Hands-on Gear Review

Metolius El Cap Haul Bag Review

Metolius El Capitan
By: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief  ⋅  Jan 18, 2010
Price:  $229 List  |  $229.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Durable, comfortable, water-tight closure, lots of volume.
Cons:  Hard to access the bottom, takes some time to get in and out of the top of the bag.
Manufacturer:   Metolius Climbing

Our Verdict

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.

Our Analysis and Test Results



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. For a improvised summit bivy, the extra skirt has you covered.

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. Along with the Yates model we tested, the El Cap Haul Bag has reliable compression straps across the top. Other bags tested did not. When your bag is overstuffed, good straps over the top help a lot.


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.

Best Application

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

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: June 13, 2012
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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Average Customer Rating:  
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50% of 2 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
2 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 50%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 50%  (1)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Jun 13, 2012 - 06:35pm
Mike. · Climber

6/2012 update:

My venerable circa-2000 Metolius El Cap haul bag finally began to show some seam failure and critical webbing wear, so I decided to replace it with the same bag.

The new El Cap haul bag I got is not even remotely close to the great bag I wore out. The body material is far less durable, evidenced by the wear (after climbing seven pitches) that is more substantial than my old bag which withstood hundreds of pitches. I'm not exaggerating: Seven versus hundreds, deeper gouges and greater damage to the fabric. (Note that same seven pitches climbed with the new bag was also climbed at least once with the older.)

Add to this, the dry bag closure is in no way storm-proof. Even cinched down prudently against impending precip, the bags contents became soaked. My old El Cap was absolutely storm-proof with it's drybag closure and rubberized fabric; I never detected any leakage even after repairing rips (bear damage) in it with ripstop material and SeamGrip.

To say the least, I'm disappointed in the Metolius El Cap. It's now cheaply produced and apparently intended to bolster the bottom line at Metolius rather than serve its end user well for many walls as did previous generations of this bag.

Addendum to my comment below about spending $400 on a haul bag: I would spend $400 on a haul bag if I knew it would perform as did my older El Cap bag. Not sure where I'll go from here, but definitely not to Metolius; I returned the wannabe El Cap bag, so I'm back in the market for a great haul bag. Runout Customs of Moab offers a drybag material upgrade, which looks promising, and I'll consider Yates. I'll consider any bag at any cost that's built to perform and to last. Which, sadly, precludes the modern version of Metolius' El Cap.

(Note: my 2010 review below gave the El Cap 4 stars.)

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Jan 15, 2010 - 05:56pm
Mike. · Climber
Incredible durability
Totally storm-proof
Minimal yet comfortable and well-engineered suspension can be attached to a packed bag

Reasonable price considering longevity

I would not consider any other haul bag if/when purchasing again. My Met EC has no holes from hauling after many uses. Not a few, but none. A buddy has the previous generation with nearly as much mileage--same story, no holes or broken parts.

It would be prudent to coat the bottom hem periodically with brush-on Plasti-Dip. It will become frayed and disintegrate after many uses, exposing seams underneath.

To spend $400 on a Yates when you can get one of these bags for about half that would be pure insanity.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.

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