Multiple clip-in points allow for different load bearing options.
Irregular cam lobe applies torque/force like a crank on a bicycle.
Force is distributed by two independent/flexible stems instead of one central point like on all other cams in this review.
Internal cam springs wrap cam heads.
Not ergonomic to handle.
The Totem Cam’s strength is its versatility and ability to fit in irregularly shaped or flared cracks, and when it comes to tricky placements, the Totems work well. Though they work in standard cracks, they are especially useful for aid climbing. But they’re also bulky, and even after extended use are still cumbersome to handle. At $70 apiece, they are more expensive than many other cams reviewed.
A versatile, flexible U-shape design climbing cam with multiple clip-in points. The general purpose Totem Cams come in five sizes: from .5”-1.5”.
The Totem Cams score high marks regarding versatility and tricky placements. They’re very flexible and you can clip either the left, right or central lobes via webbing or loops. Grabbing the trigger with your fingers is easy but I stabbed my thumb on the thumb bar and had to adjust it before I could retract the cam. The cams are more challenging to grab quickly than the Metolius Master Cams or Black Diamond C3s.
I took the Totem Cams up Eldo’s Naked Edge (600 feet; 5.11 a/b). When stuffing them in small pin scars they would bend and curve to fit the crack openings. I never clipped the alternate points on the units, only the central point for protection. The larger cam, about the size of a 1 Black Diamond Camalot, fit naturally flared cracks.
Throughout the day of climbing I did notice how bulky the cams were when racked on my harness, taking about the same amount of space of several Metolius TCUs. Once in the rock they inspired confidence, but had twice the amount of material sticking out of the crack, which covered up more rock and got in the way when jamming my feet and hands.
I took the regular and offset Totems up an A4 lead in the Fisher Towers (Not So Soft, Cottontail Tower). The 3.5-hour lead required many pitons and a few small cams. The Totem Cams set as securely as can be expected in the Fishers sand and stucco rock; they worked especially well in flares. I also took them up the 450’ Ancient Art (5.11a or 5.7 C1) route. They were the sole cams in the .5 to 1.5” size range, and worked well when free climbing fingers to tight hand cracks.
The next day I brought them up the Colorado NW Ridge on the King Fisher (IV 5.8 C2). They fit in piton scars solidly and could also be set in bottleneck cracks.