When the Metolius TCU first came on the scene, it pushed the limits of what was possible for small cams. Yet, times have changed and with so many other small cams on the market, that achieve narrower head widths in four cams, the Metolius ultralight TCU feels somewhat obsolete.
Several years ago Metolius took its original TCU design and lightened it up, shaving off a third of its weight by revamping the axle and swapping out a Nylon sling for a Dyneema one. Today, the ultralight TCU remains one of the lightest camming units ever made. However, the TCU’s U-stem design makes it one of the widest cam heads on the market, despite having only three cam lobes. The TCU’s wide head (thanks to the unwieldy U-stem) makes it really hard to justify the lack of stability, with only three cam lobes, when there are so many great small four-cam units with much narrower heads on the market, such as the Metolius Master Cam, Aliens, and the Black Diamond X4. That said, it’s hard to beat their price, weight, and durability. And often times, in many climbing situations, cam head width won’t be a limiting factor, in which case the TCUs are totally bomber.
Value The Metolius Ultralight TCU is a great value for small cam units, but given the choice, we’d still recommend the Metolius Master Cam for value.
Ergonomics Ultralight TCUs, especially the smallest sizes, can be really hard to use and hold. The trigger bars are at an awkward distance from the thumb loop, and they don’t extend out far enough to always be easy to grab. Often, when trying to place a piece quickly, we would have to pull the trigger using one finger in the middle of the trigger bar.
Design / Weight TCUs are some of the lightest cams on the market. For example, they are upwards of one ounce lighter than the Black Diamond X4s. However, their U-stem design and wide head, limit the number of placement options.
Resistance to Walking With only three cam lobes at the head, TCUs are naturally more prone to walking.
(Learn more about climbings cams and how to choose the right one, here.)