The Dirt Bag II features a much-improved closure system as well as a much larger and therefore more useful tarp, over the original model. Not only did the Dirt Bag get better but it also dropped in price for a review low $30. While we don't think the Dirt Bag II is the best rope bag, it's a sweet, no-frills functional rope bag, that does everything a rope bag is supposed to do well, without a lot of extras and all at a killer price.
Metolius Dirt Bag II Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Inexpensive, easy to pack inside anotherpack, durable, single shoulder strap is surprisingly comfortable
Cons: Not as easy to pack the rope into
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Keeping It Clean
The new Dirt Bag 2 does a much better job at keeping the rope out of the dirt than the original. The old Dirt Bag's tarp felt tiny; just 36" x 36" and our testers would have to try hard to keep our cord off the ground while sorting ropes. Now that Metolius has gone to a 52 x 58" tarp with the Dirt Bag II, this is no longer the case, and its tarp feels big enough that users won't have to take meticulous care when flaking.
While the Dirt Bag II's tarp was average in surface area among rope bags in our review, its tarp is bigger than most compared when looking at rope bags in general and it felt big enough to catch falling ropes effectively. So while the Dirt Bag doesn't feature the biggest tarp, it is big enough.
Ease of Packing
The Dirt Bag II scored slightly below average among our testers in the ease of packing the rope category. While it wasn't hard, and the zippered opening certainly helps, it just took a little more effort to stuff and roll the tarp/rope/whatever else back into the bag. This was even more noticeable when we had a 70m fat rope over a 60m skinny cord.
The Dirt Bag was surprisingly easy to pack inside a larger cragging pack, while it didn't compress down or have any cinch straps, the fabric and construction's supple nature made the Dirt Bag easier than you'd think to shove into any pack. It was easier to pack than the stiffer Petzl Kab and about the same as the Black Diamond Super Slacker. The Dirt Bag II packed much more efficiently than either "backpack" style rope bags like the Metolius Speedster or the Petzl Bolsa.
Ease of Transportation
The Dirt Bag 2 features a single padded shoulder strap, which proved to be enough for most approaches up to around 30 minutes. For shorter moves, the Dirt Bag wasn't quite as easy as some other models like the Petzl Kab that stayed open like a bucket but it wasn't far behind.
The zippered opening of the bag did allow us to easily pile everything inside and walk a short distance while the zipper was left open. When we over-stuffed, zipped it up, and slung it over our backs, the button came undone on a few occasions and the bag slowly unzipped as it jostled with each step.
The Dirt Bag 2 pretty much has no "extra" features. It sports no pockets or gear loops, but it does have a few nice, very functional features, like the zippered opening to make packing the rope easier, a top grab loop and a padded shoulder strap.
$30 might still be above the price range of a hardened dirtbag, but its value is still great. If you view a rope bag as a necessity that doesn't need to accomplish anything beyond doing basic duty, this is the bag for you.
Value and the Bottom Line
The Dirt Bag 2 is the best-priced rope bag in our review at $30. We felt with the older Dirt Bag that the tarp was small enough that it was worth it to spend $5-10 more and get a much more useable bag with a tarp that a majority of your rope would fit on. That is no longer the case, and that's why the Dirt Bag II is our new OutdoorGearLab Best Buy Award Winner. Not only is it $5 less than it used to be, but also because the Dirt Bag is now more functional.
The Dirt Bag II is a no bells and whistles rope bag that will do a great job of adding longevity to your rope and could last for a couple of decades of abuse. We also really like its single shoulder strap for medium distance approaches. If your rope bag purchase decision is primarily price-driven, get this model.
— Ian Nicholson