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Totem Cams vs Dragonfly Cams

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 ModerateMatt 09 Nov 2019

I'm looking at buying the 3 smallest sizes of Totem to fill the gap between the smaller 3 Dragonfly's/C3's and the C4's (0.5 >). Currently I've got a full set of Dragonfly's but I'm not that fussed about the larger sizes. From what I can see the Totem's win on about every count (holding power, head width, irregular placements) apart from they are a bit less flexible and heavier.

Folk who have used both extensively would you rather have a set of each or double up on one or other?

Cheers

Matt

In reply to ModerateMatt:

I can't comment against the Dragonfly but ive got the 5 smallest totems (Black to Green) and the equivalent Dragons (except for 00), on grit I would choose the Totem everytime.

 ModerateMatt 09 Nov 2019
In reply to Paul Hy:

Thanks for the reply Paul. After climbing with a few friends Totem's I'm very much sold on them. 

 tehmarks 09 Nov 2019
In reply to ModerateMatt:

I don't currently have any other cam in the smallest Totem sizes, but I've placed others and for me the Totems win every time. They feel plain reassuring even down to the smallest size.

 asteclaru 10 Nov 2019
In reply to ModerateMatt:

I have both the Totems and the Dragonflies, although I can't say that I've used either of them 'extensively'.

I much prefer the Totems, so if I were to buy again, I would double up on Black to Yellow Totems and skip the Blue to Purple Dragonflies.

 bpmclimb 10 Nov 2019
In reply to ModerateMatt:

>  From what I can see the Totem's win on about every count (holding power, head width, irregular placements) apart from they are a bit less flexible and heavier.

... "about every count" ....

Excuse the pedantry ... from your post I count 3 pros and 2 cons

3
In reply to ModerateMatt:

> Folk who have used both extensively would you rather have a set of each or double up on one or other?

Haven't used either but if your money's really burning that much of a hole in your pocket it surely makes more sense to have a set of each.

1
 ModerateMatt 10 Nov 2019
In reply to planetmarshall:

Why does it make more sense to have a set of each?

1
 C Witter 10 Nov 2019
In reply to ModerateMatt:

> Folk who have used both extensively would you rather have a set of each or double up on one or other?

> Why does it make more sense to have a set of each?

Um... Because if you somehow have enough money to buy a set of each or double up, then why not have a set of each so you can work out for yourself which you prefer and, besides that, get the benefits of both and a bit of variety in the mix.

Even better if you can just buy me a set of each, so I can do some detailed research for you and report back in a year.

Ta!

6
In reply to C Witter:

> > Why does it make more sense to have a set of each?

> Um... Because if you somehow have enough money to buy a set of each or double up, then why not have a set of each so you can work out for yourself which you prefer and, besides that, get the benefits of both and a bit of variety in the mix.

> Even better if you can just buy me a set of each, so I can do some detailed research for you and report back in a year.

> Ta!

Because if you work out it wasn't best to have a set of each you haven't got the money to buy the any more?

 GrahamD 11 Nov 2019
In reply to ModerateMatt:

I have to say I'm really surprised by the apparent number of climbers that need (or want) so many small cams on their rack.

3
In reply to GrahamD:

> I have to say I'm really surprised by the apparent number of climbers that need (or want) so many small cams on their rack.

I managed for years without any...

1
 Jus 11 Nov 2019
In reply to ModerateMatt:

the smallest dragonfly’s are much smaller than the smallest totems no?

 timparkin 12 Nov 2019
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

> I managed for years without any...

I was chatting with a couple of older E8 climbers and both said they'd have jumped at the chance of having some of the small cams now available and they've substantially changed the safety of climbing very hard routes.

Of course, they managed without any ... 

1
 asteclaru 12 Nov 2019
In reply to Jus:

> the smallest dragonfly’s are much smaller than the smallest totems no?

the biggest three Dragonflies (i.e. the specific sizes the OP is asking about) are the same size as the smallest three Totems

 GrahamD 12 Nov 2019
In reply to timparkin:

There's a bit of a difference between "some" and a double set

 Jus 12 Nov 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

thanks for the clarification

In reply to timparkin:

> I was chatting with a couple of older E8 climbers and both said they'd have jumped at the chance of having some of the small cams now available and they've substantially changed the safety of climbing very hard routes.

> Of course, they managed without any ... 

In the years I was managing they weren't available but neither was I climbing E8 (or since)

 asteclaru 13 Nov 2019
In reply to timparkin:

> Of course, they managed without any ... 

This 'climbers were managing without such and such' argument that is being made over and over again annoys me so much.

Someone will ask about winter climbing gear and there's guaranteed to be some smartarse to point out that 'X climber has climbed IX 9 with hobnail boots and an alpenstock, you don't need need curve shafted tools or vertical front points'. Yeah, that may well be true, but if I can make MY climbing safer and more enjoyable, and if I have the money for the fancy gear that will make it so, why wouldn't I choose it?

