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Totem Cams or Totem Basics?


Original Post
Joe Petroske · · North Bend, WA · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 20

Anyone have both the totem cams and the basics and have any comparison between the two? I used the totem cams the other and I really liked them and was thinking about buying some. However, it seems like totem basics are the internets favorite small cam. Any thoughts?

Kevin Mokracek · · Burbank · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 200

Yellow, blue and black regular Totems and then fill in with Basics for smaller sizes.

jason.cre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 10
Joe Petroske wrote:Anyone have both the totem cams and the basics and have any comparison between the two? I used the totem cams the other and I really liked them and was thinking about buying some. However, it seems like totem basics are the internets favorite small cam. Any thoughts?
Totem basics are just well made aliens. There probably is not a single advantage to them over a Totem cam other than price, but they are great cams.
Nick Sweeney · · Spokane, WA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 650

Totem Basics are incredible, I can't recommend them enough for the small stuff. I have Blue, Yellow and Green to cover my small sizes (BD sizes .2-.4).

Systematic · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 321
jason.cre wrote: Totem basics are just well made aliens. There probably is not a single advantage to them over a Totem cam other than price, but they are great cams.
Don't forget weight and size. Basics will rack and pack smaller and weigh about 20g less than Totem cams.
Alexander K · · The road · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 130

Regular totems have wider range and more awesome properties (holding power in flairs, offset camming etc). Unless you are on the strictest budget I'd suggest trying out the blue and yellow and seeing how they feel. I've also never seen a fixed totem, where as Mastercams, X4s and aliens litter many of the moderate routes I've been on. That can substantially save on time and money in the long run.

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

Good Question - the popularity of Totem Basics reflects more people's frustration with the other small cam brands, than any competition with their vastly superior, but uniquely different, Totem Cams - Aliens released a plastic 'evo' version that came apart in folks' hands, BD X4s are a little stiffer than the Aliens and not as soft metal - and those metal beads get stuck some times, lol, the other brands aren't even worth mentioning, they are so inferior to these three.

Totem cams only came in sizes bigger than a yellow Alien until recently. So when people say 'fill in with Totem Basics in the smaller sizes' they mean until the Black Totem becomes widely available (I have two - they are incredible) folks will keep buying Totem Basics in the Blue, Green, and Yellow sizes (Totem doesn't make a Black Alien equivalent yet, btw, so Fixe or BD are your only options there).

All that said, even when the Black Totem is fully available, I'd still recommend a set of offset Fixe 'Revo' Aliens or Totem Basics - there are plenty of times when Totem cams are just a little two bulky to fit in the placement.

Woot!
Erik Sloan
Rockclimbyosemite.com - Yosemitebigwall.com

Caz Drach · · Sugarhouse, UT · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 310

I love the basics and they are my go to... its true they do mimic the alien, but the action and slight design changes set them apart. The striated lobes do bite better and the triggers being cable with a deadheaded swage to the lobe are nice.

The totems are really great i have a couple the head shape lends its self to fitting in funky places, but the racking of them can be odd. Definitely confidence inspiring...

my 0.02

Mitch Alexander · · SLO, CA · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 20

Erik are you saying mastercams are vastly inferior to x4s? I've seemed to have the opposite experience, I've heard of and experienced more problems with the x4 over the mastercam.

jason.cre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 10
Mitch Alexander wrote:Erik are you saying mastercams are vastly inferior to x4s? I've seemed to have the opposite experience, I've heard of and experienced more problems with the x4 over the mastercam.
I agree, I much prefer mastercams over x4s.
Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

To me, Totems are more a specialty item whereas Basics are part of a high quality standard rack. They are hands-down the best small cams. The totems are supposed to be amazing for funky, flaring, slick placements, but they're big, bulky and expensive. They also go up to larger sizes, whereas the Basics are microcams. It seems they are making small totems now as well...not sure how they would compare in the same range, as I haven't used the regular totems much. Those who do rave about them, though.

cyclestupor · · Woodland Park, Colorado · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 93
Ted Pinson wrote:To me, Totems are more a specialty item whereas Basics are part of a high quality standard rack. They are hands-down the best small cams. The totems are supposed to be amazing for funky, flaring, slick placements, but they're big, bulky and expensive. They also go up to larger sizes, whereas the Basics are microcams. It seems they are making small totems now as well...not sure how they would compare in the same range, as I haven't used the regular totems much. Those who do rave about them, though.
I don't agree that Totems are necessarily a "specialty" item. A specialty item would be more like an offset cam, or big-bro, where it can't be used most of the time. Totems aren't "specialty", because they work anywhere a regular cam works, and some places that a regular cam doesn't.

If you are building a new rack, and you can afford totems, then I'd say go for it. They work very well and the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

Benefits
* More stable, don't walk as much as other cams,
* Have the narrowest head width of any other cam on the market.
** work in some outward flares where you would normally need an offset cam.
** fit in small pockets, or shallow cracks.
* Roughly the same range as C4s
* More holding power, especially in flares
* can use 2 lobes for aid climbing.

Drawbacks
* bulky on rack
* A little on the heavy side. Pretty similar to C4s.
* Expensive
* Hard to find.

"Totem basics are the internets favorite small cam" only because Aliens were the internet's favorite small cam, and Totem basics are the best Alien clone.
that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 205

I think cyclestupor has it pretty spot on although they are actually lighter than C4's in nearly every size (as the cam gets bigger the difference is greater). Ss someone who built the bulk of their rack on totems I can tell you they are awesome cams no matter the size, I have the new wild country friends size 1-3 and I wish I just bought totems and bought a size 3 later on.

Joe Petroske · · North Bend, WA · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 20

Thanks for the info everyone. Probably going to go with the totem cams.

jason.cre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 10
cyclestupor wrote: I don't agree that Totems are necessarily a "specialty" item. A specialty item would be more like an offset cam, or big-bro, where it can't be used most of the time. Totems aren't "specialty", because they work anywhere a regular cam works, and some places that a regular cam doesn't.
I agree. I think 'luxury' is a better adjective than 'specialty'.
Kauait · · Sandy Utah · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 0

Joe p.
My experience is don't buy them from backcountry gear.
Ive been waiting for Allmost 6 months for my 2 black to show up.

Jared Murray · · Oakland, CA · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 70

For anybody searching for Totems in stock ...

I ordered Totem cams and Basics from coldmountainkit.com last month. All were available except the black. Delivered to California in 7 days. Same price (shipping included) as the recent Backcountry deal (no Active Junky cash back though).

Kevin Mokracek · · Burbank · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 200
Kauait wrote:Joe p. My experience is don't buy them from backcountry gear. Ive been waiting for Allmost 6 months for my 2 black to show up.
Its not Backcountry's problem, nobody has black Totems. I waited several months for two black Totems from Mountain Gear. Worth the wait no matter who you end up buying from.
Kauait · · Sandy Utah · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 0

True, I shouldn't have dropped there name. (Sorry BCG)
I've been fortunate enough to have climbed a couple walls with them, thanks to my friends having them. And I can say they are worth the wait and the price.

Joe Petroske · · North Bend, WA · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 20

I managed to snag down to black on backcountry.com, I guess I'm just lucky and didnt have to wait. Looks like they ran out of stock of black pretty quickly though.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

Are they black Basics, or regular totems?

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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