Totems or Totem Basics?


Original Post
Mark L · · New York, NY · Joined May 2017 · Points: 0

Hey all,

I have a question regarding the different types of Totem Cams.  I already have a double set of all 7 Totems.  The black and blue Totems cover the lower range of sizes that most small cams do.  Is it ideal to compliment the Totems with the Basics, or will I be fine if I have triples of the black and blue Totems?  I've never handled the Basics as they are very difficult to find, especially in a physical store, so I can't really gauge whether or not it would be advantageous to have them considering the head sizes compared to the Totems heads.  I'm sure that they can make some placements work that a Totem may not be able to, but is that scenario encountered frequently enough to justify purchasing the Basics as well?  Would I just be able to cover the smaller cracks with the smallest Totems, or would you recommend adding the Basics to my rack?  I don't climb anything over 5.10, and I primarily climb at the Gunks.

Mike Mellenthin · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 0

The yellow alien fits the awkward size between the yellow and blue totem. This happens to be my locker finger size, so I think they are nice to have.

cyclestupor · · Woodland Park, Colorado · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 68
Mark L wrote:

Hey all,

 I can't really gauge whether or not it would be advantageous to have them considering the head sizes compared to the Totems heads.  I'm sure that they can make some placements work that a Totem may not be able to, but is that scenario encountered frequently enough to justify purchasing the Basics as well? 

I don't have any Totem Basics, only the regular Totems, but it is my understanding that the regular Totems have a narrower head than the basics (for cams of comparable range).  In fact I believe the regular Totems have a narrower head than any other cam on the market.  Given that... I doubt you will find many placements where a basic will work but a regular Totem won't.

That said, having a set of lighter cams to complement your regular Totems could be nice & Totem Basics are quite a bit lighter.  Think of it this way, for longer pitches, the weight of your rack is quite a burden.  For the same weight as 5 Totem Cams you could carry 6 (maybe 7) of some other lighter cams.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 438

This might help, I made this chart based on manufactured listed ranges. Note that I went for "usable range" as metolius lists for their cams, all listings are only 92% of the rated "high range" by the manufacturer. 

I have totems from blue to green and then one blue basic (have also climbed with full sets of CCH aliens and fixe aliens). In use I find that with totems you rarely make placements all the way down at the very low end of the range just because of the trigger pulling each lobe (a little bit trickier to get each lobe fully retracted). So in real world use I find that basics will be placed further down on the low end of their range, meaning there is pretty good in between for the yellow and blue basics. In the green basic I'd probably just go with two blue totems, the range is really so close (plus this size seems to common on the crux of so many routes around here).

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 438

Also of note, if you're going beyond the gunks to alpine later and cutting labels out of your clothes a set of basics is a bit lighter. 

Totem black-purple 322 grams

Basic blue-red 256 grams

Doug Hutchinson · · Seattle, WA · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 80

To all the many lovers of Totems on MP, what are your preferred cams for sizes smaller than the smallest totem sizes?

I have probably owned all the smallest cams made and currently use a mix of X4s (0.1 and 0.2) and C3s. I am quite happy with Camalots in the 0.3 and up sizes (prefer C4s over X4s in the same sizes), even though I realize many of you prefer totems, but I am still looking for something I really like in the micro sizes.  

Mike Mellenthin · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 0
Doug Hutchinson wrote:

To all the many lovers of Totems on MP, what are your preferred cams for sizes smaller than the smallest totem sizes?

I have probably owned all the smallest cams made and currently use a mix of X4s (0.1 and 0.2) and C3s. I am quite happy with Camalots in the 0.3 and up sizes (prefer C4s over X4s in the same sizes), even though I realize many of you prefer totems, but I am still looking for something I really like in the micro sizes.  

The smallest totem size (black) is roughly the same as BD 0.2, so really you're talking about one cam size, maybe two if you like aid climbing.

Anyway I own 00 and 000 C3s. I used to own a black fixe alien and I've climbed on the 0.1 x4. I didn't like either of them, but that might just be my own irrationality talking.

IMO the black totem is the best small cam ever made. It's like a blue alien that doesn't move around.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 438
Doug Hutchinson wrote:

To all the many lovers of Totems on MP, what are your preferred cams for sizes smaller than the smallest totem sizes?

I have probably owned all the smallest cams made and currently use a mix of X4s (0.1 and 0.2) and C3s. I am quite happy with Camalots in the 0.3 and up sizes (prefer C4s over X4s in the same sizes), even though I realize many of you prefer totems, but I am still looking for something I really like in the micro sizes.  

