Hands-on Gear Review

Metolius Mega 50 pack Review

By: Kenny Barker ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 7, 2015
Price:  $200 List  |  $199.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Jib footholds.
Cons:  Outdated shapes, material and colors, spinning holds, no set screw holes, too much hardware to keep track of.
Manufacturer:   Metolius

Our Verdict

The Metolius Mega 50 pack is one of the most common and well known sets of holds for a home wall. It's been around forever, which in this case is not the best thing. These holds are made of polystyrene, which is not used by most other companies anymore and is now considered outdated by setter's standards. (Note — Metolius does have other sets made with polyurethane, but they continue to produce these Mega packs which are still quite popular.)

Setting with these holds was challenging on our 40 degree overhanging test wall. We set a good jug warm-up and two intermediate problems around V5 or V6, but the rest of the holds did not work well on such a steep angle. While setting, we also had some issues determining which holds take which bolts. This was the only set tested that used a mix of bolts, including what we call "Martini Bolts." These bolts are normally used for footholds and small, thin handholds, but it can be difficult to determine if the hold is meant to use a martini bolt or a regular one and requires some trial and error. Overall, these outdated shapes piqued our interest the least, and we had more fun trying out our Editors' Choice winner, the Atomik 60 pack, than this set.


Our Analysis and Test Results

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This package of holds comes with:
  • 10 jugs
  • 16 handholds
  • 24 footholds
  • Assorted hardware

The bolt on the left is more commonly used in today's setting.  The bolt on the right is a "Martini Bolt" which is less commonly used and a lot of hold companies have phased them out of their production.
The bolt on the left is more commonly used in today's setting. The bolt on the right is a "Martini Bolt" which is less commonly used and a lot of hold companies have phased them out of their production.

When we went to put up this set on our test wall, we realized we were eight bolts short, just like the Metolius Wood 25 pack. These may have been isolated occurrences, but it is disheartening that both packs from this company were short on bolts. Perhaps they think that you will not put all the holds on your wall at the same time. There were four different sizes of screws to use for all the screw-on holds provided, as well as a wrench with two different sizes for each of the two different bolts used.

Performance Comparison


Cam McKenzie Ring on the "warm-up" route during our mixed set. While we set a good warm-up and a couple of harder problems with these holds  many of them were not usable on this 40 degree wall  which is a common angle used in home set-ups.
Cam McKenzie Ring on the "warm-up" route during our mixed set. While we set a good warm-up and a couple of harder problems with these holds, many of them were not usable on this 40 degree wall, which is a common angle used in home set-ups.

Variety of Holds


Variety of holds within a home wall package can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what is included. In the case of the Metolius Mega 50 Pack, our testers felt this was a bad thing. There are ten different types of holds supplied in this package that used three different mechanisms of application to the wall. With all this variety, a lot of the holds were not usable on our testing angle. True, some of the holds could have been used for footholds, but we used the footholds provided for this purpose. In comparison, the So iLL Starter Kit Bolt-on 55 has less variety but really impressed our testers and won our Best Buy award.

The variety in this set is staggering  but it's almost too much. A little less variety and more usable handholds for steep angles would have been much more appreciated.
The variety in this set is staggering, but it's almost too much. A little less variety and more usable handholds for steep angles would have been much more appreciated.

Comfort / Texture


If holds are too grippy or tweaky on the tendons, then a training session doesn't last long. A lot of the holds in this set are just that, unfortunately. And the holds that were comfortable on the tendons tended to have texture that was a bit too rough. Some of the holds also seemed to have some sort of coating over the texture, which made them a bit more slippery. Slippery texture is not a good thing for skin preservation. A few of the bolt-on crimp holds were great though and reminded us of the So iLL Starter Kit crimps.

Notice all the cracked bubbles produced on this jug from the Mega pack. These cracked bubbles were abrasive and left our skin irritated.
Notice all the cracked bubbles produced on this jug from the Mega pack. These cracked bubbles were abrasive and left our skin irritated.

Angle Versatility


This set of holds seems to be put together for a multiple angled wall. There is actually one hold that is supposed to be screwed into an arete to imitate a tufa style pinch pocket. The other screw-ons provided in the package work much better on a multiple angled surface or a surface of 10 degrees or less. This package of holds did not do well on our 40 degree training wall. Both of our award winners (the Atomik 60 pack and So iLL Starter Kit) performed better on a steep wall than this set.

This hold is an example of something only the strongest climbers could even fathom grabbing on our 40 degree test wall. This pocket and a lot of other holds in this set are best used on less steep angles.  Also  the bolt placement is not centered which creates a leveraging force that loosens the bolt. This means that the hold is inevitably going to spin. Unfortunately  there is not a set screw placement somewhere on the left side of the pocket to prevent this.
This hold is an example of something only the strongest climbers could even fathom grabbing on our 40 degree test wall. This pocket and a lot of other holds in this set are best used on less steep angles. Also, the bolt placement is not centered which creates a leveraging force that loosens the bolt. This means that the hold is inevitably going to spin. Unfortunately, there is not a set screw placement somewhere on the left side of the pocket to prevent this.

Durability


This set had the lowest score for durability of all the sets that we tested. No one wants to spend a bunch of money on climbing holds only to snap them while tightening them to the wall. Due to a lot of spinning holds, we felt the need to tighten them down even more, only to have them crack and break. Another durability issue we had with this set was the edge of the holds chipping. Sure, if you treat them like fine china the holds will always look like new, but let's be realistic and understand that this is not going to happen. Tossing the holds into buckets or onto each other while stripping the wall inevitably results in some chipped holds. Sometimes this is even beneficial for some holds, as it creates little thumb catches that make it easier to pinch the holds.

This crimp broke from over-tightening. It was unfortunate we had to try and over-tighten these holds due to a lot of them spinning.
This crimp broke from over-tightening. It was unfortunate we had to try and over-tighten these holds due to a lot of them spinning.

Best Applications


This set is best used for a home wall with multiple angles. Due to the outdoor coloration of the holds, this pack is also good for a low-angled kids wall to make them feel like they are climbing real rock.

Placing one of these holds the wall using a wrench supplied in the kit. Notice the two different size wrench heads for each of the two different kinds of bolts provided.
Placing one of these holds the wall using a wrench supplied in the kit. Notice the two different size wrench heads for each of the two different kinds of bolts provided.

Value


Buying a large package of climbing holds helps save you the daunting task of searching out individual, smaller sets of holds, and it can potentially save you some money. This pack retails for around $200, which means you're paying almost $4 a hold. This figure goes up if we factor in the holds that broke on us or are unusable due to spinning. Our Best Buy award winner, the So iLL Starter Kit, retails for roughly $160 and averages $3 a hold. That set is more durable and a much better value than this one.

Conclusion


Metolius has been making holds for longer than anyone can remember and they helped pioneer the path of indoor rock climbing holds. It was a treat to climb on some of the "ancient" and now classic holds in this set. These holds helped pave the way for newer options like our Editors' Choice Winner, Atomik 60 pack.

Kenny Barker


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