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Newb ?, smallest cams for trad?


Original Post
Don B · · Gardena (South Bay) · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 20

I'm starting to put together a trad rack. I've decided to get Metolius Mastercams for the smaller sizes but wanted to know are their smallest sizes generally for aid climbing or do climbers use them enough on trad routes to warrant buying them? Should I even buy sizes 00, 0, and 1 for trad climbing? Thanks in advance. 

Eric Fjellanger · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2008 · Points: 845

You should buy them. The sizes down to purple will get heavy use. I've placed the gray many times where I had no other choice, and hoped and trusted it would save me, but I've never actually whipped into it.

Adrienne DiRosario · · Troy, NY · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 0

I don't personally use anything smaller than a mastercam 0 or BD .1 but people do. Understand that these small cams have a very low margin of error. 

TJ B · · Denver · Joined May 2012 · Points: 25

I preface this by saying that I am in no way an authority of trad gear compared to others on this forum. However, what I do bring to this discussion is that I just started leading trad this past season so I can say what I've experienced. I bought one full set of cams with Metolius Powercams being my small pieces and switching over to BD C4's at .75 > 3. I have two brands because they all fell into my lap one way or another. I'm leading 5.6-5.7+ and I can tell you that I use my larger sizes twice as much as the tiny cams. I think that's because the easier grades are going to be hand/fist sized cracks vs the harder grades will morph into finger cracks. I still place those small cams every once in a while but definitely not as much the larger cams. For the smaller cracks I'm really trying to place my nuts so I don't rely solely on cams, but that's just me trying to get solid at placing all kinds of gear. 

Overal, I'd grab some smaller cams because there's nothing worse than getting to a spot and you dont' have anything to protect it with, but I can attest to the fact that the easier grades are those middle to large sized pieces

Chalk in the Wind · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 3
Don B wrote:

I'm starting to put together a trad rack. I've decided to get Metolius Mastercams for the smaller sizes but wanted to know are their smallest sizes generally for aid climbing or do climbers use them enough on trad routes to warrant buying them? Should I even buy sizes 00, 0, and 1 for trad climbing? Thanks in advance. 

The 00 and 0 are rated for trad. I find tiny cams like that scary, and there is less margin for error when placing them, but I know people have whipped on them and lived.

The 1 is slightly stronger and large enough that I feel comfortable placing it. I sold my 00 and 0, though, and I'll go with a stopper over cams those sizes if I can.


ViperScale . · · McMurdo Station, AQ · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240

I don't know Metolius sizes to well and to lazy to look it up. However if you are starting out don't get anything smaller than 0.3 BD cam and honestly you probably don't need a cam smaller than 0.5 for easy trad routes. Always do some research on the routes you are going to climb because I only bought a cam bigger than a 3 BD after I knew I was going to get on a route that said you needed something bigger. I have smaller cams now but I used double set of 0.5 to 2 (one 3) size BD cams, 1 set of nuts size 4-13 BD, and some tricams (only because where i climb they are needed don't need them in alot of areas) for over a year when I first started out climbing trad.

After you have done it for a while you will figure out what you need for where you climb and where you plan to climb with some research.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 195

Ha!  I asked the same question on here when I first started building my rack.  I remember somebody posted this:

https://vimeo.com/50101783

The question becomes: would you rather whip on one of the smallest microcams, or on nothing at all?

Cameron Saul · · San Francisco · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 10
Ted Pinson wrote:

Ha!  I asked the same question on here when I first started building my rack.  I remember somebody posted this:

https://vimeo.com/50101783

The question becomes: would you rather whip on one of the smallest microcams, or on nothing at all?

I hear that.  But for a beginner, it may be better to know you have no pro for a section than to place something poorly (easy to do with small cams) and not understand that it's a no-fall zone.  I think as a beginner you should try and use nuts for tiny sizes - if you get one in, it's much more likely to be solid.  OP mentioned aid climbing - for aid, I would definitely take small cams.  You will use them.  And the question of beginner's understanding of the quality of placement becomes less of a problem because you're likely sewing it up on aid.  

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 195

Well, he asked whether people use them or freeclimbing.  Whether he should get them (and when) is another question entirely.

ViperScale . · · McMurdo Station, AQ · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240
Ted Pinson wrote:

Ha!  I asked the same question on here when I first started building my rack.  I remember somebody posted this:

https://vimeo.com/50101783

The question becomes: would you rather whip on one of the smallest microcams, or on nothing at all?

