The Fish Deluxe is a classic. It is the only bag still made in white vinyl, which anyone who climbed walls a decade ago can appreciate. If you are not in a rush, Fish offers the best deal on haul bags. I borrowed one for my first season, took it on ten-plus walls, and was very psyched. I have not used any of the recently made bags but from the photos on the web site and what I have seen in Yosemite, they are similar in design and construction. Today, the next best deal is the Black Diamond Zion, which is $200 and maybe a little more burly and comfortable to carry. But overall, I would go with the Fish. My favorite bag is the Metolius Half Dome or El Cap. These are more waterproof and burlier but they are also 25-35 percent more expensive. If you are not going to climb a ton of walls, or just want a classic design that has been around for decades, check out the Fish.
Fish Deluxe Haul Bag Review
Cons: No water proof closure, not as burly as urethane bags.
Our Analysis and Test Results
This bag is light and simple. It is the easiest bag to get in and out of on the wall. It is also one of the lightest haul bags. It packs much flatter than other haul bags when not in use or if you want to sleep on top of it as a sleeping pad at the summit or base.
This is the only haul bag with a built in adjustable daisy. I have never felt confident to hang the bag off this point when it is full. But when the bag is lighter, or you are just moving it around at the anchor, this is a very useful feature.
One very cool thing about Fish Products is that you are not only ordering from big wall legend Russ Walling, but you are also getting your products from one of the last small big wall gear manufacturers in the climbing world. Help keep alive that lineage that started back with John Salathé (and before)! Also, Fish is the only haul bag company with a lifetime warranty. It's not the type of warranty where you can use the crap out of something and return it for a new one. But if you have an issue that is manufacturing related then fish will fix it for free and if you caused the issue it will be fixed at "next to nothing," according to Fish.
The vinyl is not as burly as urethane. No big deal if you are really careful when hauling low angle pitches or steep climbs. But if you get lazy and leave a water bottle top pressed against the side and then haul a slab, a hole forms way faster than with urethane.
The top is not that waterproof. If you are in a storm it is hard to keep everything inside from getting wet. My solution was to always stay out of storms! But another solution is to just make sure all your important clothing and sleeping bags are in dry bags.
The suspension system does not have an adjustment from the top of the shoulder straps to the top of the bag. This means you have fewer options for adjusting the weight of the load forward and backward.
These are ideal as a first haul bag or as a great bag if you are on a budget.
This is the least expensive bag out there. My ideal setup is a Metolius Half Dome and Quarter Dome. But this would run you $349. You get about the same volume with one Fish Deluxe for $149.
The Fish Grade V ($132) is a smaller version of this bag. There is also the Fish budget bag ($112) that is by far the most haul bag you can get for the money. There is also the Atom Smasher, which is a handy haul pack.
— Chris McNamara