The Best Nut Tools for Climbing

Click to enlarge
Cleaning a nut with the SuperTopo Editor's Choice Ushba Titanium Nut Tool.
Credit: Ian Nicholson
We took seven of the best nut tools and tested them at cleaning a variety of cams and nut types in all sizes and over a broad spectrum of rock types. We compared their weight, durability, ability to clean a nut, ability to clean a cam, the comfort level while pounding on the nut tool with our hand, how nicely they ride on a harness and each tool's overall value.

Read the full review below >

Review by: ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab

Top Ranked Nut Tools Displaying 1 - 5 of 5 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Wild Country Pro Key
Wild Country Pro Key
Read the Review
DMM Nutter
DMM Nutter
Read the Review
Omega Caranut
Omega Caranut
Read the Review
Trango Shark
Trango Shark
Read the Review
Black Diamond Nut Tool
Black Diamond Nut Tool
Read the Review
Editors' Awards  Best Buy Award         
Street Price Varies $10.00 - $15.95
Compare at 4 sellers
$10$8.97
Compare at 2 sellers
Varies $17 - $25
Compare at 5 sellers
$9.95
Compare at 4 sellers
Overall Score 
100
0
88
100
0
77
100
0
67
100
0
66
100
0
62
Editors' Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
User Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
100% recommend it (3/3)
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
1 rating
Be the first to rate it
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
1 rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
75% recommend it (3/4)
Pros Comfort, built in biner, comes with keeper leash, price, cleaning ability.Price, excellent at retrieving walked in camsBest deal for a nut tool with a built in biner, best clipping biner.A knife, cleans nuts relatively well, good value if you need a knife as well.Price, Good for hooking cam triggers, opens beer bottles well.
Cons Slightly on the heavier side.Painful to pound on, hook isnt as versatile as other modelsUncomfortable to pound on, doesn't hook cam triggers as well.Heavy, not as comfy to beat on, takes at least a mid-size biner to keep the knife from opening.Least comfortable to pound on, no clip in biner.
Best Uses Long free routes, cragging, aid climbing.cleaning nuts and cams on free climbs, cleaning deep walked in camsTraditional free climbs.Any route or climbing area where you anticipate needing a knife for cleaning old webbing, etc.Traditional free climbs.
Date Reviewed Dec 02, 2009Dec 02, 2009Dec 02, 2009Dec 02, 2009Dec 02, 2009
Weighted Scores Wild Country Pro Key DMM Nutter Omega Caranut Trango Shark Black Diamond Nut Tool
Removing Nuts - 35%
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
Removing Cams - 25%
10
0
8
10
0
10
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
7
Comfort - 20%
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
4
Tangle Factor - 10%
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
5
10
0
6
Ease Of Handling - 10%
10
0
10
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
6
Product Specs Wild Country Pro Key DMM Nutter Omega Caranut Trango Shark Black Diamond Nut Tool
Weight 104g 48g 54g 79g 48g
Length 20.5cm 20cm 21cm 21cm 20.5cm
Leash? Yes No No No No
Clip in biner Yes No Yes No No

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review


  • Review Photos
  • Editors' Choice Winners
  • All Reviewed Products
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Wild Country Pro Key
$15
100
0
88
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Omega Caranut
$12
100
0
67
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Metolius Extractor
$17
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Trango Shark
$25
100
0
66
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
DMM Nutter
$10
100
0
77
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Black Diamond Nut Tool
$10
100
0
62
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Weight
The Ushba Titanium nut tool was the lightest at 41 grams. Coming in close behind, at first glance, were the BD nut tool and the DMM Nutter at 48 grams each. However, neither one has the built-in carabiner that the Ushba offers so you have to add the weight of a carabiner dedicated to carrying the tool on your harness. Thus the carabiner plus the nut tool is the actual overall weight. The true runner up is the Omega Pacific Caranut at 54 grams. It is heavier but significantly less expensive (11 grams more and $14 less, making the Caranut an option for weight watching dirt bags).

