/ What size Helium Friends?

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VirusKiller on 13 Oct 2013
I apologize in advance for another what size cam thread...

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?

TIA
Coel Hellier - on 13 Oct 2013
In reply to VirusKiller:

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.
VirusKiller on 13 Oct 2013
In reply to Coel Hellier:

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.
Cake - on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to VirusKiller:

> 2, 2.5, 3 - concentrate on sizes above the hexes?

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
MikeStuart26 on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to VirusKiller: If you spend another 25 in Joe Browns you can get a 3 cam set of BD Camalots rather than WC friends. Camalots have a double axle design, this means that each cam can cover a wider range of sizes, plus IMO BD have a better spring mech, nor do they unwind or get clogged with dirt etc as badly, and finally bite and feel more bomber
Owen W-G - on 14 Oct 2013
In reply to VirusKiller:

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.

VirusKiller on 15 Oct 2013
As I somewhat expected, it's like asking three economists a question and getting four answers! In this case, I guess there is no right or wrong answer...
blackreaver - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to VirusKiller: I started with 1.5, 2.5 and 3.5 on grit and it served me well.
cyberpunk - on 15 Oct 2013
In reply to VirusKiller: Size 0,0 and 0 as in get Camalots instead.
Jasonic - on 17 Oct 2013
In reply to VirusKiller: another vote for .5,1.5.2.5.. 1.5 is the most useful size anywhere!
VirusKiller on 26 Oct 2013
So http://www.theoutdoorshop.com/ (which is conveniently local to me) is having a special extra 15% off everything this weekend which made them on par with Joe Brown and other online shops, so I decided to pop in, get a bit more advice on sizes, play around with Friends and Dragons, and make my Helium Friend purchases.

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.

2) Handling

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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VirusKiller on 26 Oct 2013
Make that corresponding to 0.5, 1.5 and 2.5/3.0 Friends.

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