Spring Loaded Camming Devices
Cams are a big purchase and I've solicited advice from various people
about what types of active protection to invest in. As expected,
people give wildly varying advice. Here are some samples starting with
my own experience:
I now own eight cams:
- #1 WC rigid friend -- I almost
never use it. The design is fine, but the cams are not appreciably
larger than the stem. Buy something else in the small sizes, like
TCUs, speaking of which....
- #4 Metolius TCU -- My clutch-peice! Awesome pro for
desperate (for me) finger cracks. Doesn't walk much either. I'd love
a smaller one as well (#2 maybe?).
- #8 Metolius 4-cam -- Like its smaller sibling, the #8 has
nice action and feels solid when you place it. Unfortunately it
overlaps with the #2 Camalot in size but has a smaller range. Thus it
doesn't get used as much; usually late in the pitch if at all.
- #.5, #1, #2, and #3.5 BD Camalots -- standard rack
workhorse pieces. They have a wide range, slot nicely and have sexy
action. I'd love to expand my collection of Camalots in both
directions, but the budget currently limits me. The trigger wire on
the #1 comes unhooked occasionally which requires both hands to fix.
I don't have a #3 because the previous #8 Metolius fits the 2-3
- #10 Trango monster -- acquired cheap, equivalent of a #4.5
camalot. It weighs a lot and you need to pin back the lobes when
you're carrying it. The springs are a bit weak and it tends to walk
around. Still, it's indispensable for those 5"+ cracks (what else are
you going to get to protect cracks that size at under $30?) and I use
it more often than I figured... though perhaps that's only so I can
make my second carry it.
Here's a how the size ranges compare:
As far as what you want to buy, I dunno. Go to REI and play with some
stuff. My dream rack:
- 00, 1, 2, 3 TCU's (like aliens, only stronger)
- .5, .75, 1, 2, 3, 4 Camalots (.5 and .75 are camalot Jr., but whatever)
I have been looking into the same thing. I don't know if you have looked at
the 1999 Climbing Gear Guide, but they feature SLCD's in this issue. If you
haven't seen it, there are some editor's picks at the end of the listing
which give some reasons on why one brand is liked more than others. I'll
try to summarize them for you. If you have read it...sorry for the
- Black Diamond Camalots: wide camming range makes up for user's sizing errors, strong springs, generous size overlap, anodized cams for easy
- BD Camalot Juniors: great range for small size, super durable.
- Wild Country Forged Friends: indestructible.
- Wild Country Technical Friends: flexible stems (good for horizontal cracks), sturdy triggers and stems.
- Colorado Custom Hardware Aliens: compact head design
- Metolius Fat Cams: "inboard" trigger cables reduce tangles and don't break, 50% fatter cams
I don't know if any of that helps me make a decision or not. My local
climbing "mentor" who owns the local gym uses the Friends mostly, but had
told me that he has a little of each brand because all are different and
each is a little better than another in different locations.
The price difference isn't enough to allow that to make the decision.
If your looking to really get into lead climbing start off with some Friends (Wild Country) or Camalots (Black Diamond). Friends don't cost a lot about $30 a cam and are rugged little things. But Camalots cost about $45 bucks, but their easier to learn on, its difficult to screw up a placement with them. The only divider is how much your willing to spend. The company that I use is named moab climbing shop they have great deals on complete racks.
(Ed. Camalots for $45? Sign me up for some of those!)
IME of North Conway, NH lists the following as active components of their "basic rack":
- Tech Friends 1.0, 1.5
- Camalots 1,2
Back to ROCK ON!!!
Last updated 3-12-02