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Totem Baic cam(and Fixe Alien) vs Metolius Master Cam?
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By Charles Savel
From Frederick, MD
Feb 23, 2012
All of the talk about the Aliens being reproduced through Totem and Fixe got me thinking about adding a few more cams to my rack. I'm currently a BD C4 and #1/2 C3 user. I was originally drawn to the BD C4 series for simplicity and commonality. When compared to the Metolius line, you'd need 3-4 different types of cams on your rack as opposed to BDs single C4 series. Iím not saying Metolius makes an inferior cam, it's quite the opposite. If Metolius could have made the Master Cam to cover the range of C4s, I'd be using them.

I've been looking to add more cams in the BD #1 C3 range through the #.75/1"ish" C4 Range. With smaller cracks having a tendency to be a bit finicky when compared to their larger counterparts in regards to gear placements, I've thought that maybe having a second style of cams in the smaller ranges would be a good idea. I've been looking at staying with the BD, going with the Metolius Master Cam, or either the Totem or Fixe Alien design.

I'm relatively new to the trad world (3 years) so I'm not up on the Alien and Master Cam history/time line. The Master Cam looks and seems to function very similar to the Aliens. Are there any significant advantages of one cam over the other? The Master cam has a narrower head the alien counterparts which I'd think would be a big advantage for smaller, shallower cracks (which is the application that people rave about the Alien).

With my untrained eye and lack of experience I just can't figure out what all the hype is over the new Aliens when Metolius Master Cams seem like a better and cheaper choice. Thanks for the input!

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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Feb 23, 2012
Cam angle, cam lobe material, stem flexibility, internal springs, trigger mechanism.

Aliens have a larger range per unit due to a larger cam angle, the stem is more flexible due to cable material choice, cam lobes are softer - 6061 vs 7075 - which gives a little better "bite", the trigger mechanism is very different.

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By ZANE
From Cleveland, OH
Feb 23, 2012
Near Sky Pong Below Taylor Peak
No experience wit aliens here, but I have mastercams 1-3 and I've been really happy with them. THe orange #3 mastercam seems like it's super solid whenever I place it.


That being said, I am going to be picking up a set of the totem aliens most likely, just for a different small cam as you said. I have no complaints with my c4s, and I am probably going to double up on them from .5-3 with a single 4. For the smaller cams, I think a mix is ideal, and you can't go wrong with any of those options.

As a side note, I'd like to pick up a number 1 and 2 c3 as well, just for kicks. It may be a while.

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By Pete Spri
Feb 23, 2012
Maybe it's because I use metolius, but I find the "range" issue to not be very compelling. Whichever brand you go with you have to learn what size fits what crack. Take the time to learn more than just BD sizing (ie, wild country, metolius, etc) and you will be doing yourself a big favor.

You're going to be carrying more than one set anyway, so why not have some variety?

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By ssimonson09
From Tacoma, WA
Feb 23, 2012
Roadtrip!
Spri wrote:
Maybe it's because I use metolius, but I find the "range" issue to not be very compelling. Whichever brand you go with you have to learn what size fits what crack. Take the time to learn more than just BD sizing (ie, wild country, metolius, etc) and you will be doing yourself a big favor. You're going to be carrying more than one set anyway, so why not have some variety?


THIS!

I actually don't own any C4's other than the 5 and 6, mainly due to cost. I picked up a set of Wild Country Forged Friends back when they discontinued them and everyone put them on sale. I've been using them for about 4 or 5 years now and have no issue protecting cracks just as well as someone with C4's. It's actually nice b/c while you may be able to cover a set range with fewer cams with C4's the weight difference between 1 C4 and 2 Forged Friends isn't that noticeable.

That being said, I'll fully admit when I get the scratch I'll pick up some C4's to have a nice diverse rack as the C4's complement the friends quite well.

As for small cams, I just got a set of the Totem Basic Cams in the mail today and they look like they'll complement the WB TCU's I have. Time will tell there.

Also Zane, why no 5 and 6 C4? No love for the Awfulwidth?

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By mt.wilson
From Denver
Feb 23, 2012
officer friendly
This post violated Rule #1. It has been removed by Mountain Project.

