The Ultralight TCUs from Metolius are a recent addition to their protection range. What first strikes you about them is their exceptionally light weight.
The two sizes reviewed were 2 and 3, equivalent to Friends 0.5 and 1 respectively. Compared to the Wild Country equivalents, which are assumed to be the industry benchmark, the Metolius cams proved very competitive. The weights of the cams were 57g and 59g, noticeably lighter than most cams on the market. The low weights have partly been achieved by the use of three cams, and partly by a reduction in size of the whole unit.
The use of three cams is a good idea, the middle one being wider to improve stability. The absence of a fourth cam presented no problems to me. All the good placements I got felt as though they were as solid and secure as any other cam I have placed. The three cams also makes for a slightly narrower head which can be an advantage for pockets and the like.
The rest of the unit is also of a slightly smaller size than a lot of other cams. Again this caused me no worries as to their reliability. The only minor gripe with this is the one-finger trigger may be a little narrow for those with wider fingers!
A novel feature of Metolius cams is the 'Rangefinder'. A device that ‘tells you at a glance whether you have chosen the best sized unit’. This is a series of colour coded spots on the outside edge of the cam, to show where they should be in contact with the rock. In theory this sounds like a good idea, but in practice it is of rather limited use. I imagine for a beginner, in a stable position, learning to place cams it does offer a clear, visual assesment of the placement. However, for any situations where the need to get the cam in is rather more pressing the system becomes irrelevant. Craning my neck to see if the yellow spots are correctly positioned wasn't a priority as my forearms were pumping out.
Overall I would say that this is a worthy cam. For the weight conscious climber (although I've yet to meet one) these would be an essential addition to their rack. They are similar in price to the rivals yet significantly lighter, my only gripe being the slightly gimmicky 'Rangefinder'. Recommended.
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