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CAMP Tricam Review

   

Climbing Cams

  • Currently 4.3/5
Overall avg rating 4.3 of 5 based on 18 reviews. Most recent review: October 24, 2013
Street Price:   Varies from $19 - $120 | Compare prices at 6 resellers
Pros:  Simple, fun to place, inexpensive, great in pockets.
Cons:  Limited applications, walk easily unless placed in tight spots, in which case they are tricky to clean.
Best Uses:  Pocketed climbing areas or areas with lots of horizontal cracks.
User Rating:     
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 (4.6 of 5) based on 17 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (13/13) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   CAMP
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ April 17, 2010  
Overview
The CAMP Tricam offers protection in shallow pocketed placements. Occasionally that happens in granite but usually it occurs in limestone or other pocketed rock.

Tricams used to be more popular but they still have a strong, if not cult-like, following. I don't consider them mandatory for any Yosemite or sandstone routes, but climbers in more pocketed areas often swear by them. That said, usually a climbing cam with a flexible stem and narrow head will work in a Tricam placement. (See our review of Best Small Climbing Cams).

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Likes
Most of all, Tricams are just plain fun to place due to three things:
  • it can be hard to find a good placement
  • sometimes they work when it seems nothing else will
  • there is something cool about their simplicity (like a hex)
In pocketed areas they can sometimes be the most bomber piece. They are durable and relatively cheap compared to a cam.

Dislikes
You really have to be careful about Tricams walking. Sling them well and then still be careful about them moving about. In addition, they can be tricky to clean, especially when they are placed in a bomber and tight placement. Considering their relatively infrequent use in Yosemite, I am always surprised how many fixed ones I see on big walls. That could be because many people use a hammer with them! That's a big No No.

Best Application
Tricams are ideal in pocketed areas or areas with horizontals. Gunks climbers swear by them.

Value
When compared to a cam, they are a pretty good deal. However, when thought of as a specialty piece that will not be used much compared to a cam, they are a bit of an extra.

Chris McNamara

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: October 24, 2013
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.6)

100% of 13 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
16 Total Ratings
5 star: 63%  (10)
4 star: 25%  (4)
3 star: 13%  (2)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 17 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Dec 30, 2011 - 01:16pm
locker · Climber · CO
Suckers are great in horizontal placements…

And the PINK in particular has brought me MANY a smile!!!…

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Sep 8, 2010 - 01:11pm
rgold · Climber · Poughkeepsie, NY
I'm lukewarm about them (and I'm a Gunks climber so am supposed to swear by them). I haven't had them on my rack much in the last few years and haven't missed them, although there is no question that they work where nothing else will. I currently think of them as a specialty piece on the "swat rack" that might be included for some particular protection conundrum.

The idea of using them for the belay is fine, but then you don't have them for the next pitch, suggesting their advantages are not all that essential.

The thing I like least is that, when fallen on, they can get fixed fairly easily. I know all the tricks for removing them, but if they've been loaded hard, there may be a problem. Once fixed, the sling deteriorates, and you rather quickly have a piece of junk obstructing the placement of anything else.

On the positive side, I don't think it has been mentioned that they are very good nuts when placed passively, especially in irregular rock that allows the rails to be positioned on either side of a protuberance. Unfortunately, they are not all that strong in the passive position; those weird rolled pins apparently can't take that much of a direct load. If they were as strong as stoppers in the passive position, I'd still be carrying them regularly, because that is how I used them more than half the time.
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   Oct 24, 2013 - 07:18am
ElRoyo · Climber · Barcelona
I'm using tricams a lot since beginning nineties, and I've not stopped using them, despite having like 14 SLCD's. In my country there's a lot of limestone and conglomerate, so, there's plenty of strange cracks and holes where the SLCD's don't sit perfect, and where the tricams sit more bomber.

Regarding this, I have to say that Aliens and Totemcams, sometimes sit as well as tricams. But tricams are much much lighter and cheaper.

What I always recommend is carrying them instead of the bigger sizes of nuts (tricams are very good in passive mode, too), and for the same weight, I gain all that versatility. So, I carry nuts up to number 6 or 7, and then tricams from the pink to the purple or blue (five numbers).

First choice when climbing the pitch is always the SLCD, reserving the tricams for the stranger cracks or holes, and for belays (a good way to have the SLCD's available for the next pitch, without doubling them). But even with this restricted philosophy, I find myself putting tricams a lot. This proves it's worth having them in every trad climb.

Furthermore, tricams are my choice to carry when climbing equiped routes, and wanting to carry something else than quickdraws, "just-in-case". There's so few bulk and weight, and so much benefits. Here in Spain, there are lots of bolted routes, where the easier pitches may have just 2-3 bolts in 40 meters, and putting an extra tricam in a hole, in the middle of a compact conglomerate wall, when you have more than 10 meters since the last bolt… feels like a 25 years old single malt whiskey shot. Oh yeah.

