Mountaineering presents many challenges to the adventurer and load-lugging is a big one. For this reason, many alpinists quickly learn to become minimalists - in the gear they carry with them as well as the packs they use to carry that gear. Black Ice is the result of just such a reckoning: removal of anything that’s not absolutely necessary while still getting the job done. This pack is a culmination of discussions with world-class alpinists, prototyping and testing, tinkering and testing again. The resulting design yields a new-school mountain pack that is light, sleek and comfortable.
Black Ice is available in three versions: 30, 45 and 55 liters. The 30-liter is sold in small and medium torso lengths and the 45 and 55 are available in medium and long.
Black Ice is waterproof. It is factory seam sealed and the tough, 420-denier ripstop nylon fabric is TPU film laminated and holds a 10,000mm water column rating. A roll-top creates a closure against water for anything other than submersion (no roll-top closure is waterproof under water).
The flat outer pocket is finished with a water-resistant zipper. Two daisy chains run vertically along the outer part of the pack, flanking the outer pocket and ice axe loops are positioned at the bottom of each. Three small attachment loops are placed along each side of the pack bag; useful for anchoring all sorts of gear in tandem with the daisy chains. An adjustable strap extends over the top of the pack and is secured to one of two small webbing loops with EXPED’s Rapide Hook, compressing and stabilizing the load. The higher of the two loops is used when the pack is filled to capacity and the lower when a partial load is being carried. This also allows items to be attached to the top of the pack, further extending the carrying capacity of Black Ice. A stout haul loop is anchored at the top of the back panel, between the shoulder strap attachment points.
Inside there is an envelope pocket for keeping small items organized. There are also two elastic bands, one on each side of the pocket and against the foam back panel, for holding a shovel shaft and avalanche probe in place. The interior is bright, so the pack doesn’t become a dark cavern to search through.
The suspension system is clean and uncluttered. A removable foam board keeps gear separated from the wearer and can be used as a sit or sleeping mat in a bivy. Fully contoured and padded shoulder straps include a sternum strap that slides easily up and down to achieve the right placement. A removable hip strap helps stabilize the lower part of the pack when heavier loads are carried, but can be removed for light loads or less obstruction of a climbing harness.