Black Totem Cam .5 vs. yellow Bd x4 .2


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

Any preferences out there? I currently own the .2 x4 but honestly, I try not to use it. I just don't get a lot of confidence from cams bd .3 and smaller. After fondling the black totem however, it seemed a little more robust. Opinions and shittalk much appreciated.

(I'm talking about the regular totems not the totem basics)

Nick Sweeney · · Spokane, WA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 650

Honestly, buy a blue totem basic for that range unless you are aid climbing.

Schalk · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 15

I love Totems, and bought a black the moment they became available. The black is really nice and good to have a totem in that size.

But... and this might just be personal preference, I seem to reach for the blue totem basic more than I do for the black totem. YMMV.

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 20

I don't own the BD, but I do own the Totem and it is great. Used it a ton on The Nose last week and it fit a wide variety of oddly shaped cracks and pin scars.

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480

I'm not a strong climber but I do get out a lot.

I own a .2 X4 and a set of Totems. I trust the .2 if I can get the cam perfect or on a pocket. I have more confidence on the Totems. I place Totems anytime I feel like the placement is marginal or I'm going fall. I like a black Totem more than a .2 X4.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 483

For those that have a black totem, how is the headwith compared to a blue basic or .2 x4?

I have a blue totem and noticed it's actually a bit narrower than my .3 x4 and the same width as my blue basic.

mike again · · Berkeley, CA · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 40

I don't see any point to not using totems.

Tomily ma · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 290

2nd the good placements for x4 .2. My .2 x4 has held falls in good placements and pulled out of a very bad placement. Go figure. I categorically love totems especially in funky rock.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 483

Range listed with cut off at 90% of from largest spec. Black totem is a bit odd overlap.
Don Ferris · · Eldorado Springs · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 175
Andre H. wrote:The only thing more comical than climbing gear wang-slapping is climbing gear wang-slapping done by 5.singledigit climbers about tiny gear. Oh yeah, this, I want you all to do this preferably in and or around my mouth:
Says the 5.single digit climber whose also a douchebag. Andre, there's one rule. One damned rule!

You don't have to attempt to validate your shitty self to perfect strangers. What's wrong dude? Having a bad day?
Matt Westlake · · Durham, NC · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 588

Well, it's a moot point for me as I can't find the damn black totem to buy it. I had one on back order with mountain gear but they were unable to get it in stock due to production issues at totem. I have a full set of the other sizes and really like them although the biggest one (orange) is a bit noodly. I'm pretty psyched on getting that black one given how confidence inspiring the little blue regular totem is.

To the matter at hand though, the sweet spots in the ranges for these things are really tight - it's like getting into the tiny stoppers, different shape and quirks in design seem to play a significant role along with your local rock type and what kind of protection options it affords. I think people get into trouble when they try to use too small a piece and risk an umbrella'ed cam.

Right now I tend to carry all the master cams grey to orange, totem cams, plus a few aliens (green-red) and throw in a set of stoppers and RPs. If it looks like it'll be thin for more than just a moment or two I may supplement that with smaller aliens or C3s. The green C3 is a good addition as it fits into a range gap on the lower end and has a narrower head profile. I'll also add to the bigger range with some C4s as needed.

Note it's often worth having a few tiny pieces in the same range so you can double up critical placements or put a couple in close proximity. The tiny cams are much more appealing if you have some redundancy. I've taken a couple good falls on my green alien but only short falls on anything smaller. They have definitely done the job and saved me from unpleasant landings but like any tool need to be used in the proper context. The tiny cams are super small and light too so it's not like you'll be staggering under the weight of them.

For some routes the tiny master cams are adequate but there is a definite gap between the blue master cam and the yellow, which the green alien fits nicely into. The black and blue aliens also seems to fit into slots that the grey and purple masters don't quite fit into even though their ranges are similar. A few years ago I traded some TCUs for a set of C3s and was on the verge of getting rid of them because of the trigger pull and the three cam unit tendency to walk side-to-side but have just recently started to find placements the C3s only seem to plug into. I also picked up a red ball nut as a freebie on an ebay deal and sometimes that is the only thing that will work.

