Portaledges; Which company is best?


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Topic Author's Original Post - Aug 1, 2009 - 11:41am PT
I am considering buying a double-man portaledge...Whichis best A5, Fish or Black Diamond?


Trad climber
Aug 1, 2009 - 12:04pm PT
They got em all hanging in the Valley Mtn shop, including a Fish. so you don't have to buy direct from Russ and have him not respond to your emails, curse you out over the phone, tell you for the 10th time when is your absolute dropdead date past 2012 AND THEN ask you for your sisters phone number and tell you your mom's photo would make the boner of the month club award with his buddies. Other then that he's great to work with if you like flagellating yourself with a stick. Yeah, I would go for the Fish ledge, I love mine and still bear the scars from its purchase.

Trad climber
Aug 1, 2009 - 12:32pm PT
I might have got the last one, yeah about 3 years ago...I can see by his trip reports he's been working hard on building up inventory.

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Aug 1, 2009 - 02:45pm PT
As far as I know, there is only one company that makes portaledges.

though you could settle for No Face if it doesn't really matter.......

Not here
Aug 1, 2009 - 04:28pm PT
I would never bother with anything else.

mars...it's near nevada...
Aug 1, 2009 - 04:33pm PT
i hate my fish double wide...
i hate the bomber construction...
the huge rainfly...
the burgundy can't see the wine stains color...
the steel tubes, the overall design...
in fact, the thing i hate the most about it is sitting on it with a good friend, drinking a beer and watching the sun go down...
it sucks, i tell you...
i hate it so much i just might go hang it right now...

Trad climber
Yosemite, CA
Aug 1, 2009 - 05:25pm PT
I got a fish, wouldn't trade it for the world.

Metolius bombshelters are super stiff and heavy. I need to drag my sleeping pad out of my bag, wasting a bunch of time when with Fish or A5 I can just pull out my sleeping bag and sleep like a lamb.

Same experience for me with BD.

A5 are sick if you can get a hold of one.

All around I'd go fish.
Matt Thomsen

Big Wall climber
Aug 1, 2009 - 06:17pm PT
burlyequipment.com check them out. super bomber ledges. a lot like the old A5's with some up grades.

Trad climber
Aug 1, 2009 - 06:31pm PT
I like the company of my climber girl friend.....

ill get my coat

Big Wall climber
A cube at my soul sucking job in Oregon
Aug 1, 2009 - 07:02pm PT
Love my fish singles. My bud brought his BD double, and it was too damn big for anyone under 6' to setup. Your mileage may vary.

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Aug 1, 2009 - 07:10pm PT

Aug 1, 2009 - 10:31pm PT
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Aug 2, 2009 - 12:39am PT
Fullboard agreement with the Fuzzywuzzy: Why in a Free Society, would one buy anything else but Fish??? It's us. Take it from the people who have been there and who ARE there.
pip the dog

Mountain climber
planet dogboy
Aug 2, 2009 - 12:51am PT
i think no company is best. go with a single -- as even the best partners smell really funky by day 3.


Trad climber
Aug 2, 2009 - 12:53am PT
yeah, something smells Fishy around here....

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Aug 2, 2009 - 02:16am PT
double saves weigth and space, but I hate to be having the muscle cramps or the heroin shakes and keep the partner awake. just some thoughts.

I have a Fish single. Solid.

I have slept on old A5 doubles a couple times now and if you can find it, very solid as well, but a little heavier.

Social climber
Joshua Tree Ca
Aug 2, 2009 - 02:27am PT
Russ makes SOLID stuff...

FISH is, "the WAY"...

Captain...or Skully

Social climber
Boise....It's like Mars with air
Aug 6, 2009 - 09:55pm PT
Russ makes great gear, but I still like my A5 single.
Had a double a long time ago, but I really like havin' me own space.

Mountain climber
Aug 6, 2009 - 10:18pm PT
they call double kayaks "divorce boats". You can only hit someone else's paddle so many times (or have them insist on turning the wrong way) before you hate them. So I wonder -- does a double ledge make for hard feelings after 4 or 5 shared nights? I have a single, though I've never used it. ha
Russ Walling

Gym climber
Poofter's Froth, Wyoming
Aug 6, 2009 - 10:45pm PT

Hey Lance Lynch, aka RokJox.... keep grinding your axe.... Not sure what your problem is, and I don't really care. Next unfounded slam on my company will have a price. Count on it.

