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
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.
"Does for finger cracks what "Aliens" did for Area 51"
As noted in many other reviews, Aliens are getting harder and harder to come by. Because of the flexible stem and the narrow profile these guys are great in those horizontal cracks or vertical finger cracks where the C4's or even a tri-cam won't work. A no brainer addition to anyone looking to fill in the smaller sizes with SLCD's. While still not quite as flexible as the Aliens, and occasionally prone to kinking while pulling the trigger, especially in the #0 - 00 sizes, these have become the go to for small camming devices. Go get 'em tiger!
I've probably led about 25,000 vertical feet using these cams and have found that in the 3,4 and 5 sizes (orange, red, and black), this is THE cam I reach for. It is easy to handle and feels solid when placed. The stem rotates on the axle which helps reduce walking and makes the lobes stay put in a fall. In the finger size range the narrow head width is critical and allows for placements where the bulkier Black Diamond C4's just won't fit. Also made in Oregon - that's the USA folks!