Sunday, June 7, 2009

Black Diamond RPM Pack

Naturally, I’m pretty lazy. I don’t like doing things twice and I don’t like doing more work than I have to. That’s why Black Diamond’s RPM Pack is a real joy to have on many of my RMNP excursions. People often comment on the size of my packs, like: “Dude, that pack is tiny…how do you fit it all in there?” Well, where there’s a will, especially a lazy one, there is a way.

You see, I just don’t like carrying a lot of stuff. Carrying a lot of stuff feels like work and when I’m in the mountains I’d rather be having fun. The RPM is a light, durable, low-profile pack that can go anywhere I can. Folk always buy these do-it-all packs with all these pricey bells and whistles that are often the byproduct of poor design. Not so with the RPM. Its beauty is in its simplicity. The RPM is designed like a stuff-sack, so you can just cram it all in and then zip it shut; no annoying “lightweight” buckles to fumble with or too-long, face-smacking straps to endure on windy days. It does what a pack should do: stay out of the way, allowing you to move like it isn’t even there.

The RPM has become my primary guiding pack for many trips, especially for rock and alpine rock venues…sort of a 3-season, crossover pack. I can easily fit a 1st aid kit; 2.5 liters of water via hydration system; a rack of draws, lockers, cordelettes, etc; a rack of cams, nuts, and/or screws; my climbing shoes; a harness, a couple light layers or one puffy jacket; my lunch and my helmet always sits on top. For those light-and-fast alpine blitzes, two external ice axe loops adjust to carry whatever my route demands. The mesh side pouches come in handy for carrying my Patagonia Houdini jacket and Buff on one side and my sunscreen, lip balm, and gloves on the other. A design bonus is in the compression system. Once you unpack, rack up, and start your climb, you don’t have to worry about having a deflated, awkward-looking, and bulky wrinkled-raisin on your back. Simply pull the draw-cord and the RPM compresses down to fit whatever is left inside. I love climbing with this pack!

As if one could improve upon perfection, the waist belt ain’t one of those bulky, padded, “removable” jobs your grandma would use as a backyard lawn cushion. Instead, it’s an oddly effective strap that doesn’t cover up the gear loops on your harness as you climb (one of my chief complaints with other “climbing” packs). There are a couple of adequately-sized zipper pockets on top for carrying maps, compass, lighter and as always, a car-key clip so you don’t show back up at the trailhead looking like a douf in front of your angry friends.

One thing I wish the RPM had is a rope-carrying system, just a simple nylon strap like on Black Diamond’s Instinct pack would do. I lay awake at night trying to figure out how to rig a solution for this myself…no, not really. I just carry a rope mountaineer-style or stuff it inside for those sport-climbing days. Once again, Black Diamond has created a near-perfect lazy-man pack for those of us who want a pack that can do most of it without forcing us to do more than we must.

To learn more about the RPM pack and other great Black Diamond products, please visit BlackDiamond.com.

Andrew Councell
Guide/Lodging Manager
AMGA Certified Rock Guide
AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Instructor
Colorado Mountain School
341 Moraine Avenue
Estes Park, CO 80517
800.836.4008
TotalClimbing.com

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