Aug 6, 2009 - 10:55pm PT
Umm if we're taking bets, my money is on Russ...
Captain...or Skully

Social climber
Aug 6, 2009 - 11:53pm PT
If I was buyin' another ledge, my money would be on him, too.
I dunno what's with the Jox.
Hey Russ, love the 40 muffler, too.
Russ Walling

Gym climber
Poofter's Froth, Wyoming
Aug 7, 2009 - 03:43am PT
Rokjox, aka Lance Lynch, I don't consider it funny when you are attempting to impact my livelihood. That sir is a two way street. Too bad you are destitute, or there might be something to go after. That being said, I trust you are done "trolling" or whatever the f*#k you want to call it or however you try to justify it in your world.

Any more bullshiit out of you, directed toward my company, that is in any way untrue or defamatory will be dealt with severely. I'm not funning with you, and this is a promise.
John Fowler

Trad climber
Aug 7, 2009 - 09:50am PT
Fish ledges are bomber. I have used A5 single and double, BD single and double and currently have a Fish econoledge. The econoledge is the BEST bang for the buck. Oh, by the way, follow the order instructions for Fish and don't panic. Your stuff will be there! I think it is a test to determine if you are really capable of doing a wall. My stuff has always shown up on my drop dead date.

Sneaking up behind you...
Aug 7, 2009 - 10:44am PT
Fish has never missed an order, when I gave a drop dead date.

Top notch products, served with a smile!

Again...wearing bunchless painties will keep the stress down.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Aug 7, 2009 - 11:19am PT
The skyfaring Magnus has spoken!!! Give me Fish Prods or the belay cleaver at days end.....

Aug 7, 2009 - 08:38pm PT
I only have a couple of Fish stories but I'll share them. 1st, he's a small dude/company. One time, he got in a batch of fly material after a long wait. He takes some of this sh*t and tests it with a high pressure water hose and it leaks. He's all like ..WTF? Suppose to be waterproof. Oh the water will run off of it, but the high pressure hose indicates that in a full on sh*t storm, it will leak. He calls the dudes he bought it from, describes the leaking and says he wants the good stuff. They ran a lot of it that way, probably to cut costs but who knows, and won't have another lot number for quite some time. So Fish decides this is the best stuff (when it's good) so he waits.

Does it piss off some of his customers cause he's out climbing and they don't have a ledge due to no fly material. Sure, and some of them pop onto the internet to start the complaining process here first...:-(

yet at the end of the day, when you are up on the stone, or in the back country working on your horror show, do you want the dude who had the integrity to not try and just crank out the product to make a buck and get some dudes off his ass but stood firm and waited knowing that it was the right thing (not the thing that would make him buddies and money) to do? I'm not disparaging Metolius here, those guys rule too. I'm talkin' Fish.

Last year, I saw that Russ had some 9/16 Supertape. The good stuff that my local shop was out of. Now, you can buy stuff on the internet a save a buck, but when you get to the splice that is taped and say to yourself, sh#t, I just had to lose a 5' piece and now I have a worthless 2 and 3 footer but at least I didn't die like a couple of my bros when this happened to them cause I got lucky and caught it.....you think: "Russ doesn't pass that sh#t onto his customers" and you remember that Russ knows the good sh#t and the bad sh#t and won't sell you the bad sh#t, do you want to buy from some nameless dickless ebay asswipe and try to get lucky or do you want to get the good stuff from an expert in what you want it for: a brother climber???? Anyway, like I said, I saw Russ had the good stuff and I ordered some. Told him what I was planning. A First ascent of a knarly pinnacle in the heart of darkness. Sent him a picture to punctuate the story. Plan was to use the Supertape to tie off the knobs and climb it.

Here's the very tippy top, hard to see the base of it, but it may be 300' tall or so.

