Careful packing required to maintain shape and stability
The Black Diamond Equipment Pipe Dream 45 is the most unique crag pack in the test. A cleverly designed padded mat is folded burrito style and capped on the ends to transport your goods to the cliff and then unfurled to provide a clean surface for all your gear and a comfortable place to relax between efforts (for both human and dog.) It’s a little small for trad climbing gear and needs to be packed properly for the best stability while carrying.
Comfort/Fit The Black Diamond Pipe Dream 45 lacks any type of frame sheet or suspension stays, but the ¾” thick foam provides enough structure and cushion to remain comfortable with one day sport climbing loads. The pack is available in one size, which fits this six-foot-tall tester well. Shoulder straps have a very dense foam that proved comfortable even with light summer clothing. The hip belt has a thinner foam but the generous size spreads the load nicely.
Stability The Black Diamond Pipe Dream 45 has a “funnel” shape; the bottom has smaller dimensions than the top, and overall the pack is tall (watch out for branches!) Haphazard, top-top heavy distribution of weight can cause instability during even moderately aggressive scrambling. Since the pack lacks a rigid frame sheet and the “burrito” design allows for the pack’s circumference to expand, care must also be taken to not cause a rounded profile against the back, which can add to the unstable sensation and affect comfort. Mindful packing alleviates all these issues and with typical sport climbing loads and approaches, the pack can provide a stable carry.
Storage Although the Black Diamond Pipe Dream 45 can expand in circumference, the maximum volume that remains secure and comfortable limits it to sport climbing use. There are four interior racking loops, accessible from the top of the pack. The lid, which detaches quickly for pad deployment, has both an exterior and interior pocket. Loading the main body can be accomplished in one of two ways: fill the “burrito” first before folding or fold and cap the bottom and use as a top loader.
Durability The inherent design of the crash pad pack provides a large factor of durability as edges and points are padded to limit abrasion and punctures, as well as protecting contents. 1260d and 840d ballistic nylons armor surfaces of the pack. Anodized aluminum buckles and generously wide Velcro strapping secure the pad into pack mode, adding to the toughness of the Black Diamond Pipe Dream 45.
Extras The obvious extra feature of the Black Diamond Pipe Dream 45 is the distinctive ability to provide a comfortable place to relax in what is normally an uncomfortable environment. The pad was rarely unoccupied at the cliff, with fellow climbers and dogs helping themselves to the relative comfort of a flat and padded surface. Other than the internal racking loops and double pocketed lid, this pack is devoid of other extras but that didn’t keep the pack from being a crag favorite and mini social hub.
Seiji Ishii works as a trainer to professional supercross/motocross riders, adventure riding test editor at Dirt Rider Magazine and an AMGA certified rock climbing guide/instructor for White Star Mountain Guides/Austin Rock Gym. He lives in Wimberley, TX with wife Shay, 3 year old daughter Sequoia, 3 dogs and a cat. His personal time is spent rock climbing, any form of dirt biking, cycling, and training for the next mountaineering adventure.