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Metolius Ultralight Powercam Review

   

Climbing Cams

  • Currently 3.3/5
Overall avg rating 3.3 of 5 based on 5 reviews. Most recent review: February 11, 2013
Street Price:   Varies from $45 - $63 | Compare prices at 9 resellers
Pros:  Light, inexpensive, Range finder
Cons:  Tends to walk, Not a great range
Best Uses:  All around traditional climbing but this excels where weight savings are key
User Rating:     
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 (3.7 of 5) based on 4 reviews
Recommendations:  67% of reviewers (2/3) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Metolius
Review by: Robert Beno ⋅ June 4, 2010  
Overview
Ultralight Powercams are Metolius’ response to climbers’ constant and ubiquitous call for lighter climbing gear. Metolius has created a very lightweight camming unit that will serve you well on lightweight backcountry adventures and big walls alike. The cams feature a u-stum design that allows for ease of handling while simultaneously providing a high clip-in point for clean aid climbing. We also found that the u-stem cams are much easier to clean with a nut tool if they get wedged in there. We really liked the fact that the cams are so light and compact compared to other cams that we tested. We found Powercams to be admirable performers as far as durability goes, and the u-stem is flexible enough for horizontal placements. Where we found some flaw in the design on these cams is that the middle cam lobes are too close together creating somewhat of an unstable placement prone to walking with the movement of the rope. These are the best cams for you if you are obsessed with weight, but overall, we prefer the flexibility of a single stem cam like the Black Diamond Camalot C4, despite the increased weight. For a similar design, but far greater range check out Metolius Supercam.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Likes
Metolius Ultralight Powercams are the lightest cams on the market. The light and compact design makes them ideal for back country adventures, or any application where traveling light is key. The cam lobes are nice and wide making them a decent option for softer rock types. The u-stems are flexible enough for horizontal placements, while also providing a high clip-in point for aid climbing and the cam head is compact enough to fit into some awkward and tight placements.

Metolius has incorporated a cool feature into their larger camming units: the range-finder. While we didn’t find ourselves actively using the range-finder on the Powercams, so much of gear placing relies on color coding and being able to quickly identify pieces by their color. We like the fact that Metolius has taken into account our color-coded mind frame when trad climbing and given us a tool to quickly check whether a placement is bomber or not. As mentioned before, we weren’t actively cognizant of using the rangefinder, but we think that it does register in our brains when placing the piece.

Dislikes
The biggest qualm we have with the Powercams is that the lobes on these cams are pretty close together. This doesn’t allow for a grat degree of individual lobe movement to account for slight variances in the rock, and contributes to the cams walking. We found that the Powercams tended to walk a bit more than many other cams that we tested. An issue that can be circumvented by slinging your placements long, but an issue nonetheless.

Another area where we found the Powercams lacking was in that they had one of the lowest ranges of all the cams that we tested. This means that each unit will have less possibility of fitting, increasing the chance that you’ll be turning back to your gear sling or harness for a different piece.

Best Application
Free Climbing, Aid climbing, Light and Fast Adventures

Value
Not the least or most expensive cam on the market. If you must have something light these are going to be your best value option.

Robert Beno

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: February 11, 2013
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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  • 4
  • 5
 (3.7)

67% of 3 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
4 Total Ratings
5 star: 50%  (2)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 25%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 25%  (1)
Sort 4 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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   Feb 11, 2013 - 01:01pm
wmfork · Climber · Front Range
In short, these cams suck big times.

I don't understand how Metolius could have NOT caught this when they went with dynemma sling on these U-stem cams, but the entire frame can get bent out of shape with a slight side loading in a not very severe fall. The old TCU/4CU used doubled-over nylon sling that distributed the force over the U-stem much better (see the older yellow TCU on the right. I also have a retired blue TCU (not pictured) with lobes beat to hell but still has straight frame). The new ones (the orange TCU at least has some lobe gouge) has had much less use (the yellow & orange 4CUs has almost new looking lobes) and the frames are all bent to hell. Makes me angry every time I see these POS.
Click to enlarge
ultralight vs old TCU
Credit: wmfork


Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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Jun 7, 2010 - 01:46pm
 
Bill Becher · Climber · Westlake Village, CA
I'm in the camp that thinks the stiff U construction of the Power Cams makes them awkward to place and remove. I also rack with Master Cams for small sizes and BD C4s for bigger sizes.. Recently took a long whipper on a #2 Master Cam and it held perfectly..
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   Aug 22, 2010 - 10:30am
Hummerchine · Climber · East Wenatchee, WA
I've argued for years the pros and cons of Metolius vs. BD cams. Everything considered, it's a tough call. I prefer Metolius, partly because that's what I've used since long before BD even made cams, but mostly because of weight! When you are a wuss like me, carrying humongous racks…well, I would barely be able to stand up with a rack of Camalots on! Of course I'm exaggerating a bit, but no matter how you slice it I'd rather have three Metolius cams vs. two BD. Yes, the weight difference really is close to that much. For the bold climbers out there, BD is probably better. Also, the new DMM Dragon Cams are really cool. Pretty much a Camalot copy, but prettier, lighter, and have the trick extendo slings. They really are not all that much lighter than Camalots, but when you factor in the need for less quickdraws/slings/carabiners it becomes significant. I'm leaning towards switching to these in the sizes they come in, Metolius TCUs in the smaller sizes. Oh, one negative of the Dragon Cam is no wire loop to clip when aid climbing.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jun 7, 2010 - 01:25pm
ps · Climber
I'd give this 4.5 stars if I could, but I'll err on the side of better since I can't do a half grade.

REVIEW:

I've had my UL Power Cams for 3 years now; I've got the ins and outs on them.

First things first: either you like the u-stem, or you dont. I love it, finding that it's easier to pull the trigger when gripped, or to use a nut tool on the trigger if it's buried to deep to get your hands on. The only negative of the powercam (and all u-stems) is that they are more rigid in certain orientations than a single stem. Practically, however, I've found that it rarely affects a placement.

The weight of these things is amazing… when you compare the total weights to total number of cams from any comparable company, these things are amazing for weight. Consider these for alpine climbs, your back will thank you on the hike in and out!

Most people will acknowledge that metolius cams in the smaller sizes are good; these cams are no exception. They work well for many, many placements. The larger sizes I find are fantastic for plugging into thin hands-cupped hands. My only beef is that they stop at size 8 (equivalent to a #3 C4), when I wish they would have kept going up through a #4 c4 equivalent.

Lastly, these things grip like a monster. You feel totally solid when you get these guys placed. A well made, no-frills cam that works like a champion year after year.

As a bonus: you support US made climbing gear when you buy these… at the same or cheaper price than the China outsourced other companies.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Metolius Power Cam
Credit: metoliusclimbing.com
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