Main problems are that you have to teach new companions about how to use (AND clear them). And that some companions don't take them from your rack because they're not used to them (YET). They start to change their opinion after the second or third climbing, when they see all the placement possibilities and benefits.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 9, 2013 - 10:53am
WDW4 · Climber · Lexington, KY
I bought the pink, red, brown, and blue tricams four months ago and have since taken them up about 20 pitches of mostly moderate southern sandstone.
I place tricams nearly every pitch, usually more than once. Passive placements are just as versatile as active placements. I jerk em pretty hard to set them, and follower never yet has had a real problem cleaning. Taking a fall on one might change that.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Dec 30, 2011 - 04:57pm
bob culp · Climber · Boulder, CO
I have found tri-cams to be very useful in weird placements when nothing else works, but they also work in normal placements so are not totally specialized. I usually use stoppers and cams with tri-cams as back-ups - especially the small sizes. Bigger sizes - up to hand-jam crack size - go with me on easy alpine routes because they are lighter than cams.
I climb in the Dolomites now and then, and tri-cams are brilliant there.
Also for winter conditions, where cracks are slippery and sometimes iced, the one pointed side seems to bite into the placement and resists slipping out before loading better than cams.
You do need to show your partner how to remove them.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Dec 30, 2011 - 02:58pm
rgold · Climber · Poughkeepsie, NY
I've already expressed a certain ambivalence about Tricams, but that doesn't mean I've totally rejected them either.

The reason Tricams fit where nothing else does is head width. From pink to blue, Tricams are half the width of the corresponding BD C4 cam. So you can get a solid Tricam where only two lobes of a C4 would go (if the other two lobes don't prevent you from even thinking about a placement). In cracks that are very shallow or irregular or in areas with pockets, camming pro that is half the head width of mechanical cams obviously has real uses.

Since the Tricam has a pair of parallel fixed rails, it can't adjust to variations in the width of a placement. Totem cams are very close to Tricams in head width (the purple Totem head is 1/4 inch wider than the equivalent pink Tricam), have some ability to allow two-lobe placements, which would allow even shallower placements than you can get with Tricams, and have superior ability to adjust to small placement variations, since the cams are directly loaded.

I'd also dispute the claim in the review that Tricams are subject to walking. In fact, one of the advantages of Tricams is that they are not nearly as subject to walking as ordinary cams. The reason is pretty obvious: ordinary cams use springs to hold them in place, Tricams are (or should be) set with a jerk that lodges them much more securely than the springs on a cam.
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   Sep 8, 2010 - 06:59pm
bearbreeder · Climber
i climb in squamish and i use a tricam on almost every climb

i use them as doubles for my larger nuts and small to mid sized cams … place them on good stances and save the cams for the pumpier setions

on multi ive never had issues with running out of gear … they are awesome for belay … a single set from black to 1st blue will cover everything from 0.3 to #1 camalot and weight no more than 1-2 large cams

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 8, 2010 - 06:06pm
Captain...or Skully · Climber · Where are you bound?
Love the Tricams.
I dunno why the Left Coast climbers aren't into 'em, maybe they are too simple?
I use them a lot in weird spots. The tinies(White, black) have a special place on the rack, even. These are GOLD for pin scars. So's the pink, for that matter.
Nothing beats a well set tricam.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 8, 2010 - 05:05pm
Gunkie · Climber · East Coast US
I don't carry as many as I did a few years [decades?] ago. I still keep a pink and a red on my rack. Then again, I also have a couple of Saddlewedges on the Gunks rack. On Yos wall routes I like them because a lot of the time I can find a pin scar that doesn't take a cam or a regular nut well, but the tri-cam slots in nicely and it saves a sawed-off. Lower parts of Dihedral Wall come to mind.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Sep 8, 2010 - 04:09pm
 
