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Replace hexes with Tricams on your rack?


Original Post
· · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 0

I'm wondering if any of you people that like using hexes, or did at one point, ever thought of replacing them with Tricams instead? I'm considering this for myself, because at this point I rarely rack my hexes unless I know I will need them for inward flaring cracks, or large vertical constrictions that are too big for my largest nut, or just want to have fun placing them on easy routes. I already carry Tricams from sizes 0.25 Black to 2.0 Violet on me, so technically without actually comparing them next to my larger hexes, would need to add up to size #5 orange. The things that occur to me are...

A Tricam can do everything a hex can do, plus more, which makes it more versatile on the rack than a hex would be.

Surprisingly, Tricams are lighter than their hex equivalent for the slung Wild Country and Camp Hexes I use, even for the larger solid Tricams. They get lighter once they go to the riveted head. Case point the #5 orange is lighter than the #4 green.

Tricams are more expensive than hexes, particularly in the larger sizes. 

I understand from my reading in the forum here that the larger sizes are more unstable than the smaller sizes, but assume this to only be in it's active position. Is this the case? As I'd likely be mostly using the larger sizes in their passive positions in the same way I'd use a hex for those use cases. But it wouldn't hurt if it could be used in active when a cam in that size range was already used. 

What are your thoughts and experiences with this?

Thank you in advance for your replies.

Edit: To save people the time of reading through this whole thread, here is what I figured out. Turns out they would not be lighter as I did not measure the Tricam size versus my largest hex correctly. Turns out I would also need the #6 yellow Tricam to be equivalent to my largest hex which nullifies the lighter argument. Also, as stated in the Tricam manual... Tricams in passive position are only more stable than a nut when the parallel cam rails are straddling an irregularity, bump, or rugosity. This keeps them from pulling out sideways. Without that, they are no more stable than a nut. Which for using them in a horizontal inward flaring crack one would not use a single nut to do that unless it was a keyhole pocket. And there is no guarantee that the leader would always find some feature to straddle the parallel cam rails over. So I'm keeping my hexes, but getting rid of the smaller ones that overlap my largest nut sizes.
Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,615

Interesting thought.  I personally rack hexes.  But I look forward to hearing from the voices of those with tricam experience.


B Owens · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2011 · Points: 60
anotherclimber wrote:

I'm wondering if any of you people that like using hexes, or did at one point, ever thought of replacing them with Tricams instead? I'm considering this for myself, because at this point I rarely rack my hexes unless I know I will need them for inward flaring cracks, or large vertical constrictions that are too big for my largest nut, or just want to have fun placing them on easy routes. I already carry Tricams from sizes 0.25 Black to 2.0 Violet on me, so technically without actually comparing them next to my larger hexes, would need to add up to size #5 orange. The things that occur to me are...

A Tricam can do everything a hex can do, plus more, which makes it more versatile on the rack than a hex would be.

Surprisingly, Tricams are lighter than their hex equivalent for the slung Wild Country and Camp Hexes I use, even for the larger solid Tricams. They get lighter once they go to the riveted head. Case point the #5 orange is lighter than the #4 green.

Tricams are more expensive than hexes, particularly in the larger sizes. 

I understand from my reading in the forum here that the larger sizes are more unstable than the smaller sizes, but assume this to only be in it's active position. Is this the case? As I'd likely be mostly using the larger sizes in their passive positions in the same way I'd use a hex for those use cases. But it wouldn't hurt if it could be used in active when a cam in that size range was already used. 

What are your thoughts and experiences with this?

Thank you in advance for your replies.

The reason you don't use hexes in the larger sizes is probably the same reason you wouldn't use tricams in the larger sizes.  If you're climbing features that are less ideal to protect with cams than with passive gear, then I guess go for it.  A Tricam is definitely more versatile than a hex.

· · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 0
Bill Lawry wrote:

Interesting thought.  I personally rack hexes.  But I look forward to hearing from the voices of those with tricam experience.


Bill, Do you not have any experience with Tricams? They are nifty pieces of rock pro, but I do understand there are some crags where they are not necessary. I just don't have experience with the larger sizes to know the answer to all this. 

· · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 0
B Owens wrote:

The reason you don't use hexes in the larger sizes is probably the same reason you wouldn't use tricams in the larger sizes.  If you're climbing features that are less ideal to protect with cams than with passive gear, then I guess go for it.  A Tricam is definitely more versatile than a hex.

I do use hexes in the larger sizes when the features on the climb or crag calls for it. I've seen what happen to a cam when you put it in a inward flaring crack or a larger vertical V crack. 

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,615
anotherclimber wrote:

Bill, Do you not have any experience with Tricams?

I have very little experience with them.  For a while, I carried the pink and red on my rack.  But that hasn't been happening the last couple years.

