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Metolius Crag Station Editorial Review


Submitted by vegastradguy on 2007-05-06

Rating: 12345   Go Login to rate this article.   Votes: 3 | Comments: 10 | Views: 11385

by John Wilder


by vegastradguy

Itís common knowledge among climbers. If you want bomber beyond question, the first place you look is Metolius. Their stuff, across the board, is known for its burly construction, and the ability to take a real beating and come out kicking. As a climber who regularly destroys gear, I can appreciate this approach to making gear, and so when Chris at Metolius offered a Crag Station pack to review, I readily accepted, even though Iíve got way too many packs already!

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The new and improved Metolius Crag Station
Metolius
The new and improved Metolius Crag Station. Photo: Metolius.

This pack is one of Metoliusí best kept secrets. Hardly anyone knows they even make this pack, yet it continues to surprise them every year with strong sales. Iíve never even seen one, or heard of it. This year, theyíve redesigned it and made some improvements and are wanting to show it off a little.

My pack arrived in a very small box, and I was almost sad when I pulled it out. It looked so small! What am I going to do with this, I thought? Thereís no way Iím getting a rack in this thing- I had not checked the specs on the pack and was unaware of its capacity. Oh well, I thought, I guess Iíll use it for my rare sport climbing adventures and see what comes of it. The pack then was tucked away in my gear room until later in the week when I had an opportunity to go fall off of some rock.

I pulled the pack out and tossed it onto my workbench and fluffed it up a bit from its compressed state and was a bit surprised when it got to a decent looking size. I continued to be surprised when, after stuffing my camelbak, a rope, draws, harness, shoes, rope tarp, jacket, sandals, food, and a guidebook into it, there was still room left. What the heck? This was supposed to be a small pack! Yet, with 2500 cubic inches of space, this pack is actually quite the beast of burden. Now, normally, 2500 cubic inches, this would be a good sized pack, but Iím still surprised that even after making it my primary pack, I can get a double rack, harness, shoes, daypack, AND my helmet- something only one of my other packs can do (and that packs a 45L!). I attribute most of this packs ability to swallow stuff directly to its duffle style opening.

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The cavernous opening of the Crag Station. A full rack, draws, shoes, and a harness are hiding in there!
J. Wilder
The cavernous opening of the Crag Station. A full rack, draws, shoes, and a harness are hiding in there! Photo by: J Wilder.

Like most climbers, almost all of my packs are top loaders. Top loaders are the most common pack out there, and as a result, everyone has at least one. Iíve had one other front loader and really liked it, but it was a tad small at only 2000 cubic inches. The Crag Station, though, beats out even that one with its opening. Unlike other front loaders, the full-length zip on the crag station allows you to open the pack up and fill every inch of available space with stuff.

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The waterproof zips on the side and the comfy handles on top are nice features
J. Wilder
The waterproof zips on the side and the comfy handles on top are nice features. Photo by: J Wilder.

So, once I discovered now much stuff it held, I also started looking closer at the pack and was surprised at some of the really nice features it had. I had sort of assumed this pack was like Metoliusí other packs- aka Haul Bags- simple, burly, but virtually no features. The Crag Station is by no means feature rich, but the features that it does have are really nice and by keeping the features to simple and sensible, the pack keeps its Metolius look.

New for this year are the waterproof zips on both exterior pockets- one large pocket that runs the side of one of the panels- perfect for your guidebook and snacks, and a second, smaller pocket on the other side that is great for your keys and wallet. The boys at Metolius also changed the interior panel of the pack to a light grey, making it easier to find your stuff. They also made the shoulder straps and waist belt so that they can tuck away into the pack.

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Huge zipper tabs and a massive zipper give you confidence in the main zipper
J. Wilder
Huge zipper tabs and a massive zipper give you confidence in the main zipper. Photo by: J Wilder.

My favorite features, though, are the classic ones. The super bomber and comfy duffel handles make moving your pack around the crag easy- no more shutting the lid and then lifting the pack up to move it- just grab the handles and throw it wherever. The fat zipper and huge tabs on the main zip are awesome. Also cool are the Metolius CNC buckles on the compression straps (Iím always afraid that one day Iím going to break those plastic ones off of my other packs)- need to strap something outside the pack- not a problem. Thereís even a pair of built in daises at the top of the pack to clip random things to, along with a beefy loop to haul off of. The only big thing the pack doesnít have is a hydration pouch/port, but with the double zipper, you can easily get a good port, and the pouch is no big deal.

