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Test drive Totem Cam's
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By kayakscum1
Aug 6, 2010

Mikel from totem sent me a set of his new Totem Cam's. They utilize an ingenious design where cable's load the cam lobes directly giving it several distinct advantages over standard Spring Loaded Camming Devices.

The goal is to get lots of people on these cam's to get reviews. If you are headed out climbing for the day or spending a week in Yosemite, give me a shout.

Reach me at 801-718-0210 or tyler@momentumclimbing.com Check them out at www.totemcams.com/index.php


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By Bawls E. Climber
Aug 6, 2010

I'd love to take them out for a test drive, Would next weekend be ok?


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By ABG
From Winston-Salem, NC
Aug 6, 2010

I would love to give them a try. I have been looking at the totem cams for awhile. I'm planning on doing some climbing up lcc this weekend so let me know if you would like me to take them out. Thanks
Austin
801-707-7464


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By kayakscum1
Aug 6, 2010

B.E.C.: They are available for next weekend.

ABG: This weekend is also open.

I will put you both down. Please call me at 718-0210 so we can figure out an exchange time. I work at momentum. You can meet me there. ABG. I will be at the gym for most of today.


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By Tyler King
From Salt Lake, UT
Aug 6, 2010
Touch Up

Tyler,

I'm really interested in trying them out as well. I'd like to try them out on a weekday. Maybe this week or the next. I'll call when I figure out what days... Thanks for the heads up!


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By kayakscum1
Aug 6, 2010

Tyler,

What day next week?


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By RyanO
From sunshine
Aug 9, 2010

Anyone try these yet?


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By Woodchuck ATC
Aug 9, 2010
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008

they look sweet, but at the price I can't afford any cams right now.


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By Matt Glue
From Boulder, CO
Aug 9, 2010

They look pretty sweet, but I'll point out that "Loadable on just two lobes" means loadable on two lobes for aid only, and then only in some cracks.

www.totemcams.com/files/galeria/files/JustTwoLobes.pdf


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By CalmAdrenaline
From SL,UT
Aug 10, 2010
Oregon Coast Bouldering

Price and I took them out for a intensive "testing session" last night, full write ups to follow.


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By Tyler King
From Salt Lake, UT
Aug 13, 2010
Touch Up

kayakscum1 wrote:
Tyler, What day next week?


How about Tuesday the 17th and/or Thursday the 19th? I will be doing some early morning stuff so I could have them back for someone to take out in the afternoon...


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By RockinOut
From NY, NY
Aug 13, 2010
Gear

So guys any reviews or feedback on these cams?


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By kayakscum1
Aug 16, 2010

RockinOut wrote:
So guys any reviews or feedback on these cams?

Just waiting on a couple of people to write up some reviews. I have not taken any falls on these yet, but one of my buddies did a good thorough test on them. He will have a write up in a few days.


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By kayakscum1
Aug 17, 2010

TDog wrote:
A "good thorough test" will include falls. Put some weight on these suckers. What about the mass of wires that these units need to opperate? Are they holding up? How about the trigger? Big hands, small hands, gloves, 1,2,3 fingers??? I want to see these on a scale and pictures of them racked. That double stem and webbing is bulky for sure.

Jason Price has a thorough write up of exactly that. He should be posting it today. He should have some pics explaining the wear on the back side of the lobes.
The trigger is a 2 finger/thumb, much like small BD and Wild Country cams'. Their trigger design would make them simple to place with a glove that isn't too bulky.


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By kayakscum1
Aug 17, 2010

kayakscum1 wrote:
Jason Price has a thorough write up of exactly that. He should be posting it today. He should have some pics explaining the wear on the back side of the lobes. The trigger is a 2 finger/thumb, much like small BD and Wild Country cams'. Their trigger design would make them simple to place with a glove that isn't too bulky.

I will also get a pic of them on my rack next to my C4's


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By Price
From SLC, UT
Aug 17, 2010

Totem Cams

Adam and I took these up in the quartzite of Big Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City, Utah to test them out. First thing that hit me as I picked up the cams was, "These cams are really cool looking, but there's a lot too them." That thought came true as I racked them up. They definitely take up some room on the gear loops. At the same time, they look really cool, and in my book, that scores some points.

As I looked at how the cams are engineered, I was even more impressed by the engineering. If I'm understanding it correctly, and I believe that I am, the trigger wires actually hold the fall. I was a little concerned at first that these might wear out rather quickly. The other concern that I had was that the trigger wires seems rather exposed, especially when the device is cammed past 75%.

Despite these minor concerns, Adam and I took the attitude of, "Well, they're cams. No one makes cams that just don't work at all." and we headed up to the crag. We stuck them in cracks and compared them to our other gear. They seemed simple enough. The sizes wouldn't be too hard to get used to, and the 2 lobe placement claim seemed to make sense.

