Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Simple, light, easy to get in and out of, comfortable to carry.
Cons: Not waterproof, not as durable as other options.
Best Uses: As a second bag to a bigger a haul bag or for short walls or a crag pack.
The Touchstone stands out for its value, comfort, and simplicity. Of all the haul bag options we tested, this one is probably the most simple and streamlined for its size. I have used it in Zion and Yosemite and find it a great size for one-day ascents or as a second bag to a bigger bag like the Metolius El Cap Haul Bag. That said, I would spend the extra $25 and get the Metolius Quarter Dome Haul Bag instead because it has a more watertight closure and is burlier.
Check out our Haul Bag Buying Advice to read what is important to consider when buying a haul bag. See how this bag compared to others at our Haul Bag Review - The Best Bags for Big Wall Climbing
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
This bag is great for its simplicity. It is easy to get in and out of quickly and to tuck and stow the straps. It stands up on its own when resting, which makes it a great trad climbing haulpack. It is a great size. I take this on one-day El Cap ascents of routes with mostly aid. It is quick to get things in the bottom of the bag (you are not diving down head first to find things). As a crag pack it is a perfect big size – it will fit everything and stand up on its own so you can access stuff easily. The suspension systems is one of the best and easiest to use when carrying the bag.
The closure is not watertight. It if rains you will have to rig a garbage bag or some other seal to try and keep the water out. While the haul straps are a nice length for big walls, they are a little long for crag pack (they are more likely to get hung up on branches and snag). Because there are no big compression straps across the top it is not an ideal travel bag or substitute for a bag like the North Face Base Camp Duffel. Although you can check it in on airplanes, you have to be extra careful about closing it up in a bomber no-snag way. By contrast, a bag with big compression straps and a "lid" like the Quarter Dome is much more travel friendly.
It is a little hard to clip stuff under the bag on big walls; it would be nice if the straps were a little more separated from the material.
This size is too small to be used as a single haul bag unless you pack really light on a route like the Regular Route on Half Dome. I used a bag this size on a one-night ascent of the Salathé Wall on El Capitan but I packed exceptionally light, brought tiny sleeping bags, and climbed in August (it was warm so I didn't need tons of extra clothes). Typically, this size bag is paired with a larger haul bag like the Metolius Half Dome Haul Bag on a steep route like Zodiac.
At $150, this is $25 less expensive than the similar-sized Metolius Quarter Dome. It is not a bad deal for a haul bag. However, if you spend another $50 you can get a full size Black Diamond Zion Haul Bag. It all comes down to how many big walls you will do and how much you will use it as a crag pack. I use a bag this size all the time but some people may find it better to buy a really light and solid crag pack and a big haul bag.
There are three sizes in the Black Diamond Haul Bag Family:
Black Diamond Stubby - Tiny - 2136 cu in
Black Diamond Touchstone - Small - 4272 cu in
Black Diamond Zion - Big - 8848 cu in
— Chris McNamara
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: May 9, 2013
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