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The pack from the side. A fairly plush harness for Metolius, but still compact enough to be packable
J. Wilder
The pack from the side. A fairly plush harness for Metolius, but still compact enough to be packable. Photo by: J Wilder.

Like all other Metolius packs, the Crag Station has a rather spare harness system. It has the same shoulder straps as their bigger haulbags, which are positively plush when installed on this little pack- included is a chest strap (not found on their haul pack line). It does not, though, have a padded waist belt, and this is probably the packs only liability. Itís a strap of 2Ē flat webbing with a beefy buckle, which makes it packable, but compromises on the cushion. That said, even when fully loaded, the pack rides quite well for not having any cushion in the waist, and certainly less cushion in the shoulders than most comparable packs. Iíve done several hour to ninety minute desert approaches in it with a full double rack and I have yet to have any discomfort at all. I would guess, though, that a several hour approach may cause some discomfort unless you are going very light and fast.

At the end of the day, though, this pack has now become my standard pack- while Metolius bills it as the ultimate sport climbing pack (which I wouldnít argue- you can even belay out of the thing with such a huge opening!), this pack is certainly burly enough and big enough to make any trad climber happy on his days out. Iím super happy with the pack and look forward to many years of faithful service out of it!

Specs: 2500 cu in (41L), 2lbs 10oz, retails for $130.

Click here to go to this item in the gear database.

Full Disclosure: The manufacturer of this product provided it free of charge to rockclimbing.com for review. Rockclimbing.com then provided this product as compensation to the reviewer. This company does not currently advertise on Rockclimbing.com. May 6th , 2007

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10 Comments CommentAdd a Comment

 brushman
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 2007-05-08
I have the version prior to this...basically the same pack except smaller side pockets. As mentioned above, the pack is plenty roomy for the average day at the crag, and has several nice features. However, one SIGNIFICANT design improvement should be made....the shoulder straps and waist belt should be repositioned to the opposite side of the pack! As the pack is naturally set on the ground, opened, and used as designed, their current location (on the floor/bottom of the pack) results in dirt, mud, and debris getting on them and back panel, (and subsequently your back/clothing)!! The carrying system and design of the North Face Camp Duffles are more appropriate, with straps, etc. remaining on top when sitting on the ground. Plus, when removing the Metolius pack off your back (held by the shoulder straps), it naturally wants to lay upside-down on the zippered opening of the main compartment. This, then, requires it to be turned over to gain access!....which of course, results in the said dirt accumulating on the straps, waist belt, back panel, clothing, etc. Totally a$$-backwards design! Try one, and you'll quickly see for yourself!
 vegastradguy
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 2007-05-08
I did notice that my straps and back area got nicely dusty and dirty when at the crag, but then, all of my other packs have this problem too, since i tend to lay them down the same way, but this pack at least gives me access while its getting dirty!
 vegastradguy
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 2007-05-09
Ah, i forgot to say that the reason the harness system is so spare is due to the ability to pack it away when not in use. I thought I had put that in there, but alas, no such luck. Check out http://www.metoliusclimbing.com for pictures.
 lostcauseclimber
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 2007-05-22
5 out of 5 stars just got one this year, best gear bag i have ever had, hands down. who cares if you get dirty? you're going climbing.
 crackrn
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 2007-05-22
Question, do most of you carry your rope in it's rope bag, separately? If not, is there room in this pack for the basics, plus a rope?
 vegastradguy
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 2007-05-22
this pack will haul a rope in a bag or on its own plus all the basics- harness, helmet, personal gear, shoes, water, food, and easily fit all your draws or some draws and a light rack.
 orer
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 2007-07-21
5 out of 5 stars excellent for 1 day multi pitch. we took extra rope in the bag, + water+ camera+ coffee+ food+ and the hauling in 2 chimneys was very easy.
i used before a hollow point of BD and this one got more space and more slim fitting
 xclimber
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 2011-10-23
Is the pack profile narrow enough to avoid hitting with your "arm-swing" while doing the approach, etc...?
 Capetiger
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 2012-11-15
Does Metolius Crag Station have back support / structure? When I was going to buy it and noticed that it don't have back support. It'll be uncomfortable to carry while the stuff are inside in uneven surface.
 jambalaya
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 2014-02-08
good luck getting a rope into the pack. you need to strap it to the outside. why do climbing pack manufacturers make such small packs? if this thing was a 50L, it would be the best out there

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