I took the first run at them. We were on a steep 5.10 with a crack that varies from perfect fingerlocks to knobby fists. Perfect for fall testing cams. I place the green totem about 30 feet up, backed it up and climbed until it was 3 feet below my shoes. Sure enough, cams hold, and the cam held the short whipper just fine. I climbed back to where I was and then up past into some bigger placements. I found a nice place for the red cam, backed it up, climbed above and took a good 15 foot whip on it with a nice hard catch. Once again, the cam performed brilliantly. With how easy it was to place these cams, I was beginning to think that they were a pretty good product.

I finished the pitch and lowered off to give Adam a go. He wasn't nearly so kind as I was. His first piece he placed perfectly and took a small whip on, but we were here to test. Most anything works in an ideal situation, but when you take it a little more extreme, that's when you see if there is any substance. Adam placed his next piece in an ideal spot, but with only 2 lobes engaged. He tugged on it and it seemed to hold. Then he took a short fall with the piece at waist level and it ripped right out. Unscathed, Adam climbed back up and place another marginal piece. I didn't see this placement, but I know he put it in with all 4 lobes engaged. The 12 foot whip he took on that piece pulled it as well. Either Adam didn't know how to place gear, or he was purposely making bad placements.

Adam finished his pitch and I decided it was my turn to give the cams a good test. I really wanted to be fair, but also test the limits of the cams. I found a perfect spot: a spot in the main crack flaring straight down at approximately 35-40% (Think about the hands on your clock at 5:35 or so). I placed the green cam and backed it up. Sure enough, that cam (that I totally expected to blow) held a 15 footer with a hard catch. My kidneys were starting to feel the hard catches now, but i wanted to test a few more. I tried the purple in a slightly more flaring placement. Not only did I pull the Totem Cam, but I pulled what I thought was a bomber backup. Quite the surprise.

After all the whipping was through, We carefully inspected the cams for damage. The wires held up fine and didn't seem to ever contact the rock. We didn't load them over any horizontals or anything, but I felt like we tested them fairly hard. I'd like to see how they end up loaded over an edge, but I didn't want to ruin them. The lobes definitely showed some wear, especially on the back sides of the lobes. Very interesting spots for deformation. The aluminum seemed pretty soft, and someone that falls on their gear a lot might end up with some mashed up lobes on their cams. I'm sure the specs speak better to the softness of the metal than I can.

I'm impressed, but not ready to go out and drop $80/cam on these. I normally climb on Metolius and BD and will continue to do so for now. I didn't have any major complaints though, so try them out if you get a chance. Climb safe out there.

Jason Price


On a scale of 1-5:

Look and feel: 4
Ease of placement: 5
Holding power: 5
Durability: 3
Size: 2
Price: 1.5


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By Price
From SLC, UT
Aug 17, 2010

wear on the back side of the lobe - missed the wires.
wear on the back side of the lobe - missed the wires.


Pretty deep scar from ripping out of a flared placement.
Pretty deep scar from ripping out of a flared placement.



pretty cams
pretty cams


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By kachoong
From The Outback, Texas
Aug 17, 2010
Climbing at Frog Buttress

Great report and thanks for taking the time to let us know about them. Seems like you gave it a fair go at testing them without intentionally ruining them for further use.

Price wrote:
If I'm understanding it correctly, and I believe that I am, the trigger wires actually hold the fall. I was a little concerned at first that these might wear out rather quickly.


From what I can gather from pictures I'd say the trigger wires and load bearing wires are different components. The trigger wires are a single thinner strand terminating at the lobe (some kind of soldered tip). The thicker wires wrap the larger pin and form the load-bearing strands.



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By CalmAdrenaline
From SL,UT
Aug 17, 2010
Oregon Coast Bouldering

Like Price said we took them out to test on Goodros crack in Big Cottonwood Canyon last week.

First Impression: Definitely bulky, the "double U" sling set up and the flaring nature of the main wires make these things about 3.5" wide when racked. Racking a whole run on one harness loop is pushing it. (3 out of 5)

Quality control seems high (5 out of 5), the anodization on the cam lobes is top notch. I worry about the small pins used to anchor the wires in the grooves on the cam lobes being popped out if you were really digging at it if it were overcammed and stuck.

Cam action is not quite as smooth as other cams due to friction in the trigger/ main wires (you can feel them moving past eachother) but that isnt a big deal at all in my opinion, (4 out of 5) on trigger action.

