The Metolius Super Cam is a three-piece set that covers an impressive range of sizes, from hand crack to off-width. That range derives itself from a brilliant asymmetrical cam-lobe design. However, the cams are heavy, relatively expensive and have very rigid, almost unwieldy U-Stems—all of which adds up to a piece of gear that’s not as useful as its range suggests.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Metolius Super Cam is its unique asymmetrical cam-lobe design. This isn’t an “offset” cam, but rather a piece with two very lopsided sets of lobes on each side. The design is a pretty brilliant piece of engineering: The center (smaller) lobes revolve around the axle and arc of the outer (larger) lobes, creating a huge range for each piece.
The unique asymmetrical design not only benefits from Metolius’ proprietary “Range Finder” system, but it would be difficult to know whether the cam lobes are over- or under-cammed without it. This is when the color-coded dots come in handy; allowing you to easily see whether you’ve placed the piece properly.
The Super Cam shines in perfect, parallel-sided cracks—especially sandstone desert cracks. Horizontal, irregular, and/or awkward cracks aren’t as accepting to the Super Cam. The giant U-Stem is very stiff, and can cause a lot of cam walking if you’re not careful. Also, the Super Cam can be difficult to remove from irregular cracks, due to the fact that the tips of the two smaller (inner) lobes need the space to move even farther toward the opposite side of the crack, in order for the device to retract.
The Super Cam is unique, in that you’d almost never double up on its sizes. It’s tough to imagine how a full set really works with most trad-climbing racks, without being either redundant or unnecessary. Best case, you might bring one piece as a sort of “thank god” piece—something that you can pull off your harness in a pinch, or at an anchor, and hope it fits. The Super Cam is indeed a feat of engineering brilliance. But beyond design, its utility in real-world situations leaves much to be desired.
Value The Super Cam is one of the more expensive single units on the market and it is not the best value for this size.
Ergonomics The Super Cam’s trigger bar on its U-stem feels almost comically large, especially if you’re used to tiny TCUs. The large trigger bar is quite easy to grasp, although our fingers sometimes got tangled up in trigger wires.
Design / Weight Aside from the Omega Pacific Link Cams, the Super Cam has one of the best ranges of any individual cam on the market. However, the price you pay for that range, is increase in weight and a rather cumbersome design that doesn’t fit in certain situations.
Resistance to Walking A really stiff U-Stem and the lack of individual mobility between the two sets of cam lobes result in a unit that seems quite prone to walking. These units work best in vertical sandstone cracks, but make sure you clip the cam with an additional quickdraw or sling.
(Learn more about climbings cams and how to choose the right one, here.)