Adventure Projects is hiring a web engineer to join us in Boulder, CO
Mountain Project Logo

C4 vs. DMM Dragons vs. Totem


WadeM · · Golden, Co · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 325

Wild Country for .5 and larger
Totems for fingers
smallest BD offset and a blue alien
Rps
Offset nuts

My standard rack ^^^

Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 135
Leliko Mana wrote: 
3) Besides, I'll look into ordering C4 rack once new C4s come out in January 2019.

Personally, I am looking forward to the new C4s coming out so I can pick up the current generation at a discount.

Floyd Eggers · · Kennewick, WA · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 341
Matt Himmelstein wrote:

Personally, I am looking forward to the new C4s coming out so I can pick up the current generation at a discount.

Already places asking Trango prices for them. 

Briggs Lazalde · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0

What is "totem"? Can u apply totem to your skin? Can u eat totem? How can I be more like totem?

Mark Paulson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 130
eli poss wrote: Not the case at all. The narrow head width makes a huge difference for most placement smaller than the green. And the flexible stem makes it pretty damn hard to get them to walk. If you climb cracks that are shallow at times and/or slightly flared, the totems can make a huge difference.

Have you actually used the totems? Because in my experience most people have actually used them wish they could buy a whole rack of them if they weren't so damn expensive. 

If I need a narrower head, I use Master Cams, X4's, or C3's.  I haven't placed the Totems, but have played with them.  The bulk and price premium didn't seem to warrant me buying them.  Again, the design is very cool, and their application for aid and flaring cracks is for real.  But to recommend them as the backbone of a beginner's rack, especially when you can currently get discounted C4's for half the price, strikes me as questionable advice.  Even Friends are lighter and considerably cheaper.  Totems are new and cool, but it seems a lot of people, especially newer climbers, are suffering from new-gear-syndrome, trying to get the newest, bestest cams out there, and over-exaggerating their advantages for regular trad use after they've already purchased them.  I'm not immune to this phenomenon--I definitely jumped on the X4 bandwagon, but am now considering replacing them.  I've followed a lot of Totem threads, and the preponderance of folks advocating strongly for them are newer climbers climbing easier terrain, whereas people climbing harder routes with well established tick lists usually consider them more as doubles or specialty pieces.  Whether this means the stronger climbers are just crusty luddites afraid of new tech, or seasoned vets that recognize a niche piece when they see it, is for you to decide... 

abandon moderation · · Tahoe · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 118

At the big sizes (C4 #5/#6, Dragon #7/#8) I think the Dragons are better. Simply because they protect the same range and at the largest size are 42g lighter.

The triggers also have less resistance to pull, which I appreciate when I'm pumped.

I usually climb with C4s to #4, then Dragons for #5/#6

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 484
Mark Paulson wrote:

If I need a narrower head, I use Master Cams, X4's, or C3's.  I haven't placed the Totems, but have played with them.  The bulk and price premium didn't seem to warrant me buying them.  Again, the design is very cool, and their application for aid and flaring cracks is for real.  But to recommend them as the backbone of a beginner's rack, especially when you can currently get discounted C4's for half the price, strikes me as questionable advice.  Even Friends are lighter and considerably cheaper.  Totems are new and cool, but it seems a lot of people, especially newer climbers, are suffering from new-gear-syndrome, trying to get the newest, bestest cams out there, and over-exaggerating their advantages for regular trad use after they've already purchased them.  I'm not immune to this phenomenon--I definitely jumped on the X4 bandwagon, but am now considering replacing them.  I've followed a lot of Totem threads, and the preponderance of folks advocating strongly for them are newer climbers climbing easier terrain, whereas people climbing harder routes with well established tick lists usually consider them more as doubles or specialty pieces.  Whether this means the stronger climbers are just crusty luddites afraid of new tech, or seasoned vets that recognize a niche piece when they see it, is for you to decide... 

Totems have much narrower heads than mastercams or X4s. I've heard the black totem has the same head width as the same size C3 but gets you a 4th lobe. Maybe that extra half a centimer doesn't come in handy very often where you climb but it does where I climb. My original rack was a set of C4s .3-3 that I got on pro deal for cheap, some old TCUs, and a few tech friends that I got for like $10 each. 

Most of those cams are (in fact all of them other than the #3) now sit in my closet as rarely used doubles. They have all been replaced by totems, C3s, and Zeros. If I'd bought totems from the start then I would have saved a lot of money.

I'm not making this recommendation because I'm enamored with new gear, I'm making this recommendation because it's what I wish I would have done when I was building my rack.  

bridge · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined May 2016 · Points: 0
WadeM wrote: Wild Country for .5 and larger
Totems for fingers
smallest BD offset and a blue alien
Rps
Offset nuts

My standard rack ^^^

This, but C4 ultralights for 2 and up.

