Hands-on Gear Review

Compare rope bag ratings side-by-side >

Metolius Vortex Review

Editors' Choice Award

Rope Bags

  • Currently 5.0/5
Overall avg rating 5.0 of 5 based on 1 review. Most recent review: November 29, 2014
Street Price:   $50 | Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Rope packs quickly and easily, Compressible, Can fit a lot of things, comfortable shoulder strap
Cons:  Rope doesn't always pay out as nicely as traditional models
Best Uses:  Sport Climbing, Cragging
User Rating:       (0.0 of 5) based on 0 reviews
Manufacturer:   Metolius
Review by: Ian Nicholson ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ November 29, 2014  
The Vortex is slick and easy-to-use rope bag from Metolius with a unique and convenient rope loading feature. Unlike traditional burrito style tarp-folds-and-rolls into-bag design, the Vortex is really more of a giant rope funnel. Simply lift up on all four corners of it's massive tarp and watch the rope fall into its bag. Its truly so easy that after our side-by-side testing its the rope bag we most commonly grabbed while heading out to the crag and winner of our OutdoorGearLab Editors Choice Award.

Compare top rated competitors side-by-side >

  • Photos
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Click to enlarge
Our Editors' Choice Award Winner the Metolius Vortex.
Credit: Ian Nicholson
Performance Comparison
Why it's Cool
The Metolius Vortex is unique compared with most other rope bags available. Unlike most other bags that use a "burrito" style design where the tarp folds, and rolls into an open ended bag, the Vortex actually uses more of a "funnel" type system where the tarp lays flat with a hole in the center that leads down inside a bag. To pack the rope, simply grab all four corners of the tarp, lift and watch the rope funnel into the bag. We thought that this was the easiest and quickest bag to pack the tarp up into. the Petzl Bolsa $40 is the only other "funnel-style" rope bag in our review and was near as easy to pack.
Click to enlarge
This series of photos shows the unique packing style of the Metolius Vortex. Simply lay the tarp out, flake the rope onto the tarp, lift the four corners, shake the rope fall into the bag, pack the tarp inside, walk to the next climb.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Only downside
The only downside of the Vortex and its a small one; is after you have shaken the rope into the bag and cruised over to another route, occasionally the rope doesn't pay out out quite as nicely with traditional designs. This wasn't a big problem and we felt it was worth it most of the time because of how much easier and quicker to put away. The Petzl Bolsa shares this same problem but is even harder and tangles a little more frequently on the way back out.
Click to enlarge
Instead of unrolling the tarp before your next climb like with traditional rope bags, when using the Metolius Vortex we either just dumped the bag out onto the tarp, or let the rope just pay out of the main bag like a rope tarp.
Credit: Ian Nicholson
Keeping your rope out of the Dirt
The Vortex features the most tarp acreage of any bag we tested, its 57" x 57" (144 cm x 144 cm) also felt much bigger than tarps that where only supposed to be 2 inches dimensionally smaller because unlike a classic burrtio design where the tarp gets slightly bunched and folded at one end the Vortex laid flatter thus maximizing the tarps surface area. The Vortex captured post climb rope pulls with easy and was luxurious to flake ropes onto.
Click to enlarge
Showing the biggest tarp in-review at 57" x 57" on the Metolius Vortex.
Credit: Ian Nicholson
Ease of packing the rope
This is where the Vortex really excels, as we stated earlier it is mega fast and easy to pack, simply lift all four corners, give it a quick shack and the rope falls into the bag. The Petzl Bolsa uses a very similar funnel style design, but takes a little more shaking to get the rope into the bag. The Vortex uses a nice roomy bag and we could pack a 70m rope, 14 quick draws, shoes and a chalk bag inside it with no problem.

