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Things You Should Know Before Buying Climbing Cams

By Matt GerholdLast update: 2023-08-10

Everyone, including professional climbers, wants their moments to be saved as memories, a climbing cam for the journey is a thing to consider. A climbing cam can bring you together with the participants in solidarity. If you are the type of person who likes to reach goals with the highest altitude, the mountain ranges are famous for their terrain and elevation. So why don't you choose climbing cams for your trip?

Furthermore, loading up your harness with a well-built climbing cam is fun, useful, and well-built climbing gear. It is known that climbing cams are devices with lobes. retractable cams that, under spring tension, can be wedged or placed inside cracks in rocks; when the rims are weighted, the cam lobes then exert an outward force on the rocks to keep the cam lobes from pulling outwards. Because of the movement of the parts, climbing cams are classified as active protective climbing equipment; in contrast are passive protective devices consisting of nuts, and containing no moving parts.

Remarkable, most climbing cams are easy to place and remove with one hand. They work quite strong and are cheap, long-term use. A climbing cam that sits well in solid rock as a peg can cost over $80, depending on brand and size.

1. Structure of climbing cams

Head of climbing cams

First on all parts of the orange, the tip of the orange is where you will find the lobes. In general, cams will contain four lobes, but some other brands' oranges have three cam units (TCUs). Very few orange brands have one end and two cams.

Stem of climbing cams

Next we will analyze the body. This part is the long hub that connects to the cam head. There are several types of body on the market as follows:

  • Rigid stem of climbing cams is a rigid cam body made of solid aluminum. Often the first cams used this design. However, these cams are rarely used today because of the danger to climbers because they can be dangerous in horizontal positions.
  • Single stem climbing cams are flexibly constructed from cables, and have the most common design. They have a new improvement in the process of use that is less likely to cause a walking sound, as described in the process of cam displacement in the crack. That creates an inconsistent configuration.
  • U stem of climbing cams are a flexible and U-shaped stem that attaches to the cam tip in two places. Sometimes the U-shaped body can be a little stiffer when the trigger is pulled. Additionally, it can add more width to the cam heads, potentially limiting their placement options.

Trigger climbing cams

The cam trigger helps you operate the cam by retracting the lobes through the trigger wire. You then pull back with a spring, located inside the cam head, creating tension. If you're not sure, it's a good idea to check the triggers on different brands to make sure you won't make a mistake and that they're easy to use.

Sling climbing cams

Usually at the end of the wire body there is a loop of fabric called a strap, which allows you to clip the cam to your rope. The wall cable will also sometimes be colorless, so it's also difficult to tell the size of the cam while moving. And there will be no standard between color and size. The slings are made of nylon or dyneema. The dyneema is lighter and more resistant to UV rays, while nylon is more susceptible to UV damage but is more durable.

2. Size climbing cams

Besides, the size of the cam needs to depend on the size of the crack that you are climbing and need to protect. With hand-sized cracks usually protected by cams in the range of 1. 5"- 3. 0" and increased by using hand jams. Cams as small as 1. 25″ are only used in finger-sized and smaller cracks. For a three-lobed cam designed to protect small, conversely a modern four-lobed cam can also be quite small. Medium or large cams 1. 5" - 5" are commonly used for hand-sized and larger cracks

In general, individual cams will have a wide range of sizes for everyone to choose from, ranging from micro cams selected for small 1/4" fissures of rock, to cracks with over-width or chimney sizes 6" to 8".

Above all, when evaluating a set of cams, it is important to consider all the size ranges the cam set has or sizes that overlap. Finally, you should still consider the areas you'll be climbing and the type of climbing you'll be participating in. For example the Shawangunks areas of New York, you may need a larger number of oranges to cover the size range. Still, cam size is very important in some places like Indian Creek, where up to 12 cams of the same size are often required, especially if you need to start from a professional cam that costs over $9000 or more. On the other hand, you should also share racks with friends to safely lead shots.

3. Range of climbing cams

Next we will refer to the range of a climbing cam as the size that the cam is within the safe range, like figuring out how to properly place the cams. In short, the more range they have, the more useful they will be because of the ability to choose the right position. Moreover, when the cam has a large range, you may need to carry less as one size will fit many places. Besides, they are less likely to get stuck in cracks. However, the big cam is not always the correct placement.

Speaking of the range of climbing cams, double-shaft cams will provide more range than single-shaft heads. The shaft is the rod that the cam lobes rotate around.

4. Stability climbing cams

Climbing cam stability is a key component that climbers look for when considering a cam. The cam is easy to move out of place and reduces holding power or into a location that is hard to reach or clean.

Overall, according to professional mountaineers, the camshafts are stable during travel because in part the strap is extendable and loosely connected to the thumb loop, allowing movement of the carabiner and sling. For the dual shaft design, it is also easy to move and is almost impossible to locate when moving places.

5. Weight climbing cams

For climbers, balancing overhead weights or making gears lighter and lighter, and even climbing cams. In fact, many manufacturers are still improving the light cam version and reducing the weight of the climbing cam as much as possible. However, weight can be increased by many dimensions for desert rifts or when packing a pack with overnight gear for climbing. From there, the weight from the individual cams will increase more or less. On the other hand, for long hauls, it's very easy to have a duo or a trio, just as the weight goes with lighter versions.

6. Climbing cams lobes

The market today has a variety of oranges to cater to the needs of each individual climber and different types of climbing. For example, oranges will often have different numbers of lobes. The four lobe cam provides a larger surface area when in contact with the rock and will provide an accurate barrier position. The three-lobed cam, or TCU, has some security limitations due to its less surface area but can be suitable for shallow locations and takes advantage of cracks that are difficult to protect.

Like some Aliens cams, this one strikes a balance by providing four narrow cam lobes to work harder in shallow positions. The offset or hybrid cam uses two sets of cam lobes of different sizes, thereby creating a superior cam.

7. Durability

The durability of climbing cams is based on how high you climb the slope, as this affects how the cam works overhead. As a result, side effects will cause the trunk of the orange tree to bend a lot and lead to frayed or even broken wires. On the other hand, depending on where the cam will move, there is always the possibility of doing some damage.


Investing in a climbing cam for your long hike is a smart choice. However, the market is wide with many well-known brands and each will have the quality and features you need, so you want to make sure you choose the ones that work best for you. For a better understanding of each element and how you use it, check out our guide page which can give you some ideas on how to add color to your choice.

On the other hand, if you're wondering which one is right for you, it's also a good idea to climb on a friend's rack and then gain experience with different cushioning devices before purchasing. If you only have a few cams, you can choose cams of the same make and brand when you are unsure. On the contrary, with a large number of oranges, the variety is not only in type but also helps you better understand each place you choose to buy. Through the necessary information above, gearinstant hope that a part of our knowledge will create the success of your trip. Thank you for following.

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