Tricams....A thing of the past?


Original Post
Bonneville Williams · · Salt Lake City, Utah · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 70

2 years ago I purchased my first set of Camp Tricams. I initially purchased them as a cheap way to supplement my rack in place of cams since I couldn't afford many at the time. At first, I was somewhat hesitant about placing them since it took so long for me to get them set right. After a season of practice I finally got it down and they have now become my main go to piece on most routes. For me, they're by far the most versatile piece of pro on my rack. With that being said, I have yet to climb with anyone who uses or has used them. Everyone I've ever climbed with seems to be taken by surprise when cleaning a pitch I've lead and they come across one. So my question is this, Do you still use tricams regularly or have you replaced them with more modern gear such as cams, Big Bro's, etc.? Is the lack of tricam usage an area type thing? They still sell them and Camp has even improved them in recent years so that means someone is still using them. Thoughts?

Gary N · · Durango, CO · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 510

What's a tricam?

Healyje · · PDX · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 100

They had their time and still have a lot of utility in horizontals at places like the Gunks or Lovers Leap. I thought they were good when modded, but personally haven't carried them in about twenty years as they aren't the best option for our local basalt.





Bonneville Williams · · Salt Lake City, Utah · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 70
Healyje wrote: I thought they were good when modded
What was the tape mod for? To keep the sling from pivoting? If so, was this to use them more as an odd shaped stopper?
20 kN · · Hawaii · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,128
Bonneville wrote:2 years ago I purchased my first set of Camp Tricams. I initially purchased them as a cheap way to supplement my rack in place of cams since I couldn't afford many at the time. At first, I was somewhat hesitant about placing them since it took so long for me to get them set right. After a season of practice I finally got it down and they have now become my main go to piece on most routes. For me, they're by far the most versatile piece of pro on my rack. With that being said, I have yet to climb with anyone who uses or has used them. Everyone I've ever climbed with seems to be taken by surprise when cleaning a pitch I've lead and they come across one. So my question is this, Do you still use tricams regularly or have you replaced them with more modern gear such as cams, Big Bro's, etc.? Is the lack of tricam usage an area type thing? They still sell them and Camp has even improved them in recent years so that means someone is still using them. Thoughts?
I've never used tricams. I use standard cams and stoppers, that's it. No hexes, tricams, bigbros, ect. There is really only one route ever that I can think of in which I really wished I had a tricam and I dident. Otherwise, I've always made do just fine with cams.
bearbreeder · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 25

i used them quite a bit on moderate long trad routes in the canadian rockies ...

Cr@p limestone, chossy quartzite where you never know if a cam might pull ... not to mention suspect rock where you may not want to put too much outward force on big flakes and blocks

of course you could just not place any gear and at all and do 100+ foot runnouts =P

they are also great for less travelled routes where the cracks may not exactly be totally clean, having some dirt, moss, mud, and sometimes even ice in em .. not to mention its cheaper to bail off them than cams

they are a cheap and fairly light piece of insurance for when yr not certain if you need more gear, or if you may need to leave gear behind ...

the also take the place of larger size nuts

the tape (and a plastic packing strip or straw underneath) is to stiffen them up so they can be placed one handed

however this also increases the chance of them rattling out, so i always use a 60 cm extendible on em

also remember that while you can place em one handed, its much harder to clean em one handed for the second

;)

Harry Netzer · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 110

Tricam are the best pro for certain kinds of solution pockets found at Whitehorse ledge. But yeah I'd consider them a specialty or budget kind of pro. I'd much rather fall on a cam or nut than a tricam. They just seem unstable.

nbrown · · western NC · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 5,274

I rarely use them but when I do its because nothong else will work.

Laurel Knob, NC pockets.

Doug Hemken · · Madison, WI · Joined Oct 2004 · Points: 5,243

I carry and use them, routinely.

fromtheestuary · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 50

I have a biner racked with several pieces of specialized gear, the stuff that will work when nothing else will; my pink tricam stays on that biner.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 45

Tricams...you love 'em, or you hate 'em. Personally, I think they're great and place them fairly often. They're super light, cheap, and you barely notice them on your rack. I think some people (particularly cam users) get weirded out by how little surface area the point comes in contact with the rock, but IMO this is what is so beautiful about them, because they can place well in funky pockets/flares where anything else would be garbage.

Roy Suggett · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 6,245

What the other proponents have stated, I have also found true. They also seem to set better in soft rock. I do not leave home w/o them. Well over a decade back there was a fun moderate at Courtright resevoir CA called Aplodontia that had only one or two bolts in 5 pitches. The rest of the pro was tricams in erosion pockets. Fun line!

