Totem Cams are a line of climbing protection devices that are known for their unique design and functionality. The introduction of these cams to the market was the first major innovation in climbing cam design in several years which quickly won the company many loyal customers.
In our review below we give 6 reasons why we think these are the best climbing cams available on the market today.
Spanish climbing gear cooperative Totem MT have been producing climbing gear for a number of years, however their line of Totem Cams were a major innovation in climbing protection and are considered to be some of the best cams on the market by many experienced climbers. Below are some of the reasons why these cams are worth the price:
1. Independent Cam Lobes
The most revolutionary aspect of the totem cam is the ability to weight each of the pairs of lobes independently. Due to the cam’s two-stem design, each pair of cams can be engaged separately or can be equalized together. One advantage of this design is that only two or three cam lobes need to be in contact with the rock for the cam to hold. These placements are especially suited for aid climbing as they may lack the holding power to catch a fall. Another advantage of this design is that it allows the cam to function in flaring placements far better than traditional cam designs which are meant to be placed in parallel sided cracks. This technology makes these cams more versatile than a traditional cam and can eliminate the need to carry offset cams in some circumstances. These cams excel in flaring cracks or awkward pin scars that would otherwise be difficult to protect.
Source: David Allfrey
Another aspect of the Totem cam’s design that is worth mentioning is the surface area of each lobe. The lobes have a larger surface area, which increases the holding power of the cam and also helps to prevent it from walking out of the crack.
For all of the features that totems have, it is amazing that they are still lighter than many cams on the market. Totems are lighter than older style C4s and are comparable in weight to the new C4s. Totems are able to save weight because they are single axle and do not have a traditional stem like most other cams available today. The lack of a single stem also helps give the cam more flexibility as we will discuss later.
The totem cam utilizes a single axle design, which according to some manufacturers is stronger than a double axle cam. However this design choice can sometimes limit the range of the cam when compared to a dual axle cam. Despite the fact that these cams are single axle, their range is comparable to Black Diamond C4s.
The lack of a single cable stem in the totems make the cam far more flexible than other types of cams such as a Black Diamond C4 or Wild Country Friend. Flexibility reduces walking, which on wandering routes can render a bomber cam placement useless. Despite their flexibility, most of these cams do not feel awkward to place or hold. The largest orange totem can feel slightly floppy compared to the others however.
5. Head width
Totems have a much more narrow head width than C4s or Friends. In the smaller sizes the narrow head width is extremely useful for placements in tight pods and pin scars. Totems even have a more narrow head width than many microcams on the market such as the x4 pictured below.
6. Holding power in downward flaring placements
Totems are able to hold body weight in flaring placements better than any other cam on the market. Totems can hold in outward flaring cracks up to 40 degrees. It is no wonder why Totems are as popular as they are with aid climbers.
The largest downside of Totem cams is their price. By size, Totems are more expensive than most other cams on the market. While the price may be steep, the added functionality and durability of the Totems make them a worthwhile investment for serious climbers. In addition, their unique design allows one Totem Cam to take the place of 2 conventional cams as they can be placed like an offset or standard cam.
In conclusion, the Totems are a great addition to any traditional climbing rack, the unique design and functionality make them more stable and versatile, the trigger design makes them easy to place, and the build quality is top-notch, making them durable and long-lasting.