Metolius Crag Station Crag Pack
- 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.