Metolius ultralight master cams


Original Post
Marsh.king · · Olney · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 155

What are the pros and cons of the metolius ultralights and how many stars (out of 10) would you give them?

Climb Germany · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 2,510

I'll list some pros both objective and subjective.

Objective:

  • Cheaper than others (e.g. BD, DMM)
  • Made entirely in USA from USA sourced metal
  • Lighter than most other cams
  • Simplicity. The new ULs are about as simple as you can get short of nuts
  • Small. less bulky than C4s for example
  • Flexible when needed. Flexible for horizontal cracks or weird angles, with solid metal stem, but still stiff enough to be easy to place
  • Range finder system. Simple and reassuring with no weight/cost/etc penalty.
  • No Plastic. More metal and no plasticy crap like BD stuff and old mastercam.

Subjetive:
  • Aesthetics. Not a practical concern, but the new minimal look with a bit more color looks great too.
  • Feel bomber. Just feel great to manipulate. Personally, ULs feel better than BD which is too slick/smooth etc. Granted, both are rated/safe etc.
  • No thumb loop. They are bulky and I dont like them. But this is personal preference of course.
Emmett Lyman · · Somerville, MA · Joined Feb 2011 · Points: 355

My partner got a rack of these and we used them for a couple days in RMNP recently. You definitely notice the weight savings - makes a big difference for east coasters like us at altitude!

Biggest pros are 1) the weight, 2) the price, and 3) the swiveling stems, which makes them feel bomber in horizontals and other semi-awkward placements.

Biggest cons are:
1) I miss the thumb loops when I'm re-positioning a cam that I've already set. With a little rope tension on the sling it can be annoying to get your thumb on the back of the stem.
2) The big ones (blue and purple IIRC) feel a little less stable than C4s. I noticed this mostly when bumping placements... they had a tendency to twist and fall over rather than bump cleanly up the crack like #2 and #3 C4s do.

All in all, they're totally worthwhile cams. Moreso if you already have a set of C4s. I'd give them an 8/10.

Peter Brown-Whale · · Randallstown, MD · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 20

I have a set up to red, the weight difference is pretty incredible and the extremely flexible stem is great in these smaller sizes. I haven't found the lack of a thumbloop to be a problem. I also really like that the color coding is on the sling, trigger bar and down by the cam lobes as well.

Greg Gavin · · SLC, UT · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 713

I recently used a set from #1-#8 alpine climbing in the tetons, and I loved them. They're super light, and pack down extremely well inside your pack. My single set w/ nuts and biners was tiny! The thumb loop is an issue if you have these, and you're trying to send the gnar. But for fast and light climbing I think these are as good as it gets.

The worksmanship on these is awesome, and the slings are replaceable. The BD ul's are designed to be a disposable cam which imo is a good reason not to buy them.

TactiCool · · Republic Of Korea (Temporar... · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 85

I've had trigger wires snap on these. Other than that, I would agree that the larger sizes don't inspire confidence.

Dave Alie · · Golden, CO · Joined Feb 2010 · Points: 70

I've climbed on them a bunch by this point and I really like them for all the reason mentioned above:
1. they really are super light (top notch for alpine)
2. Metolius addressed the floppy stem problem that plagued the larger sizes of the previous mastercam iteration
3. They're way cheaper than Ultralight C4s, or Totem Basics

The size range for the mastercams is also a great supplement for BD sizes if that's important to you. This can be especially nice in places like Indian Creek, but sometimes there really is one perfect placement on a route and having complimentary cam ranges on your rack can be nice.

An important caveat here is that I've been using Metolius cams (mostly in the form of TCUs) for long enough now that I'm pretty used to the color scheme- if you're coming over from Camalots for the first time, there's probably an adjustment period that requires some patience. Having said that, I think the Mastercam and the Totem Basic are the best finger-to-micro cams out there and they're worth adjusting to.

Most importantly, though, is the lack of a thumb loop. All the weight savings in the world won't sway many partners of mine into giving them a serious look. Personally, I think that's drawing too hard a line, but different strokes I suppose. Losing the thumb loop also leaves a shorter stem, which means you can bury these things like you could X4s or C4s. This has been a annoying exactly once, at Vedauwoo, in a flaring crack that made it hard to get the cam to where it could be easily extracted.

I wrote up a more complete, cogent set of thoughts for Blister Gear Review a little while back ( blistergearreview.com/gear-...) but the above is the on-the-fly gist of it. Happy to answer specific questions as best I can. Have fun!

Don Ferris · · Eldorado Springs · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 175

I bought the equivalent to a camalot #2 and #3 to try them out. Don't like them much. I've probably climbed 2 dozen pitches with them and the #2 size has already torn the sheath on the tiny cords that pull the lobes exposing 1/4" of core. Yeah, they're cheep, but at least for the bigger sizes I can't see preferring them over c4s.

