Hands-on Gear Review

Black Diamond Deluxe Cliff Cabana Double Fly Review

Black Diamond Deluxe Cliff Cabana Double Fly
By: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief  ⋅  Feb 5, 2010
Price:  $450 List  |  $449.95 at REI
Pros:  Bomber, great ventilation, tons of deluxe features
Cons:  Heavy, expensive
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond

Our Verdict

This is one of the best rain flys I have used. It is loaded with features that are not only convenient but really keep you dry. Attention to detail is apparent throughout the design, from the clip-in point to the doors and windows. If you get in a storm you will be happy you are in one of these. This is intended to work with the Black Diamond Cliff Cabana Double Portaledge.

It is bomber, ventilates well, and has a ton of features to make your storm experience as comfortable as possible. That said, it is expensive, heavy, and takes time to set up. If you are climbing a summer wall or don't anticipate a storm, this is overkill. If you anticipate some winter or late fall ascents, definitely get the Deluxe.

Our Analysis and Test Results



There are so many cool features about this fly it is hard to know where to start. My favorite is perhaps the least obvious: the awning over the door. It is molded to stick out and let in air with the door zipped down a little. As anyone who has been in a storm on a wall knows, often the biggest challenge is keeping water out while maintaining enough ventilation so your own sweat doesn't built up moisture from the inside. This awning does the best job I have seen of allowing ventilation, even when it is raining and snowing.

The other cool features are small on their own but add up to making this fly awesome:
  • bomber clip-in point and intuitive labeling so you know what is the air side and what is the wall side
  • plastic windows so you can see what the storm is doing outside
  • attachment point for a tent pole to keep the fabric tensioned and not blowing in on you, thus increasing the interior space
  • compression stuff sack for the fly (this thing is BIG)
  • bomber reinforced corners with clip-in points to anchor the fly from below during windy conditions

I tested this ledge while helping Tommy Caldwell try to free climb Mescalito. When a spring storm arrived I was a little nervous; I had never been in a big storm on El Cap! But this thing was so bomber I didn't want the storm to end it was a nice 36-hour nap fest. You can read a trip report on that Dawn Wall free attempt with Tommy Caldwell here. Below is a video with TC inside the rain fly.


There is not much negative about this ledge other than all those features adding up to make it pretty heavy and expensive. Also, the floor is not very tight under the ledge. This means that when something falls between the big hole in the corner of the Black Diamond Cliff Cabana Double (which happens a lot), it disappears into this big catchment for random small stuff. Not a big deal, but that was one nice thing about the old A5 fly: how tight the material was on the bottom. One minor last point: the material that the stuff sack is made of is not that bomber. I would not recommend hauling the fly outside the bag unless the pitch route is entirely overhanging.

Best Application

This is one of the best flys for winter ascents or expedition climbing.


For all those features, you have to pay top dollar. At $449 this is the most expensive fly out there, but it is the only fly with zip doors and wrap-around coverage. So in that sense it is your only option if you want a burly bad weather fly.

Chris McNamara

OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: March 12, 2013
Summary of All Ratings

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

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Apr 21, 2010 - 11:29am
rbaum · Climber

i've got the cliff cabana and i dig it. it's comfy and well-designed. when i first bought it, i jotted down a few notes/observations and sent them to some wall-climbing amigos. here's what i wrote:

fly comes with a single pole to increase headroom.
-fly packs neatly into a designated stuff sack
-fly (and pole) need to be packed in one of the haul bags. this is because 1) there is barely enough room in the portaledge bag and packing the fly in there would make unloading/loading the ledge more difficult; and 2) when unloading the portaledge, there's a chance the fly and pole would be pulled out and dropped!
-to use the fly, the ledge actually clips into the fly,
which then clips in the master anchor. so, when using the
ledge, keep the fly rolled up and the tent pole stored.
if it starts to rain, you can just pull down the fly and
put on the pole. if it doesn't rain, keep the fly off for

maximum comfort/ventilation.

portaledge haulbag is skinny than i expected. however, the ledge is not super light. with the fly, it clocks in close to 20 lbs.
-love the closure on the haulbag. two tighteners at the lid really snug up the opening and keep anything from spilling out.

-to help protect the top, i am also going to cut the bottom off a gallon milk/water jug and place it over the ledge master point and the ledge haulbag haul loops (when hauling, these three all need to be clipped.)

ledge packs up nicely.
-you basically fold it outward (so all the parts are dangling) and then rolled it up so (all the parts are enclosed).

-i unfolded and refolded it twice. i had difficulty was in getting the longsided poles to fit into the end caps securely. it's tricky because it's hard to verify if the pole is in all the way. in the instructions, BD recommends using a cycling-grade graphite lubricant on these joint parts to facilitate connecting the poles. i also found a bit of difficulty in securing the spanner bar; this will be very tricky on the wall. andy i struggled doing this for the metolius ledge, too. BOTTOM LINE: WITH FOLDING AND UNFOLDING, OBVIOUSLY, PRACTICE IS ESSENTIAL!!!

ledge has two sides: "air" and "wall."
-wall side has ballistic nylon and rubber bumpers at the joint points. very BURLY.

-air side (and the two endsides of the ledge) is ripstop nylon. so we gotta be careful that these sides do not touch the wall, as they are not meant to handle that kind of abuse.

as the ST review stated, the ledge's bells and whistles are very, very nice.

-these include: daisies on the adjustment straps (for clipping stuff), a loop at the master point (so you can "pull" yourself out of bed), stash pockets on the "shark fins"(the dividers that keep one person from rolling into another), and the "brass-knuckles" master point (three small holes for the tensioners and one big hole for the master anchor. this is a very clean construction/design).


0 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
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   Mar 12, 2013 - 02:13pm
Diesel_Smoke · Climber

This information is not particular about this fly (I own the double ledge and simple fly) but I was given some information today from Black Diamond that I found very distressing about their quality of product support. Consider buying BD very carefully because they will not sell any parts or pieces to their ledges and will only sell complete ledges. So any ledge from BD is a very 'fragile' purchase in that regard, at least to myself.

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