The Metolius Speedster is a fairly unique rope bag that for certain users is the best rope bag available. While it doesn't pack a rope or pack into a larger cragging bag as easily, it does offer a few other distinct advantages. What sets the Speedster apart is how well it can be used as a stand-alone cragging pack. While it might not be a do-everything, go everywhere pack, the Speedster performs wonderfully on shorter sport climbing missions or all day cragging sessions in warmer climates where you are not going to have to bring a ton of extra clothes. It still serves well as a rope bag with a large rope-catching tarp and burly bag fabric.
Metolius Speedster Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Works as a cragging pack, padded shoulder straps are suprisingly comfortable, big tarp, nice zippered pocket
Cons: Speedster isn't as easy as other models to pack inside another pack, tarp is a little harder to pack than with other bags we tested
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Keeping Your Rope Clean
The Speedster has a very healthy 52" x 58" of tarp acreage that while average to just above average in our review, it is much bigger than the tarps of most rope bags available. The Speedster's tarp felt big enough most of the time whether stacking ropes before a climb or catching falling cords once we finished.
The Speedster's tarp didn't feel quite as big as the Petzl Bolsa which laid flatter but was noticeably better than the Black Diamond Super Slacker.
Ease of Packing the Rope
Despite its design with a zipper to widen the Speedster's entry, our testers still thought it performed a little below average regarding ease of packing a rope. The Speedster was far from terrible or difficult, it just wasn't as easy as models with larger openings like the Petzl Kab.
Compared with the similar designed Petzl Bolsa which shares the Speedster's crag-pack-ability, the Speedster was noticeably easier to unpack and more often than the Bolsa it left us with a more nicely stacked rope.
Ease of Packing the Rope Bag and Compressibility
The Speedster has no form of compression and its design priority isn't fitting into a larger cragging pack. While there is no reason you can't just apply a little extra force to fit it into most cragging bags, it often didn't pack quite as nicely as other rope bags in our review like the Black Diamond Super Chute or Metolius Ropemaster HC.
Ease of Transport
This is why the Speedster is super cool: it features two padded shoulder straps and a volume that's big enough to give the option to be used in place of a cragging pack for half day outings or in all day warm-weather sport climbing trips where you don't need a lot of extra stuff. It's big enough to fit a rope, harness, some draws, shoes, and a chalk bag, plus a few extras. Tester Ian Nicholson used the Speedster as his only cragging and travel pack while on a climbing and traveling trip to Southern Spain.
The only thing we wish Metolius would add to boost the Speedster's versatility; a waist belt. The Speedster also has a nice grab loop at the top of the bag which was even handier than we expected for short distance moves.
Extra Features and Usability
The Speedster features one zippered pocket on the front that is big enough for easily-lost items like; wallet, cell phone, keys or tape but not much else. This pocket cannot fit most normal sized guidebooks or similar sized items. We liked the basic drawstring closure at the top of the Speedster.
Sport climbers who keep gear and items to a minimum on crag days will benefit most from this pack. The Speedster handles long approaches much more comfortably than sling-style bags.
The Speedster is marginally more on the expensive side of rope bags we tested retailing at $47. But it's still less than the Petzl Kab ($50). While the Speedster is more expensive than many rope bags, if you look at it like your getting a light cragging pack AND a rope bag, then it's a sweet deal. That's why it's our OutdoorGearLab Top Pick for its ability to be used occasionally or regularly as a pack in itself and work as a pretty darn sweet rope bag. If you never plan on doing that, you might consider getting a different rope bag, like the Petzl Kab or Metolius Dirt Bag.
If you purchase the Speedster, you essentially get two bags in one. This considerably increases its versatility and value, especially for sport climbers.
— Ian Nicholson