The Metolius Freerider pack combines the positive attributes of their popular haul bag, with the comfort and usability of a backpack. Sometimes, attempts to combine two great products into one hybrid, do-everything super-version fail as miserably as Chevrolet’s El Camino. Half car and half truck, it ended up being the worst of both worlds with only two seats and the inability to go off road. Thankfully, production of the El Camino ceased in 1987 and now if you see one, it’ll most likely be used for a landing pad at a monster truck rally. But unlike Chevy, Metolius pulled it off with one super durable, easy to load and carry package.
You might already be wondering, “Why would I want a haul bag if I’m not going to be hauling it?” There are two reasons and the first is durability. The Freerider is constructed with a slightly lighter version of their Durathanea haul bag material which is absolutely bombproof and will stand up to years of abuse. Have you ever gotten a hole in your backpack from throwing it down or thrashing through the forest? Fuggedaboutit. Secondly, the Freerider makes loading a breeze. The stiff, slightly tapered, walls hold their shape so, like a haul bag, you can set it upright and just throw all your crap in the top of the wide-mouthed cylinder. No more wrestling your rope bag or trad rack into a floppy backpack; just toss it in. Once everything is in there, the top cinches closed with a draw cord and a single compression strap that can also be used to strap on an extra rope if needed. Compression straps on the side of the bag cinch tight to prevent uneven loads from shifting around inside.
Now for the backpack part, which makes up for what a haul bag lacks. The Freerider has a pocketed lid that folds over the top and cinches down with a single, unbreakable aluminum buckle. The top lid has two zippers so that it’s accessible from top or bottom, and it has plenty of room for all your small items that you don’t want getting crushed or lost like your keys, sandwich, and guidebook. Instead of an internal frame sheet, the Freerider incorporates a thick piece of closed-cell foam to add stiffness against your back while still being extremely comfortable to wear. The shoulder straps and waist belt are plush and offer all of the adjustment points of a standard pack. The Freerider truly does carry like a pack.
The 41-liter size is perfect for rope, rack and everything else you’ll need for a day of climbing and no load is too heavy for the comfortable and bomber suspension system. Best of all, the Freerider retails for just $129 and the unparalleled durability means that you could be wearing this pack for a decade or three. Overall, the Freerider is one of the most innovative products to hit shelves in 2014 and comes highly recommended.