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New Trad Rack


Original Post
Alex M. Smith · · Bozeman, MT · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 95

Looking to slowly build a trad rack over here. I've got C4s in #0.3 - #3 and a full set of stoppers so far. I'm planning on picking up a set of tricams (they're cheap and seem to be very useful for setting anchors, etc). I know doubles will come into play down the line, but for now I'm just trying to get a good range of stuff to start in on some easier short stuff around me. I'm thinking of rounding out with some X4s for now, but wanted to get some input in X4s vs C3s. Anyone have any particular thoughts on this? Either way, probably good to get a full range of the X4s if I go that route?

Thanks,
-Alex

djh860 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 110

I suggest you look at totem cams to fill out your rack with either their alien cam or the original totem cam

lozo bozo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 30

Personally I would avoid x4's and check out either metolius or totem cams

Andy.J.Stevens · · Morrison, CO · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 0

Double up your smalls with Mastercams, not X4's. I don't really like Mastercams larger than red (too floppy), but red will get you up to 0.75 C4 size. The difference in the height of the heads gives you good versatility when using both C4's and Mastercams (i.e. Mastercams will fit in some slots that X4 and C4 won't). Double up larger sizes (0.75 or 1 and up) with C4s

Andy.J.Stevens · · Morrison, CO · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 0

Also, Metolius offset nuts are awesome, depending where you climb. Great for places like Eldo, less useful for granite splitters.

Tom Sherman · · Bristol, RI · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 417

I started with:
C4's in big, Powercams in small, because they were cheap
I love C4's in big .75 and up
I like Powercams in ~2,3,4
I love the totem I own (blue) effectively a Metolious #1

If I were you I would go Alien-Style cams in small, Totem or Fixe. I'd say that style is mandatory in anything Metolious #2 or smaller. It sounds like your C4's that you own may take you down to that size anyway. Medium-ish size cams Metolious ~2-5 I would say you could accomplish with anything Mastercam, Powercam, Totem, Alien, X4, C4... in that range your concern is probably price, and maybe weight, and maybe... maybe bulk... If it were me I'd stay away from Dual axle units in that size, but who really cares.

I have no experience with X4's, C3's, or small C4's. If I were you I would hold off on going towards 3-cam units. (C3's, TCU, 3CU, etc...)

Ooooh look at me all soundin' like a trad climber and shit... Somebody critique...

dahigdon · · phoenix, Az · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 175

For a beginning trad climber, is it less imperative to have thin pro for tight spaces? Seems like a beginner trad climber would use a lot of 1"-3" pro... Please, correct me if I am way off base here guys..

I have never led a trad route in my life, but I have been building a rack to get started as well, and that has kind of been my philosophy thus far.

I actually plan to try and do my first trad lead this weekend at Joshua Tree, so all my gear may be for sale real cheap if I break my legs Alex!

dave

Andrew G · · San Diego, CA · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 363

Personally, I'm a big fan of the X4's, though I also really like my Mastercams for small stuff as well. While the Mastercams do have a smaller head width than X4's, the difference is very slight (I just went and compared my MC #1 to the X4 0.2). The X4's offer a significantly larger range than the Mastercams though. The only downside to the X4's in my mind is the price.

Dave, if you're doing nothing but pure crack climbing, small stuff certainly wouldn't be very useful for a beginning trad rack, but many climbs (J Tree included) have plenty of smaller cracks that you use for protection but not jamming.

Alex M. Smith · · Bozeman, MT · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 95

Thanks for all the info, much appreciated! Sounds like a lot of different factors to consider in the decision. Are a lot of the gripes against the X4s just based on price? It does make sense, since they look to be significantly more expensive than the mastercams. Do they perform about the same, though? Andy - you mention that the mastercams fit a lot more options than the BD versions as well...

Either way, it sounds like sticking to 4 lobes (instead of 3 cam units) might be a good option for starting out.

I'm likely going to start looking for deals floating around, can you expand on other reasons to choose between the options (besides price - in case a good deal comes up on the "more expensive" ones)?

Also, any issue with mixing and matching brands of cams? Is it confusing to differentiate sizes between brands? Sorry for lack of knowledge on these questions...