Anyway, I want the good sh#t cause I'm not looking fowrard to dying in the wilderness when a knob pops and the sh#t tape I'm 100 percent depending on breaks, so I get the sh#t Russ has. I tell Russ my plan and a short while later (if Russ is out climbing don't get your panties in a bunch as the stuff will get to you) the supertape shows up and theres a bunch of sewn slings designed to tie off different sized knobs! Didn't even charge me, tossed them in cause he know I would be appreciative. I grab the sh#t damn near sporting wood I'm so happy and run out the door and I head up as the weather is changing, don't make it to the pinnacle but to the first cliff and it looks like this:

Got the 4 x 4 stuck as it snowed 6" while we were hiking in.

It's a long winter and in July the road finally opened and I head up to look at the situation solo. I get this picture and later find out the road entirely washed out above.

...........look, I've been drinking, sure, and want to finish the tale, but I need to leave for a wedding and I need a shower first and I'm out of here early to go climb....so...

to be continued.......

Trad climber
Aug 7, 2009 - 08:51pm PT

i was at running laps at casa diablo in early june and up comes this middle-aged dude from that socal 1980s scene. tells me his fish story. late '80s, early '90s, he's got a portaledge on order. he's in zion for the big choss. freaks out on a route and backs off (spaceshot?). gets home, still no portaledge. calls russ

bigwallhopeful: so, where's the ledge?

russ: heard you backed off spaceshot. NO LEDGE 4 U!

at least now, 20 yrs later, the guy can tell the story and laugh. my gf thought that was the funniest story she'd ever heard: russ protecting the brand.

so this spring, i had some chintzy rush order for alpine aiders i didn't place until late, height of the rush. they showed up on my drop dead date, even though it was a tiny little order that probably barely paid him a wage.

props to all the folks out there running a mom-n-pop craftwerk business and making good stuff. nice to be in one of the few sports where it still happens.


Trad climber
Los Angeles
Aug 7, 2009 - 09:33pm PT

I make the BEST ledge, only $40,000.00 on sale.
If it rains you die.
Yes sir
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Aug 7, 2009 - 09:43pm PT
Lance would like his lined with wolf fur.

Trad climber
A place w/o Avitars apparently
Aug 7, 2009 - 10:26pm PT
I have a Fish Ledge and nothing to compare it to. I found it easy to set up, easy to adjust, durable, comfortable, not super flashy with huge logo's (ghey), never had to use the fly out side, but I got a good buzz sealing the seams.

Unless I'm missing something by not testing the other ledges, and considering his are the most reasonably priced, I wouldn't consider anything else.

Mark Not-circlehead

Boulder climber
Martinez, CA
Aug 7, 2009 - 11:23pm PT
Here's what I can say about the Fish single ledge I used to own:

I was already swilling malt liquer while the Captain and Tomasini (actually just talked thim yesterday, 4 kids now...) were still trying to get in Captain's doublwide A5.

Was happy swilling away malt liquor while Circlehead (on several occasions and walls)was cussing, bleeding and sober still in his battle with the trapeziodal ledge (aka the Gramicci)

Was happily sleeping off some malt liquor while __ (left blank intentionally to protect the guilty) were testing the effects of extreme hypothermia in a rainstorm in their homemade plumbing parts, lawn chair, bivy sack super custom ledge....

I can't really remember who I even sold my ledge to....might have been all the master cylinder's..........or Old E's.....or KK tall boys.

Buy Fish................................................................(or goad RokJox into getting his ass kicked by Russ, would pay money to see it. Is that Lance "Buffy Mcpuppy slayer"?)

Captain...or Skully

Social climber
Aug 7, 2009 - 11:25pm PT
Naw, Wrong Lance.
Hi Mark! Cool to type at ya!
Those were golden times, huh?Oh, BTW, it's true, we were cussin'some.(a LOT)
Mark Not-circlehead

Boulder climber
Martinez, CA
Aug 7, 2009 - 11:41pm PT
Yeah, golden times. I was looking at the pics of everybody at JB's memorial, and I though, geez, they all got old......then i walked into the bathroom and caught a glance in the mirror.

I really miss those days.......and all my freinds from back then.

So who's gonna throw the next big party on the eastside?