Ease of packing the bag
The Vortex uses two mental buckles that cinches down the bag nicely. This helps the Vortex pack into a a large bag for longer approaches nicely. We thought it's less stiff and more supple fabric packed better than our other OutdoorGearLab Top pick the Petzl Kab which was burlier but stiffer.
Click to enlarge
The sweet shorty handles on the Metolius Vortex. These small handles were super convenient for short route-to-route style moves.
Credit: Ian Nicholson
Ease of Transport
The Vortex features a surprisingly comfortable padded shoulder strap that we found comfortable for most approaches up to around 20-30 minutes with a 70m rope (10 pounds). Beyond most of our testers agreed it was nicer to carrying inside another pack. For shorter, more route-to-route style moves we really liked the two shorty grab loops that were extremely convenient and made quick moves a breeze.

Extra features and useability
The Vortex features a single external pocket with a Velcro closure. It isn't big enough for an average sized guide book, but is big enough for keys, wallet, tape, smart phone etc. We wouldn't mind if Metolius made this it a zippered closure, but the pocket is likely plenty secure and our testers had no problems with loosing items.

Metolius Vortex Versus Petzl Bolsa
The Petzl Bolsa and the Metolius Vortex are our two favorite rope bags on the market today and are most likely the two climbers will be considering if choosing a rope bag with a funnel style design. Both are great but each bag excels at slightly different things. The Bolsa is $10 cheaper and is much better if you want to occasionally, or exclusively use your rope bag as a cargging pack or day pack. The Vortex packs the rope away marginally easier and tends to pay the rope back slightly better. The Vortex was also slightly easier to pack into another larger cragging pack for longer approaches. Both of their tarps lay the most flat and in real world tests feel like the roomiest tarps we tested.

The Vortex costs $50 which along with our OutdoorGearLab's Top Pick: the Petzl Kab are the most expensive rope bags in our review. One thing when considering rope bags, while these are the most expensive they are only $5-$10 more than nearly all of the rope bags we tested. Not a big price difference considering your likely going to use this rope-bag for the next two decades.

The Bottom Line
The Vortex is a cool and fairly unique design that is ultra-quick and easy to use. We gave it our OutdoorGearLab Editor's Choice Awards for a few reasons. The first its because its the quickest and easiest rope back to pack up, and while occasionally the Vortex may not pay the rope back out quite as nicely, it was rarely bad. We appreciated the Vortex's biggest in-review tarp design that preformed the best over-all job of catching falling ropes of any bag we tested. We also thought the Vortex had most of the features we liked the most in rope bags, like a padded shoulder strap, shorty grab loops, side pocket and compression straps. If always keeping your ropes tangle free is a big concern we would lean people toward the Petzl Kab, which is by far the most tricked-out rope-bag period and features the most monstrous tarp among traditional burrito style rope bags. If you like the Vortex's funnel design but either don't want to spend $50 on a rope bag, or wish the Vortex had shoulder straps so you could wear it like a cragging pack then check out the $40 Petzl Bolsa.

Ian Nicholson

Compare this product side-by-side to top competitors >

Where to Buy?

Seller Price  Shipping Cost Visit
Backcountry $49.95
Amazon $49.95 Check Site

Thinking about buying some gear we've reviewed? Help OutdoorGearLab out if you do. Just click on any of the above seller links and if you make any purchase, the seller will contribute a portion of the sale to help support this site. It won't cost you anything extra, and it's a simple way to help us fund our gear reviews. Thanks!

*Most retailers free shipping offers apply only to lower 48 US states using ground/economy shipping. See retailer's website for details.

OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews

Most recent review: November 29, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)

Have you used the Metolius Vortex?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...

Write a Review on this Gear
Metolius Vortex
Where's the Best Price?
Seller Price
Backcountry $49.95
Amazon $49.95
Compare prices at 2 sellers >

*Help support OutdoorGearLab. If you click on one of the seller links and make a purchase, a portion of the sale helps support this site
Related Best-in-Class Review
The Best Rope Bags for Climbing

The Best Rope Bags for Climbing

Our review of the best climbing rope bags available.
Helpful Buying Tips
Get More OutdoorGearLab
Follow us on Twitter, be a fan on Facebook!
Subscribe to our Newsletter
Related Gear Reviews