Review by: sandstone, 2005-03-31
This rack has its benefits, but I think it also has its problems. I like the fact it can hold a hydration bladder and a little food. I added a stretchy cord to the back of it, so it can also carry a rolled-up windbreaker when needed. I like the multi-loop feature (I had added multi-loops to my old shoulder gear slings before commercial multi-loop versions were available). This rack is comfortable on the shoulders.
What I don't like about the Metolius rack is how it positions gear. Stuff on the rear loop is very hard for me to reach and get on/off the rack.
With an old syle shoulder sling rack, if you need to get something off the back of the rack you can spin the whole sling around to bring the back gear up front where you can work with it. You can't do that with the Metolius due to how it's integrated with a small pack.
Since the rear loop is so hard to reach I inevitably end up cramming too much gear on the remaining front loops, making it hard to get gear on/off the rack efficiently. I've adjusted the thing as much as possible, but it just doesn't seem to position the gear where it needs to be. I'm 6ft tall, average build, and I know how to rack gear -- so the thing should work well, but it just doesn't.
The Metolius has some nice features, and it's well made, but I think it falls somewhat short on the basic function of being a good gear rack (especially if you're carrying a lot of gear, like on long aid pitches).
I've found it to be more useful as a rack/micro-pack for multi-pitch free climbs. In that scenario I'm carrying less gear on the rack, and the micro-pack is a nice place to stash a little water and food.