Metolius Crag Station Climbing Pack

Dave Alie reviews the Metolius Crag Station, Blster Gear Review

Metolius Crag Station

Metolius Crag Station Crag Pack

MSRP: $120

Features

  • Tuck-away shoulder straps and waist belt
  • Aluminum buckles
  • Dual external side-pockets
  • Dual carry handles
  • Dual compression / lash straps

Stated Capacity: 2500 cu. in. (41 L)

Stated Weight: 2 lb. 10 oz. (1.2 kg)

Stated Dimensions 28″x 13″x 10″

Days Tested: 20

Locations Tested: Eldorado Canyon, South Platte, CO; Smith Rock, OR; Red Rock, NV; Zion National Park, Indian Creek, UT.

The Metolius Crag Station sits somewhere between a duffel and a crag pack. At first, I wasn’t sure how practical and functional its hybrid design would be, but after using it for most of the past season, locally and at a handful of destinations on a recent road trip, I’m well past that initial skepticism.

Design & Functionality

The Crag Station features one main compartment that opens lengthwise, flanked by two zippered side pockets (one large and one small), and duffel-style carry handles. A minimalist set of shoulder straps and waist belt allow the the Crag Station to be used as a backpack.

Admittedly, I initially thought the Crag Station was built too much like duffel, and that it wouldn’t be comfortable to use as a backpack when dragging gear up to and down from a crag. This concern proved largely unwarranted, however.

With a 41L capacity, you can pack quite a lot of gear into the Crag Station, and even with minimally padded shoulder straps and waist belt, it carries comfortably.

Having said that, this is by no means a backpacking pack. The longest I carried the bag was on an hour-and-a-half approach in Red Rocks. While the Crag Station is perfectly comfortable on approaches of that scale, I would not want to be hauling it for an entire day, much less on a multi-day trip.

Dave Alie reviews the Metolius Crag Station, Blster Gear Review

Dave Alie with the Metolius Crag Station, Eldorado Canyon, CO.

While the Crag Station performs very competently on short to medium-length approaches, it also works nicely as a crag bag.

The Crag Station has plenty of room for all of your gear, and even an extra layer or two. I can fit my shoes, harness, a double rack, and a rope into the bag at once. It’s very nice to be able to fit both a rack and a rope into the Crag Station (this was especially handy for organizational reasons during a multi-week road trip).

Features

The Crag Station’s side pockets have waterproof zippers that share a mesh wall with its interior cavity, while two compression straps run laterally across the pack. That’s all there is to say about the bag’s “features”. It’s made for getting a day’s worth of climbing gear up to a crag, and it does that well.

For many, I think there’s something attractive about the Crag Station’s more focused design. It’s big enough to carry almost everything you might do in a one day push, it carries well, and should stand up to years of serious use.

Construction & Durability

In terms of its construction, the Crag Station is a step below a full-blown haul bag, but so far it has been nothing short of durable. I’ll be sure to update this review if I have any durability issues with the Crag Station, but I don’t expect to any time soon. The bag’s top and bottom panels are made of burly, high-denier nylon fabric, while the side panels are made of a material similar to the vinyl-laminated fabrics found on many mainstream haul bags.

Dave Alie reviews the Metolius Crag Station, Blster Gear Review

Dave Alie with the Metolius Crag Station, Eldorado Canyon, CO.

Potential Improvements

Being able to transport all your gear in the pack is great, and I definitely don’t want to carry a rope bag separately. But for getting gear to and from the crag, the only improvement I could envision for the Crag Station would be the addition of a thin tarp for a rope.  I typically found myself bringing my own tarps (often the footprint of some old, unwanted tent), or else foregoing the use of a tarp entirely. A more elegant solution, in my opinion, would be a thin tarp incorporated into the pack itself.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a pack to carry all your climbing gear on backpacking and overnight alpine trips, a more traditional, ~45L top-loading backpack (like the Cold Cold Chernobyl) would be preferable over the Crag Station.

However, for day trips to a crag, the Crag Station’s minimal, hybrid duffel/backpack design and durable construction make it an attractive, efficient option.

 

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