My interest is sincere.  I hope others veterans of tricams will contribute as I find your question intriguing about carrying the larger tricams.

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

Mmm I feel like they fill different niches.  When I place tricams, it’s almost always small ones actively placed in a horizontal or pod/pocket, because nothing else is really great for that (cams often get kinked or even loaded right on the trigger).  So I treat them as somewhat of a specialty piece closer to a small cam.  Are you talking about placing them passively, like a nut?  That is surprising that tricams are lighter in that size, as the BD hollow ones are quite light.

Alex James · · Ballard, WA · Joined May 2016 · Points: 181

I normally carry my couple largest hexes on routes with me and I think they fit better than the large tricams. I generally don't like tricams in passive placements personally because its hard to get enough surface with their shape. The rock just doesn't form that sort of constriction that much or I'm really bad at noticing when it does. I do have a #6 tricam that I pretty much only bring when I need an extra active piece in the #4 cam range. Like you said the bigger tricams do have a tendency to fall out or move cause they don't set that well. 

If you're talking about the not quite giant tricams like the 2-4 range, I do like those better than the equivalent size hexes. But that is mainly because its more common to find active placements for those and they are still pretty secure. 

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

I carry tricams with me always because where I live they are the only thing that will fit in alot of spots. As others have said sometimes small cams would fit in horizontals but they don't feel as solid as a good tricam and I have damaged some small cams from this. Rarely do the big tricams get placed normally just red and smaller sizes. My friend likes to bring some hexes along but we have never had to place one because it was the only thing that would fit but for comedy reasons.

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 122

I place tricams on almost 100% of climbs (Gunks!). Basically the situations I place a tricam are:

  1. Pod/pocket/shallow crack (like Ted Pinson said) where a cam would be too wide.
  2. Uneven/ragged-edged/pebbly cracks where cam lobes have bad surface area. A tricam is good in these spots because the pivot point fits between the pebbles/unevenesses.
  3. An upturned horizontal that would kink the cables on a cam.

If it's just a parallel crack and none of these are present, a cam is faster and maybe a bit more stable (without some feature to seat the pivot point tricams can walk a bit). I don't see these features often with larger cracks, so I don't carry tricams larger than blue (and rarely place that). The pink gets placed the most--I carry three of them and occasionally place all three on a pitch.

I never place tricams passively, because they get worse surface area than nuts and my nuts in the same sizes are rated to handle more force (note that tricams are rated to hold less force when placed passively).

I don't carry my Wild Country hexes in the Gunks, only elsewhere, so I have fairly limited experience with them. However, I will say that I never place them in active placements. I tried to place them actively for a while, but ultimately I don't think I ever found an active placement where a cam wasn't faster and more secure. Placing them passively, they're basically wider versions of nuts, so I don't carry hexes in the sizes where I have nuts. This leaves me with the large hexes, which I place in constrictions that are too big for the DMM Wallnuts I carry--and in those cases, hexes are the only thing that will work. My feel about hexes is that they're basically big nuts, and placing them actively is more of an aesthetic choice than a practical one (nothing wrong with that). But like I said, I haven't used them much. There just aren't that many cases where a large constriction is the only protection option in the Gunks.

EDIT: Made a few edits to clarify that I'm not down on hexes, I actually like them a lot in the larger sizes.

Ryan Bowen · · Bend, Or · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 85

I make it a point to place my DMM Torque nuts when I rack them.  In a good placement, they are very confidence inspiring.  Usually I just treat them like a big nut, but there have been a few active placements that made my trousers fit a little tight in the front.

Roy Suggett · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 7,236

Have a plethora of sizes, makes, and shapes. 

Brassmonkey · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 115

I love placing my tricams in the trash!


:)

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 122

I realized that my previous post was basically just a survey of how I use tricams/hexes, but didn't really address the OPs question clearly. Here's my opinion, which should be taken with a grain of salt:

I don't think big tricams are a good replacement for hexes. They're more versatile in the sense that they can be placed both actively and passively, but in larger sizes they are usually not the best choice for either case:

  • For passive placements, a hex is better because it gets better surface area, which sets it better and distributes the force over more rock.
  • For active placements, a cam is better unless there are some other factors (the numbered points in my previous post). Those factors come up a lot in small cracks in the Gunks, but are fairly rare in big cracks even in the Gunks where tricams excel. There's a pebbly crack on Gelsa where a big tricam would have worked better than the Orange Totem I put there, but other than that, I don't think I've ever wished I had a big tricam.

Obviously the second point is extremely dependent on what kind of rock you climb on. If your local rock has tons of pebbly cracks, pockets, or upward-opening horizontals in fist size and up, big tricams might be a pragmatic choice for you. I've never been to Zion, but based on the pictures, a retrotrad of Huecos Rancheros might be a good time to use big tricams.

