The Metolius Ropemaster HC is a heavy-duty model with a large tarp and impressively spacious pack. The high volume of the HC means you can easily fit your climbing shoes, harness, chalk bag, and a few extras inside with a thick 70-meter rope. Also, as rope standards get longer and longer we think this slightly larger rope bag is a good long-term purchase. It's a relatively cheap option and works well for any type of single-pitch climbing, whether you're in a gym or at the crag. While it doesn't have a lot of extra features, it does an excellent job of keeping the rope clean and neat while being easy to pack.
Metolius Ropemaster HC Review
Cons: No smaller pockets, not as nice to carry for long distances
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Metolius Ropemaster HC
|Price||$39.95 at REI||$55 List||$65.44 at Amazon|
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|$79.95 at Backcountry|
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|$46.95 at REI|
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|Pros||Easy to roll up rope, big tarp, compressible||Large removable tarp, comfortable backpack straps, useful compression straps||Large carrying capacity, comfortable backpack straps, padded back panel||Sleek design, padded laptop sleeve, nice tarp||Works as a cragging pack, padded shoulder straps are suprisingly comfortable, big tarp, nice zippered pocket|
|Cons||No smaller pockets, not as nice to carry for long distances||Thin fabric, not as durable as other models||Awkward to pack with too little or too much gear, lacks adjustability||Expensive, not great outdoors, single carrying strap||Packability|
|Bottom Line||An upgraded version of the original Ropemaster, that we found to be much more useable than the older version.||A top-notch model that is comfortable to carry and easy to pack.||A spacious and comfortable backpack-style model.||The KAB is a specialized rope bag for gym climbing. Within its intended use, it excels.||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.|
|Rating Categories||Metolius Ropemaster HC||DMM Classic||Mammut Crag||Petzl Kab||Metolius Speedster|
|Carrying Comfort (25%)|
|Rope Protection (25%)|
|Ease Of Use (20%)|
|Specs||Metolius...||DMM Classic||Mammut Crag||Petzl Kab||Metolius Speedster|
|Tarp size (inches)||52" x 58"||43" x 51"||60" x 48"||55" x 20" (trapezoidal shape)||52" x 58"|
|# of shoulder straps||1||2||2||1||2|
|Metal or plastic buckles||Metal||Plastic||Plastic||Metal||None|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Ropemaster HC features a traditional fold-and-roll burrito-style design. Its large opening made it among the easiest of these style bags to pack. It wasn't quite as quick and easy to load as the "funnel style" bags that we tested but this is a minor disadvantage given the amount of space available in its main pack. Two compression straps help to cinch the bag closed and reduce any extra volume. We were able to fit a rope, shoes, chalk, harness, and some quickdraws inside the bag with a bit of room to spare.
The Ropemaster HC has a single padded shoulder strap that was padded enough to carry outside of a pack for 20-30 minutes comfortably. Beyond that our testers felt it was nicer to carry in a separate larger pack. It is a bit bulky and heavy to be packed inside of a larger backpack but compresses nicely for this purpose. For short hauls, the Ropemaster HC has a grab loop and is voluminous enough that you can pile a lot of stuff in for short route-to-route moves.
The Ropemaster HC features a 52" x 58" tarp that, while average among rope bags we tested, is above average when compared with most of the other rope bags on the market. The tarp doesn't taper as much as some more modern models more useable surface area. The tarp feels plenty large to comfortably flake ropes on and was big enough to catch falling cords post sending. Even an 80-meter rope will have plenty of space to be flaked out on the Ropemaster's tarp.
The Ropemaster's main pack is made from thick nylon fabric and feels as durable as any of the other models that we tested. Despite lacking the more sleek styling of newer bags, it has a classic design and will stand up to years of use, whether you use it for cragging or at the gym.
Ease of Use
The Ropemaster HC might not have a ton of extra bells and whistles, but it does offer a few nice bonus features that set it apart. It has a clear plastic window in the top so you can see which rope you left packed inside. While we thought this was a little gimmicky at first, after some use we found it to be useful and anybody with a quiver of ropes will appreciate being able to quickly identify which rope is in the bag without having to open it up. The Ropemaster HC's aluminum buckles are awesome, durable, and easy to use.
The Ropemaster HC is a solid no-frills rope bag that comes at a relatively low cost compared to other models that we tested. This low price comes with limited features and a simple burrito-style design, but it is perfectly functional and has a great tarp area to cost ratio.
This Metolius Ropemaster HC fulfills most rope-bag functions adequately. If you pack this inside your crag pack, it works well for any climbing day. If you want to carry it on its own, it's best for approaches under 30 minutes. The rope-ID feature is a nice feature for folks trying to keep track of multiple ropes. It remains a sweet rope bag that is simple to roll up and put away a rope as well as easy to shove inside a backpack. It doesn't have a lot of frills and can't be used comfortably as a cragging pack, but it remains very functional at its most important goal of keeping your rope out of the dirt.
— Ian Nicholson and Steven Tata