With the most versatile offering of cams on the planet, Ultralight Power Cams, TCUs, Offsets, Fat Cams and Supercams, why would Metolius add a single-stem cam to their line? The reason is that there is an infinite number of variables in the climbing environment: hard rock, soft rock, parallel cracks, flared cracks, etc . . . Each individual cam style excels at a certain set of variables. The Fat Cam's wide lobes greatly improve protection in soft rock while the TCU's narrow head widths greatly enhance placement versatility. The biggest advantages of the single-stem unit are: they will fit into certain placements better than the U-shaped body and the flexible, single cable reduces leverage to minimize walking in certain placements. They set out to make the finest single-stem unit we possibly could and the Master Cam is the result.
DECENT FEATURES of the Metolius Master Cam
A flexible, single stem unit with an ultra-narrow head-width
Molded thumb piece
13 mm (0.51") Monster Sling webbing (36% Dyneema/64% nylon)
Range Finder tells you at a glance if you've chosen the right size cam for the placement
Optimized cam angle for increased holding power
Machined cam stops
Color-coded sewn slings and tubing
CNC machined for much greater precision than stamped or extruded cams
Hand built, inspected and individually tested to 1/2 its rated strength in Bend, Oregon
For small cracks, these are the best cams for your money. The flexible stem is superior to that of the C4s, which allows them to fit well into horizontal cracks. The only other comparable cams for smaller cracks are the x4s and aliens; however, for being around $20 cheaper, these are definitely the way to go.
I have the 1 and 2 (and the offset 2/3) and I really like them. They set confidently, and quickly. The narrow head makes finding a suitable placement in granite very fast and easy. Note that the range finder is only on sizes 2 and larger.
Narrow head width and great range. I've found these to be super durable and bomber, especially in the smaller sizes. The 00-3 are amazing. Although the metal is supposedly "hard", they bite really well. The larger sizes tend to be a bit floppy.
I would first of all never buy these if they are anything above a 5, at that point the 5 and aboves become really wanky and awkward. These are for sure one of the best small cams on the market. I will definitely be interested to see how the new BD x4's do up against the master cams. definitely recommend these for trad climbers looking for small cams
I picked up a used #2 a couple of years ago and liked it so much that I bought a complete set. There are no large cams for big placements but that has little impact at the crags I climb at. If I do need anything larger, I just use my BD C4s. I love the flexibility of the stem and the narrow head width. I always have a few of these on my rack, usually the middle sizes.
After about 15 years of use I finally felt I had to retire my outing clubs aliens, very sad I know, but I have used the master cams a few times and already I am starting to like them almost as much. I like the "Range Finder" but my favorite thing about them is the flexible single stem. Nostalgia for the aliens keeps me from saying they are just as good, but I really do like these for small cracks.
For bigger cracks I go with BD C4s (down to .5) but for anything smaller I prefer a Master Cam. The thin, flexible stem is great for weaseling these things into places you'd be hard pressed to protect otherwise. A 00 and 0 with a sliding X to equalize might actually catch a lead fall despite not being rated for much more than aid climbing. If I were going to test my luck on tiny pro it'd be on Master Cams. These things are light too, so bring a few extra if you can afford it.
I have a double set of these from 4 on down, and consider them among the best small cam pro available. Metolius makes bomber, reliable protection, and the Mastercam line is arguably their best. Like many others, I use a variety of little stuff- Aliens, C3’s and TCU’s, and while I won’t say that any one is better than the others, the small Mastercams are every bit as good as Aliens.
I reach for these a lot. i mean a lot a lot, over all other finger sizes which for me are yellow to red. I used a green one time in a very narrow slot and liked it but it mostly sits on my rack. but for yellow to red awesome. however they tend to overcam, the range finder is a joke and can be a real pain to clean but they are plenty strong at 10Kn and really good in tight narrow placements. Not as good as my aliens but more reliable.