There was a time you'd use any old rubbish to go down the climbing wall: worn-out shoes with the holes in the end, that tatty old threadbare chalk bag, and a plastic carrier bag to put it all in. Maybe that's still the same for some, but nowadays there's an entire market geared towards the indoor climber. You can buy climbing shoes specifically aimed at plastic, and chalk bags of all shapes and size. When it comes to packs, it's probably hard to imagine but there is indeed now - with the Street Creek - a pack designed with this urban audience in mind. This isn't necessarily what it's exclusively capable of, but that's the user group that Black Diamond are after. This is a pack that will take you from the climbing wall (or - as more trendy/American people may call them - the 'gym') to the shops, to work (depending on where you work and their associated level of professionalism), and finally to the crag. The big question is: is it worth having?
At £70 for the 20L verison and £80 for the 24L pack reviewed here, the Street Creek is not a budget option for a small day pack; but it is well made.
Fit and comfort
The Street Creek features a padded back and shoulder straps, which are both constructed using EVA foam. There's a removable waist belt and sternum strap for extra support for when you're carrying a bit of weight, but given that I mostly carry light loads I've opted to remove the former. It's nice to have the option too, because it means a little less dangling from the pack, although I have left the sternum strap on as it helps to keep the pack firmly in place.
Due to its relatively low volume (24 litres) the Street Creek is (unsurprisingly) best suited to indoor climbing and bouldering. You could potentially get away with it for sport climbing, but after you've got your basics in (quickdraws/rope/harness/spare clothes/lunch) you won't be left with much space and as such it probably wouldn't be the first pack you'd choose. In BD's own blurb they describe it as being "your go-to commuter pack, perfectly suited for early morning missions to the gym, and late-night bike rides home from work". Whilst I haven't used it for a single early morning mission to the gym, or any late night bike rides, I have used it a lot for work, frequently taking advantage of the laptop sleeve down the back of the pack. It's also been my go-to pack for ad-hoc trips down to the shops because of its simple design - just loosen the toggle at the top and dump it all in.
Due to its tough construction it has the potential to make a great pack for muti-pitch trad, as it could easily take the knocks and the occasional haul; however its size realistically lets it down here as it's unlikely to have enough space to fit everything for such an outing. Perhaps there's room for a more trad focussed 35-40 litre option?
As mentioned above, the Street Creek features 24 lites of space within which to fit your belongings. The majority of this is taken up by a single tubular compartment, which is closed by a single drawcord. At the front of the pack there's a sleeve in which you can fit wallet, phone and other essentials. I have (perhaps weirdly) often used this pocket for rubbish I've collected at the crag, hence often find crushed Monster/Redbull cans at the base of it which I've inevitably forgotten about (I draw the line at bags of dog poo). Upon first glance this sleeve looks like a good space, but in practise when the bag is packed full its volume is drastically reduced to the extent that you couldn't even fit a guidebook into it without squashing it in.
The top pocket has limited space due to the presence of the raincover, which (alongside the issues with the front pocket) does mean that there's limited storage options for wallet, keys and other valuables. I must admit I haven't used it a great deal on account of the fact that the lid provides adequate cover for light rain as it is and if it's raining heavily then I'm unlikely to be out. The raincover is also a bit annoying, as it takes up scarce space.
If you do use it for indoor lead/sport climbing then there's a simple strap which connects from just behind your head to the front of the pack. It's a simple, clutter-free design that can always be used to strap on extra clothing on cold days, because as per the sentiments shared above it's not exactly the largest of packs - hence external storage is pretty much essential if you're carrying a bit more than usual.
Weight and Build Quality
Weight-wise the Street Creek comes in at 780g and given that it's geared towards indoor climbing I don't really see this being much of a problem (i.e. you don't need something to be stripped back/alpine if all you're using it for is going down the wall!). Most critically though it is well made and despite over 12 months of tough use I'm yet to make much of an impression. Yes, it's got scuffed, but that's just part and parcel of use. It's going to last ages, thanks to its 1260 denier ballistic nylon, which pretty much makes it bombproof.
I've already run through a fair few of the features above, so here's a recap of those, plus a few others.
The padded laptop sleeve down the back of the pack is capable of fitting a 15 inch screen. It is - unlike some I've used - incredibly secure too, with a full length zip ensuring that your potentially quite expensive hardware is kept safe.
The raincover which extends out from the top pocket is something I haven't found a great deal of use for. The raincover itself is only designed to cover the lid, as opposed to the whole pack, but takes up a lot of room in the pocket - so much so that it's not all that effective as an actual pocket. With that in mind I'd probably remove it if you're after space, or intending to avoid going out in heavy rain. In light rain I've had no problem with the pack's ability to shed a bit of water.
The rope strap is another feature I haven't used a great deal, mostly because of the pack's size (I tend to use it primarily for bouldering, not for sport or indoor lead climbing). The one issue with using the rope strap is that due to the pack's soft nature it doesn't necessarily support a rope being thrown over the top all that well. Unless it's packed full to the brim it tends to collapse on itself a little, which isn't all that comfortable. As a result I'd likely favour a separate rope bag, as opposed to storage on top of the pack.
One feature I do find genuinely useful are the two grab handles, which could easily double as straps you could haul off in the correct circumstances. The fact the Street Creek is quite streamlined would make it suitable, plus there's the benefit of being able to remove the sternum strap and waist belt to stop them from catching.
Finally, there are a series of daisy chains running down the outside of the pack, but honestly - does anyone actually use these?! Over the years I've had a fair few packs that feature them but have never, ever used them. Please inform me if you have!
I really like using the Street Creek and have regularly found myself reaching for it. However, its small size does make it pretty specialist, as realistically the low volume restricts it to bouldering, indoor climbing and looking cool around town (but if that's what you're in need of it for then it'll do a good job). The materials and construction are bombproof and as a result I think it'll be a fair few years before it starts to show signs of wear. Were there to be any criticism it's that when full the pockets both at the front and top of the pack are pretty useless; also, it's a shame it's not not just a bit larger, or that a higher volume model isn't available, as I think this would make it a lot more versatile for bigger days bouldering, trad or sport climbing.
Black Diamond say:
With best-in-class durability thanks to its haulbag inspired design, and urban features that make commutes a breeze, the Street Creek 24 is the ultimate everyday pack. The Street Creek's dedicated 15" laptop sleeve adds versatility for the working stiff, while the burly haulbag construction holds up to day-in, day-out commutes. And when the weather goes south, an integrated rain cover pocket houses the protection you need when caught in a storm. The quick access main compartment is reminiscent of its haulbag-inspired design, while an internal security pocket stashes your keys and wallet safely. The Street Creek 24 also features a front zippered organizational pocket for your daily essentials, and the pack's EVA padded shoulder straps and back panel provide maximum comfort while commuting.
- Volume: 24L
- Average Weight: 780g
- Materials: 1260d Ballistic nylon
- Haul bag inspired pack construction for best in class durability, with quick access skirt to main compartment
- Anodized matte black metal closure buckle
- 15-inch dedicated external laptop sleeve
- Front zipped organizational pocket
- Internal security pocket
- EVA padded back panel and shoulder straps
- Flat, low profile front mounted daisy chains
- Adjustable sternum straps and waist belt (both strippable)