adjusted, then the two thin (and hardly noticeable) sternum straps add that extra stability and comfort to the overall fit. Personally, I find using just the one lower sternum strap is more than adequate. The Pursuit now feels almost a part of your body, with excellent freedom of movement, no head restriction and does not encroach down onto your harness and chalk bag.
I’m not one for too many bells and whistles. When you are on a rock wall or scrambling over tricky terrain, you want a pack that works for you and you do not want to have to fiddle with unnecessary bits and bobs.
Besides having a spacious main compartment, which is sealed with a water-resistant zip, the Pursuit has a flat inside pocket for cards, money, route descriptions, and the like, and a very handy top pocket (an absolute must for me) for energy bars, first aid kit, and anything else that you may need quick access to. It also has a large stretch-woven front panel, which is great for stashing a fleece or rain top and, as the panel is designed to come around the sides as well, it can house your trekking poles perfectly. The shoulder straps also have three small stretch pockets and one with a zip – great for your phone, so it is on hand to take those lovely Instagram snaps, and also for gels and snacks on the go. The Pursuit also comes with two thin daisy chains along the front of the pack, if you need to strap anything to the outside, and a dedicated hydration sleeve and reservoir clip. But the pièce de résistance for me is the ingenious compression system mentioned above.
Always tricky to test durability in a few weeks, but the Pursuit looks well put together and, after a few uses in the hills, it still looks brand new.
The Pursuit also comes in a 15-litre version, and also for women with specific design for streamlined fit in shoulders, chest, and hips.
They say dynamite comes in small packages . . . well here is the proof!
• Continuous Fit Harness for seamless comfort on the move
• Breathable back panel
• Trekking pole storage
• Quick Pull Compression System
• One zip and three stretch shoulder pockets
• Water resistant main zipper
• Zip top pocket
• Zip interior pocket with key clip
• Large stretch-woven front pocket
• Dedicated hydration pouch with reservoir clip (reservoir not included)
Sizes: S to L
Weight: 796 g
The BD Pursuit range also boasts:
Waist Pack (6 litre)
Great for quick, light outings where all you need is water and snacks, and other bare essentials. A unisex fit combined with the ‘Continuous Fit Harness’ waist belt makes it comfortable and versatile for a wide range of sizes.
Shock Trekking Poles
Packed with comfort-focused features like ergonomic cork grips and Bloom grip extensions, plus the uniquely designed, streamlined shock, the Pursuit Shock is a premium pole option for any hiker. BD proprietary grip geometry and shape, with two grip sizes optimised for larger and smaller hands, make for more comfortable hand positions and reduces hand fatigue.
All available at https://blackdiamondequipment.co.za/