Product Review: Black Diamond Fastpack BBee11

Black Diamond is an American company based in Utah that provides product and expertise in its tripartite approach to outdoors product: “Climb, Snow and Trail”. Trail runners might be drawn to this trinity of outdoorsiness if their product backs up the demands.  

Our Breakdown:

  • Accessibility and value: $54 – good value and availability on-line and at brick and mortar.
  • Longevity and durability: Incredible. Withstood lengthy abuse and high mileage.
  • Comfort: Feels like I’m wearing nothing at all!
  • Viability: Yes, I would buy this exact product again, in preference over other products.
  • Care: it should probably be washed more than I wash it! Otherwise, no special care.
  • Other: There is webbing to lash stuff onto it and a loop for a rear safety light.

Details

A fastpack or daypack with 11L capacity, this product offers a single internal zippered pocket with an internal sleeve for a hydration bladder (not included), and weighs in at 360g.

I realize that “fastpack” may be a point of contention, as readers may feel that a fastpack should have more structure and features.

I purchased the Bbee 11 approximately three years ago from MEC with the intent of utilizing the pack for everything – run-hikes, scrambling, long days on the trails, and run-commuting. Based on a conservative, back of the envelope calculation, I have spent about 10,000 kilometres running with this pack on (that’s just run-commuting – I have no way to estimate the aggregate days of trail running and climbs – but there were dozens of those as well). Sorry, no Strava or other proof of this available other than my word. I’m a purist minimalist!

Claims

Blackburn describes the pack as “[a] small, ultralight pack for long runs and ridgeline scrambles, the Bbee 11 is the embodiment of minimalism” – refreshingly straightforward. It reads like it’s meant to do whatever you want with the pack insofar as it’s big enough to put all the stuff you need to put in it.

Results

And it is so and more. As a forsworn minimalist runner (as little gear as possible, low offset shoes, no food, no water if I can help it, and no watch, phone, GPS or otherwise), I forget about this pack as soon as I start running, hiking, or climbing, which is the unstated intent of a pack that is designed to attach to someone moving swiftly. There have never been any hot spots (chafing) or annoyances with attachments.

As a side note, what a pack designed for free and flowing movement needs to do – whether swarming up a boulder field or racing through the Don Valley to get to work on time – is more what it needs not to do, which is move. And, whatever sits in the pack shouldn’t move either. This requires at minimum, adjustable shoulder, waist, and chest straps that cinch tight, stay tight and are comfortable. I tighten the chest strap to the point of full inhalation – wherein should I need an entire lungful of air, the strap won’t hamper me. Otherwise, straps are snug.

The pack stays tighter than Yoda on Luke Sywalker training on Dagobah.

Glued to your back I am

This backpack is finally starting to show signs of wear (images below).
The “Open Air” back panel is fraying a bit. Also note that I have washed this thing a few dozen times – hot water, extra detergent every time (with my other run stuff which I wash separately). I’m astonished it didn’t start to fall apart earlier, because I am brutally harsh on things I run in.

BBee 11 fastpack front
BBee 11 fastpack back panel wear

This bag has undergone all the weather you could imagine, other than extreme cold (I think the coldest weather I wore this bag in was about -15 degrees Celsius. It has survived its share of downpours, steady moderate cold (five degrees above to five degrees below zero celsius), and hot humidity.

The one thing that impressed me the most was how much sweat it endured without breaking down. At the end of lengthier hot and humid commutes home (I run directly to work in the morning and add length on the way home) – this would be summer in Toronto – I would hang the bag soaked in sweat on a door handle and repeat the process for days, weeks, months through multiple summers.

Note that clothing had to be stashed inside a plastic bag and my phone had to be placed in a ziplock. This bag is not water resistant or waterproof at all. This is normal for this type of pack.

After three years, it’s just now showing these minor fissures. The straps, zippers and pouch are all as stout as the day I bought it.

I’ve carried clothes, phone, keys, shoes, books, water, nutrition, spikes – everything; even attaching snowshoes to the outside for some combined trail and snow climbing/hike/runs.

BBee 11 fastpack zippers

Other Products

After some Google-fu, I found some options I’d consider buying myself.

Ultimate Direction is the most common hit on Google for the terms “fastpack”, “best fastpack”, and similar. They’re three times the price and seem to be more ultra or distance specific with more bells and whistles. I’ve never tried these packs. They look cool! They’re bigger, though.

The Osprey Talon is an example of a fastpack that is considered to be at its extreme limit of capability, a pack for day-long or multi-day excursions running or power hiking with overnight gear and minimal food. I personally consider a fast pack to be a daily excursion bag. The coolness factor is consistent – still three times the price, though! Granted, larger.

The Deuter Speed Light is more of a realistic fiscal comparison, as a search of “day packs” brought up a broad spectrum of options that ranged from Canadian Tire brands to fashion, and a couple of exceptions. They are roughly $80 CDN.

Considering all of the above, I would unhesitatingly purchase a Bbee 11 again before any of these comparable products for my own purposes. If you are looking for a pack for running multi-day excursions off road, unescorted, you need a plethora of gear, in my opinion.

Rating: Highly recommend.

Trail Running Canada Manufacturer Recommendations:

Not waterproof – even a waterproof pocket inside would be good. Packs like this would do well to offer a waterproof option or additional pouch. A small, webbed outside pouch on the side of the pack or on the shoulder straps to put food or garbage or a phone would be handy.

[Black Diamond did not solicit a review or provide this product to me. I am reviewing it impartially because of its incredible longevity and comfort.]

Do you have a daypack or fastpack that you would recommend? Do you have a BBee11? What do you use to run-commute or fastpack in the wild?

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