Thanks again!

NateC · · Utah · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 0

I prefer my C3's over my X4's. C3's are my favorite small cam. I've owned C3's, Aliens, Mastercams, X4's, Early Wild Country Tech Friends, and X4 offsets.

I prefer X4's over the Mastercams I had. I found the mastercams more difficult to clean and offering no other real advantage aside from price.

I like the Aliens and X4's similarly with a nod to X4 for durability.

lozo bozo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 30
Alex M. Smith wrote:Thanks for all the info, much appreciated! Sounds like a lot of different factors to consider in the decision. Are a lot of the gripes against the X4s just based on price? It does make sense, since they look to be significantly more expensive than the mastercams. Do they perform about the same, though? Andy - you mention that the mastercams fit a lot more options than the BD versions as well... Either way, it sounds like sticking to 4 lobes (instead of 3 cam units) might be a good option for starting out. I'm likely going to start looking for deals floating around, can you expand on other reasons to choose between the options (besides price - in case a good deal comes up on the "more expensive" ones)? Also, any issue with mixing and matching brands of cams? Is it confusing to differentiate sizes between brands? Sorry for lack of knowledge on these questions... Thanks again!
It's all personal preference, the x4 and mastercam are both great cams but they both have their cons.

I said I'd avoid x4s because i dont think they are durable, I dont like a double axle in a small cam and I just think BD is kinda lame. I think most people love their x4s though..

And no issue mixing cam brands as long as you can remember the color combo
Tom Sherman · · Bristol, RI · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 417

As I said I bought C4's big Powercams small.
I then went back and filled in doubles with C4's big, but than a different cam for every size small. So I have a mastercam, totem basic, wc tech friend, alien, totem, etc... It was cool for me to learn that I liked my $15 consignment WC Tech Friend better than my #2 Powercam.

So I think mixing cam brands can be a very fruitful experience, but I may caution that it could be too confusing for learning sizing and being prepared to plug on lead when you're still figuring it all out.

In the end man you're Building a Trad Rack, I'd go price as my determining factor, if you can get two cams for the cost of one your better of 10/10.

Unbelievable resource for learning cam sizing:
steimann.li/

Michael C · · New Jersey · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 340

C3s (0-2) and C4s (.5, .75, 1), matched with Metolius Master Cams (1-6). My #2 and #3 BD C4s are doubled, but I usually only carry 1 set of those sizes. A set of BD Stoppers, 4-13. Double pink and red tricams (gunks, baby). That's always been more than enough for me...well, I've had a couple occasions where I wish I had the extra set of #2 and #3 C4s.

I have the next four sizes in tricams - brown, purple, blue, navy, but I haven't ever taken them out. Same for two link cams, #1 and #2. I kinda splurged when I bought my rack.

Oh wait, you wanted to know about the X4's?

I've yet to see anyone use them. See a lot of totems and master cams. And yes, the master cams can be a little floppy in the larger sizes.

The tricams are awesome. Pink and Red are always needed in the Gunks. They're just not as quick to place as a cam. But they're cheap, and can fill in if you've burned through your doubles. Say if you were on a route with a same size crack throughout.

Tapawingo Markey · · Reno? · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 75

I'd go with the Mastercams 0-3, they're less expensive, burly, and fit in about everything you need them to.

Kurt G. · · Reading, PA · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 150

It's a little off from the "micro cams" you've been discussing but in response to your original question I would highly endorse a set of hexes. I know they get a lot of bad rap for their obnoxious "cowbell" sound but they are invaluable for me. they can do the jobs of all your other gear if need be. they can be passive like nuts and still active cam and torque like SLCDs and tricams. I have a set of BD hexes from size 1-7 and they make no more noise than a set of nuts. above that I use DMM "torque nuts" for the larger sizes and they are great.

Eric Chabot · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 45

avoid trango flex cams. Maybe some like them and I think they are cheaper than c4s but I find them harder to clean than units with a more rigid stem (such as bd).

