I have a love/hate relationship with specialized gear. The simple part of me wants one piece of equipment for a given task, something that works well in all conditions. The realist, however, knows that what’s good in one situation doesn’t work well in another. For example, a comfy crack shoe for Indian Creek wont perform well on the steeps of Rifle. Likewise, sometimes I need a pack that can carry everything but the kitchen sink, and sometimes I just need a little guy for some local sport cragging. And that’s where the Black Diamond Demon comes in.
The first thing that stood out to me is the simplicity of the design. A lot of packs come with a bunch of superfluous features that most folks don’t need, and which simply add to the bulk and weight of the pack. Not the Demon. This is a streamlined cragging bag that does what it says, and no more. Two compression straps on each side, a rope carrying system on the top and a loop on the bottom for an ice axe is all you’ll find on the outside. A nicely padded waist belt and fully adjustable suspension means that its comfortable to carry even when fully loaded. And a top zippered pouch is perfect for keeping the guidebook close at hand.
The pack has a good, rigid shape that it holds well, thanks to the aluminum stay and framesheet, allowing you to stuff gear efficiently into the small space. I’ve found this to be an ideal bag for sport cragging, where I’ve got a rack of draws, two pairs of shoes, a harness, chalk bag, some food, water and extra clothes. There is also a hydration bladder pocket, which is ample for a 100 oz. bladder. Your rope easily attaches to the top, and with the side compression straps you can throw on a helmet and flip flops, and whatever else wouldn’t fit inside.
As far as negatives go, some folks wont like a pack this small, as the capacity is only 32 to 36 liters, depending on which size you get. The ice axe loop, or whatever it is, seems silly on a bag like this, but maybe some people are using it in the mountains. The only other real issue is that if you want to use the rope carrying system, you’ll have to coil your cord before and after climbing. I’ve gotten pretty used to keeping our ropes stacked in a bag, so this is a little extra hassle at the end of the day, but nothing major.
The bottom line is if you are looking for a “carry everything” bag, you are better off with something like the Black Diamond 50 Cal. However, if you want a simple and light pack for sport cragging, the Demon is hard to beat.