The Metolius Crag Station has a simple to use design, and incredibly tough materials allow the climber to dump gear in, throw the pack down, get gear out and climb with no fuss. The haul bag type materials, large zippers and ballistic fabrics mean no worrying or being cautious with your gear, and the single main zippered duffle bag opening makes getting gear in and out at the cliff a simple and quick affair.
Comfort/Fit The Metolius Crag Station is only available in one size, fitting 6-foot users of average climbing build. The dense foam in the back panel is the only suspension component, but carrying a day’s sport climbing load of 15 draws, 60m rope, harness, shoes, chalk bag, food, and extra layers proved comfortable for approaches typical of sport climbing. Nicely padded shoulder straps with load lifters and a perfect back panel width added to the comfort. Stuffing this pack to the hilt with gear and cinching the compression straps tight could cause pressure points felt through the back, so thoughtful packing is a must when nearing maximum capacity.
Stability The Metolius Crag Station has no problem carrying sport climbing loads during approaches normally found in sport climbing areas. Hiking up steep trails up to an hour with the day’s gear, food and water induced little concern as the weight rode stable, cinched down by the two front compression straps. The width and shape proved ideal giving the pack a nice footprint while remaining comfortable and narrow enough to not impede scrambling through slots. Approach hiking with a trad rack and related gear pushes the limits of stability on this soft framed pack.
Storage The Crag Station’s 41L capacity, all-in-one large compartment, suits sport climbing well. All climbing gear, food, water and shoulder season layers fit without overstuffing. Flat, mesh lined pockets on both side panels of the pack provide storage for smaller, often used items. A pair of daisy chains on the top of the pack provide clipping points for gear. Using the pack for trad climbing is challenging; the interior will not accommodate a full length rope, trad rack and helmet simultaneously with all the other required accoutrements.
Durability Durability is the Metolius Crag Station’s strongest suit. The “Durathane” haul bag material begs to be dragged across rough granite (haul loop provided), the ballistic nylon asking the same. The YKK #10 main zipper is ready for season after season of constant use. The compression straps close with crush proof aluminum buckles that have proven indestructible on the company’s bouldering crash pads. The arrangement of these straps also remove stress from the main zipper when the pack is fully stuffed.
Extras The simple, durable design of the Metolius Crag Station eschews many extras on purpose. An often used “extra” are the grab handles at the main opening, allowing convenient transitions from route to route without closing the pack or rearranging gear. Massive webbing pulls on the main zipper are welcome for thrashed fingertips or when wearing belay gloves. A unique feature is the stow away shoulder and hip belt, for use as an airline carry-on flight bag or gym bag. One extra feature that is missed is a way to attach a coiled rope to the top of the pack although cinching a rope vertically under the compression straps is possible.
Seiji Ishii works as a trainer to professional supercross/motocross riders, adventure riding test editor at Dirt Rider Magazine and an AMGA certified rock climbing guide/instructor for White Star Mountain Guides/Austin Rock Gym. He lives in Wimberley, TX with wife Shay, 3 year old daughter Sequoia, 3 dogs and a cat. His personal time is spent rock climbing, any form of dirt biking, cycling, and training for the next mountaineering adventure.