TESTED BY IAIN INNES
The light and versatile Black Diamond Cirque 30 backpack is without a doubt the best pack I’ve ever used. It has all the features and design cues of an ultralight alpine pack plus the ability to carry skis both in an A-frame and diagonally.
The impressive light weight of the pack is thanks to a few key characteristics, the Dynex material used predominantly and the lack of unnecessary straps, clips, pockets and padding (the shoulder padding is sufficient but minimal, as is the back padding, however the back padding is removable to save those few extra grams).
In terms of attachments for carrying gear, there are side straps to carry skis in an A-frame, a loop and strap combo for diagonal ski carrying, twin ice tool attachments with a slot that conceals the sharp picks of your axes, a nice feature to stop you scratching yourself or just the inside of your car!
It also has an easy to undo buckle so you can remove one of your axes without taking the bag off your back. I found this pretty handy when skiing steep lines. If I came to a slightly more exposed section that I wanted to descend with an axe in my hand for added security, I could reach back and grab an axe in only a few seconds and be ready to continue my descent.
The CINCH closure system works great for closing the bag. No matter whether you’re at full capacity or half-full you can really tighten it down to stop the contents of your bag moving around while you ski. This system doubles up as a great way to attach a rope to your bag, for those slightly more adventurous outings.
The main compartment of the bag has an integrated avalanche tool pocket, with a big pouch for your shovel blade, and two sleeves, one for your shovel handle, and one for your avalanche probe.
There’s also one small zipped pocket about the right size to carry a phone, a small camera, insurance documents and cash. I used this for anything I considered valuable but still might want in the mountains with me.
In the hood of the bag there is another small zipped pocket (this zip is water resistant) which is accessed from the outside making it ideal for stashing snacks, leatherman, sun cream etc.
I’ve used this bag for 60+ days and I’m struggling to find anything wrong with it. I originally acquired it for ski mountaineering, but have ended up using it hiking, trad climbing and even simply for airport travel.