Cam purchase advice


Original Post
Kevin Kelley · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 0

Hey everyone.  I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on cam sizing.  I have been using BD C4 and X4s for a while on my borrowed rack (best friend is injured, nice guy).  I like them and am looking for what would be best for me.  I'm leaning towards getting Wild country new friends bc they are essentially the same sizing as c4s and lighter, plus I liked the ones I've tried.  For smaller cams I was leaning towards DMM dragons since they are rated at 12 KN for DB .4 equivilent.

But lately I had a friend recommend totem cams because of their ability to load differently in shallow placements / irregular flares ect.  I regularly climb at Red River gorge and a lot of the cracks are typically not lasers or super parallel, but I've never seen anyone with totems...  Anyone have an opinion on this?  and does anyone know how their sizes line up BD sizes?  

Thanks 

Eli · · Lives in a truck · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 2,576

Most people are fine with standard black diamond gear and a set of aliens or small cam equivalent.

Me? I use totems.

Loganator · · blue van, on the highway to no · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 240

The best rack is the one you are most comfortable with! However If you learned on those terrible x4s, your next set of cams will feel much nicer. Totem cams and totem basics are my preferred cam, they are the highest quality... 2nd place is a long way down in my opinion. However, the totems are not the fastest placing cam, it will take some practice to get to use them. The basics are great to supplement the totem rack for this reason. For tiny cams I like C3s and metolius mastercam. For big gear, get the ultralights. the weight you save is incredible! 

Of course this is also the most expensive rack I can think of... And you're in the RRG. Go sport climbing! You'll be so strong after a few years. Save the crack climbing for the West coast.

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,530

Get the cams that feel best in your hand and don't pay attention to what anyone says about them. 

The only thing about regular Totems that I'd advise you to do is make sure you've used them before you buy them. They are a very unique cam and they don't look or feel like anything else out there. You may love them, but you also may hate them, and they're pretty spendy for something you may hate. 

Ps- don't listen to anyone who says there isn't worthwhile trad in the Red. I love climbing on gear there- and almost always bring my rack when i visit! 

Jake Jones · · Richmond, VA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 1,420
Kevin Kelley wrote:

 does anyone know how their sizes line up BD sizes?  

Thanks 

Inane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 0
Kevin Kelley wrote:

and does anyone know how their sizes line up BD sizes?  

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1J4Ce7nyumynpXu93l7BSg1n_VwdFX9IHjqkkD_V4-kA/edit?usp=sharing

that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 205

Totems are king, get the new WC in size 3 and BD in size 4.

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

You're going to find a ton of Totem love here on Mountain Project, because they are awesome. They have their flaws like anything else, but they do tend to place better than any other cam in odd places. In strait sided cracks just about anything will work well. I have BD, DMM, Metolius and Totem in the larger sizes.

 I really like the Metolius Master Cams for small placements. If you find them on sale (which you often can if you just wait 2-4 weeks) they are almost half the price of Totems. The Master cam ultralight's are really light and pretty awesome. 

grog m aka Greg McKee · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 70

How much money are you willing to spend? $ or $$ or $$$?

How many cams do you want?

Where do you climb the most?

Bowens · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 60
that guy named seb wrote:

Totems are king, get the new WC in size 3 and BD in size 4.

Do you not like the WC new friend in size 4?

Eric L · · Roseville, CA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 20

This is not a slam on Totems (never used them personally but hear good things), but consider checking serial numbers when buying: http://www.totemcams.com/voluntary-recall-basic/

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

You have a sweet rack planned, but I would avoid the X4s... I recently sold mine and switched over all of my small cams (BD sizes .2-.4) to Totem Basics.  Could not be happier with my rock rack now!

Bowens · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 60
Nick Sweeney wrote:

You have a sweet rack planned, but I would avoid the X4s... I recently sold mine and switched over all of my small cams (BD sizes .2-.4) to Totem Basics.  Could not be happier with my rock rack now!

What do you dislike about the X4s?  What do you like better about the Totem Basics?

David Kerkeslager · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 45

The BD C4s are touted as the standard, but I can't really see a reason to get them any more. There are better cams for the same price or cheaper, in the same size ranges.

Totems are the best, but they are significantly more expensive. If money is limiting the number of cams you can get, it may be worthwhile to get more cams in different sizes rather than better cams.

EDIT: One thing to note when comparing cam sizings is that Metolius reports effective range, while (AFAIK) every other manufacturer reports the full range of the cams, which is misleading because the full range includes ranges where the cam is so undercammed it won't work. Metolius' numbers don't look as good, but that's only because other manufacturers are reporting a misleading upper range number.

divnamite · · New York, NY · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 170
David Kerkeslager wrote:

There are better cams for the same price or cheaper, in the same size ranges.

What are these cams?

grog m aka Greg McKee · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 70
David Kerkeslager wrote:

The BD C4s are touted as the standard, but I can't really see a reason to get them any more. 