Ability to Clean Nuts
All of these tools worked well cleaning nuts. The noticeable difference was was in smaller cracks. The two Metolius tools, with their thinner profile heads and slightly shorter hooks, could get into some of the smallest fissures to probe out seemingly fixed wires. Both the Extractor and the Free Nut share this smaller profile, making them the best at excavating even the most immovable small stoppers. Our runners up were the WC Pro Key and the Ushba Titanium, doing well in the cracks but not quite up to the two Metolius tools.

Ability to Clean Cams
When trying to retrieve a cam that has walked in too deep to reach with your fingers, nut tools with more curve did slightly better. The exception is the DMM Nutter, which has two teeth on its tail designed to fish out buried cams by hooking onto SLCD's trigger in two places. These teeth worked on most brands of cams. Most of the other tools did fairly well fishing out cams, sometimes with the assistance of a nut to help retract the trigger.

Comfort
We measured how well we could hammer our palm on the nut tool without fear of tearing our hand to shreds. Best were the WC Pro Key and the Ushba Titanium nut tool. They each had by far the largest area for beating with your hand, which translated to the least pain. The Metolius Free Nut finished not far behind in third place.

Tangle Factor
Here is where we measured how badly a tool gets tangled in everything it is not supposed to. The Metolius was the least trouble due to being shorter in length as well as having the lowest profile hook. The Ushba, while scoring extremely well in every other category, got tangled the most because of its long length and large sharp hook.

Ease of Handling
This is possibly the crux of this review. We tested all the tools on how nicely they came on and off our harness, how easily they poked out a nut while holding the nut tool, not pounding the tail end with with our palm. We gave higher points to built-in carabiners and ease of clipping onto gear loops. The Metolius has a small carabiner that was low profile but it made removal from our gear loops slightly more difficult. The Ushba and the Omega came on and off our harnesses the nicest. The Wild Country Pro Key rode along well and had a built-in spring leash. This never seemed to be a bother and kept us from accidentally dropping it. The Ushba Titanium has finger hole protectors that kept our fingers from getting scraped up.

Over-All Value
The overall best value was the Wild Country Pro Key for only $14.95. It has the largest area to pound on with your hand. It comes with a spring leash and while most people find this pretty useful, if you find it dorky it is easily removed. The Wild Country has a relatively low profile head (second only to the Metolius tools) for freeing micro stoppers and it hangs toward the front of the pack for cam removal.

Bottom Line
Many nut tools preformed similarly in many categories and it was hard to pick a runaway winner. All of the tools we tested cleaned most nuts and cams fairly well. Standouts in the thin crack category were the Metolius Extractor and Metolius Freenut. But our Editors' Choice award goes to the Ushba Titanium Nut Tool. It was tied for first as the most comfortable, was in the top tier for cleaning nuts and cams and was the lightest overall plus having a built-in carabiner. Its only drawback was its tendency to catch on the rest of our rack. A close second at $11 less was the Wild Country Pro Key. It was just as comfy and cleaned nuts better than the the Ushba. Its spring leash was a nice bonus, and all that comes for less than the park entrance fee at Yosemite.

The Best Tool for Specific Applications
  • For Alpine climbing where weight is at a premium, the Ushba is hard to beat. If the Ushba is more than you want to spend and are wearing gloves most of the time, look for nut tools without the extra metal "pad," saving both weight and cost.
  • If you are climbing longer routes, the Wild Country Pro Key is a nice choice for its comfort in palm pounding and its removable spring leash.
  • For aid climbing or climbing in areas with an abundance of small cracks (think Eldorado Canyon), then either of the Metolius tools is a good bet.
  • For climbing a lot of routes where you are bringing a hammer and intending to beat the living piss out of your nut tool, then the Black Diamond Nut Tool with its chromoly steel body is best.
  • If you have big hands, then look toward the Caranut and the Ushba.
  • When climbing in less traveled areas where you need a knife to replace webbing and cordage at rap anchors, the Trango Shark is a great option.

Ian Nicholson
Buying Advice
How we Test
Helpful Buying Tips
Get More OutdoorGearLab
Follow us on Twitter, be a fan on Facebook!
Subscribe to our Newsletter