I think the falls were closer to 15+ feet as we were frequently landing next to the fixed pin on the face as you move out of the flare from the jug near the top. As Price said we expected them to hold just fine, its a cam, so, after confirming that they held just fine in a good placement, I placed a few marginal placements, and backed them up with (what else) a BD cam, and started ripping them out. Several placements I thought were marginal yet sufficient ripped, I do not believe this is do to the design aspects of the cam, as many other factors play into when a cam will or will not hold.

From an aid only standpoint, when loading two lobes is desired, the design elements of this cam really shine through. With the main wires attached directly to the lobes, the loaded force is in a much more parallel plane than with a main hub/ axel design such as a BD cam where the force is shifted several centimeters out from the cam lobes, making the cam want to twist out of the placement. (5 out of 5)

Overall: Again, Quality. The attention to detail and quality control on these things is outstanding. A little too bulky for my taste, I cannot see a whole lot gained over what is already on the market especially at the price unless you are consistently placing with only two lobes in the rock in an aid scenario.

Ill give em 4 out of 5


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By Price
From SLC, UT
Aug 17, 2010

kachoong wrote:
Great report and thanks for taking the time to let us know about them. Seems like you gave it a fair go at testing them without intentionally ruining them for further use. From what I can gather from pictures I'd say the trigger wires and load bearing wires are different components. The trigger wires are a single thinner strand terminating at the lobe (some kind of soldered tip). The thicker wires wrap the larger pin and form the load-bearing strands.


K- You are correct. The "trigger" wires don't hold the fall, but all the wires run together. I should have worded that differently.


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By Jasmine Kall
Aug 17, 2010
Getting ready to climb!

What do you rate BD cams compaired to these guys?


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By Price
From SLC, UT
Aug 17, 2010

Jasmine Kall wrote:
What do you rate BD cams compaired to these guys?

I would rate bd as "different"

My go-to pieces are Metolius, followed closely by BD, but even those two are just different. Different cams work in different spots.

If I had to rate BD on the same scale that I used below my review:

Look and feel: 5
Ease of placement: 4.75
Holding power: 5
Durability: 4
Size: 4
Price(value): 4

Metolius:

L&F: 4
Ease of placement: 4.75
Holding power: 5+
Durability: 5
Size: 4.5
Price(value): 4.5


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By mattm
From TX
Aug 17, 2010
Grande Grotto

Any chance you guys can comment on their sizes compared to BD, CCH etc?

I'm particularly interested in the smallest two (blue, yellow) and how they compare to a Green and Yellow Alien. Less so TCUs

Thanks!


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By Price
From SLC, UT
Aug 17, 2010

mattm wrote:
Any chance you guys can comment on their sizes compared to BD, CCH etc? I'm particularly interested in the smallest two (blue, yellow) and how they compare to a Green and Yellow Alien. Less so TCUs Thanks!



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By kayakscum1
Aug 18, 2010

ABG wrote:
I would love to give them a try. I have been looking at the totem cams for awhile. I'm planning on doing some climbing up lcc this weekend so let me know if you would like me to take them out. Thanks Austin 801-707-7464
This is Austin's experience:

Pros: The cams were light weight and very cool looking. The shape and colors i thought were second to no other cam. Very good looking addition to any rack if you happen to be into looks. The cams were also very light, they felt much lighter than BDs to me but maybe i'm crazy. The totems were also very easy to place. On a few occasions i felt confident placing the gear without even compressing the gear. They just slid right in. They also held really well in the flaring weird places i put them with little walking of the cam.

Cons: Although the cams are lightweight they are also very bulky. The feel light on the harness but definitely take up more space than the normal cam. The plastic looked durable but i would not be surprised if it wears out quickly. Also the paint job is killer but it isnt there to stay. The anodized lobes looked like they were wearing out really easily.

Overall i thought the cams were awesome to play with and were easy to place but i would be somewhat skeptical of buying them at $80 when BDs and Metolius are tried and true it would be hard to justify buying cams at that price that havent been used consistently over a period of time. However when testing i felt confident with the totem cams being the first cam i grabbed for.

Thanks again for the test drive


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By mattm
From TX
Aug 18, 2010
Grande Grotto

So based on the chart, the Totems in the small sizes look pretty spot on for replacement of the green and yellow aliens. Can anyone do size comparisons of the head width and the area right below the head? I'm talking about the area where the Aliens trigger wires connected and on the totems where the wires run through the "stem plate"

Curious how the totems "bulk" affects pin scar placements etc.

Thanks! Looks like they're solid cams but initial impressions say they're not world changing (as expected). Gear Heads will be first adopters here for sure.


Also, I wonder if the cam lobes are made out of the softer 6061 Alu like Wired Bliss and CCH use(d) rather than the harder 7075. Better grip but less durable.


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