Reviews You Can Rely On

Best Nut Tools for Climbing

Ian Nicholson making a fan of nuts tools during testing at the Lower T...
Photo: Tino Villanueva
Friday July 19, 2019
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
In the past 11 years, we've purchased and field-tested 15 nut tools. That gives us a lot of confidence that this review covers 5 of the best options we've seen. Our trad-obsessed testers sometimes spend more hours in a week on vertical terrain than horizontal terra firma. To maximize our days on the wall, and minimize time spent retrieving gear, a good nut tool is essential. From the right tool for cleaning the smallest nuts and stoppers to the best option for cam triggers to the lightest option available, we've found the right nut tool for your needs. We know how tight a dedicated climber's budget can be. After testing performance, we factored in cost. Enjoy.


Best Overall

Wild Country Pro Key

Weight: 104g | Clip-in Biner: Yes
Great surface for palm
Only tool with keeper
Difficult to find

Not only is this one of our favorites, it's one of the best deals around. 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 (keep in mind the high weight includes the leash). It 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. 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.

Read review: Wild Country Pro Key


Great Performer with Wrench

Metolius Torque

Weight: 64g | Clip-in Biner: Yes
Great at removing tiny stoppers
Good value
Relatively small hook
A little on the heavy side

The Torque replaces the popular Freenut which is a past award winner. They made the Torque less expensive and added wrench capabilities at the cost of a few extra grams. We think it's worth it as just tightening a few loose bolt nuts will make you and other climbers happy (whoever carries a crescent wrench with them, anyway?). While it's hard to overtighten nuts with such little leverage, if you are inexperienced with installing climbing bolts, it's best to err on not tightening too much. Other than the cool wrench, this nut tool excels at cleaning tiny nuts and stoppers.

Read review: Metolius Torque


Good balance of Performance and Weight

Black Diamond Wiregate Nut Tool

Weight: 46g | Clip-in Biner: Yes
Larger hook good for cam triggers
Hook a little broad

BD does a good job of balancing weight and comfort. This is one of the lighter nut tools but still feels sturdy and relatively comfortable. It's not as good at the micro nuts as the Torque, but it does a better job with grabbing cam triggers. It is relatively comfortable to pound with your palm but not quite as good ad the Pro Key. Overall it's a good option if you want to go light but don't want to go quite as light as the Feather.


Lightest in Review

Metolius Feather

Weight: 21g | Clip-in Biner: Yes
Super light
Good at getting out tiny nuts
On the border of being flimsy

This is by far the lightest nut tool we have used - the next lightest is double the weight. It's about the weight of a really light carabiner and you don't notice it on your harness. With the diminutive size, it's on the border of feeling flimsy and we don't recommend wailing on it too hard. It is also not the most comfortable to pound with your palm. Are the weight savings worth it? For some, no. But if you like to travel as fast and light as possible, there is no better option.


Least Expensive Option

Black Diamond Nut Tool

Weight: 48g | Clip-in Biner: No
Bottle opener
No built-in clip
Sub-par nut cleaning

This is one of the oldest models out there and still one of the least expensive. While it gets the job done and will conveniently open a beer at the end of the day, it didn't score that well for nut cleaning. It is also not that comfortable to pound on with your palm. While relatively light, it doesn't come with a clip so you have to factor in that weight as well. In addition, once you add a biner, this will jangle around on your harness much more than options with built-in clips.

How to Choose a Nut Tool

When it comes to gear for traditional routes, climbers often just think of essentials such as the pieces of protection that make up their rack, a harness, and a helmet. A nut tool is an afterthought. But in fact, if you intend to keep your rack intact, you need to invest in the right tool.

While there isn't as much difference in nut tools as there is in many other pieces of climbing equipment, there is enough variation to potentially make your life easier in certain situations.

Things to Ask Yourself

- How much do I really want to spend?
- How important is weight?
- How important is comfort?
- Do I want a built-in leash?
- Am I going to be wearing gloves most of the time?
- Am I going to be pounding on this with a wall hammer or an ice tool?
- Do I climb in areas with lots of smaller cracks?
- Do I climb mostly longer routes?
- Do I normally carry a knife?

- Does my climbing partner seem to bury all of his pieces?


Obviously the lighter the tool, and the less you notice it on your harness, the better. Keep in mind that if it doesn't come with a built-in clip, you will also need a binner that will add another 20-30 grams. Also, when you clip a nut tool to a biner, it will flop around a lot more on your harness than a tool with a built-in clip.

Ability to Clean Nuts

All of these tools worked well cleaning medium and large nuts. The noticeable difference 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 Torquer and the Feather share this smaller profile, making them the best at excavating even the most immovable small stoppers. Our runner-up was the WC Pro Key.

Ability to Clean Cams

When trying to retrieve a cam that has walked in too deep to reach with your fingers, contenders with a larger hook and longer shaft do better. Both the Black Diamond models have larger hooks that are ideal for this.


We measured how well we could hammer our palm without fear of tearing our hand to shreds. Best was the WC Pro Key and the Ushba Titanium. 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 models were the least trouble due to being shorter in length as well as having the lowest profile 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 it, not pounding the tail end 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.

Parting Advice

In the beginning, regardless of what nut tool you buy, you are bound to loose some nuts at the cliff. Cleaning nuts is an art that you will only improve on with time.

Comfort can be a big deal for folks starting out. You are bound to spend more time whaling away, trying to get out those pricey pieces of swagged aluminum. If your nut tool is really bothering your hand, try keeping a small rock in your pocket to help hammer on stubborn wires.

If you are just starting out, consider whether you will be attaching the nut tool to your harness. Not having to worry about dropping it is a big thing, especially at first when you are focusing on so many other things. All the models we looked at easily facilitate clipping or girth hitching a sling to the tool and attaching the other side to your harness. While this works, the Wild Country Pro Key comes with a built-in leash that is less bulky than most you could make.

Ian Nicholson and Chris McNamara