Social climber
chicago ill
Aug 7, 2009 - 11:55pm PT
I think aldude may be putting something together on the Eastside. Casual Bachar rememberance Party/music affair.
Mark Not-circlehead

Boulder climber
Martinez, CA
Aug 8, 2009 - 12:22am PT
Captain, if Al-Dude sets a date, and you see it here, send me an email. I only stop by here every couple of weeks....
Captain...or Skully

Social climber
Aug 8, 2009 - 12:25am PT
Dig it. Done deal.

Big Wall climber
A cube at my soul sucking job in Oregon
Aug 8, 2009 - 12:37am PT
Someone posted a link to http://burlyequipment.com, looks like slightly updated A5 design (including 2:1 suspension adjustments that I'd only fantasized about!). The Love Swing looks pretty cool too...

Aug 11, 2009 - 05:17pm PT
....rest of the story. So long story short, Russ sews up some custom tie offs, some stuff that looks amazing although there is nothing like it on his site, and sends this stuff with the supertape I bought so I can bag the send! No Charge!!!
Russ rules! BTW, I just ordered an adjustable daisy from him and he sent me soem more extra stuff and as part of the thank you conversation he says this in today's very email, word for word quoted: "The new Rainflys are so good it is crazy... super burly fabric that is totally waterproof. Best fabric I've had in 20 years."

So I'd step up right now if you want a ledge. Russ Kicks assô.


regards to all

Bill Coe
Ed Bannister

Mountain climber
Riverside, CA
Aug 11, 2009 - 05:49pm PT
if this were 1980 I would tell you about a guy in Ventura who was sewing Harnesses for the diamond C, but really making a great ledge.... Mike Graham.

but just checking the ole sundial, it's 2009.

many reasons. all of which have to do with it working where you would use it.

Trad climber
Kalispell, Montanagonia
Aug 11, 2009 - 05:59pm PT
It did not take me long to ponder the very question the OP asked. Couchmaster has a great story with reasons galore that were but a part of my decision for a Fish double.

I tend to not really care how warm or cold it is when I start something, usually cold. For the very fly issue mentioned above is why I even really need a ledge anyhow, that and I am getting lazy, and crappy, cold, leaning bivies are getting less popular with me, so I need a fly to keep me from the "other side" is really the reason.

Do I want to trust my health and welfare to a company that is largely anonymous and made it from what material, sourced from where. I would rather endure a panic on my part and wait for the right gear. And when I ordered it I told him so, and I also told em right up front I wanted to do business with a mom and pop operation, rather than any bigger corporation. Just seems more American of me. I also told him I really appreciated his smart as$ attitude and wit, and would endure said same just to become a customer.

I have no regrets, and should I ever get enough miles on this ledge or heaven forbid wear it out in any way, would't even consider sourcing a majorly(is that a word?) important piece of gear from anywhere else. Especially since the man will not let a detail like substandard material even out the door, even if the customer gets majorly pissed, internet threats and all. Just makes me all warm and fuzzy that I can contribute, even just a little, to the deparvity and delinquency of someone who's interests and antics will be laughed about and talked about for much longer than my time on the surface of a planet.

Even if BD or MET gave me a ledge, shipping free, and introduced themselves over a catered dinner, I could not or would not have the same warm and fuzzy, well, you know. Do you think that the others would indeed personally bend over backwards to make all of the above happen, for each and every piece. I don't. Real gear, by a real climber, and craftsman, not just whoever can stich stuff up. Again my $0.02.


PS, the last time I slept in the ledge I weighed in at a dainty 269 or so, and left the middle down to make it a super single. No need for a spreader bar or any assistance to have a comfy winter night or two out.
goatboy smellz

लघिमा, co
Aug 11, 2009 - 06:07pm PT
The only thing I bought directly from Russ was a chalk bag and I was having trouble accessing my Paypal account. Russ sends it out without me having paid for it and I get it two days later and then finally get the money to him the next day. How many businesses do you know that provide that level of service.

Iíve bought and sold FISH ledges and bags on the camp 4 board and have always sold them for more than I paid, quality stuff, I doubt you can do that with BD or Metolius ledges.

Plus he lets me get away with a lot of bullchit on his site without banning meÖtop shelf that guy.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Aug 11, 2009 - 09:35pm PT

I dunno. I guess mine is OK. 391 nights on El Cap in it. Counting other stuff, well over 400 nights.