I have C3s gray to red, a .2 x4 and a blue basic. The only one in that bunch I don't like is the X4.

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

To all the many lovers of Totems on MP, what are your preferred cams for sizes smaller than the smallest totem sizes?

I have probably owned all the smallest cams made and currently use a mix of X4s (0.1 and 0.2) and C3s. I am quite happy with Camalots in the 0.3 and up sizes (prefer C4s over X4s in the same sizes), even though I realize many of you prefer totems, but I am still looking for something I really like in the micro sizes.  

The blue and green basics are probably my favorite small cams, especially on slick rock (e.g. quartzite).  There is a noticeable performance difference over X4s, and they are also ridiculously light.  Initially bought them as doubles for my X4 set, now they're my go-to and I only carry X4s under 0.5 if I need doubles.  I like to bring the Green and Gray C3s if I need something smaller than the blue Basic.

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

They're both called totems, but they are entirely different beasts with nothing in common but the name...

J Cor · · New York, New York · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 0

I have both the black totem and blue totem basic. I also climb at the gunks but lead only up to 7+. The blue totem basic can fit in shallower placements noticeably better than the black totem. Because of the way the cables attach to the black totem it makes the lobes "deeper" relative to the blue basic. I have found a handful of placements where the blue fits well and the camming surface of the black is just sticking out a bit too much. I think these situations are likley unique shallow horizontal crack placements. Where the black totem fits, such as some deeper horizontal pin scars, I like it much better than the blue. I would suggest one of each or certainly at least one blue if you will get triple in the size. I will try to upload some comparison photos so you can see what I'm taking about.

GilaShot · · Western Antarctic, New Engl... · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 0

The basics are way lighter and smaller, and would definitely be good for when you want to double up on smaller sizes.  

J Cor · · New York, New York · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 0

Zachary Winters · · Mazama, Washington · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 28
J Cor wrote:

What are you measuring here? Certainly not range or head width.. is there another dimension I should be geeking out on?

Ryan M Moore · · Philadelphia, PA · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 0

Depth of head. That's really only a meaningful measurement for horizontal cracks or pockets as they're the only placements where you would put the cam straight in. 

baldclimber · · Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0
J Cor wrote:

Apples vs oranges.  The length of the lobe isn't important as the contact points are different on these cams.  I own both.

J Cor · · New York, New York · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 0
Ryan M Moore wrote:

Depth of head. That's really only a meaningful measurement for horizontal cracks or pockets as they're the only placements where you would put the cam straight in. 

Correct, OP climbs at the gunk's. Shallow horizontal cracks and pockets are the majority of the placements there for this size.

J Cor · · New York, New York · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 0
baldclimber wrote:

Apples vs oranges.  The length of the lobe isn't important as the contact points are different on these cams.  I own both.

I agree they are different. I'm trying to make the point that the black totem's contact is much farther from the back of the lobe. So when placing the cams in a bottoming horizontal crack sometimes the blue works better since it's contact point is closer to the head. Sorry if the photos don't communicate that. Hard to hold the cam, calipers and phone at one time. 

baldclimber · · Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0
J Cor wrote:

I agree they are different. I'm trying to make the point that the black totem's contact is much farther from the back of the lobe. So when placing the cams in a bottoming horizontal crack sometimes the blue works better since it's contact point is closer to the head. Sorry if the photos don't communicate that. Hard to hold the cam, calipers and phone at one time. 

Correcting my own statement: the contact points are slightly different (determined by the camming angle), but the greatest difference (as you correctly pointed out) comes from the extended lobes holding the load wires.  In your pictures that is clearly seen as the distance from the axle to the top caliper "blade".

Mark L · · New York, NY · Joined May 2017 · Points: 0

I'm going to continue looking for a set of the Basics to compliment the Totems I have.  Until I can find them, I think that the black and blue Totems that I have triples of will work just fine.  If I am able to find the Basics I will most likely sell one black and one blue Totem to help foot the bill.  Thanks for the advice thus far; anyone who has experience with both the Totems and the Basics that hasn't chimed in yet please do.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 438
Mark L wrote:

I'm going to continue looking for a set of the Basics to compliment the Totems I have.  Until I can find them, I think that the black and blue Totems that I have triples of will work just fine.  If I am able to find the Basics I will most likely sell one black and one blue Totem to help foot the bill.  Thanks for the advice thus far; anyone who has experience with both the Totems and the Basics that hasn't chimed in yet please do.

Mark, please shoot me a pm when you plan to sell one of your black totems.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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