While climbing I found the Bullet 16 pack to be great. It rides well and feels secure without limiting a large range of motion. The lightly padded shoulder straps feel nice and the small amount of weight gets distributed well. The size and shape fit both my small torso and Andreas’ medium torso quite nicely. The zippers also work with ease, big and easy to zip but they don’t unzip inadvertently.

Bullet-2

The main compartment is tapered toward the bottom which promotes carrying the weight between your shoulders. But the taper also limits the amount and shape of gear that can fit in the bottom of the pack. During a climb, there is room to hold 2 pairs of lightweight approach shoes, light jackets, plenty of snacks and a 2-liter hydration bladder. It could fit a rap line if necessary, but there is no rope carrying system so it’s gotta go inside.

My favorite feature is that the main compartment opening is very well designed and unzips about 2/3 the length of the pack while internal gussets allow the pack to open wide without dumping everything out the sides. There is also a small front pocket is big enough for small simple items – glasses, snacks, sunblock though not big enough for a guide book.

Bullet-3

I also like that the waist strap is girth hitched to the main body of the pack for quick and easy removal. Nifty.

Bullet-4

That said, this pack is a bit of an enigma for me. It’s a streamlined, minimalist pack made of burly materials yet I consider it too bulky to carry into the alpine as my summit pack (it’s 526 g / 1 lb 2 oz) and too small to be the sole pack brought to the base of a climb. The ideal use seems to be a multi-pitch cragging pack that you stuff in your larger gear bag during the approach–a bit too much bulk for the girl who started a site called WeighMyRack.

I have often been disappointed by the lack of climbers who wear helmets and I think that’s my main problem with this pack: There’s no simple way to non-flip-floppily fit your helmet onto it. For sport climbing, once you minus a helmet you can fit most of the essentials: harness, shoes, chalk bag and quickdraws along with a light jacket, water, and snacks. But I don’t think I’m the only one who doesn’t want to wear my helmet on the approach.

If the pack had a helmet or rope carrying strap, or perhaps it was tapered less, then it could easily be the small pack taking half the team’s items to the base of the climb. Perhaps the goal while using the pack is tell your partner that you’re bringing the summit pack and you don’t have enough room to carry your own helmet or the rope, nor the double rack. In which case, as long as you’re the one who has the summit pack, it’s quite ideal!

Black Diamond Bullet 16 pack

If the climb is a walk-off, you won’t be able to fit a majority of the gear into the pack for the descent. If this is the only pack brought, you’ll need to wear your harness and helmet down, and your buddy will need to do the same and make a rope-backpack.

In contrast, my 20L CiloGear pack can carry more than half the team’s gear and weighs 200 grams less. The tradeoff: It does not carry weight as comfortably as the Bullet 16.

My final beef of the Bullet 16 is the design of the hydration sleeve on the inside of the pack that makes it difficult to insert a hydration bladder. Most 2-liter bladders should fit but those with stiff supports will have a challenge. The small internal key pocket does not lift up and acts as a barrier that you have to negotiate. It’s not a deal breaker, it’s just an unnecessary annoyance.

Summary

I appreciated the eye toward a minimal design, it’s very sleek. Only two pockets, and one inside mesh pocket + water sleeve. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that the Bullet also won a 2015 Climbing Magazine, Editors Choice Award (actually, the entire BD line of climbing packs did). And I liked climbing with it, as it held the weight well, was comfortable, and didn’t intrude on my climbing.

The Bullet 16 could handle sport or trad mulit-pitch cragging, but I wouldn’t take it on an alpine trip where weight is a priority. The Bullet 16 is better suited if you’re going to rappel (vs technical/long walk-offs) back to your bigger approach pack.

Worth noting: I can easily envision this pack skiing a day at the lifts. It could easily fit extra layers and food while holding sunscreen, chapstick, binding tools, wallet and keys securely in the mesh pocket. The front pocket even seems to be the size of a goggle pocket.


Full Disclosure: We received the Bullet Pack for free in exchange for an unbiased review. We also raffled off this pack along with a Black Diamond Icon Headlamp and a plethora of Duracell Quantum batteries.

And if you want your own Black Diamond Bullet, here’s where they sell them on the internet:

[apwizard]+Black +Diamond +Bullet +16,50,,,,,- [/apwizard]

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Alison Dennis

Alison Dennis

Alison (she/her) runs WeighMyRack from her 17' travel trailer. She is currently touring the US and would love if you contacted her to meet up to talk about climbing, climbing gear, or if you have any fun and/or ridiculous adventure in mind.

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