We will be talking about the three main types of protection today, Cams, Nuts and Hexes.
Nuts, also called wires or chocks. Nuts are basically blocks of metal (aluminium alloy) on the end of a wire. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit into cracks and gaps in the rock, they have also now expanded into several different types of nuts.
Generally a standard set of nuts (1-11) ranges from just under 7mm all the way up to near 4cm big. They normally have one concave side and one convex side to allow for a solid three points of action and create lots of friction on the rock, although design changes dramatically between manufactures as show in the pictures below.
Offsets such as the DMM Offset allow for even more placement opportunity because they are tapered so that they are thinner on one side. This makes them fit ino the more common cracks that get thinner as they get deeper, allowing for better contact and greater friction.
Micronuts are essential for harder climbs where gear placements are sparse and nothing else will fit. They are basically just small nuts starting from a tiny 3.2mm depth. Micronuts are weaker than standard nuts because of their size. They are often made from copper or brass and the wire that you clip into is soldered onto the head.
Hexes are basically just big lumps of metal on the end of a sling that you can just bang into a large crack or gap for a bomber (very good) placement.
Cams are spring loaded devices that expand and contract via a trigger to fit the gap you are putting them in. Upon release of the trigger they expand to fill the gap and the more weight that is put onto them, the more they push outwards creating friction on the rock, they are also very simple to get out in most cases.
They come in many different designs that have changed very much over the years. Most cams nowadays have a flexible stem (for horizontal placements), and have three or four ‘cams’ on them. Cams are unfortunately very expensive though so they are a bit of an investment but on some climbs(usually on certain types of rock they are the only bits of gear that will stay in the rock.
So what do you recommend?
For a basic set of nuts I would recommend The Wild country Rocks because they are cheap and practical, if you have a bit more cash to spend then the DMM nuts are a great buy because they do just tend to fit into the rock a bit better than the more simple design of the Wild Country’s. DMM offsets are an amazing buy if you have the money, they just fit everywhere. Micronuts are generally only needed on harder climbs and these tiny things are the only thing you can use, so unless you are climbing hard and are in need of them then I would leave them. A set of hexes are another vital buy because they just provide bomber protection, if you get one of these in then you are happy as Larry, I would say either the DMM’s or the Wild countries are great, its the same as the nuts, the DMMS are more expensive but they sometimes tend to fit better and the Wild Country’s are cheaper but still very good.. Cams are great but expensive, If you can afford them then great. I personally love the DMM 4CU’s because they are a good price and I love the trigger action. The Dragon Cams and the Helium Cams are great also but more expensive, I believe that cams are more of a personal preference, they all work but I prefer to use the double stem on the 4CU’s as I just find it easier to use.
I hope this guide was helpful and If you have any questions then let us know in the comments…