Healyje · · PDX · Joined Jan 2006 · Points: 100
bearbreeder wrote:however this also increases the chance of them rattling out, so i always use a 60 cm extendible on em
I always found them fairly rattle-resistant and by and large rotated securely even if this is less than desirable. As you say, and it 'bears' repeating,it doesn't matter what the pro is, you should always sling / extend appropriately.

bearbreeder wrote:also remember that while you can place em one handed, it's much harder to clean em one handed for the second
As for this, it depends. Most placements you just push in on the stem and they come right out. But, you have to be conscious of your placements and thinking of the poor sap who has to clean them. Doing a lot of rope-soloing, I was that sap so over time learned to have a lighter touch.
climbnowworklater · · Colorado Springs · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 0

12 years of use and I love mine. Don't use them all the time but bring them all the time.

I tend to use them as one piece in a 3 point anchor. Usually, it seems they fit in odd and awkward placements. And agreed, I always take the time to talk to my 2nd about them before leaving the ground as to this day, people aren't familiar with them or have never removed one. Like you, once I learned to place them, they are as solid as my other passive/active pro.

beensandbagged · · R.I. · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 0

I carry them all the time, have for years and can't remember a trad pitch where I have not used them. (Been climbing mostly in NH and the Adirondacks.)

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 1,865

As healyj said, they are very useful in horizontals. Here's a Gunks anchor from a year ago:

4 piece anchor

McHull · · Fairfield, PA · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 60

As someone once said on MP "it's not a trad rack unless it has tricams"
I have doubles from 1.5 down. There's a lot Tricam love at Seneca.

tricam

tricam2

David Gibbs · · Ottawa, ON · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 6

I carry them, I love them, I place them more than anything else. But, I generally climb trad below 5.10, so I'll usually have stance for placing gear.

I like them because they double both cams & nuts, without weighing or costing as much as cams. I like them, because I'm far far FAR happier with a tri-cam in a wet, dirty, mossy, or slimy placement. For example, I was out climbing yesterday afternoon, which is very early season for Ottawa, Canada, and the rock was wet in places, and even where not wet, still humid and/or dirty from the winter ice and run-off. In the 3 routes I lead, I place no cams, a couple nuts, and the rest of the placements were all tri-cams. Several of them came back to me soaking wet after being cleaned.

I also do some first ascent stuff -- if I've just scraped the mud/moss/dirt out of a possible gear placement, I'm going to be a lot happier with a tri-cam in there than a cam.

Finally, the rock in my area does not lend itself to nice, parallel-sided cracks. So, I'm often needing to find "unusual" placements -- this is another place where tri-cams excel.

I have:

White, Black, Pink, Red, Brown, all x2; blue (2.0) x1; blue (2.5) x 2; dark blue (3.0) x 1; white, green. I also have doubles of the white & green that I don't usually rack.

Mathias · · Loveland, CO · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 120

I can't speak to their utility on any route in the 5.10 or over range, but on moderates I find tricams extremely useful.

I've found secure placements for them where I couldn't fit a cam or a nut. I also like them for anchor building (hexes too), to avoid using up cams in the anchor. And on the rare occasion I've climbed a roof or bulge with a crack for pro, I like to use a tricam to back up a cam placement because once they're set, they don't walk.

If I were wanting to take a very light rack (maybe for an alpine traverse that was mostly scrambling), I take a set of tricams before anything else because they're so versatile.

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 40

There does seem to be a love-hate relationship with them...

Before finger-size cams were available, Tricams were the only game in town for many horizontal placements, but the currently available cams have relegated Tricams to more of a specialty piece for placements that are either too shallow for a cam, in some kind of hole too small for a cam, or in various types of mild flares that are however too flared for cams. I still usually have a black, pink, and red on the back of my harness somewhere, but nowadays use them rarely.

Something that doesn't seem to be much appreciated is that Tricams make excellent nuts. When I carried a few more (up to brown or blue), I used them primarily as nuts rather than in their cammed orientation. Viewed that way, they are a nut with some highly effective if unusual additional placement options.

Pushing Tricams back to remove them doesn't always work; sometimes you have to try to hook a nut tool behind the "stinger" and then push the upper part of the Tricam back while pulling out on the stinger---the idea is to rotate the cam rather than moving it horizontally, which may not be possible. Obviously, this is a two-hand operation, and that is one of the drawbacks of Tricam use: the second may have to hang in order to get the damn thing out, and this is especially true once the Tricam has been fallen on.

andrew thomas · · Orcas island · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 10

I've never placed one on lead but I carry the pink-bown sometimes blue, tri-cams for anchors so I can conserve my nuts/cams for the next pitch

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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