/ What size Helium Friends?
I've just started leading and am building a rack. I'm likely to climb the most on Peaks grit for the foreseeable future.
Looking at cams, for a number of reasons, I'm rather taken with the Helium Friends vs. Dragons, Demons or Camelots.
Bearing in mind I have already got a set of Wallnuts and Torque Nuts, if I was to get a set of three Helium Friends (great deal at Joe Brown), should I go for:
1, 2, 3 – the usually recommended suspects – cover all bases starter set.
1.5, 2.5, 3.5 – similar, but skewed towards the larger sizes – better for grit?
2, 2.5, 3 - concentrate on sizes above the hexes?
It really doesn't matter much between those options. But, over time, you'll find you want them all between 0.5 and 3.5, with the 0 and 4 as options also.
Thanks and I take your point. I think I'm leaning towards 1.5, 2.5 and 3.5 for the extra range of the 3.5, given I have the Torque Nuts.
I wouldn't go for this option. Even though these hand-sized cams will be very useful on grit in the future, cams are most useful on grit for horizontal breaks where the width can vary a lot over just one break, but hexes or nuts may well be useless. Wild country 1 and 1.5 are very useful sizes indeed, with 1.5 having the edge, I suppose
I'd go 1, 2, 3 on the basis that I'd sometimes bring a 3 with me on a route, but would rarely (unless I specifically thought I'd need it) bring a 3.5
Fill in the gaps in due course.
Don't WC do a 0.5, 1.5, 2.5 set? If so I'd say that trumps other options.
I came out with Camelots!
There are a number of reasons why:
1) Trigger action
The Helium Friend trigger action was inconsistent, frankly "gritty" in size 1 and, I felt, quite spongy in all sizes; this was not at all what I expected from reading a number of reviews. Mechanically, I noticed one contributing factor: With the single axle design, when you start to pull the trigger, the wires are almost in line with the stem which gives hardly any rotational component of pull on the cams. As soon as the cams start rotating, then it quickly becomes *all* rotational pull. Both the C4s and Dragons, with their dual axles have the wires starting at a reasonable angle to the stem which I'm sure this leads to a more consistent force as the cams rotate, even if the Heliums feel firmer at the start. Having said that, I think the C4s and Dragon bearings are simply better than the Friends. Disappointing.
The C4s' trigger action definitely feels firmer than that of the Dragons and is pretty consistent across all sizes.
To me, the thumb loop makes a lot of sense (which is one of the factors why I originally plumped for the Friends over Dragons) and it felt good on both the C4s and Friends. The Dragons' extendable sling is a very attractive feature, albeit perhaps a double-edged sword, but the Dragon trigger to thumb rest distance just felt too short to inspire confidence.
3) Stem flexibility
I'll be honest and admit that I'd not considered this, but the Camelots have the most flexible stems of the three makes by far - a fact that I hadn't picked up from reviews. I can see this being really useful in horizontal placements.
4) The Camelots just looked and felt like the better all-round package.
So there you go: I did want to buy British, but I'm very happy with my purchase. And it's a good reminder that there is no substitute for having a play with the real thing in a real shop. Excellent help and advice from The Outdoor Shop staff, including a cup of tea and letting me browse competitor web sites to compare pricing... They were, in fact, the cheapest!
The sizes I went for were 0.4, 0.75 and 2, which are overlapping and roughly correspond to 0.5, 1.5, 2.0/2.5 Friends.
Thanks for all the advice in this thread; it was very useful!
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