Jared Chrysostom · · Charleston, SC · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 5
Mark Paulson wrote:

If I need a narrower head, I use Master Cams, X4's, or C3's.  I haven't placed the Totems, but have played with them.  The bulk and price premium didn't seem to warrant me buying them.  Again, the design is very cool, and their application for aid and flaring cracks is for real.  But to recommend them as the backbone of a beginner's rack, especially when you can currently get discounted C4's for half the price, strikes me as questionable advice.  Even Friends are lighter and considerably cheaper.  Totems are new and cool, but it seems a lot of people, especially newer climbers, are suffering from new-gear-syndrome, trying to get the newest, bestest cams out there, and over-exaggerating their advantages for regular trad use after they've already purchased them.  I'm not immune to this phenomenon--I definitely jumped on the X4 bandwagon, but am now considering replacing them.  I've followed a lot of Totem threads, and the preponderance of folks advocating strongly for them are newer climbers climbing easier terrain, whereas people climbing harder routes with well established tick lists usually consider them more as doubles or specialty pieces.  Whether this means the stronger climbers are just crusty luddites afraid of new tech, or seasoned vets that recognize a niche piece when they see it, is for you to decide... 

Being a newer trad climber myself, I am pretty sure I climb safer with 7 Dragons than I would have with 3 Totems. 

Briggs Lazalde · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0
Jared Chrysostom wrote:

Being a newer trad climber myself, I am pretty sure I climb safer with 7 Dragons than I would have with 3 Totems. 

With each totem purchase you get 1 "revert to last save" so id say ney

Harumpfster Boondoggle · · Between yesterday and today. · Joined Apr 2018 · Points: 0

Totems are very impressive in the smaller sizes but I would go ultralight C4s for state of the art from #2 on up (Don't get Orange Totem and the red is marginal, imo).

Keep in mind, it is the Indian not the arrow, especially for your first rack. If you don't know how to place a cam none of them will catch you and the easier handling of a C4 may be very useful too.

Also, if you are a normally sized smaller human weight savings in the UL C4s are a premium advantage, imo.

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

As long as you’re ok with replacing cams every 5 years.

Live Perched · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0
Harumpfster Boondoggle wrote: Totems are very impressive in the smaller sizes but I would go ultralight C4s for state of the art from #2 on up (Don't get Orange Totem and the red is marginal, imo).

Keep in mind, it is the Indian not the arrow, especially for your first rack. If you don't know how to place a cam none of them will catch you and the easier handling of a C4 may be very useful too.

Also, if you are a normally sized smaller human weight savings in the UL C4s are a premium advantage, imo.

UL C4 in large sizes offer significant weight savings but they are very stiff and the dyneema cannot be exposed to WD40 or other cleansers, so when they rust they are annoying to clean.  We are selling our UL #2 to buy the Orange Totem.  Totems are no brainer better than ULs: flexible stem and no dyneema.

Harumpfster Boondoggle · · Between yesterday and today. · Joined Apr 2018 · Points: 0

^^^^Don't agree and there are plenty of nylon/dynema safe lubes to use on cams and I certainly wouldn't worry about "rust" discoloring the Dynema. Rarely even occurs I would wager for most users that very rarely get their gear wet. And depending on your mission/physique weight savings may be absolutely critical.

Hated the Orange Totem personally, but you may be perfectly happy with it.

Caveat: As a granite climber, our cracks are pretty splitter and we rarely need horizontal placements where the flexibility really hurts. Totems particularly seem to excel in areas where less uniform cracks and many horizontal placements are common. That said, I still heartily endorse Totes in the smaller sizes.

Chris Blatchley · · Somerville, MA · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0

i often have to replace an orange totem placement with the gold c4 because the orange just doesn't sit too well. head width is too narrow for the lobe size, imo. though i still rack both because there have been a couple times where i can't fit a c4 in the same spot.

Jaren Watson · · Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 1,973

Weaknesses aplenty, have I. But racism is not one of them.
I never used a cam I didn’t like.

Mark Paulson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 130

Another consideration wrt Totems is the lack of cam stops.  In one of the early UKC cam roundups that included Totems, they actually broke a cam when it walked, umbrella-ed, then broke/inverted when weighted.  When a crack flares _inward_, which occurs quite a bit in southern sandstone cracks, I like knowing that even if a cam walks and opens up, it's still a full-strength passive piece.

that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 205
Mark Paulson wrote: Another consideration wrt Totems is the lack of cam stops.  In one of the early UKC cam roundups that included Totems, they actually broke a cam when it walked, umbrella-ed, then broke/inverted when weighted.  When a crack flares _inward_, which occurs quite a bit in southern sandstone cracks, I like knowing that even if a cam walks and opens up, it's still a full-strength passive piece.

Totems don't walk, I had a friend take a decent sized fall on a completely umbrella'd blue totem and it held the fall (broke on the second fall), if you can't place a cam properly you shouldn't be climbing with them. 

Mark Paulson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 130

^ A bulletproof rebuttal, right there...

Kevin Mokracek · · Burbank · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 265

I have been using Totems for about 8 years now or whenever they first came out.  Hands down Totems are better than C4’s in almost all situations and compared to off set cams consider that you can’t use an off set in a parallel sided crack but you can use a Totem in both parallel and off set cracks.  And the bulky issue is a non issue. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Climbing Gear Discussion
Post a Reply to "C4 vs. DMM Dragons vs. Totem"

Log In to Reply