Black Diamond’s 2019 Distance 8 backpack is made for runners going on big missions where they need to pack a few essentials. Have you ever seen 8 litres of space look so sexy? We sure as hell haven’t. We sent the Distance 8 backpack over to trail runner Chantal Minchin for testing — with her training underway for the 4 Peak Bright Alpine Climb in Victoria she was the perfect person to check it out.
I’ve done a fair bit of trail running in my time and put a variety of gear through some tough challenges so when I was given the chance to try out the new Black Diamond Distance 8 backpack, I thought, “What’s going to be different about this one?” So I put it through its paces at one of my favourite local spots, Manly Dam.
The Distance 8 backpack is a cross between a running vest and a small backpack, allowing weight to be evenly distributed around the chest and back. The straps are made of lightweight, breathable mesh while the back is made of a tougher material that claims a tear resistance 10 times stronger than steel of the same weight (if you’re interested, Black Diamond uses a material called “Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene with 10x Ripstop and a 210d Nylon body material “).
A great design feature was the clever zip-free roll-top fastener, it ensures the contents stay dry and as a plus, in colder weather you’ll never have the frustrating ‘frozen zipper’.
The two clips on the front of the pack and the adjustable elastic straps on the side provide a really secure and comfortable fit. The pack moves with your body and definitely won’t tip you off balance.
The backpack part has heaps of room for extra clothing and emergency gear. The back section of the pack has two pockets specifically for poles. This means you don’t have to undo the main section to get them out. You still need to take the pack off to get them in and out but at least you don’t have to disturb the rest of your gear.
The front of the pack has 6 different compartments which easily fit a couple of drink flasks with plenty of room left for things like headlamps, gloves, arm warmers and nutrition — all easily accessible without taking the pack off. There’s nothing worse than having to stop your run so it’s good to see that Black Diamond has thought about this aspect.
Unfortunately, a big downside was that the pockets didn’t fit my Salomon running flasks very well. Apparently other brands do fit well, so it’s worth bringing your bottles to try them out.
There’s also a hydration bladder pocket that allows the hose to run through the backpack, for big runs where you won’t get a chance to fill up.
The quality of the pack is great. The main compartment on the back is lightweight but feels really tough and all of the stitching is strongly finished.
The mesh pockets on the front doesn’t feel like it would take rough usage without tearing and I always worry about elastic stretching, but Black Diamond are known for making pretty rough-wearing climbing gear and they developed this pack with adventure runner Joe Grant so it’d be surprising if it didn’t last. A longer test would be needed to see how it holds up.
All in all the pack is really fabulous. Super comfy, lightweight and with easy access to the front pockets to stash stuff away or grab nutrition on the go. Access to fluids wasn’t fantastic for me but with a bladder or the right bottles it’d be fantastic.
All photos by Karl Reynolds | www.magiccloud.com.au
Get good gear and get out there!