Same argument with micro-cams: 'people were climbing E8 without Dragonflies'. So what? I've only ever lead Severe, and I've placed almost every single micro-cam I've got at least once (the only one I have never placed was the red Dragonfly, because I haven't climbed trad since buying it). Would it have been doable without them? No doubt. Did I need another piece of protection? Probably not. Was I glad to have another piece between me and the ground? Absolutely. Why wouldn't I choose to make it safer for myself if I can?

1
 GrahamD 13 Nov 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

Things change and ways of climbing change.  I'm just surprised how much more dependence / trust people place in micro cams these days, and how many people have.

5
 galpinos 13 Nov 2019
In reply to GrahamD:

> Things change and ways of climbing change.  I'm just surprised how much more dependence / trust people place in micro cams these days, and how many people have.

When I look at photos from my first leads, with a rack of half a rack of hexs and 4 nuts, compared to now, set of cams plus a couple of micro cams, double sets of nuts with offsets and micros etc I can' believe I was ever happy leading on what I did but I still take a full rack with me now, I've no desire to go back to my mid-90s rack.

 GrahamD 13 Nov 2019
In reply to galpinos:

Full rack fime but people are talking about doubling up now !

7
 timparkin 13 Nov 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

> This 'climbers were managing without such and such' argument that is being made over and over again annoys me so much.

> Someone will ask about winter climbing gear and there's guaranteed to be some smartarse to point out that 'X climber has climbed IX 9 with hobnail boots and an alpenstock, you don't need need curve shafted tools or vertical front points'. Yeah, that may well be true, but if I can make MY climbing safer and more enjoyable, and if I have the money for the fancy gear that will make it so, why wouldn't I choose it?

> Same argument with micro-cams: 'people were climbing E8 without Dragonflies'. So what? I've only ever lead Severe, and I've placed almost every single micro-cam I've got at least once (the only one I have never placed was the red Dragonfly, because I haven't climbed trad since buying it). Would it have been doable without them? No doubt. Did I need another piece of protection? Probably not. Was I glad to have another piece between me and the ground? Absolutely. Why wouldn't I choose to make it safer for myself if I can?

Egg - bloody - zactly

In reply to GrahamD:

> Full rack fime but people are talking about doubling up now !

Presumably for specific routes or rock types. I climbed for years with only two cams (Friend 1.5 and 2.5) but I've re-climbed quite a few of the gritstone routes I did back then with a full rack, doubled in the mid range, not done anything where I've felt the need to double my micros though... yet!

 asteclaru 14 Nov 2019
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

I guess it depends on what you consider a 'micro-cam'

The OP is asking about the biggest three Dragonflies, which cover roughly the same range as the smallest two Dragons or C4s (so not exactly 'that' small).

To me at least, it makes sense to get Dragonflies or Totems in that size range because of the narrow head width (plus I've read about concerns about the lobes having to be shaven too much on a double axle design, which makes it more likely for the cam to break if it catches a fall in a less than ideal placement).

I've done exactly as he's done, replacing my 0.3 and 0.4 Camalots with the #4, #5 and #6 Dragonflies - you're carrying an extra cam, but they fit in a lot more places because they're not as wide.

In reply to asteclaru:

I've got the Totems already so didn't feel the need to get the largest DFs

 C Witter 14 Nov 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

> This 'climbers were managing without such and such' argument that is being made over and over again annoys me so much.

> Someone will ask about winter climbing gear and there's guaranteed to be some smartarse to point out that 'X climber has climbed IX 9 with hobnail boots and an alpenstock, you don't need need curve shafted tools or vertical front points'. Yeah, that may well be true, but if I can make MY climbing safer and more enjoyable, and if I have the money for the fancy gear that will make it so, why wouldn't I choose it?

> Same argument with micro-cams: 'people were climbing E8 without Dragonflies'. So what? I've only ever lead Severe, and I've placed almost every single micro-cam I've got at least once (the only one I have never placed was the red Dragonfly, because I haven't climbed trad since buying it). Would it have been doable without them? No doubt. Did I need another piece of protection? Probably not. Was I glad to have another piece between me and the ground? Absolutely. Why wouldn't I choose to make it safer for myself if I can?


---
I understand your argument, but I very much doubt carrying a full set of microcams makes UK severes either more safe or more enjoyable - excepting a handful of cases with very compact rock.

 asteclaru 15 Nov 2019
In reply to C Witter:

Surely it depends on how close to your limit you are on it, no? I'm always more relaxed (hence I can enjoy the climbing more) when I've got more rather protection in.

In reply to asteclaru:

> Surely it depends on how close to your limit you are on it, no? I'm always more relaxed (hence I can enjoy the climbing more) when I've got more rather protection in.

