Dave tests the new sport specific pack from welsh climbing company DMM – did he have the bottle to use it as cabin luggage?
The Flight is a highly featured sport climbing crag sack, combining rope bag and rucksack. It is sized to cope with everything you could possibly need for a day at the crag, and that includes a Euro style 80m rope.
DMM have been working hard this year, launching a pretty thorough range of soft goods from chalkbags and ropebags to a new range of climbing packs. We’ve tested out the sport climbing specific DMM Flight pack to see if it made and performs with the usual DMM quality.
Firstly, why would you want to buy a pack just for sport climbing? Well rock climbing is a truly diverse sport and there are plenty of people who just sport climb and boulder and never trad or winter climb, let alone partake in the dark art of Alpinism. So a pack that is featured for sport climbing makes sense as you need less kit for sport and indoor. Also the idea of an integrated rope bag appeals as it’s less to carry in.
During the late eighties and early nineties I concentrated purely on sport climbing. I was young, it was fashionable and it was sexy (well maybe not the lycra), we were all going to be French and climb wonderful limestone in sunny places with not a care in the world. I had one of the very first sport climbing specific pack from the states – this one even had a seat with it! The premise was that you could have a different shape as you weren’t carrying it that far so comfort wasn’t too much of an issue and you could therefore concentrate on features. A few carries up to Ceuse soon scotched that!
The DMM Flight is a fully featured and comfortable pack that has all the necessary features for a full day of sport climbing. It is a ‘suitcase’ opening style pack that gives full and easy access to all your equipment. There are two compartments : one containing the removable rope tarp and two extra pockets and another mesh closing pocket that is plenty big enough for quickdraws, harness, boots, chalk bag, food and water. The amount you can get in depends on the size of rope you’re packing, if it’s 80m then there’s less space. Although the handy rope strap means that on those cold windy (some might ideal) days you can make extra room for belay jackets and all that extra clothing that’s needed.
There are three pockets on the DMM Flight pack: a large one at the top of the pack big enough for hat gloves, camera, guidebook, etc and an inner security pocket that was plenty big enough for a phone, wallet and car keys; there is a key clip for extra security. There is also a large side pocket that fitted a 2l water bottle quite happily. So there are plenty of organising options so those who like to be organised.
The pack is stiffened using 5mm rigid foam around the edges and two panels for bulking out the mesh compartment. This made for a comfortable carry as it kept the gear in place to stop it moving around, which can often do in suitcase style packs. The panels flattened down for when the pack needs to be made smaller, such as if taking the pack as cabin luggage on a flight.
Which brings me to my story… I recently took the pack on a trip to Catalunya, which was ideal trip to test the pack out. I was flying with a well known Irish based budget carrier and when I checked the hand luggage requirements they had a maximum height of 55cms for hand luggage, the DMM Flight measures 59cms. I lost my bottle as the pack was definitely poking above the basket and I changed my cabin luggage into a small pack I’d taken for multi pitch climbing. In the end the check in staff didn’t even check my hand luggage, if was flying scheduled or a national carrier I would have no hesitation in taking it as hand luggage – but once bitten twice shy with some airlines so I’m always cautious.
The comfortable carry is helped with a large hip belt and railed sternum strap, this allowed quite heavy loads to be carried in comfort. The meshed back panel and shoulder straps also added to the comfort and overall I found the DMM Flight a very comfortable carry. As mentioned earlier a great little feature was the hidden rope strap, two straps were hidden in small pockets just above the shoulder straps, these could be deployed over the rope and attached to small loops by a clip. They had adjusting buckles and securely kept the rope in place. Useful for making extra room in the pack or for attaching an abseil rope.
The other feature is the integrated helmet shield, this deployed from a zipped compartment at the bottom of the pack and hooked onto loops located on the pack sides. This worked OK but felt a little insecure when carrying a helmet as the helmet could have easily fallen out of the sides, an extra loop and clip would easily solve this, it wouldn’t need to be adjustable and would hold items much more securely.
The DMM Flight was easy to move around the crag or climbing wall as it closed by folding and had suitcase style grab handles which meant I could chuck everything in fold it up and take it to the next route with minimal fuss. It also has a top handle for easy movement in the check in queue or just quick carry to the car or café.
Overall I think the DMM Flight is a great sport climbing pack, you could quite happily use it for a day on the Grit and is comfortable and versatile enough to use as a trad pack for most outcrop climbing. It has great features and is robust enough for everyday use, it comes in the now iconic DMM colours of bright Green and Red as well as a more muted grey and looks destined to become a very popular pack.
Why not receive our latest reviews and gear news via your inbox by following our blog: perfect for all gear freaks! Just sign up via the home page link in the sidebar. We never keep an email list (too much hassle – we’re out climbing) and we would never, ever pass your email address on to someone else (no, no, no that would be very unethical).