Why? Because you don't like how they feel? Do you have any data or are you just a hater because people love BD

AndrewArroz · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10
Kevin Kelley wrote:

Hey everyone.  I'm wondering if anyone has any advice on cam sizing.  I have been using BD C4 and X4s for a while on my borrowed rack (best friend is injured, nice guy).  I like them and am looking for what would be best for me.  I'm leaning towards getting Wild country new friends bc they are essentially the same sizing as c4s and lighter, plus I liked the ones I've tried.  For smaller cams I was leaning towards DMM dragons since they are rated at 12 KN for DB .4 equivilent.

But lately I had a friend recommend totem cams because of their ability to load differently in shallow placements / irregular flares ect.  I regularly climb at Red River gorge and a lot of the cracks are typically not lasers or super parallel, but I've never seen anyone with totems...  Anyone have an opinion on this?  and does anyone know how their sizes line up BD sizes?  

Thanks 

There's something to be said for the ubiquity of BD C4s. If you climb trad around the country and with other people it's the most likely cam you're going to encounter. So when it comes to merging/mixing your rack with someone else's to go do a climb that needs four BD size #.75, for example, you won't have trouble figuring out what goes with what. Not that you couldn't or shouldn't mix and match with other brands, too, I'm just saying it's more simple. 

Also, you can get screaming deals here on MP of people unloading their lightly used C4 racks. You don't really see that as much with other brands, except really crappy old stuff. Again, may not be the primary concern for you.

I hear the Totems are great in some really tough placements. 

David Kerkeslager · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 45
divnamite wrote:

What are these cams?

In the smaller sizes, the Metolius UL Master Cams are lighter, cheaper, and have a better "feel".

It's a little more ambiguous in the larger sizes. I've really liked the Dragon 2 cams when I've placed them, enough that I think I'm going to sell my C4s to get Dragon 2s. I've never used the WC Friends, but a lot of UK folks seem to consider the Friends to be the standard, not the BD C4s, and just looking at the paper stats, they are lighter.

Will S · · Joshua Tree · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 1,053

I like the smallest totems, but calling the entire range, especially the larger ones "the best" is just as absurd as saying there's no reason to buy BDs. Totems are floppy by design, which is fine for reducing walking, for loading at oblique angles and so on, but go ahead and try walking a large cam over your head while thrutching up a off-fist crack then get back to me on how well a narrow headed, floppy stemmed cam works out for you. Try placing any size of them at full stretch where you're just trying to push it into the placement and instead of going in the stem just buckles. It's the same reason then original aliens never caught on above about the red size, too floppy. 

There's good reason to own multiple brands, or at least supplement with other brands in specific ranges, particularly if you climb parallel wingate cracks.  E.g a #2 friend or a black metolius works perfectly when your other option would be tipped out 0.75 camalot.  

drock3 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 19

Here're my 2 cents.

If you go around the crag (in North America) and look at what everyone has, you'll see (aka, you'll be fine with these):

  • 95% of people use C4s for regular sizes (.5 and up)
  • There more variation in smaller stuff, but its mostly X4s and TCUs/Mastercams

There's good reason most people have a rack like this. It's a good compromise of functionality, weight and cost.

My opinion about other cams:

  • C4 Ultralight - Super sweet. For alpine climbs where I don't plan on falling and weight matters a lot, I'd definitely recommend. Still not convinced on durability, but I have no evidence to back up fears. Very expensive, luckily for me, I've got friends I can borrow from.
  • WC New Friends - I think if I were in the market I'd lean towards these. I haven't climbed on them but they seem like they're a lighter version of the C4 at the same price.
  • DMM Dragons - In the US, they're more expensive than the corresponding C4 with no added benefit. Seems dumb to get them. I've never seen them in the wild.
  • C3 - They're a bit awkward and dont quite work as well as other small cams. I haven't climbed on them much, but I almost never see them on other peoples racks. Usually they're reserved of aid climbing where the narrow head really makes a difference.
  • Alien clones (fixe/totem basics) - Seem fine. Some people love them. I have a few in the tiny sizes (aka aid rack) so I don't use them much.
  • Totems - MP forums seem to be recommending these a lot recently. These are not "standard" cams. They're a specialty piece (like link cams). They're too bulky/espensive to be a go-to free climbing cam. If you know a route has weird gear, or you're going aid climbing, then yeah, they might be nice to have. You're not going to be making a 2 lobe placement while you're onsighting anywhere near your limit. If you're just cragging and just need a cam, the cons (bulk, price, lack of sizes) far outweigh the pros.

Eli · · Lives in a truck · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 2,576
Will S wrote:

Totems are floppy by design, which is fine for reducing walking, for loading at oblique angles and so on, but go ahead and try walking a large cam over your head while thrutching up a off-fist crack then get back to me on how well a narrow headed, floppy stemmed cam works out for you.

You must have very very small hands. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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