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C4 vs. DMM Dragons vs. Totem


baldclimber · · Ottawa, Ontario, Canada · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 1
Chris Blatchley wrote: 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.

So what you're saying is there are irregular cracks where a wider head works and some where a narrower one is an advantage?  That's precisely the argument for having the Totems as part of a double rack even in the larger sizes.

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

A beginner (the OP) has different considerations, imo.

Kevin Mokracek · · Burbank · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 265
Harumpfster Boondoggle wrote:

A beginner (the OP) has different considerations, imo.

I have never understood “the beginner rack”.   Why would you buy sub par gear to start?   I’ve always told people to buy the best gear they can as it will usually last longer and work better in more situations.   Why handicap and frustrate yourself from the get go. 

bkozak · · Sterling, VA · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 70
eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 484
Kevin Mokracek wrote:

I have never understood “the beginner rack”.   Why would you buy sub par gear to start?   I’ve always told people to buy the best gear they can as it will usually last longer and work better in more situations.   Why handicap and frustrate yourself from the get go. 

Neither have I. You're gonna end up wanting the good shit eventually and finding a way to pay for it, ending up replacing your "beginner rack". And now you've spent an extra couple hundred dollars on gear that would rather not use.

When I was researching what to get when I was first starting to build my rack, multiple people told me to get the good, nice cams from the start. But I wanted to have a complete rack ASAP and was a poor high school student at the time, getting around $50 or $60 each paycheck every 2 weeks.

So I got a bunch of cheap old used cams and eventually got a set of C4s for Channukah. After using some DMM dragons I wished I'd gotten those instead of my C4s. After getting a chance to use some totems, I really wished I'd just gotten those from the start and saved myself around $125 on old cams and webbing/cord to resling them.

I learned my lesson the hard way, and I'm actually lucky I didn't waste more money on cams that now rot in the closet. Learn from my mistake. 
Harumpfster Boondoggle · · Between yesterday and today. · Joined Apr 2018 · Points: 0
Kevin Mokracek wrote:

I have never understood “the beginner rack”.   Why would you buy sub par gear to start?   I’ve always told people to buy the best gear they can as it will usually last longer and work better in more situations.   Why handicap and frustrate yourself from the get go. 

Dude, I'm not sending people out there with Hexes FFS, just saying in the red/orange size on up I'd rather have a sweet #2 UL C4 than the Totem. UL C4 #2's and #3's are as good as it gets, imo.

Someone CA based like the OP just needs to learn how to place cams in textbook parallel placements. I think rather than dwelling on flared placements or taking falls on horizontally placed cams they should master a simpler tool that handles better in the bigger sizes. And the weight savings are significant. Ultra-light C4's are not a "beginner rack" by any means and a little stiffer stem makes placing easier.

As well (not a consideration for the OP apparently) buying a pile of used C4s will get more people up more climbs sooner than spending so much more on Totems. I don't care what young master eli says, he got out there sooner with a franken-rack and that is priceless, imo.

I dunno, maybe I just feel all "curmudgeonly" that someone with no experience with cams is gonna sport a $1000 rack of cams before they even know how to place one. Just being honest.

Learn on used C4's and take it from there until you know enough to know what you want is the advice I always give.
Señor Arroz · · LA, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10
eli poss wrote:



I learned my lesson the hard way, and I'm actually lucky I didn't waste more money on cams that now rot in the closet. Learn from my mistake. 

Don't let gear rot in your closet. Somewhere, someone wants that gear and will use it.

I actually think the ritual of buying and selling gear to curate the perfect rack (for me) has been a great education. I tend to only buy on sale (or used) so buying something, trying it, and moving on actually has very little marginal cost. Well, except for that set of hexes I bought at full retail many years ago because they were cheap. 

Leliko Mana · · SF Bay Area, CA · Joined 13 days ago · Points: 0
Harumpfster Boondoggle wrote:

Someone CA based like the OP just needs to learn how to place cams in textbook parallel placements. I think rather than dwelling on flared placements or taking falls on horizontally placed cams they should master a simpler tool that handles better in the bigger sizes. And the weight savings are significant. Ultra-light C4's are not a "beginner rack" by any means and a little stiffer stem makes placing easier.


