Turns out big packs don’t have to be heavy. Black Diamond solved the age-old problem by weaving Dynex (Dyneema) into the Cirque 35 pack. The ultralight material is not weak, since it’s the same life-saving material in many of BD’s quickdraws. The new backpack is designed for ski mountaineers that need to carry a lot of technical gear, which is supported by an active suspension system. The lid is a highlight, being a simple system that is easy to operate with one gloved hand. It’s also extendable with an add-on for even more storage. The Cirque line is a very clean, lightweight solution for technical ski mountaineering missions.
Unique CINCH closure system makes accessing gear a breeze.
SwingArm™ shoulder straps anchor the form-fitting suspension.
Special avalanche-tool pocket has drain holes for less water-weight.
Stretch-woven hip-belt pocket and gear loops enable up-front toting.
Skis can be carried diagonally or in an A-frame with tuck-away straps.
Expandable helmet flap is stowable to keep things slim when unused.
Tuck-away PickPocket™ straps hold piolets, technical, and mixed tools.
Nicely integrated rope strap unfurls to securely hold your vital life-line.
Compatible with the AvaLung system for improved odds in a burial.
Optional lid adds even more storage capacity to an ample backpack.
* The Cirque 35 is available in two sizes. Small is actually “Small/Medium” and fits folks up to 5’9” or so. Large is “Medium/Large” and better for, well, larger folks.
My absolute favorite spring ski mountaineering pack. When there is no avy danger (no airbag needed) this is my go to pack. It carries modest loads very comfortably, all the ski-specific options are well thought out, and it appears to be very durable.
Highlights: Easy access via the funky top closure (something I quickly fell in love with) which works great unless the draw cord gets iced up, the adjustment buckles are easy to manipulate with gloves on and the top side cinch straps lock which is a fantastic feature, the diagonal ski carry works extremely well (you need to use the side entry zipper to access the pack while skis are on it), it stowes an ice axe and rope really well (the quick draw axe feature seems neat but I found I didn't use it much), and the hip belt pouch is really handy. The size is just right for anything you would want to carry on long days with technical ascents and descents but doesn't get in the way.
Cons are mostly minor but include: no way to store crampons externally except on top under the closure strap which becomes unavailable if also carrying a rope and you cant use the helmet holder (which works pretty well) while diagonally carrying skis.
Overall, a great pack to comfortably carry all you need for long days in the mountains.
I have the cirque 35 and have used it for about 40 days of skiing and ice climbing. I absolutely love it, mainly because of the simplicity and the innovative opening at the top of the pack. It’s a one step operation to open or close the top so you’re more inclined to pack your stuff well instead of trying to stuff everything into the brain of a normal toploader. I have two minor gripes with it. First off the hipbelt pocket can get in the way of accessing gear loops while climbing so I might just cut it off (this only matters when leading hard ice or rock). Secondly I wish they had a separate strap at the top for the diagonal ski carry instead of utilizing the top strap for two purposes. It looks slick at first but it becomes a hassle to get into the pack when your skis are attached diagonally.
A great everyday fast/light oriented pack. It's durable, feature rich for a minimalistic design, and is oh so comfortable to carry. The 35L is perfect for quick missions or longer day adventures. I even used mine for a 3 day backcountry hut trip and it was great. The waist belt pocket holds plenty of snacks and the dedicated tools pocket keeps things organized and quick to access in case of an emergency. The top closure system is fast and easy too. My only complaint is that I would rather see the pack designed with a vertical side carry option instead of the diagonal carry. That design element aside - this is most comfortable touring pack I have used (and I have tried around a dozen or so packs).
It doesn't look like this pack has the adjustment straps that attach the shoulder straps to the lid, and help you carry the weight closer to your body. Do you think that works on this pack, or is it a major downside?
Hi Emily, you are correct that this pack doesn't have "load lifter" straps. Provided the pack fits you, it's really not much of a downside. In this case the pack is designed to work best with loads for "light and fast" ski mountaineering, probably something like 20lbs or about 10kg. If your load is kept to that weight or less, you probably won't miss the load lifters.