DMM’s Flight: a 45L pack designed specifically for sport climbing. Even though I climb sport once in a blue moon, I still love it.
The important features:
- Big enough to fit all of your sport gear, small enough to use as hand luggage
- Big detachable rope tarp
- Internal gear loop
- External; rope straps, helmet straps, water bottle holder
- Big internal pocket (external zip)
- Big internal zipped compartment, handy to prevent jackets from blowing away
- Pretty comfy for medium walk-ins, even fully loaded
- Chunky zips that will take abuse
I bought the Flight because I got fed up with the faff that comes with shoving all my trad gear in a top loading rucksack. And while DMM’s Flight is advertised as a sport climbing pack, it brings more than enough capacity for a full day of trad cragging.
Over the years I’ve used this bag in a few ways, including fitting everything I need in it for a day, leaving my partner with just their gear to carry; but this involved utilizing the outside attachments. Now, I tend to split the gear more evenly: The flight bag fits my (oversized) trad rack on one side with space for as much other gear as I want (helmet, jackets, food) in the other. The rope tends to be carried by my climbing partner, normally with the tarp.
The reason I love this bag for single pitches so much is for its simplicity of use:
- It’s quick and easy to pack and repack.
- My gear is easy to find without turning the foot of the crag into a yard sale; I can see most of it.
- To move to another route, I just bung everything in, pick it up by the side handles and carry it like a suitcase to the next route.
- The big top pocket comfortably fits a guidebook, which is easily accessible.
- I’ve also begun using this bag for teaching; it made a great workhorse to carry an extra rope for an afternoon focused on setting up abseils (rappels); the amount of rope used for some venues is amazing!
- It’s such a good size and design that I have been known to use it for plenty of non-climbing adventures/travels, too.
Ease of use aside, the bag is also fantastically durable (with one exception, explained below), at a great value.
The points where this bag is less than perfect:
- The gear loop will fit enough gear for sport climbing, however, your trad rack will require more inventive storing. Nevertheless, it’s still tidier and easier to access compared to a top loading bag. Alternatively, the rack can go in your partner’s bag and up to 80m of single rope fits in comfortably.
- The external helmet strap is a stretchy sheet that encases the helmet, which has proven to be less durable than the rest of the bag. Carrying the helmet on the outside puts this fabric in contact with rocks and trees, which quickly began to damage this part. However, as I mentioned above, when I share the gear out I have no need to use it, so it tucks away nicely.
My biggest complaint (which I’ve found a few ways around) is the single gear loop that is located at the top end (short side) of the bag compartment. This holds enough quickdraws for sport climbing, but becomes wanting when trying to transport a whole trad rack. Granted, the bag is designed for sport climbing, and DMM does make a trad bag. However, in light of this bag being used by many people for trad cragging, a nice little change would be a set of gear loops running down the long side of the compartment(s).
This bag is not by any means a single bag for all of your climbing adventures. It doesn’t suit the likes of multi-pitching, scrambling or alpine climbing. But for single pitching (sport and trad), bouldering, and general duties it makes for a much simpler and faff-free alternative to a top loading pack.
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