Brian Carver · · Boulder, Co · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 30

I hope metolius releases the original masters again. The lack of thumb loop sucks for lateral or hard to see blind placements.

Ryan Hill · · Oakland, CA · Joined Dec 2009 · Points: 30

Not a review, but at Summer OR this year Metolius had the UL Master Cams in Offset flavors.

I agree that the workmanship on these is top-notch and the low-profile is very nice. I'm not sold on how short they are though, it seems nice, but I'd like to try them in the real world before investing in a set.

Also, as far as I can tell Metolius has no plans to discontinue the regular Master Cams.

Jon Rhoderick · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 845

They have already discontinued production of regular masters, the offset masters will switch to ultralight set up soon as well.

The no thumbloop takes some concentration to get your thumb right, but not that different from other cams

bernard wolfe · · birmingham, al · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 150

This is the model that uses some kind of thread or cordage to connect trigger to cam, right? Can anybody weigh in on durability of this component? Also, not having one to look at, my guess is once this thread breaks, there are some replacement/maintenance options for the user to get it fixed?

Greg Gavin · · SLC, UT · Joined Oct 2008 · Points: 713

its the same kevlar cord used in master cams. I've had master cams since they've come out, and have had zero issues. a one cam has a wore pull cord, but it's never failed and it's been that way for 4 years or so.

Rick Blair · · Denver · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 268

Climbed with a friend recently who has X4s I have mastercams. The Mastercam up to the green/Black range is pretty good. Not much difference, we climbed with both sets to compare. The lack of thumb loop is something that takes getting used to but I think mileage will override 1st impressions on that. Honestly though, not much difference in performance. I was suprised because I thought the dual axel sizes of X4 would be better but I did not notice much difference.

I max out at 5.8 trad for reference.

I love Metolius but I hate their color coding. On blue through red they use rainbow colors except they miss green which is a large finger/small hands cam.

cyclestupor · · Woodland Park, Colorado · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 93
bernard wrote:This is the model that uses some kind of thread or cordage to connect trigger to cam, right? Can anybody weigh in on durability of this component? Also, not having one to look at, my guess is once this thread breaks, there are some replacement/maintenance options for the user to get it fixed?
http://www.metoliusclimbing.com/pdf/Master-Cam-Trigger-Cord-Replacement.pdf

or if you don't want to do it yourself

http://www.metoliusclimbing.com/pdf/cam_repair_form.pdf

In that form it says it costs $8 per cam to re-sling & replace broken trigger cord.
DGraham · · Dallas · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 846

Metolius TCU's are still lighter than their ultrlight mastercams, just sayin.

Jon Rhoderick · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 845
DGraham wrote:Metolius TCU's are still lighter than their ultrlight mastercams, just sayin.
My personal measurements
Blue TCU 1 g lighter than the ULMC
Yellow TCU 2g heavier than ULMC
Orange TCU 6g lighter than ULMC
Red TCU 6g lighter than ULMC
Black Powercam 1g heavier than ULMC
TCUs and power and are 10g lighter than the sizes of ULMC I have.
DGraham · · Dallas · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 846
Jon Rhoderick wrote: TCUs and power and are 10g lighter than the sizes of ULMC I have.
Not saying they're much lighter. I just think for those people who claim to want/like these for light and fast alpine, why not just get TCU's and save yourself some cash?
Brian L. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 90
DGraham wrote: Not saying they're much lighter. I just think for those people who claim to want/like these for light and fast alpine, why not just get TCU's and save yourself some cash?
MSRP is the same (~$60). You may find older stock of the TCU's for less ($5 by my search - not including sale prices - not every size available). I'd expect similar when the UL's models are a bit older.

Mastercam's also come in larger sizes
Mastercam's are a 4 lobe unit, vs 3 lobe unit
Single stem vs U-Stem

All reasons someone might want these over TCU's specifically.
Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 20

I've been using the ULMC's for about 8 months and really like them. I've been using DMM Dragons for a few years so the lack of thumb loop wasn't an issue. I always thought it would be, but only rarely do I wish it was there and even then it's not too big of a deal. Where I climb I almost always need a double rack of cams so I go with a set of C4 or Dragons and a set of Mastercams. The ranges are pretty close, but every once in a while the slightly different sizes will work better for a placement.

Long story short. The Ultralight Mastercams are good, and light. Get some.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 478
DGraham wrote: Not saying they're much lighter. I just think for those people who claim to want/like these for light and fast alpine, why not just get TCU's and save yourself some cash?
I used a partners TCUs and found it easier for them to walk on wandering pitches. I blame it more on the rigid stem than three lobes, but whichever the cause I don't want my small cams walking.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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