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Metolius Super Cam Review

Metolius Supercam
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Price:  $90 List | $59.96 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Wide cam Lobes, Great Range, Range finder
Cons:  Bulky/Heavy, Tends to walk, Limited sizes
Manufacturer:   Metolius Climbing
By Robert Beno and Chris McNamara  ⋅  Sep 30, 2010
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70
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Flared cracks - 15% 6
  • Horizontal Cracks - 10% 6
  • Tight placements - 15% 6
  • Walking - 15% 8
  • Durability - 15% 9
  • Aid Climbing - 5% 8
  • Free Climbing - 10% 7
  • compactness_lightweight - 15% 6

The Skinny

The Metolius Super Cam was initially a favorite for us, but the more we used them their limitations became readily apparent. Our initial perception was one of a well crafted, super solid piece of gear that was easy to place and bomber once placed. They are beefy, and durable. The cam lobes are the widest of any that we tested and the u-stem is super burly. The sling is 19mm nylon webbing, adding to the overall durability of the unit. When placed, these cams are stable and bomber. Having only used traditional design cams, we were initially a little confused by the off-center style of placement with these cams, but found that Metolius Rangefinder was really helpful and after a bit of practice it is really easy to tell if the lobes are retracted to an appropriate extent for proper placement. The range on these cams is amazing. The design allows the middle lobes to invert around the axle and within the arc of the larger lobes giving the cams an amazing range around a single axle. While these are all promising design features, as we continued to use the units, we found that while the unique lobe retraction provides an awesome range, it also makes these cams not well suited for shallow placements. The cams are also just too beefy for tight and awkward fits. Where we could squeeze in a Camalot or Technical Friend, we could only fit in 3 lobes of a Super Cam. We also found that the U-stem was not quite as flexible as wed like for horizontal placements. All that added beefiness added a bit of weight and these cams were among the heaviest that we tested. Overall, Super Cams are a well made, quality, durable piece of equipment. They do have somewhat limited applications so be sure that they will work for your climbing area/aspirations. With the wide cam lobes, and awesome range we recommend these cams for bottomless cracks in soft stone (thankfully these two factors tend to go hand-in-hand in sandstone climbing areas). To stick with Metolius' Design and shave some weight try Metolius Ultralight Powercam. If you want a cam with an even greater range check out Omega Pacific Link Cam, and for those shallow and awkward placements we recommend Black Diamond Camalot.


Our Analysis and Test Results

Likes


Metolius Supercam proved to be a decent camming device. The innovative design gives these units the largest range of any we tested except for Omega Pacific Link Cams. Supercams also featured the widest cam lobes of any of the cams that we tested making them well suited for softer sandstone climbing.

One aspect of the Supercams that we liked, but haven't found particularly useful in other Metolius cams is the Rangefinder. Because of the Supercams strange off center design, it's helpful to have the rangefinder on these as judging whether the cam is bomber or not is not as easy as with traditional style cams.

Dislikes


One of the biggest drawbacks of the Supercam lies in the design that gives them such a great range. The middle cam lobes invert when retracted so that when you are placing the piece, the tips of the lobe are going into the crack. This is fine with parallel sided, bottomless cracks, but when you get into shallow and awkward placements, you run into some problems. Also the big beefy U-stem makes the unit harder to wedge into those tight squeezes.

As with all u-stem cams, its important that Supercams be placed with care and more often than not, slung long to prevent walking. The beefy U-stem, doesn't provide any flexibility along its axis and is very unforgiving in terms of rope drag and walking/torquing out.

The Supercams also only come in 3 sizes making them difficult to incorporate into your rack.

Best Application


Ideal for Bottomless, parallel-sided cracks and optimum for softer stone.

Value


Ranging from 70-90 apiece these cams are not the best value on the market for cams of this size.

Other Versions


Metolius Master Cam
Metolius Master Cam
  • Cost - $48 to $60
  • An excellent, flexible micro cam
  • Super affordable price

Metolius Ultralight TCU
Metolius Ultralight TCU
  • Cost - $45 to $60
  • A tried and true 3 lobe camming device
  • Excellent for small placements or irregularities
  • Made in the USA - as with all Metolius Climbing products


Robert Beno and Chris McNamara