I dunno, maybe I just feel all "curmudgeonly" that someone with no experience with cams is gonna sport a $1000 rack of cams before they even know how to place one. Just being honest.

Learn on used C4's and take it from there until you know enough to know what you want is the advice I always give.

I'm the OP and I'm reading all the posts closely and am very thankful for every opinion because they come from experienced people, those who didn't have the opportunity to sport a $1000 rack of cams before they even knew how to place one :):):):):):):) I just secretly wish I grew up in the USA, particularly in CA, and started climbing at a younger age like the majority of you did but I'm eternally thankful for finding the sport I love at age 40 (not many women 40+ go on multi-pitch routes even around here, by the way, and certainly not many women 40+ have a dream to climb El Cap one day!). So you have to forgive me if I want to buy the best gear possible as I probably won't be climbing 30-40 more years in my life, realistically speaking (even though my sincere wish is to die climbing in Yosemite at the age of 80 - but whether or not I should subject other folks to the horror of witnessing death of an 80-year-old woman climbing in Yosemite is completely another issue).

Sorry, I digress. I did order 2 Totems from campsaver website yesterday which now brings my "rack" to total of 5 cams (totems and DMM Dragons) in addition to nuts and quickdraws and alpine draws. It's ridiculously small rack I know. But I'll be climbing with people who have other cams (C4s, Aliens, and Friends) and the idea is to see which one I would like to place. I will have opportunity to try their gear and they will try mine so it's a win-win scenario. I'm waiting for updated C4s in January to give them a consideration too. And then - as long as I stay pain-free - sky is the limit!

I was talking to another climber from this forum yesterday who has enormous rack, including 3 sets of totems. He encouraged me to get Totems in all sizes, especially orange and red that some people dislike, saying he consistently uses them around where he climbs in California. Just saying.

Have a nice day everyone and go climb this weekend! :)
eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 484
Señor Arroz wrote:

Don't let gear rot in your closet. Somewhere, someone wants that gear and will use it.

I actually think the ritual of buying and selling gear to curate the perfect rack (for me) has been a great education. I tend to only buy on sale (or used) so buying something, trying it, and moving on actually has very little marginal cost. Well, except for that set of hexes I bought at full retail many years ago because they were cheap. 

Well some of it I want to keep on the rare occasion that I need doubles and my partner doesn't have a rack or on the even more rare occasion that I go to the creek. The rest of it, I've tried to sell but without success. 

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

I'm the OP and I'm reading all the posts closely and am very thankful for every opinion because they come from experienced people, those who didn't have the opportunity to sport a $1000 rack of cams before they even knew how to place one :):):):):):):) I just secretly wish I grew up in the USA, particularly in CA, and started climbing at a younger age like the majority of you did but I'm eternally thankful for finding the sport I love at age 40 (not many women 40+ go on multi-pitch routes even around here, by the way, and certainly not many women 40+ have a dream to climb El Cap one day!). So you have to forgive me if I want to buy the best gear possible as I probably won't be climbing 30-40 more years in my life, realistically speaking (even though my sincere wish is to die climbing in Yosemite at the age of 80 - but whether or not I should subject other folks to the horror of witnessing death of an 80-year-old woman climbing in Yosemite is completely another issue).

Sorry, I digress. I did order 2 Totems from campsaver website yesterday which now brings my "rack" to total of 5 cams (totems and DMM Dragons) in addition to nuts and quickdraws and alpine draws. It's ridiculously small rack I know. But I'll be climbing with people who have other cams (C4s, Aliens, and Friends) and the idea is to see which one I would like to place. I will have opportunity to try their gear and they will try mine so it's a win-win scenario. I'm waiting for updated C4s in January to give them a consideration too. And then - as long as I stay pain-free - sky is the limit!

I was talking to another climber from this forum yesterday who has enormous rack, including 3 sets of totems. He encouraged me to get Totems in all sizes, especially orange and red that some people dislike, saying he consistently uses them around where he climbs in California. Just saying.

Have a nice day everyone and go climb this weekend! :)

Awesome. Be sure to hit those cracks at Planet Granite etc in the Presidio...you'd be placing #2 C4's everywhere too....keep in mind, not every experienced climber is really able to put themselves back into newbie shoes and know what might be best. I think you will understand the handling issues when you get some experience with both. lol triples on totes is not an enormous rack, that's just normal for Yose.

