The Metolius Speedster is a durable rope bag with some nice features. 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 works 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 handles long approaches much more comfortably than sling-style bags but isn't as comfortable on long approaches as some other bags with compression straps or back padding. It still serves well as a rope bag with a large rope-catching tarp and burly bag fabric. Sport climbers who bring minimal gear and items on crag days will benefit most from this pack.
Metolius Speedster Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Works as a cragging pack, padded shoulder straps are suprisingly comfortable, big tarp, nice zippered pocket
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Speedster has no compression straps and is designed to be carried on its own as a backpack. While it has a relatively large main pack, it often doesn't pack quite as nicely as other rope bags in our review that did have compression straps. The Speedster is big enough to fit a rope, harness, some draws, shoes, and a chalk bag, plus a few extras. It doesn't have much in the way of support and feels floppy if you're trying to load the pack while it is on the ground.
Despite its zipper to expand the pack opening, our testers still felt it performed below average regarding ease of packing a rope. It is not as easy to pack as some of the newer bags with zippered or roll-top closures and can only be loaded from its top opening, which only has a pull cord closure. This makes it a bit less comfortable when it isn't fully loaded. The Speedster was far from terrible or difficult to load, it just wasn't as easy as models with wider openings.
The Speedster has two backpack straps, making it far more comfortable to carry than packs that only have a single sling-style strap. It performed above average in our carrying comfort testing but is not the best option for long approaches because it lacks a padded back panel and its straps aren't very breathable or plushly padded. We like the Speedster for short to medium-length approaches but it isn't our top choice for approaches where the number of miles you hike outnumber the number of pitches that you'll be climbing.
The Speedster has a very large 52" x 58" tarp that is much larger 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 main pack is made from thick nylon and feels much more durable than some of the lighter-weight bags that we tested. This extra durability ensures that you'll get years of use from the Speedster.
Ease of Use
The Speedster features one zippered pocket on the front that is large enough for easily-lost items like a wallet, cell phone, keys or tape but not much else. The drawstring closure is simple and durable, which is convenient for getting in and out of the pack. Tester Ian Nicholson used the Speedster as his only cragging and travel pack while on a climbing and traveling trip to Southern Spain. 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. Unfortunately, the tarp is fixed, meaning that you have to drag the pack around too if you're moving your rope between climbs while cragging.
The Speedster is marginally more on the expensive side of rope bags we tested, but it's still far from being one of the most expensive models. While it is more expensive than many rope bags, if you look at it as if you're getting a light cragging pack and a rope bag, then it's a decent deal. It is worth considering that there are more modern-feeling models that come at a comparable cost and have much more to offer in the way of features.
The Speedster is a good option for those who seek a simple and durable bag with backpack straps. Its design feels a bit dated when compared to some newer models but it gets the job done and is reasonably priced.
— Ian Nicholson and Steven Tata