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Metolius Dirt Bag II Review

The Dirt Bag II is our Best Buy winner because it's incredibly functional and the cheapest model we reviewed.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $30 List | $29.95 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Inexpensive, easy to pack inside anotherpack, durable, single shoulder strap is surprisingly comfortable
Cons:  Not as easy to pack the rope into
Manufacturer:   Metolius
By Ian Nicholson and Steven Tata  ⋅  Sep 30, 2019
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OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 9
  • Packability - 30% 4
  • Carrying Comfort - 25% 3
  • Rope Protection - 25% 8
  • Ease of Use - 20% 5

Our Verdict

The Metolius 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 from previous iterations. 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.

New Colors

Though no longer available in the blue we tested, you can pick up this Best Buy winner in green! All features and specs remain the same.

November 2018


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award    
Price $29.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$55 List$52.95 at Backcountry
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$35.21 at Backcountry
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$29.96 at Amazon
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Pros Inexpensive, easy to pack inside anotherpack, durable, single shoulder strap is surprisingly comfortableLarge removable tarp, comfortable backpack straps, useful compression strapsLarge carrying capacity, comfortable backpack straps, padded back panelWorks as a cragging pack, padded shoulder straps are suprisingly comfortable, big tarp, nice zippered pocketEasy to roll up rope, big tarp, compressible
Cons Not as easy to pack the rope intoThin fabric, not as durable as other modelsAwkward to pack with too little or too much gear, lacks adjustabilityPackabilityNo smaller pockets, not as nice to carry for long distances
Bottom Line The Dirt Bag II is our Best Buy winner because it's incredibly functional and the cheapest model we reviewed.A top-notch model that is comfortable to carry and easy to pack.A spacious and comfortable backpack-style model.The Speedster is a great single day cragging pack for fast and light days where you don't need a ton of extra equipment or layers.An upgraded version of the original Ropemaster, that we found to be much more useable than the older version.
Rating Categories Metolius Dirt Bag II DMM Classic Mammut Crag Metolius Speedster Metolius Ropemaster HC
Packability (30%)
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Specs Metolius Dirt Bag II DMM Classic Mammut Crag Metolius Speedster Metolius...
Bag Design Burrito Burrito Burrito Funnel Burrito
Tarp size (inches) 52" x 58" 43" x 51" 60" x 48" 52" x 58" 52" x 58"
Pockets 0 1 1 1 0
# of shoulder straps 1 2 2 2 1
Compression Straps No Yes No No Yes
Metal or plastic buckles Plastic Plastic Plastic None Metal

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


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.
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.

Packability


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.

Rolling up a 70m rope in the Dirt Bag II's tarp.
Stuffing the rolled tarp into the bag's only cavity.

Carrying Comfort


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.
For road-side approaches, the Dirt Bag II works as a minimalist crag pack, but after a few minutes of walking, it becomes uncomfortable.

Rope Protection


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.
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 has two internal tie-in loops (one red, one black) to help with rope management.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.


Ian Nicholson and Steven Tata