Does anyone else think the end of this route is kinda stupid? Why add a dyno to the left just to clip an anchor and not just put the anchor right above the crack you are climbing. Seems kinda stupid (yes I know off topic)

Shelton Hatfield · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 585
ViperScale wrote:

Does anyone else think the end of this route is kinda stupid? Why add a dyno to the left just to clip an anchor and not just put the anchor right above the crack you are climbing. Seems kinda stupid (yes I know off topic)

Nah. I think it makes sense to take the line as high as you reasonably can.

On topic contribution: 00 and 0 are great for "trad climbing", but often not until doing 5.10 or harder

ViperScale . · · McMurdo Station, AQ · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240
Shelton Hatfield wrote:

Nah. I think it makes sense to take the line as high as you reasonably can.

On topic contribution: 00 and 0 are great for "trad climbing", but often not until doing 5.10 or harder

Right but that is why it seems stupid he didn't get any high really he just moved to the left. Put a hill hook on the ledge he jumped to and clipped the anchor from there. I know the video isn't the best and maybe the guy filming was getting in the way of him going higher but it just didn't seem like he really got any more than 1-2 ft higher by jumping over.

Andrewww · · Concord, NH · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 625

I can say that I have taken about a 15 or so foot whip onto a 00 TCU. It held. I think the smaller master cams are worth having because when it's all you can place, it's better than nothing. I think the master cams excel in the smaller sizes. 00-4 are always on my rack. 

Shelton Hatfield · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 585
ViperScale wrote:

Right but that is why it seems stupid he didn't get any high really he just moved to the left. Put a hill hook on the ledge he jumped to and clipped the anchor from there. I know the video isn't the best and maybe the guy filming was getting in the way of him going higher but it just didn't seem like he really got any more than 1-2 ft higher by jumping over.

If you don't think that the FA should have put the anchors in a position that requires more moves of rock climbing to clip, specifically hard committing moves, then I don't know what to tell you. You are certainly entitled to your opinion.

Maybe this video will help you appreciate the finish? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j63aJbzgORk

ViperScale . · · McMurdo Station, AQ · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240
Shelton Hatfield wrote:

If you don't think that the FA should have put the anchors in a position that requires more moves of rock climbing to clip, specifically hard committing moves, then I don't know what to tell you. You are certainly entitled to your opinion.

Maybe this video will help you appreciate the finish? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j63aJbzgORk

No after seeing the anchors still seems pointless. Confuses me why the anchor isn't up at the same exact level above the original crack you could still reach it by going up right there so it makes it almost seem like a gym route finish where they put some stupid thing in right at the end instead of just following the logical path up.

Shelton Hatfield · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 585
ViperScale wrote:

No after seeing the anchors still seems pointless. Confuses me why the anchor isn't up at the same exact level above the original crack you could still reach it by going up right there so it makes it almost seem like a gym route finish where they put some stupid thing in right at the end instead of just following the logical path up.

Are you suggesting that the "logical path up" is to do some climbing up the splitter 000 c3 crack? Or are you suggesting that if the anchors were further right that they'd be clippable from the same stance that the 000's were placed from? Or something different entirely?

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95
Don B wrote:

I'm starting to put together a trad rack...Should I even buy sizes 00, 0, and 1 for trad climbing?

Don't buy the smallest two sizes (grey, purple) yet. While the posts above are generally correct - microcams do have a useful role to play - they are not appropriate for a brand-new trad leader. They are finicky to place and have small margins for error. Also, the tiniest cams are rarely needed on the sort of straightforward easy climbs that you should be getting on to learn to lead. Buy down to blue (#1) metolius to start. You can pick up the tiny cams later.

Brian in SLC · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Oct 2003 · Points: 14,422

If you're climbing in an area with "good" solid rock, for sure get down to the 00.  

Patrik · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2010 · Points: 30

Wether you need 00 and 0 is strongly area dependent. No one on this forum can tell you that you need or don't need it, unless they know where you climb. 

Generally, you shouldn't need 00 or 0 for a different reason: as a beginner you're not likely to challenge yourself on "hard" climbs for at least 6-12 months. Your profile indicates you're topping out at leading 5.9 sport so far. I suspect you'll be hanging out on G and PG rated trad routes 5.7 or less for a while. In my experience, it is extremely rare you would ever "need" (when nuts don't work) to place a 00 or 0 on those kind of routes (almost independent on which area you go to). Get a skimpy rack and run up a bunch of easier routes at your home crag and figure out what size gear it takes. 

Don B · · Gardena (South Bay) · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 20

Thanks for all of the great responses. Seems to cover a wide spectrum. I'll hold off for now from buying the 2 smallest sizes but will probably get them eventually.

Darren Mabe · · Flagstaff, AZ · Joined Dec 2002 · Points: 3,815

Two questions. What kind of pieces have you fallen on? What kind of pieces are you willing to fall on? Lets go back and start from there since this isn't in the Beginner section of the forum. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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