Review by: j_ung, 2006-03-10
[color=red]THIS REVIEW WRITTEN BY HOLDPLEASE2 AND SUBMITTED BY J_UNG.[/color]
[size=12][b]This reviewer paid full price for these products. Neither manufacturer currently advertises with RC.com -- 3/10/06.[/b]
Big Wall Bags: FISH Products vs. Metolius vs. Average Stuff Sack
Ok, you’re probably thinking “I don’t need special sacks for bigwalls, I’ll just use my regular stuff sacks.” I thought that, too, once upon a time, and climbed a few walls without them. Silly me. You see, on a bigwall, most everything is hanging -- you, your ledge, your waste and yes, your stuff sacks.
[i]A difficult to access regular stuff sack, hanging from its draw cord, next to a FISH Big Wall Bag hanging from its clip-in loop.[/i]
Here’s why the difference between regular stuff sacks and bags designed specifically to be accessed while hanging matters. Retrieving an object from the Wall Bag is easy because it has a separate clip in loop. The regular stuff sack, on the other hand, hangs by its drawcord. The weight of the items inside forces the bag to stay closed. Trying to retrieve something from the regular stuff sack in this configuration is like trying to pull a handful of cookies out of a cookie jar with a small opening. Cookie jars must have LARGE openings, so we can grab entire fistfuls of cookies at a time. And your bigwall bags should too. The clip in loop on the typical wall bag is much stronger than the drawcord on a normal stuff sack. You wouldn’t want your gear to go rocketing to the deck because you clipped it in with a flimsy drawcord. Wall bags are also typically made of heavier material than normal stuff sacks. This is important, because the bigwall environment is not the place for lightweights… climbers or stuff sacks.
Now that we have that settled, two leading manufacturers of stuff sacks are FISH Gear and Metolius. After roughly 75 days climbing with a combination of Metolius and FISH Big Wall Bags, I think I may have an opinion or two about both.
Both Metolius and FISH Products bags have clip in loops, however, the Metolus bag has two. I have not found this to be particularly useful, but there must be a reason. The clip in loop on the FISH bag is longer, which I believe is more convenient because you can handle it easily with gloves or even sling it over your arm like a purse.
The FISH bags seem to be wearing better than the Metolius bags. The bottom panel of the FISH bags is vinyl coated nylon. The bottom of the Metolius bags is 600d polyester, as is the rest of the bag. The side panels of the FISH bag is a slippery nylon, 420-denier pack cloth, which appears to resist abrasion better than the 600d polyester on the Metolius bags. Finally, for the ultimate in durability, try the Mesh FISH bag, which is so tough that even if you cut a hole in it, you cannot tear it with your hands!
(FISH also makes an even stronger series of bags, called Beef Bags, made of vinyl coated nylon. They are great for pointy objects like pin racks, bolt kits, ice tools, etc.)
Because the drawcord on the old Metolius bag was exposed, it caught on objects, abraded, and became a tangle-fest. Thankfully, the new ones are enclosed; same with the FISH drawcord.
[i]Watch out for bags with exposed drawstrings, like the old Metolius. They never last. (The new Metolius bags dropped this liability like a bad habit.)[/i]
[b]Big Wall Tip:[/b] Metolius bags are more short and squat, while the FISH bags have a more elongated cylindrical shape. Each manufacturer makes several bag sizes. I carry 11 bags of various colors, shapes and sizes, which make some bags better suited to certain tasks than others and helps me tell them all apart. Be sure to, at the very least, ask for different colors when you order yours. Don’t risk digging to the bottom of your haul bag to retrieve your Bivy Sack only to discover that you’ve found your dirty clothes bag.
In the event that you insist on using your normal stuff sacks on walls, AT THE VERY LEAST send them off to FISH Gear or another reputable stitchin’ house to add a strong clip in loop to your bags for a nominal fee.
Small (6"x13"): $8.50
Beef Bags: $7.50, $9.50, & $13.50 ea.