A friends backyard with the neighbors wifi
Aug 11, 2009 - 09:54pm PT

Jim Herson has done 50 ascents, 45 of which were the Salathe?!

Pete is this for real?
David Wilson

Aug 11, 2009 - 11:31pm PT
we used a new black diamond double on el cap recently and, while adequate, this ledge was very heavy and the lower "spreader bar" seemed a post facto solution to some perceived problem. it popped out of place and generally was poorly engineered. i'm looking at a fish for my next ledge ( when i'm 75 or so )

Trad climber
Sh#t Hole, Brooklyn, NY
Aug 12, 2009 - 12:59am PT
I own a Fish single and recommend it. The Fish ledge has a lot going for it: it's a simple design, functional, bomber, comfy, and in the twisted portaledge marketplace, itís a relative bargain.
YMMV, but Iím a procrastinator and oftentimes I order gear I need for a trip just a few days before I leave home to miss my flight. Iíve have a couple critical orders from Fish shipped to the Valley in this manner (c/o general delivery) and arrive within the time window that I was expecting. Russ makes quality stuff and his delivery system definitely works, even for a guy like me who runs it out with his ordering dates.


Trad climber
A place w/o Avitars apparently
Aug 12, 2009 - 08:48am PT

I thought you were notoriously slow? And proud of it. How do you hold 2 speed records?

'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Aug 12, 2009 - 09:21am PT
Hell if I know!

However, be not dismayed. Hans created my own page for my [url="http://www.speedclimb.com/yosemite/notnecsry.htm"]non-speed ascents.[/url]

Trad climber
A place w/o Avitars apparently
Aug 12, 2009 - 10:42am PT

Trad climber
Aug 13, 2009 - 01:01pm PT
In the link Pete posted, Hans talks about Pete's solo ascent of Native Son and how he took a shower on it. My only questions was it golden? HAHAHAHA
Captain...or Skully

Social climber
Aug 13, 2009 - 01:03pm PT
Actually, it's on the Youtube.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Aug 13, 2009 - 01:19pm PT
Here is my portaledge info from this thread http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=877792

I really miss the old A5 ledges. They were light and simple to set up.

The current offerings of the Black Diamond Cliff Cabana
and Metolius Bomb Shelter Portaledge are both great ledges but they are HEAVY. I also find them much harder to set up than the old A5 and I had a friend have to delay his El Cap ascent by a few months when he tweaked his shoulder trying to get the spreader bar on (I wont name which brand it was, both spreader bars are equally cantankerous in my experience). Those gripes aside, once these ledges are set up, they are deluxe. Very comfy, very bomber.

What I am excited about are the new rainflys which are bomber. You can read a review of the BD one here i have not used the Metolius but i hear it is great too.

If you are not in a rush, consider a Fish portaledge. They are made to order and wait times can be 1-2+ months, but these ledges have many happy users and are MUCH lighter than the BD or Metolius ledges. They are also hundreds of dollars less. I have never used one so I can't give a review.

I have only used single portaledges on maybe 3 of 100 big wall ascents and always wished i had a double. The reasons: it much easier to set up a bivy with just one double portaledge and there there used to be a giant overall weight savings to bringing one double ledge instead of two single ledges. However, that was when the widely available double ledges were only slightly heavier than the single ledges. Today, double ledges are so heavy, its not that much extra weight to bring two lighter weight single ledges. Its a personal call. I still prefer just one double ledge because overall you will save weight and it makes the bivy set up much easier. But soloists and people that really want their own personal space, may prefer a single ledge.

Mountain climber
Aug 13, 2009 - 02:53pm PT
I have a Fish and love it. I finally needed to replace the bed and got his white mesh fabric. This stuff is great on a hot day.

Fish ledges use cro-moly steel tubes which do not dent as easy as aluminum. If you flag your ledge when you haul, you really want a ledge that uses steel.

One other tip if you do make the right choice and get a Fish ledge: pack them up and unpack them like he shows in his demo: http://fishproducts.com/movies/ledge_takedown2.mov

Hobart, Australia
Aug 13, 2009 - 07:00pm PT
I kind of like the old A5 ledges too... They were pretty cool.

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