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Hands-on Gear Review
Metolius El Cap Haul Bag Review
Cons: Hard to access the bottom, takes some time to get in and out of the top of the bag.
This large haul bag from Metolius Climbing is one of the best. It is big, burly and relatively comfortable for carrying big loads. It is the perfectly sized bag for any serious big wall climber that plans to do a bunch of walls.
This bag is bomber, versatile, and pretty darn waterproof. If you are on an unlimited budget the main competition is the Yates Fat Sac it is more than twice the price. If you are on a tight budget, I would get the Fish Haul Bag. Otherwise, I am a bigger fan of the Metolius Half Dome Haul Bag because it is a more manageable size (you can easily get to the bottom of it). If you can only afford one haul bag, I would probably get the El Cap size because it will give you the most options. But I prefer the Half Dome overall.
Check out our article 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.
RELATED: Our complete review of haul bags
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
This haul bag is big and burly. With the welded seams on this, seam blowout is nearly impossible (I have blown out a few haul bags that have traditional sewn seems). More importantly, the haul bag material is bomber. While you still have to carefully pack the bag for lower angle terrain (as you do with all bags), you are much less likely to wear a hole in the side of this one. In fact, if packed properly on every wall there is no reason this bag should not last for 50-plus big walls. One of my few earlier gripes with this bag was the lack of a water-tight closure. Metolius fixed that with their river-bag closure that is one of the most waterproof closures made. While it is impossible to keep everything dry if you are in a downpour, the Metolius and Yates closure systems do the best job. The extra skirt also makes this a great improvised bivy sack if you need to bivy on the summit.
Lastly, this bag gets all the details right. The bottom of the bag is easy to clip your ledge and extras to and is rated to over 300 pounds. The carrying system now tucks away nicely and is comfortable. The internal pocket is right where you need it. This and the Yates are the only bags with good compression straps across the top. These are key for managing the bag when it is a bit over-stuffed.
This bag is deep, maybe too deep. You have to really dive to get to the bottom. At a hanging belay it is hard to get to the bottom. They should make this bag two inches wider and two inches shorter. You would create about the same volume but the bag would be much easier to access.
This is ideal on a route like The Nose where you want to get everything into one bag. It is also a handy size if you are going to spend a week on a steep El Cap route and need to pack the whole junk show. In a perfect world, I would own both this and the Metolius Half Dome Haul Bag. When possible, I would take the smaller Half Dome because it is easier to access stuff in a smaller-sized bag. But if everything would not fit in the Half Dome, I would switch to the El Cap.
While not cheap, considering how long this bag will last you it is a great value. I did maybe ten walls with mine and then was able to sell it for a good price because there was not too much wear.
— Chris McNamara
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: June 13, 2012
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