Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: Varies from $43 - $60 | Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros: Great for tiny placements, narrow head, durable, solid stem.
Cons: Tend to walk a little, hard metal doesnt "stick" as well to rock.
Best Uses: Big wall climbing, aid climbing, cragging.
Manufacturer: Metolius Climbing
This is the offset version of our Best Buy winner, Metolius Master Cam. It wins our Top Pick award because it holds so well in flared placements such as pins scars in Yosemite. And until the Black Diamond Camalot X4 comes out in an offset cam, it's one of the few offset options available. For years, the only truly useful offset spring loaded camming device was the CCH Hybrid Alien. Now this cam enters the market and gives climbers another option. It has a narrow head, which makes it easy to get in pin scars, and it comes with all the other benefits of a single-stem unit. After using them for a few weeks in Yosemite, it became hard to climb without them.
I still keep a set or two of Aliens because they get in some placements better. But overall Metolius Offset Master Cams feel more bomber and are much more durable. Best of all, they are affordable and relatively easy to find (not always the case with Aliens). While the Black Diamond Camalot C3 is also great for tiny placements, it is not nearly as good for flared placements as either the Offset Master Cam or Hybrid Alien.
Here is a good forum conversation about the Offset Master Cam
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
What is an offset cam?
Being "offset" means that of the four camming lobes, two are one size and the other two are a size smaller. This makes this spring loaded camming device especially useful in Yosemite, Zion or anywhere else there are pin scars or flared placements. They are useful when free climbing but essential when aid climbing. Often the only cam that will work solidly in a flared placement is an offset cam. There are two main offset cams: the Metolius Offset Master Cam and the CCH Hybrid Alien.
The Metolius Offset Master Cam has a very narrow head width. In some sizes they are even narrower than the CCH Alien. This means they are more bomber in really shallow placements. Also, the metal in cams is harder than that of CCH Alien. This means that the Metolius cams will likely be more durable. That said, part of what makes the Aliens stick so well in little placements is the soft metal, so there is a pro and a con there. The Master Cam stem is flexible but more rigid than other single stem cams like the Wild Country Zero or Alien. This means the cam is a little more stable in the hand and easier to retract, especially over time when the cams get more sticky.
Metolius uses a unique "Range Finder" color coded system to help you know if the cam is bomber or not. If the green dots are touching the rock, the cam is bomber. If the yellow or red dots are touching, it's not. This is very useful for beginning leaders. I didn't use it much but it is a good reminder about optimal cam placement.
Most of my likes have their own drawbacks. For example, the more rigid stem on this device means it is more likely to walk and it does not bend edges as well as the CCH Alien or Wild Country Zero. More importantly, the stem width a few inches below the cams is a little wide (there is a slightly bulky piece of aluminum there). In certain placements, this keeps the cam from being placed as deeply as you could with an Alien.
The shorter sling on the unit is great for racking, but it means that the cam will walk more and therefore you are more likely to need a quickdraw than with units with longer slings and more flexible stems. I would prefer it if the sling were another inch or two longer.
These excel in Yosemite, Zion or any area with flared cracks and pin scars. They are best paired with non offset cams. For example, on a typical El Capitan route I would take 1-2 sets of these and 2 sets of non offset cams. In a place like Indian Creek, where the cracks are perfectly parallel, these cams do not work well.
At $60, these are a pretty good deal. There are not many cheaper cams, and most other cams will cost you another $10. They also have durable cams that should make them last longer.
Metolius Master Cams
Metolius Ultralight TCU
Metolius Power Cams
Metolius Cam Lube
— Chris McNamara
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Most recent review: September 17, 2014
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