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175
Alex M. Smith wrote:Looking to slowly build a trad rack over here. I've got C4s in #0.3 - #3 and a full set of stoppers so far. I'm planning on picking up a set of tricams (they're cheap and seem to be very useful for setting anchors, etc). I know doubles will come into play down the line, but for now I'm just trying to get a good range of stuff to start in on some easier short stuff around me. I'm thinking of rounding out with some X4s for now, but wanted to get some input in X4s vs C3s. Anyone have any particular thoughts on this? Either way, probably good to get a full range of the X4s if I go that route? Thanks, -Alex
Climbing friend Alex,

You would need the large nuts or ovaries to steady your mind and be confident enough on bold gear trad flash.
djh860 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 110

If you rack different brand cams rack the on different sides totems on left BD on right

Jay Eggleston · · Denver · Joined Feb 2003 · Points: 19,122

The Wild Countey Heliums are a nice companion to C4's.

Andrew G · · San Diego, CA · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 363
Alex M. Smith wrote:can you expand on other reasons to choose between the options (besides price - in case a good deal comes up on the "more expensive" ones)?
I can tell you what I like about the X4s, in order of importance to me are the large range (unmatched by other small cams), the flexible and (seemingly) durable stem that make it great for horizontals, and the longer body that eases some concern about getting it stuck with deeper placements. Not really sure what it is I like so much about my Mastercams (besides the price!), but when I need a super thin placement quickly, it's my go to. I've whipped more times on my 00 than any other piece of gear. I don't own any Aliens, but having climbed on them, I can tell you the softer heads give it some really nice bite in the rock.

Having used Metolious TCUs and BD C3's, I'm just not as big of a fan of the 3-lobed units. They just don't seem as solid, but maybe that's just due to lack of experience.

Alex M. Smith wrote:Also, any issue with mixing and matching brands of cams? Is it confusing to differentiate sizes between brands? Sorry for lack of knowledge on these questions... Thanks again!
It's definitely something to consider, but shouldn't be your deciding factor, especially since you can mitigate the issue with good organization of your gear loops. Much more important is making sure you're comfortable with all your gear.

And really, that's the main takeaway-- most of the gear is great, just a matter of personal preference. If you have friends with different cams, trying them out on actual routes will be far more valuable than anything you'll learn here.
eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 513

1 You can find a lot of great lightly used cams here on MP
2 I really love my WC zeros, plus someone has a great deal on the sale forum on here
3 If you really like your C4s, try DMM Dragons and/or Totems for doubles
4 Having a hodgepodge of different cams gives you more options, but it requires more flexibility and organization.

5 Pick 2 color schemes (1 big 1 small) and color code your racking biners. I learned on C4s .5 and up and Mastercams from orange down and I really like using that color scheme. Knowing the color scheme and color coding biners will allow you to mix and match brands without causing a huge clusterfuck because you just learn the colors and match the biners. My biners from smallest to largest go V,B,Y,O,V,G,R,Y,B and this works very well for me because cams with the same color are very different in size.

6 If you have more than one cam with the same color racking biner, use a different biner. Also, look for biners with different shaped cross-sections This allows you to easily. For example, I have a purple CAMP photon (flatish cross-section) on my red alien and a purple neutrino (more round cross-section) on my 0 TCU. This will help you distinguish which purple biner has which cam.

6.5 This is personal preferences but it works very well for me: As you accumulate doubles and triples, rack them on different slings. For example, on my single rack sling, I have a set of my favorite cams from 0TCU to #3 C4, stoppers from BD #1-#6, DMM alloy offsets, and BD #13, and my nut tool. That way, when I bring a single rack of cams (my most common rack) I just grab 2 slings: my single rack and my draws instead of removing all the cams I don't need from my gear sling. Also, these slings are just tubular webbing because its cheaper and then you don't have to use a sewn sling to beef up a rap station.

7 At the end of the day, re-rack your cams in order of size because they will get unorganized when you throw it all back in your pack. This will help you learn the color scheme as well. For me, this has become a very nice nightly ritual and helps me wind down before bed.

Oh and I've seen too many exploded X4s to buy them. Same thing with Fixe aliens. If you want aliens, get the Totem Basics, they're even better than the original aliens but without the QC issues

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Trad Climbing
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