Metolius keeps it simple with this affordable rope bag. We managed to get a 70m rope, harness, shoes, quickdraws, and a chalk bag inside, but it was tight.
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. The Dirt Bag II packs much more efficiently than most "backpack" style models and is simple to load with any rope. Its main shortcoming in packability is that it doesn't have any compression straps to reduce any unused space in the bag.
The Dirt Bag II 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 that stay 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.
For road-side approaches, the Dirt Bag II works as a minimalist crag pack, but after a few minutes of walking, it becomes uncomfortable.
The new Dirt Bag II 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 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.
Our testers found the attached tarp inside the Dirt Bag II to be sufficient to keep the rope out of the dirt.
Ease of Use
The Dirt Bag 2 pretty much has no "extra" features but is very simple to use. It sports no pockets or gear loops, but it does have a few nice, very functional features like a zippered opening to make packing the rope easier, a top grab loop and a padded shoulder strap.
The Dirt Bag II has two internal tie-in loops (one red, one black) to help with rope management.
The Dirt Bag II is one of the most affordable rope bags in our review. With a large tarp, simple design, and compact profile, the Dirt Bag II is our OutdoorGearLab Best Buy Award Winner. Despite its low cost, it delivers decent performance in a streamlined package. There are better options available if you have a large budget, but for those seeking a basic rope bag that keeps your rope off the ground, the aptly named Dirt Bag II gets the job done.
The Metolius 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.