As with placing hexes in active placements, my feeling on bringing big tricams is that it's an aesthetic rather than a pragmatic choice in most cases (which is okay for those who like doing it).

Danny Poceta · · the gunks · Joined Nov 2013 · Points: 40

cams

Hobo Greg · · My Van · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 165

As the bumper sticker says, Nobody Cares You Place Tricams.

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

The real question is: how will this affect your hipster climber score?  Do hexes score higher because they’re functionally useless and can be heard from a mile away, or do tricams because you get to brag about placing them?

Everett · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 25

Can you rap with a tricam? I prefer my pro to be absurdly dual purpose.

Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 135

I almost never leave the deck without my hexes.  A while back, I added some tricams to my rack and they have yet to get off the deck.  I feel very confident placing hexes, big sizes included, and have yet to run across a situation where I thought to myself, "I really should have brought my tricams."  I have friends that feel the opposite.  I think in most cases, the gear you are most comfortable placing is the gear that works the best, with a few exceptions (I don't climb in the Gunks, where I hear tricams are almost mandatory).

Alexander Blum · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 132

I think tricams are useful, but not necessary, to have on one's rack. I usually carry pink, red, and brown. They can be placed in their active position, or used like larger nuts that will fit into some pretty funky placements, so I don't carry nuts larger than BD 10 when I rack tricams. This means the tricams aren't really extra weight, and whenever I can place one actively from a good stance that conserves a cam. The longer I have been climbing the less I do this though - cams are just so much faster.

The larger tricams are pretty unstable, that's probably why they aren't commonly used as an alternative to hexes. That being said, I feel that both tricams and hexes are completely unnecessary unless cost is a concern. I have climbed all over the country, liver in a famous 'tricam area', and have never encountered a route that would have protected well if only I had that pink tricam, but is terrifying and dangerous without that piece. A standard double rack of name brand cams down to metolius purple-ish size, a set of offset nuts, and a set of brassies will get a climber up 99% of routes in america (that aren't at indian creek, or splitter cracks).

I guess I just don't see the point of hexes with modern camming devices available. I go back and forth as to the utility of tricams, but if they were taken away from me forever I wouldn't be too upset. When routes get steeper and more difficult I find fiddling with tricams, both as the leader and follower, to be frustrating and not fun.

· · Unknown Hometown · Joined unknown · Points: 0
Ted Pinson wrote:

Mmm I feel like they fill different niches.  When I place tricams, it’s almost always small ones actively placed in a horizontal or pod/pocket, because nothing else is really great for that (cams often get kinked or even loaded right on the trigger).  So I treat them as somewhat of a specialty piece closer to a small cam.  Are you talking about placing them passively, like a nut?  That is surprising that tricams are lighter in that size, as the BD hollow ones are quite light.

Ted, 

I agree that yourself and a lot of other climbers feel that way about Tricams in terms of how they are used. But they are very versitile, and can be used in more than those specific circumstances. Although admittedly for myself, unless I have run out of a size cam that's comparable to a Tricam for active mode, I generally place them when nothing else fits. For the larger Tricams, yes placing them passively, as that is what I would be using the hexes for in those two specific circumstances of an inward flaring crack, and a large vertical V crack that is too big for my largest nut. Regarding weight differences... I was going to write up a big detailed report and such showing the differences but frustrated with the amount of data and interpretation of it. I'll try and summarize what I found. But you should probably look into it yourself and make your own judgment. Keep in mind I've never placed a hex sideways due to most having transverse/offset cut. So I'm not counting that position.

For the largest #11 Black Diamond Hexcentric and compararble in size #11 Camp Dyneema Carvex compared to #5 orange Tricam. Tricam is significantly lighter as this is the first riveted one.  For the #4 green Tricam which is the heaviest solid body one, it depends. It does cover a few hex size ranges,  #9 and 10 Hexcentric, and #7, 8, and partial 9 of Wild Country Rockcentric., and almost #3 and certainly #4 DMM Torque Nut.  If we assume that it replaces multiple sizes of hexes, the Tricam is lighter. But what is not clear to me is how Camp makes their measurements of the minimum and maximum sizes. In addition, I know for a fact that there are some active positions that you can't place it in as it will pull, like nose facing downwards in a parallel crack with nothing in front of the nose. So there is a lot of interpretation that I'm not sure about. 

Edit: Just found out what the Tricam measurements are on Camp's website separate from the Tricam page.

The minimum range is the distance between the tip of the fulcrum point and the highest point on the rounded cam rails. The maximum range is just shy (2-5 mm depending on the size) of the overall length of the cam head.

I understand this to be that the minimum range they list is a little bigger than the biggest crack you'd put the Tricam in in active mode with the fulccrum at 90 degrees to the crack wall. And the maximum is active mode with the fulcrum rolled back from the direction of pull until the cam shoulders touch the same side of the crack wall as the fulcrum. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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