But I can't think of any severes where it would be necessary or possible to place them. It would actually make more sense to take the largest sizes (5 & 6) as they are more likely to be needed for the chimney/offwidth size of climbing quite frequently encountered.

 asteclaru 15 Nov 2019
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

I've placed my Gold (#3) and Blue (#4) Dragonflies and my Black Totem on Christmas Curry (I can't remember the exact placements, but I distinctly remember using up every small cam I've got). And actually, I run out of the smaller sizes more often than the bigger sizes (I've placed all my smaller cams far more often than my #3 C4, for example).

Look, this is getting tiring for me, so this is going to be my last post on the matter. 

Clearly, I'm not saying that Severe (or any other grade for that matter) can't be enjoyable or safe unless you've got micro-cams. That will depend on far greater factors: what grades you usually climb, what your lead limit is, how risk averse you are and so on.

All I'm saying is that I disagree with the 'x climber did y grade without z piece of kit, so you don't need it either'. I've found my Dragonflies useful even at the lowly grades I'm climbing at, so to me, they're worth it. If someone else thinks that they could make use of them, but don't climb whatever arbitrary grade the UKC crowd have decided that they are useful for, why would they not get them? At the end of the day I don't have shares in either DMM or Totem, it's no skin off my nose whether they get them or not - I'm just sharing my experience.

1
In reply to asteclaru:

> All I'm saying is that I disagree with the 'x climber did y grade without z piece of kit, so you don't need it either'. I've found my Dragonflies useful even at the lowly grades I'm climbing at, so to me, they're worth it.

Exactly, you are entirely right.   (And I use micro-cams at lowly grades also!)

Whenever there's been an advance in climbing gear, people have always said "it's only for the higher grades". 

Sticky rubber?  (Jerry Moffat in Fires on Masters Wall) "Only for high E grades"

Twin ropes?   Only for extremes.  There was a time when whenever anyone who might be a novice went into a climbing shop, the staff would try hard to steer them away from a pair of half ropes for trad, and insist they buy a single 11 mm. 

Original Wild Country cams "only needed for E grades".

Et cetera. 

 C Witter 15 Nov 2019
In reply to asteclaru:

> Surely it depends on how close to your limit you are on it, no? I'm always more relaxed (hence I can enjoy the climbing more) when I've got more rather protection in.

I don't think it does depend on something as subjective as how close you perceive yourself to be to your limit and how dangerous you perceive the situation to be. Severes usually have good gear; well placed, fully-rated nuts, slings and larger gear are almost always available. Moreover, learning to calm yourself down, trust your climbing and make strategic use of gear placement possibilities are important skills to master. Trying to shortcut this learning process by relying on micro protection is objectively an inadequate approach to learning to trad climb. Avoiding this kind of crutch would probably make you a better, safer and more confident climber. I'm not saying this as a put down, but simply because I think it is an important realisation as part of developing as a trad climber. A cliche of the literature on trad climbing is: place gear to climb, don't climb to place gear. And just don't place bad gear. A microcam will always be less than ideal, so you shouldn't be placing them on Severes unless there are objectively no other options - including the option of moving one move up to gain a decent placement.

best,

CW

 tehmarks 15 Nov 2019
In reply to C Witter:

Partially disagree. While I'd never consider a microcam as great gear and would seek to place something more reasonable whenever possible, there are a plethora of severes out there that have poor gear or are virtually unprotectable. In that scenario I'd take a microcam over soloing with a rack any day, and having the option may make someone happier, or may make them happy enough to commit to climbing an otherwise pleasant line instead of passing on it.

I've placed the black Totem on a diff. more than once; on one of them, it was the only gear of note.

 C Witter 15 Nov 2019
In reply to tehmarks:

Fair enough. I wouldn't be too dogmatic: if it's objectively poorly protected, that's a different matter.

 bpmclimb 16 Nov 2019
In reply to GrahamD:

> Things change and ways of climbing change.  I'm just surprised how much more dependence / trust people place in micro cams these days, and how many people have.

Indeed! In fact, all my early climbing experiences were without any gear or ropes (and no rockshoes either), on crumbling bits of Cornish sea cliff - both full height climbs and deep water soloing (it wasn't called that back then). I very nearly died on several occasions. Things have changed, as you say, and these days I have a lot of gear, including a new set of lovely Dragonfly cams, which I've been doubling up with Dragons ..... for which I'm completely unrepentant

 ModerateMatt 16 Nov 2019
In reply to ModerateMatt:

Thanks to those few who posted some useful info relating to my question. In true UKC form this thread was hijacked for pointless bickering. 

Out!

Matt

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 bpmclimb 17 Nov 2019
In reply to ModerateMatt:

> Thanks to those few who posted some useful info relating to my question. In true UKC form this thread was hijacked for pointless bickering. 

That seems a bit overly prickly! Your OP was about as specific as it gets; the digressions didn't seem too wild, and the disagreements were pretty mild IMHO.


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