By mattm
From TX
Feb 23, 2012
Grande Grotto
Spri wrote:
Maybe it's because I use metolius, but I find the "range" issue to not be very compelling. Whichever brand you go with you have to learn what size fits what crack. Take the time to learn more than just BD sizing (ie, wild country, metolius, etc) and you will be doing yourself a big favor. You're going to be carrying more than one set anyway, so why not have some variety?


I find there are noticeable size gaps between sizes 1 and 2 (Blue Yellow) and 3 and 4 (Orange, Red) in Metolius cams. Variety in Brands and knowing their sizing helps "fill" the gaps.

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By Pete Spri
Feb 23, 2012
mattm wrote:
I find there are noticeable size gaps between sizes 1 and 2 (Blue Yellow) and 3 and 4 (Orange, Red) in Metolius cams. Variety in Brands and knowing their sizing helps "fill" the gaps.


Fascinating, I've never had a problem. Guess it's different strokes for different folks.

Of course, maybe it's just a terminology thing. Certainly with every cam, including BD, going between sizes they are either more tipped or overcammed. Perhaps that's what you are describing.

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By mattm
From TX
Feb 23, 2012
Grande Grotto
Spri wrote:
Fascinating, I've never had a problem. Guess it's different strokes for different folks. Of course, maybe it's just a terminology thing. Certainly with every cam, including BD, going between sizes they are either more tipped or overcammed. Perhaps that's what you are describing.


Pretty much but something about those two gaps is "more extreme" than other sizing gaps in other ranges. I've run into "Gaps" in other brands at IC where things are laser cut (Places where a #2 WC is ideal etc) but found the Metolius gaps appeared more often in other areas. Of course I had a second brand that filled them no-problem but if I was exclusively on Metolius the story would have been different. Variety is the spice of life in the small cam department.

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By Jared Hostetter
Feb 23, 2012
Shralpine wrote:
This has been discussed ad nausium, try the SEARCH FUNCTION. Gaper


If only you could tell what the thread was about before opening it in order to avoid things you feel are not worth rehashing. That would be so sweet.

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By Charles Savel
From Frederick, MD
Feb 23, 2012
mattm wrote:
Variety is the spice of life in the small cam department.

I think that this sums up most of the opinions on small cams. Thanks for all the input. I think that I may go with Master Cams as it will bring variety to my BD cams and offer some consistency if I chose later to supplement with some larger Master Cams also.

Shralpine wrote:
This has been discussed ad nausium, try the SEARCH FUNCTION. Gaper

sorry, the last time this was discussed was in 2009 and I though that since the alien has been revived by two different company's it warranted another thread.

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By Josh Olson
From madison, wisconsin
Feb 23, 2012
Looking at a 5.7 crack with Nick
Charles Savel wrote:
I think that this sums up most of the opinions on small cams. Thanks for all the input. I think that I may go with Master Cams as it will bring variety to my BD cams and offer some consistency if I chose later to supplement with some larger Master Cams also.


Larger master cams (#5 or black and up) are very floppy. Go play with one in a shop, pull the trigger bar and you'll know what I'm talking about.

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By climbskihike
From Bay Area, CA
Feb 24, 2012
Charles, Mastercams will work fine in the smaller sizes and may be more durable than aliens. I'd avoid both mastercams and aliens in anything larger than a .5 (purple) camalot size though as they will be floppy and the .5 camalot will work just fine 99% of the time. A few years back I got a deal on a full set of aliens up to hand size. I ended up selling the larger ones because they were too floppy and the narrow head width made them somewhat unstable, plus the greater range of camalots is an advantage in the larger sizes. I now have 2 sets of aliens up to the red one, which is the largest one that I like. If I were going to buy new cams right now I'd go with either mastercams or aliens (or a set of each) in small sizes, and C4's in larger sizes (.5-6).

Unless you do a lot of hard aid, Mastercams are probably a better value than aliens, but either one will be a good supplement to your C4's and C3's in the smaller sizes.

You could always get a set of mastercams and a set of aliens if you wanted to double up. Whether you need doubles obviously depends on how much gear your partners have and what kind of climbing you do.

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By Peter Franzen
Administrator
From Phoenix, AZ
Feb 24, 2012
Belay
I generally agree with what people are advising here. C4s from the #0.3 on up (plus a large Metolius SuperCam-- those things rock!), MasterCams and a few small Aliens in the smaller sizes, and a handful of TCUs to round things out.

