Black Diamond, that well known climbing and skiing brand, have ramped up their trail running collection. I could be bold and say they have launched into the trail running market/category for the first time, but I am sure some would disagree and argue that for years we have been using their Z poles and head torches…. and you would be correct. However, for me, the beginning of 2019 marked a change in direction for the brand. Products with R&D with and for runners have been launched, videos have been produced explaining the development and testing process, heck, they’re shouting out loud, and that for me, that is exciting. With Black Diamond’s heritage in mountain sports and a byword for quality, this has the potential to see a new player in the market, with their own take on what we, the runner, requires.
And already, things are looking different.
If you haven’t seen Joe Grant using different kit and you follow him, it’s time to give yourself a little shake and wake up to what he’s been working on. If you don’t follow Joe, you’ll be lusting to be living in the mountains very quickly! Trail Running packs in general have become a vest, sculpted to the body and made to fit like a piece of clothing. At times, this design philosophy can be less practical for carrying larger loads and poles in particular (Salomon have their quiver, UD strap poles beside each soft flask, inov-8 across your back) that despite their growing up take in the running community, following a transition from being seen as “cheat sticks” to legitimate kit, a lot of manufactures continue to fumble with a solution. BD have looked at the Distance packs from the perspective of Alpinism, where everything needs to be stripped back and light, yet functional.
The Distance is built from their UHMWP 10x Ripstop yarns, and the shoulder strap harness system uses their stitchless Edge Taping Technology. The harness system also has an adjustable, elastic-cording side compression system, which gives you a more security when running, scrambling and climbing. On the pack’s exterior, the Distance 8 includes dual piolet/ice axe holsters, and dual Z-Pole quiver sleeves to stash your trekking poles when the terrain changes. Dual front stretch pockets are an extra place to stash nutrition or gear.
The full list of features includes;
– UHMWP 10x Ripstop (210d Nylon body material with ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene) for tear resistance 10x stronger than steel per weight
– Quick blitz-style main opening with stash pocket to tuck all excess skirt cording
– Shoulder strap with stitchless Edge Taping Technology
– Dual side compression with reflective ticking
– Dual piolet/ice tool carry with metal dogbone
– Dual Z-Pole Quiver Sleeves to securely carry trekking poles
– Adjustable elastic cording side-compression system
– BD Dry™ vapour barrier back panel lets sweat vapour escape while keeping pack contents dry
– Fully water resistant main compartment
– Dual 4-way stretch zippered chest pockets with expandable volume and locking zipper pullers
– Dual soft flask pockets with BD branded HydraPac soft flasks
– Deploy pocket for the new BD Deploy Wind Shell
– Dual front stretch pockets with elastic closure for nutrition storage
– Interior zippered security pocket for wallet and key storage
Packs aren’t the only product the team at BD have been working on. Jackets, particularly wind shells are for me, gram for gram, some of the most versatile products out there. Stow them away and take them on any run or mountain adventure, even on the sunniest day, if you take a fall or fancy a break, a change in weather can cool you down rapidly. Also in the depths of winter, they offer a great option for breaking the wind, without becoming over saturated when using a hardshell.
The below is from BD;
“This jacket debuts Black Diamond’s exclusive launch partnership with Green Theme International (GTI), featuring their revolutionary Aquavent DWR technology, an environmentally friendly PFC-free water-repellent finish which is permanently hyper-fused to the individual fabric fibres so will never wash off. It is superior in performance to any other C-6, C-8, or C-0 DWR solution”
It’s great to see Black Diamond teaming up with a more environmentally friendly water repellency, even more so that it won’t diminish after a few washes. The last line is one definitely that has me intrigued, as although we have started to see C-0 products come to market, they generally do not have the best stats (hydrostatic head and breathability ratio) when compared to C-8 & C-6 garments. If Aquatint DWR does indeed do all it claims, that a huge win for an exclusive partnership for Black Diamond.
The Distance Wind Shell is ultra-packable, making it a perfect emergency piece for mountain missions, with a chest pocket that doubles as a stuff sack and clips to a harness with a carabiner clip loop. With its air-permeable qualities designed for high-output activities and robust weather resistance, the Distance Wind Shell is tailor-made for fast and light mountain adventures.
– Featuring GTI’s Aquavent Technology – a revolutionary water-free and PFC-free DWR coating
– Air permeable fabric provides breathability
– Climbing helmet compatible hood
– Stows in chest pocket with carabiner clip loop
– Adjustable hem and Elastic cuff
– Size: Regular fit S – XL
MATERIALS: Light Weight Nylon Rip Stop Woven (100% Nylon, 30gsm)
I’m looking forward to seeing what products coming out in the coming seasons for Black Diamond and hopefully I’ll get my hands on some for testing. It is refreshing to see the brand sticking to its heritage and combining mountain with trail, rather then aiming squarely at the racing market. With greater uptake in FKTs, fast packing and even bike packing, their hybrid approach may aid the brand gaining traction in a noisy market.
Images and product info supplied by Spike Communications