Generally, we’re not fans of overly minimalist backpacks. A truly useful bag needs a pocket or two for organization, and some padding in its straps for comfort (our views firmly assert that drawstring bags have no place on hiking trails, or nearly anywhere else). But Black Diamond’s new Cirrus 9 backpack has us rethinking our convictions — maybe a pack can be so barebones that it becomes great.
The Cirrus 9 is as basic as packs come. Black Diamond made it with 15-denier ultralight nylon; it has a U-shaped zippered opening, flat shoulder straps and that’s about it. Its nine-liter capacity shrinks down into a stuff sack smaller than an apple, and at one ounce, it weighs less than one too.
Black Diamond didn’t forego all functionality in making its lightest backpack ever, though. The most notable feature is that the shoulder straps — which are actually comfortable — are adjustable, letting wearers find the perfect fit for the load they carry, thanks to a new pull-and-lock system that Black Diamond calls Splice. It tips the scales of this tiny bag in favor of utility without increasing its size, making it perfect for unexpected carrying needs. That’s why we named it one of the best upcoming summer outdoor products; now that it’s here, we’ll be stuffing it into our travel bags (or pockets), just in case.
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