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Metolius Ultralight Offset Master Cam Review

Metolius Offset Master Cam
Top Pick Award
Price:   $60 List | $59.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 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.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Metolius Climbing

Our Verdict

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.


RELATED REVIEW: Best Climbing Camming Device Review


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Chris McNamara

Last Updated:
Monday
September 15, 2014

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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.

Likes


With a narrow head width, these easily go into shallow placements. The metal is hard enough to be durable and not mush out too fast, especially when aid climbing.


The Metolius Offset Master Cam has a very narrow head width. In some sizes they are even narrower than the CCH Alien. In really shallow placements, they're bomber. Also, the metal in cams is harder than that of CCH Alien. They last longer before "turning to mush". 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 stem is medium stiff: it's flexible but not quite as flexible as an alien. It's a good balance and this cam is a little more stable in the hand and easier to retract, especially over time when the cams get more sticky.

Metolius invented a fairly ingenious Range Finder system. Colored dots ley you know whether the cam is in the optimal placement (
Metolius uses a unique "Range Finder" color-coded system to help you know if the cam is bomber or not. The cam is more bomber when the green dots are touching the rock and less secure when the yellow or red dots are touching. This is a great teach tool for new climbers. Experienced climbers will not use it as much.

Dislikes


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. Unfortunately, the stem is a little wide below the cams. For certain tight placements, this stops the lobes from making it to the placement.

We like the sorter sling for reducing rack bulk, especially when aid climbing. However, this does mean the cam walks more easily and you have to use quickdraws or runners more often.

Best Application


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.

Value


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.
Chris McNamara


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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: September 17, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (4.5)

100% of 4 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
5 Total Ratings
5 star: 40%  (2)
4 star: 60%  (3)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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   Sep 17, 2014 - 06:38pm
The_Hawk · Climber · SAN DIEGO
These aren't the MOST secure feeling offset I've used (metal seems to bite less than that on the totem/alien), but they are well made and CHEAP. I love them for the flares and scars at Tahquitz/Jtree/etc. Can't believe I ever Trad climbed without them.

I do very little aid - bought the set and never use the two larger sizes (sold them). Rarely leave the ground without the orange/yellow and yellow/blue on my harness. They will save your butt when nothing else will do.

Great place to usually get them cheap

VVV

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

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   Oct 29, 2010 - 08:23pm
Adamame · Climber · Santa Cruz
I have a double set of these and they have been real handy in flaring placements. They also place fairly well in non flaring placements. In my mind these are essential for any aid rack. But one problem I have noticed are that the cams stops on the smallest sizes are very fragile. I have a friend who had broken the cam stops while bounce testing placements. When the stops break the spring loses its action and the cam is rendered unsuable, which could be problematic in middle of an epic wall. One particular partner has broken three of the them but only while bounce testing. I imagine the same result could happen in real fall. But that partner does climb C4, so maybe that just comes with the territory. Otherwise these are great and I wont stop using them, especially since there are no longer any other options for offsets on the market.

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

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   May 8, 2010 - 12:33am
moronbros · Climber · Seatte, North Cascades
I bought two of the middle cams and started using them free climbing on granite in Washington State. They're fantastic if you're running out of gear and encountering flaring cracks.

They're great if you are used to the Metolius coloring system, but remember that unlike the TCU's, these will walk around like all other 4-lobe cams.

Some people sketch on the fabric cords attaching the trigger to the lobes, but they seem to be perfectly intact after a couple months of use.

We will see what the Muir Wall does to my shiny new set of cams. But for now, I'm stoked I have them.

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

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   Mar 18, 2010 - 03:29am
crossman04 · Climber · Ventura, CA
Have not been using these for too long; however, I recently took these up Touchstone Wall in Zion … and they were like magic! Every time I grabbed one of these little wonders they sank right into those flaring pin scars and gave me that warm, tingly feeling. I had no problem aiding on these, as these held without almost any problems, and were as easy to clean as any regular cam.

I did have one lift out of a placement once partly due to the stiff stem; however, that could have been avoided had i used a draw to keep the rope from pulling it up and out.

Overall, I'm pretty impressed with these and would definitely reccomend them.

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


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