That's pretty much the ideal rack in my opinion.

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By RyanO
From sunshine
Feb 24, 2012
Just want to throw in a plug for the Totems. I think they are awesome. My black canyon rack: 8 slings, 5 draws, 4 lockers, RPs, offsets, Totems, C3's (00-2), C4's(.4-4), Friends (2,2.5,3). Maybe it's because they're newer and shinier, but I usually end up placing the Totems first ;)

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By ben jammin
From Moab, UT
Feb 24, 2012
Aesthetics
In my desert experience these sizes have proved to be critical in supplementing my BD rack.

Blue and Black Alien or equivalent mastercam (we don't do any of that 3 lobe business down here)

#1 friend.. Nicely fits when my purple C4 is overcammed
#2 friend.. most critical, right in between green and red c4

That being said, when they fit, I feel like I could drop a semi on a Metolius, as opposed to a fiesta on BD's. They just look more bomber... I'm interested in getting both the Fixe and Totem 'aliens' to see how they compare.

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By Brian Scoggins
From Eugene, OR
Feb 24, 2012
Spri wrote:
Maybe it's because I use metolius, but I find the "range" issue to not be very compelling. Whichever brand you go with you have to learn what size fits what crack. Take the time to learn more than just BD sizing (ie, wild country, metolius, etc) and you will be doing yourself a big favor. You're going to be carrying more than one set anyway, so why not have some variety?


Its way more noticeable if you're only used to larger range cams. This is the primary reason why I've not liked Metolius cams when I've tried them: the transition time is (for me) just long enough that a few pitches weren't enough to work out the kinks.

Unrelated note: I prefer dedicated small cams for everything smaller than a #1 friend/.5 camalot. Honestly, I prefer the friend in that size too. I've used zeroes for a long time, and they're awesome, but the question is on Aliens and Mastercams. The red alien covers the .5 camalot very nicely, but its the largest Alien I'd get. The rest are just too floppy for my taste.

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By caughtinside
From Oakland CA
Feb 24, 2012
Brian Scoggins wrote:
The red alien covers the .5 camalot very nicely, but its the largest Alien I'd get. The rest are just too floppy for my taste.


I'd heard this as the prevailing wisdom for years, but I think the big aliens are really good pieces. Although I think the issue is moot now since no one makes aliens bigger than red.

The purple alien in particular was money... way better piece than black metolius or #2 friend.

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By Phill T
Feb 24, 2012
I'll second checking out totems (not the 'basics' but the more specialized totems). They have some unreal holding power. I can hang bodyweight on a totem placed horizontally on my metolious hangboard. similarly sized c4s or mastercams pop right out. I got them to supplement my aid rack, but they are my go to for 'must not fail' placements on my free rack now.

If you are stuck on mastercams or new aliens, the only downside I see to the mastercams is the trigger wires vs the sheath mechanism on the aliens. The sheath is better in just about every way and way more durable when its gonna get loaded over an edge. Its pretty easy to permanently kink mastercams when they are loaded in wonky ways.

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By bearbreeder
Feb 24, 2012
does anyone here use aliens in limestone ... how do they hold?

everyone i know uses them on sandstone or granite ...

i use TCUs and zeros myself ...

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By mt.wilson
From Denver
Feb 24, 2012
officer friendly
search function, use it. wanker. cant wait for this to get deleted too!!!

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By Khoi
From Vancouver, BC
Feb 25, 2012
Shralpine wrote:
search function, use it. wanker. cant wait for this to get deleted too!!!


Perhaps the rockclimbing.com forums are more up your alley

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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Feb 25, 2012
Bucky
Shralpine wrote:
search function, use it. wanker. cant wait for this to get deleted too!!!


The mods wouldn't have to delete your post if you could manage to act like an adult.

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By Sky Chamberlain
From Honolulu, Hawaii
May 21, 2012
Makapuu Overhang.  Oahu, Hawaii.
I picked up a full set of the Fixe Aliens for my RR rack and they played on nearly every pitch! Admittedly I hurt a little bit initially over their price, but they are so bomber in the smalls that they've become my go-to cam now. I have not used the Totems so I cant speak on them.
Waiting with anticipation for the Black to arrive in June. :)

Climb on!

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