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Metolius Ultralight Offset Master Cam Review
Cons: Tend to walk a little, hard metal doesnt "stick" as well to rock.
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.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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