Need for Speed - Black Diamond Speed 30

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Even though I’m kind of a slacker, the BLACK DIAMOND SPEED 30 ($129.95, blackdiamondequipment.com) made me feel light and fast. Just being near it made me want to get up at midnight and crampon up a couloir. At 2 lbs. 12 oz., the Speed 30 is aimed at alpine minimalists (the same basic pack also comes in 40- and 55-liter capacities). The 30-liter sack is just enough to carry extra clothes, a stove, food, a bivy sack, and a light rack, and the pack’s rigged with external lash points for rope, crampons, axes, or skis. The best feature of the Speed is the patents-pending suspension system, which couples a very mobile “reACTIV” hip belt with “SwingArm” shoulder straps. The SwingArm is slick—invisible from the outside, it uses a motorcycle-type control cable to connect the two shoulder straps into a single unit through the small of the back. This gives about 2.5 inches of pack-strap motion, and, combined with the free-riding hip belt, allows the pack to stay quiet and plumb as you pump your arms and legs. One surprising feature is the river-style roll-top closure of the Speed’s main packsack. At first I found this annoying, but I quickly warmed to it. Just like the pack itself, it’s functional, adjustable, and weatherproof. —Jeff Achey