Yet, go forth and climb.

When you are over 50 join the "New and Experienced Climbers over 50 thread" (though we may give a special exception sooner).

YGD™ is the traditional send off.

ps BD cams 25% off: blackdiamondequipment.com/e…
Mark Paulson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 130
bkozak wrote: http://www.davidallfrey.com/www.davidallfrey.com/vidallfrey.com/2011/09/totem-cams-aid-review.html

Dave Allfrey has a good review of the Totems here.

...but it’s almost a 100% aid review.  And almost every picture is of a pin-scar placement.  

adeadhead · · Baltimore, MD · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 45
Leliko Mana wrote: Thanks again, everyone!!! To keep the momentum going:

1) I just ordered DMM Dragons sizes 4 and 5 (comparable to C4 sizes 2 and 3).
2) I also chatted with Backcountry rep this morning and he says they will have all totems in stock later this week (oops, I accidentally spilled the beans!). He took my phone number and email to let me know once they get them as I'm planning to order several Totems, ESPECIALLY THE BLACK AND BLUE. Thinking to get the whole rack minus the largest (orange) one. And I already have green! Yes, it will (almost) break my bank but it needs to be done!
3) Besides, I'll look into ordering C4 rack once new C4s come out in January 2019.

I think I took all the suggestions into consideration, didn't I? :)

The current friends are better pretty much all around compared to the C4s, they're lighter than the ones coming out in 2019

Kevin Mokracek · · Burbank · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 265
Mark Paulson wrote:

...but it’s almost a 100% aid review.  And almost every picture is of a pin-scar placement.  

How do you protect free climbs that are heavily pin scarred?   Dave’s review was extremely useful in regards to free climbing.  When free climbing in Yosemite or any other area that is pins scarred the Totems rule the day.   Why not have a piece of gear that protects off set cracks and parallel cracks equally well?

michael s... · · Denver, CO · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 60

Regarding

... the flexible sling makes them almost impervious to walking... it's pretty damn hard to get a totem stuck.

... Never had an issue getting them out, even when overcammed.

Just want to mention I love the 0.3 Blue Totem, but the flexibility of the stem is exactly a reason why it gets stuck sometimes. When the head is hella-wedged in there, without the rigidness of a stem, it can be hard to get leverage to get the thing out of there. 
Señor Arroz · · LA, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10
michael s... wrote: Regarding

Just want to mention I love the 0.3 Blue Totem, but the flexibility of the stem is exactly a reason why it gets stuck sometimes. When the head is hella-wedged in there, without the rigidness of a stem, it can be hard to get leverage to get the thing out of there. 

I own a blue totem and a green totem basic and an X4 .3. I wouldn't say the Totem is particularly more flexible than either of those. 

michael s... · · Denver, CO · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 60
 I wouldn't say the Totem is particularly more flexible than either of those.
That's fair. I'm just saying you can definitely get a totem pretty stuck. I've never had to leave one, but I've definitely removed them where the flexibility of the whole thing (which is good for holding force I imagine) made it harder to get out than if it was more rigid, like on a C4. 
Xam · · Boulder, Co · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 71
michael s... wrote: Regarding

Just want to mention I love the 0.3 Blue Totem, but the flexibility of the stem is exactly a reason why it gets stuck sometimes. When the head is hella-wedged in there, without the rigidness of a stem, it can be hard to get leverage to get the thing out of there. 

There is no 0.3 Blue Totem...the Blue Totem is 0.65.  If you speaking about the Blue Totem Basic, you may not be referring to the same thing as quoted in that comment.

Señor Arroz · · LA, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10
Xam wrote:

There is no 0.3 Blue Totem...the Blue Totem is 0.65.  If you speaking about the Blue Totem Basic, you may not be referring to the same thing as quoted in that comment.

The .65 totem matches the size of the .3 X4 or C4 BD cams. That's what he means. 

Chris Owen · · Big Bear Lake · Joined Jan 2002 · Points: 10,454

Wild Country Friends - they are lighter than standard Camalots and Dragons.

Ira O · · Hardwick, VT · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 61

You should get black and blue totems, aliens from green to red, and camalots from green  and up.  

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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