I’m not a pure trad climber so keep that in mind while reading my ultralight mastercams review. I’ve used gear mainly to supplement and protect runout sections between bolts like at Stuhlfels and Kentheim and most recently on my first trad climbs at Battert. So with that disclaimer, let’s dive into Metolius ultralight mastercams.
When just starting out, you’ll see Black Diamond Camalots (C4s) the most, making them seem to be the natural and automatic choice of cam. The honest reason I first went with mastercams? They just felt better. Perhaps because they were tighter, or took a bit more effort to manipulate they just felt better to use and “tougher” than Camalots. Of course, they’re both certified and rated by the same agencies and will hold falls when placed right. But there’s a certain ineffable haptic pleasure I get when using them. I also love the ultralight mastercam design personally.
You can find the technical specs in seconds with the Google, so I’ll focus on why I like them.
Original, or old Metolius Mastercams
There are two styles of mastercam, the original and the ultralights. The original mastercams feature a thumbloop, different trigger, horizontally notched cam lobes and some are slightly longer. The UL mastercams have no thumb loop and are comparable to DMM’s. There were few downsides to the original mastercams. The most frequent were that the #6 was floppy (totally true) and that they didn’t make any bigger sizes, whereas C4’s go up to well, gigantic! The rangefinder system is also nice, though I honestly can’t remember really using it while climbing. I found it more useful while practicing placements on the ground.
New Metolius Ultralight Mastercams
After years of mastercam awesomeness, Metolius redesigned them making them look even cooler, but more importantly reducing weight and size while maintaining all the same specs otherwise. Check out this chart, courtesy of Weigh My Rack with the differences:
I immediately got the 6, 7 and 8 where the weight difference is biggest, because the original #6 is indeed floppy and finally because there wasn’t a 7 or 8 before. As it stands, the new UL mastercams go up to a BD C4 #3. Most people’s final judgement on the new ultralight mastercams is decided by whether they want a thumb loop or not. I honestly don’t care and easily place both styles. I tend to prefer minimalist things in general which makes me favor the ultralights. I also like the sleek aluminum and steel vs the plasticy C4’s. The wire stems are taut enough not too be floppy or bend when pulling the trigger yet flexible enough to use horizontally without worry and take heaps of abuse. They are also just flexible enough to help minimze walking.
Other Reasons to Choose Mastercams
Any cam you buy that is certified will basically serve it’s purpose. Metolius as a company is still focused on climbers and has not gotten lost in the “lifestyle” products that others have (like Black Diamond). They aren’t busy focusing on selling t-shirts marked up several hundred percent and selling gear as a side business. All their cams are made in the US, and materials even sourced in the US.