Black Diamond Distance 4 Liter Pack Review

Hillary Gerardi running along the Glacier de Moiry

The development of a Black Diamond 4 liter Distance pack was big news for us.

Their 8 and 15 liter Distance packs (full review here) have proven themselves to be hands down the best packs for higher mountain missions when you haul around more than just trail running kit. As our go to packs for so much of what we do in the higher Alps, we were excited to see what a 4 liter running pack would offer. 

Like the 8 and 15 liter packs, the 4 liter looks like something that a climber designed for trail running days. There is clearly a kind of climber’s mentality built into these packs. They’re bomber, versatile and designed to work in the mountains. 

Distance 4 Features

One of the best features of these packs are the shoulder strap pockets, or what I call the cockpit. There are four big pouch pockets and two zippered sleeves, one of which is lined with waterproof fabric to keep sweat off your phone.

Behind the front pouches are smaller stretchy mesh pockets for additional carrying capacity. These are all the spots for your phone, food, two soft flasks, gloves, headband, headphones, and even a small camera.

Perfect, form fitting shoulder straps with plenty of capacity within easy reach.

The pack itself is a two part system. On top is a zippered sleeve for what you don’t need immediate access to. Below, is a larger stretch mesh for a shell and/or light insulation shirt. The mesh pocket has openings on each side that allow you to reach back to stow or pull out what you need.

The big feature of the 4 liter, that the larger Distance packs don’t have, is a bandolier pole carrying system. Two carrying straps pull out of the pack, one from the shoulder, the other from low on the opposite side. You fold down your Z Poles, pull the lower loop forward which wraps around the poles, then pull out the top strap, attach it, and throw the whole thing behind your back. Finally, a drawstring pull cinches the poles tight against your back.

Hillary Gerardi, with poles stowed, heads for higher ground.

The whole experience of stashing your poles like this is highly satisfying and somehow makes you feel like Legolas in Lord of the Rings. The only downside is that my elbow hits the poles while running, so some on-the-fly re-adjustment might be necessary. 

Overall, the Black Diamond 4 liter pack is a solid performer with great features, and it’s built to withstand the abuse that comes from being in the real mountains.

The Distance 4 Liter pack will be available in spring 2020. Check in at Black Diamond.

The 4 liter vest is a snug fitting pack with a large stretchy mesh pocket easily accessible.

Good Points

  • Pole carrying system.
  • Great shoulder strap pocket system.
  • Sweat proof front pocket.
  • Easy to close, good old reliable buckles for the chest closures.
  • Bomber!

Points to Consider

  • Weight, heavy for a 4L pack. Then again, see “bomber”.
  • Doesn’t come in an XS size for smaller women (yet…?).

By Dan Patitucci

Gear Review Disclaimer: At ALPSinsight, product reviews are a result of either finding gear we love and wanting to support it, or working with brands we partner with and believing in the gear enough to want to heap praise in support of what works well. If we don’t like something, we just don’t review it. We do not publish sponsored posts but do get some product for free with the agreement that we truly must like it enough to review it.


Comments 1

  1. Just picked up this pack last week and after my first run I am beyond smitten with it. Whilst only going out for a short 10K hard packed fireroad run; I purposely loaded it up with kit and filled both bladders to start refining fit and feel and really, it is just SOOOO comfy and disappears like a 2nd skin.

    Heaps of thoughtful features, well designed, bullet-proof construction….this pack pretty much has it all. The sheer amount of storage options on it and how they are laid out is really something!

    Can’t wait to hit the Bernese Oberland next summer rocking this pack!

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