Black Diamond Pursuit 30 fastpack

Black Diamond Pursuit 30 Review

The Black Diamond Pursuit 30 Backpack (shop now) is the most running-vest-feeling of all of the fastpacks. This is thanks to an extremely secure fit provided by a true vest harness and an extra wide hip belt. Detracting from this are a number of oddly designed features with lots of room for improvement. Nonetheless, it is comfortable, functional, and exceptional for running.

Compare this to more great options in our guide to the best multi-day fastpacking backpacks.

You make Adventure Alan & Co possible. When purchasing through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Here’s why you can trust us. Now back to the Black Diamond Pursuit 30 review.

  • Weight: 28.1 oz
  • Price: $180
  • Materials: 100% recycled fabric
  • Frame: Aerated Foam back panel with spacer mesh
  • Load Capacity: Unlisted, estimate 20-25 lbs
  • Internal Volume: 30L
  • External Volume: Unlisted, estimate 5L
  • Pros: Extremely secure fit, especially the hip belt. Affordable. Large rear pocket. Breathable back panels.
  • Cons: A bit heavy. No hip belt pockets and other pocket oddities. Clamshell open/close. Compression system gets in the way.
back panel

Vest Harness, Hip Belt, Frame, Materials

The Black Diamond Pursuit 30 is a unique fastpacking backpack with a lot going for it, but most of all, the superb running vest-style fit. Of all of the multi-day-compatible fastpacks we’ve reviewed, this is perhaps the closest to an actual running vest and the least like a backpacking pack.

Runners will feel at home using the breathable, comfortable, spacer mesh vest-style shoulder strap harness decked out in pockets (more on that later). These straps are seriously wide and extra comfortable, running all of the way down the side of the rib cage for extra security in the fit. Dual sternum straps complete the package, the upper is static and lower is stretchy

close up on the running vest harness

Starting with the frame, it has an aerated foam panel mostly covered in spacer mesh to reduce back sweat. It does a good job holding a bit of structure and supports light-duty load lifters. The entire pack, which opens and closes via a clamshell-style zipper, is built onto the frame, which sticks a little ways below the bottom of the pack body and rises all of the way to the top. The pack body is ripstop fabric and is 100% recycled, though they don’t give many details about it. It feels sturdy and seems to have good water resistance.

frame sticks out below bottom of pack

Perhaps our favorite element of the construction is the massive, wide, and breathable hip belt. Like the frame, it is constructed with aerated foam and spacer mesh, and delivers an exceptionally comfortable and secure fit. A reverse pull hip nylon webbing hip belt adjuster with buckle closure completes the system.

Black Diamond Pursuit 30 hip belt

Zippers and Compression Straps

We like that the designers took so many swings to build unique features that differentiate Black Diamond Pursuit 30 from the competition. This bravery is what leads to innovation. While some of these features are excellent, other fall flat. Let’s dive in.

For staters, it is our opinion that fastpacks in the 30+L capacity range are better built as roll-top closures than clam shells. Zippers add weight, cost, and are almost always the first component to fail, decreasing the product’s lifespan. These zipper run about 60% of the height of the pack from top top middle.

top zipper clamshell

However, opening the pack all of the way causes contents to spill out, so you are naturally discouraged from unzipping all the way. What’s more, the compression straps on the side of the pack interfere with the ability to zip/unzip all of the way anyway.side view of pack

That compression system is a series of cords that run from both sides and meet at a center-point where they can be pulled to cinch down and reduce volume. This is nice in theory, but the cords continually interfere with use of pockets and zippers, and wind up doing more harm than good. In general, compression straps aren’t very helpful. Instead, choose the correct volume for your mission and load.


The Black Diamond Pursuit 30 backpack has tons of pockets, some of which are great while others leave us scratching our heads. Let’s start with the primary external front pocket, constructed with a durable stretch mesh. This high volume pocket is one of our favorite features, and the best pocket on the pack. It feels burly and unlikely to tear or snag, though we have not yet run it through the wringer. It has enough stretch to expand when loaded with rain gear and knickknacks.

side view of backpack holding water bottle

Interestingly, the external front pocket and the side pockets are all one continuous system. You can reach through from the top and push your arm out one of the side pockets for easier access to lower items. But that’s where the fun stops. We found the side pockets to be a bit too shallow, which made it difficult to store a tall 1L smartwater bottle.

The side pockets intersect with the hip belt straps to create a heretofore unknown pocket adjacent to the side pockets. There is a connector piece that can be disconnected to combine the primary side pocket and the side-hip belt pocket into one unit. However, this pocket too is shallow and gives some degree of concern that an important item might fall out. This combination of two side pockets that intersect the hip belt is certainly interested, but the execution is imperfect. We definitely would have preferred traditionally styled, deeper, and fully separated, vertical side pockets in conjunction with true hip belt pockets. None of this pocket-at-the-intersection-nonsense.

pocket at the intersection

Lastly, we want to discuss the vest harness shoulder strap pockets. The left and right side have different configurations. The wearer’s left has two mesh pockets for water and snacks. The wearer’s right has one mesh and one zippered. However, all of these pockets felt a bit small. When fastpacking, we prefer to use a .6L size Katadyn BeFree for on the go filtering.

close up black diamond pursuit 30 vest pockets

However, the largest vest pocket was a bit too small to properly store this, and we could only fit it in when half full. What’s more, none of the pockets, not even the zip pocket, were large enough to store an iPhone. Increasing the volume of the vest pockets would drastically improve the user experience.

zippered external pocket

close up on internal pocket

A hydration bladder pocket is placed in between the frame and the main body of the pack.

hydration pocket

Two zippered pockets complete the storage system. One is on the outside top, the other on the inside top. Good for storing snacks and handy items. These pockets are very welcome as you can see in the photos above.

Black Diamond Pursuit 30 Review Verdict

The Black Diamond Pursuit 30 is a very interesting fastpack design, one we want to like a bit more than we do in practice. We love, love, love the extra secure and comfortable fit thanks to its wide hip belt and true vest-harness with load lifters that pull weight off the shoulders while preventing bounce and sway. Runners will feel at home in this pack. On the flipside, we take issue with a number of features including the use of a clamshell design instead of roll top, shallow side pockets, lack of hip belt pockets, too-small-of-vest-pockets, an irritating compression system. There’s lots to love and hate about this one, but all said and done, it delivers a pleasant ride for storing bountiful gear on an overnight fastpack that involves more running than hiking.

wearing the black diamond pursuit 30 backpack

wearing the pursuit 30