Mighty Hiker · Climber · Vancouver, B.C.
There is an entire thread, and website, devoted to the pink tri-cam.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/269620/Pink-Tri-Cam-Website
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   Sep 8, 2010 - 12:19pm
G_Gnome · Climber · In the mountains... somewhere...
If you are climbing at Courtwright Resevoir you better not forget your tricams. The new .25 and .125 along with the ever popular pinkie will allow you to get good protection where nothing else fits in small holes in the rock.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   May 2, 2010 - 08:32pm
Al_T.Tude · Climber · Monterey, CA
PROS:
Light
Cheap
Compact
Excell in shallow cracks - substantially narrower than any SLCD
Will take a "set" and are therefore resistant to walking
Pockets
Horizontal Cracks
Vertical Cracks
Moderate Flares
Have their own Fan Page and Poem http://www.swarpa.net/~danforth/climb/sinkthepink.html
>
CONS:
Take longer to place and clean than SLCDs (what doesn't?)
>
10 pros and 1 con rates TriCams a reserved seat on my rack for virtually all climbs. I've used size .5 thru 7 for over 20 years. Now there's a .25 and .125 which I would trust for aiding.
>
The one con is significant on some climbs in which case I plug in SLCDs on route and save the TriCams for setting up belays.
Read the manufacturer's instructions for placing and cleaning and you'll have fewer problems with them.
>
TRI CAM MYTHS:
0) The only cracks they work well in are horizontal.
A horizontal crack is just a vertical crack with a directional.

0) Only the small sizes are worth owning.
Larger sizes are a bit harder to set than small, but the larger the
size, the greater the weight, space and $ savings. And SLCDs never set.
They are more prone to walking than any other piece.

0) They aren't much use in Yosemite/granite.
I mostly climb on granite in Yosemite Valley and in the high sierra.
Most of my placements are stoppers and the rest are about 60% TriCam
and 40% SLCD. In the backcountry it's 100% stoppers and TriCams. SLCDs
are just too heavy for long, high altitude approaches.



Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   May 1, 2010 - 09:11am
Whitehorse Jeff · Climber · Fairfield, CT
As my nickname indicates, I spend a lot of time climbing and guiding in NH, and I've climbed at the Gunks for over 40 years; Tricams are a key part of my rack for these areas-- as mentioned above, they're great in irregular horizontals; I also agree with the respondent who mentioned them still being available near the end of a pitch when you've already used the corresponding sized active cam and you've brought them along as a lightweight "extra", but they are essential at a slab area like Whitehorse in NH which has solution pockets of various sizes in which the pink, red, brown and purple Tricams provide bomber pro to shorten the run-outs which can otherwise easily exceed 40', especially on the "classics". They also are excellent for beefing up belays, in pockets where nothing else will fit, a concern when guiding 3 clients. I've also used them to good advantage in old drilled "shot holes" in some abandoned British limestone quarries. I won't leave home without them.

As for the sole "con", the pink and red are the most commonly found "fixed" gear in these areas, but with a bit of instruction or study to understand how they work, some practice and patient work with a nut tool, they can usually be "rescued", as long as an impatient second hasn't gotten "persuasive" with a hammer or a fist sized rock.
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   Apr 30, 2010 - 10:22pm
thylaxene · Climber · Melbourne, Victoria
Yes I've had TriCams in one form or another since early nineties and I must admit I've a new found respect for them now. Like others I find then a real useful in pockets, horizontal and more creative placements where nuts and cams just don't cut it. Also I've found them extremely good at Mt Arapiles, as the glassy rock there seems to allow cams to walk. Also Arapiles is full of pockets and horizontal features so TriCams are great.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Apr 19, 2010 - 07:20pm
oldyet? · Climber · Albuquerque, NM
I am one of those old school guys who love 'em. I only own the smaller sizes that now come in the spectra-slung set — a great buy. They excel in pockets AND shallow placements one might not call a crack, sometimes just the gap between a couple blocky protrusions. Hence the reputation: they fit where nothing else will. They occasionally transform a pitch rated R into PG or PG into G by turning a funky feature into an honest gear placement. A bonus is that for most climbing (when you do not NEED them) they are the gear left on your rack when you have used all your spring-loaded cams in that range AND they will always fit. They are lighter, less bulky, and cheeper than extra spring-loaded cams. Downsides: They take longer to place than plugging a spring-loaded cam and so are less-than-ideal for placing in a pumpy stance. Inexperienced climbers may not understand how to clean them and wiggling them can sometimes get them stuck. Some partners who are unfamiliar with them leave them on your harness when it is their turn to lead.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Apr 19, 2010 - 01:40pm
MN_SlowTrad · Climber · MN
I guess when you get used to placing Tri-cams, you see placements where they would work better. I remember using them quite a bit my last trip to J-Tree, pink mostly. I also used them extensively in Baraboo quartzite for top rope anchors at Devil's Lake, WI. They are light and not much problem to place if you practice a bit. A b*tch to clean if you weight them or yard on them to set. Ask my wife.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Apr 17, 2010 - 10:32pm
Rankin · Climber · Greensboro, North Carolina
California is mostly granite, so most on the Taco don't use Tri-cams. They are bad-ass though. I use them all the time now that I'm back in NC. Work especially well in quartzite, or quartzite-type rock. I carry the pink, red and brown and like to use them at belays.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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CAMP Tricam
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