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Leon's Blog

Need a quality extreme sports daypack? Check out the Black Diamond Bullet 16

Smith Rock State Park, near Terrabonne, Oregon, is a rock climbing Mecca.
Need a quality extreme sports daypack? Check out the Black Diamond Bullet 16

A small pack for rock climbing, spelunking or summitting a peak is a specialized item. Here is one such daypack worth looking at.

by Leon Pantenburg

I was not paid to do this review, and at the time of publication, Black diamond had no sponsorship relationship with SurvivalCommonSense.com.

To test a rock climbing pack, you should go rock climbing. That’s why my daughter, Mary, and I headed for Smith Rock State Park, near Terrabonne, Oregon recently.

bullet 16 at monkey face

The Black Diamond Bullet 16 daypack is a good choice for climbing and/or spelunking.

We didn’t go climbing that day, but people come from all over the world to scale the park’s sandstone cliffs. From a distance on a nice day, the park looks like a bunch of ants are attacking the heights.

But on the other extreme, spelunkers need a similar daypack to explore caves. So shortly after the hot, sweaty Smith Rock hike, I took the Bullet 16 into some cool, dark lava tubes near Redmond, Oregon.

These wildly different activities have a lot of similarities when it comes pack design.

Here’s what to look for:

  • Sturdy enough to haul ropes, lights, snacks, water and a survival kit, but small enough to be hauled through a chimney or lava tube.

Streamlined enough not to interfere with the crux lead, or to be dragged through a small opening in a cave. It needs to fit next to your back, between the top of your shoulders and waist.

Tough enough to take the abrasion and scrapping of climbing or spelunking, but light enough to be handy.

black diamond pack

The Black Diamond Bullet 16 comes in red, yellow or black.

Here are the Bullet 16 specifications:

  • Volume: 976 cubic inches / 16 liter
  • Average Stock Weight: 13 oz / 380 g
  • Tough 420d nylon and 1260d Ballistic nylon
  • Comes in black, yellow or red.

Here’s what I like about the Bullet 16:

  • The 20 mm webbing hipbelt isn’t too bulky. The purpose  of the belt is to keep the pack from swinging away from your body on a climb, bike ride or other strenuous activity. You could also take the hipbelt off, which is what I would do for everyday use.
  • Zipper front panel opening: This pocket is a great place to stash smaller items you might need to get to like sunscreen, sunglasses, bandana, snacks etc.
  • Outer stash pocket: This makes for easy access to your rope, rain gear, a bottle to pee in or whatever you’re hauling.

    cave redmond

    A good pack for spelunking has many of the same characteristics as a summit pack.

  • Mesh interior pocket with zipper and clip is a great place to store things like car keys, wallets or other items that must be secured.
  • Hydration compatible: It was easy to stow my Camelback hydration system in the pack. While bladder systems are not my favorite, they are really useful when you need a drink, but can’t let go of a rock with both hands!
  • Adjustable sternum straps make the pack easy to fit to virtually anyone.
  • Collapsible for easy packing: This is a fantastic daypack to take along on a backpacking trip, where the idea is to set up a basecamp and take day hikes or summit a peak.
  • Underground, the Bullet 16 has plenty of room for warm clothing, gloves, spare lights and batteries and food. This could end up being a big deal!
  • Great for urban use. This pack would fit in easily at the mall, school or on a trip across town, without looking like some tacticool daypack.

All in all, I like this daypack.

About the only improvement I could suggest  would be to add a reflectorized logo or markings on the pack. A black pack is camouflaged in shade, shadows or overcast situations. This might be what you’re looking for, but I like highly visible equipment for most outdoor excursions.

Besides, if you don’t like the logo, you could always put a piece of duct tape over the shiny surface.

The Bullet 16 retails about about $50, which is a reasonable price for quality equipment.

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Leon's Blog

Leon Pantenburg is a wilderness enthusiast, and doesn't claim to be a survival expert or expertise as a survivalist. As a newspaperman and journalist for three decades, covering search and rescue, sheriff's departments, floods, forest fires and other natural disasters and outdoor emergencies, Leon learned many people died unnecessarily or escaped miraculously from outdoor emergency situations when simple, common sense might have changed the outcome. Leon now teaches common sense techniques to the average person in order to avert potential disasters. His emphasis is on tried and tested, simple techniques of wilderness survival. Every technique, piece of equipment or skill recommended on this website has been thoroughly tested and researched. After graduating from Iowa State University, Leon completed a six-month, 2,552-mile solo Mississippi River canoe trip from the headwaters at Lake Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico. His wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry; hiking the John Muir Trail in California, and numerous shorter trips along the Pacific Crest Trail. Other mountain backpacking trips include hikes through the Uintas in Utah; the Beartooths in Montana; the Sawtooths in Idaho; the Pryors, the Wind River Range, Tetons and Bighorns in Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Catskills in New York and Death Valley National Monument in southern California. Some of Leon's canoe trips include sojourns through the Okefenokee Swamp and National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the Big Black River swamp in Mississippi and the Boundary Waters canoe area in northern Minnesota and numerous small river trips in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. Leon is also an avid fisherman and an elk, deer, upland game and waterfowl hunter. Since 1991, Leon has been an assistant scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, and is a scoutmaster wilderness skills trainer for the Boy Scouts’ Fremont District. Leon earned a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, and competed in his last tournament (sparring and form) at age 49. He is an enthusiastic Bluegrass mandolin picker and fiddler and two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.

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