I've found that I've been happy to have little gear on anywhere from thin 8 face or slab climbs up to mid-11 so don't let anyone get all high-and-mighty about tiny gear only being needed on hard routes. When you are runout you've gotta take what you can get. Mostly I just throw a few small pieces on the back of the harness as an insurance policy if I'm just heading into the unknown.

mattm · · TX · Joined Jun 2006 · Points: 1,390
Matt Westlake wrote:Well, it's a moot point for me as I can't find the damn black totem to buy it. I had one on back order with mountain gear but they were unable to get it in stock due to production issues at totem.
Mountain Gear lists 10 0.5 Black Totems and 9 1.80 Orange Totems due to ship on 12/5/16 as of 9am CDT.
BigB · · Red Rock, NV · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 340
mattm wrote: Mountain Gear lists 10 0.5 Black Totems and 9 1.80 Orange Totems due to ship on 12/5/16 as of 9am CDT.
one of those blacks ....is mine :)) yeaaa santa
Erik Sloan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 125

Yo Gang,

I've been using the Black Totem since early last summer, climbed El Cap several times with it. I also have Totem Basics, Offset Aliens, and Offset X4s. The Black Totem is miles better than the other cams, for sure, but the crux is can you get them. What I'd recommend if you can't get the Black Totem:

Fixe's new 'Revolution' Alien (I'm not happy with how they handled the EVO Light Alien failures, but this new one is pretty slick - in the small sizes it seems a little better than the Totem Basic, but it sounds like there are still folks with unresolved issues from the Evo Alien - super not cool)

Totem Basic

BD X4

The other brands don't compare to these four at all - the heads are too rigid, the cam range too small, etc.

Hopefully Totem can get their production together, or sell to a company that can handle the demand. Their patent is up in 2022, so if you work for a climbing company please start planning a similar cam (The Alien patent was up in 2007, and BD claimed that they had an Alien knock off ready in the early 2000s, and still we would wait until 2011 for X4s.... Lame).

Erik Sloan,
Rockclimbyosemite.com

Systematic · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 351
Erik Sloan wrote:What I'd recommend if you can't get the Black Totem: Fixe's new 'Revolution' Alien (I'm not happy with how they handled the EVO Light Alien failures, but this new one is pretty slick)
Where did you get this? Has it been officially announced? Even if the features look good, the EVO lite saga was just too much. I would wait a while, and look for good field reports before I buy anything FIXE. Even with improved features, hard to imagine the quality approaching Basics.
Mitch Musci · · Estes Park, CO · Joined Apr 2002 · Points: 890
mattm wrote: Mountain Gear lists 10 0.5 Black Totems and 9 1.80 Orange Totems due to ship on 12/5/16 as of 9am CDT.
I have had a black totem on backorder through Backcountry Gear since September. Just got an email from them saying it has been delayed until late December/early January. I wonder if I should try a different retailer??
Don Ferris · · Eldorado Springs · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 175

Bent gate in golden has a bunch of them.

Matt Westlake · · Durham, NC · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 588

Hell yeah, thanks for the tip! I was able to call MG and use the 20% off coupon that they gave me for having to cancel my order last time, so I've got a sweet black totem coming my way for the low-low price of $66, no shipping, no tax.

Not a bad pick-me-up as I sit on my ass coughing up a lung recovering from whatever it is that has laid me low.

Erik Sloan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 125

Yo Gang!

I realize that the most depressing thing right now, cam wise, is the lack of availability of the best cams, Totems. Fixe sent me some of the Revo Aliens a couple months ago, and they are incredible - I think slightly better than the Totem Basics, because of a smaller cam stop(the ball at the end of the cam) size, but def not as good as the Black Totem. I thought that they were widely available today, but it doesn't look like it. Ultimately I think the best solution is for RockTech, the company that owns Aliens in Spain to buy Totem....until that happens, hopefully one of them will become widely available - definitely do not by the Evo Lite Aliens!

Erik Sloan · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 125

As far as field reports - Jim Reynolds and Brad Gobright have been going for the Nose speed record on El Cap several times this Fall with the Revo Aliens, and raving about them after raving about the Black Alien I also lent them. Very weird to think that all of the revolutionary cams are coming from Northern Spain these days. Hats off to those folks!

20 kN · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,352
Erik Sloan wrote:YFixe's new 'Revolution' Alien (I'm not happy with how they handled the EVO Light Alien failures, but this new one is pretty slick)
Any photos? I cant seem to find any new Aliens on Fixe's website or anywhere else. It seems Fixe isint even selling the Evos anymore.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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