.....in both narrow and wide positions, and even in blind cracks, the Ultralight Curve Nuts placed easily and were reassuringly solid: they really have bite. Also, because I found them slightly stiffer than the threaded nuts I usually use, I could gain a little advantage on the reach.......
Although the Americans were the first to begin manufacturing 'nuts', the idea originated in 1960s Britain, when some climbers used machine nuts found around railway tracks as chocks. From its humble origins, the nut has embraced technological advances to become the staple of all climbing racks. It will often be the first purchase after rock shoes and harness, and most climbers wouldn't leave the ground without a set, or even two! Nowadays nuts come in different shapes, weights and designs made by competing brands, so it is worth doing some research before you buy.
In order to set themselves apart from all this competition, Metolius boldly claim their Ultralight Curve Nuts are 30% lighter than other nuts on the market; a tall order in these days of über-light climbing kit. The weight-saving apparently comes from the simple design - no swage round the cable - and the fact that the cable is soldered into stops at the head of the nut so there's no wire loop threaded through the top (like an RP).
The stated weight is 11.2oz (317.5g) for the full set of 1-10 Ultralight Curve Nuts. So were they 30% lighter than the two main UK nut manufacturers' flagship products? According to my trusty kitchen scales, no. They were 12.5% lighter than a set of Wallnuts and 10% lighter than a set of Wild Country Rocks, but to give them their due, the Ultralights were by far the lightest of all the sets of 1-10 wires I could find on the net.
As well as saving weight, the wired stopper design makes the Ultralight Curve Nuts look neat and tidy. They are generally an aesthetically pleasing bunch: the wire diameter is the same for each size nut, and sizes 1-4 are slightly smaller in length than sizes 5-10. The heads and collars are colour-coded, and the nut size is easy to read, as it's laser engraved into the collar of each nut. These are definitely cool-looking, well-designed and tactile products.
But enough about looks, let's get down to performance. I like to look at a placement and know instinctively what size nut I'd need. I've been doing it for 25 years! This was difficult at first with the Ultralights as they do not marry up like Wallnuts and Rocks do: the Metolius 1 was sized like a Rock 2, and the Metolius 10 was about a Rock 9.5.
This, of course, would not be any problem at all if they were to be your first set of wires, and didn't really take too much getting used to once I'd got my head round the idea of change! And, once I had got used to them, the nuts were great to use in all sorts of situations from bombproof cracks to blind and flared cracks.
Metolius claim that the Ultralight Curve Nuts combine the stability of 3-point contact with the ease of a straight-sided taper. True enough, in both narrow and wide positions, and even in blind cracks, they placed easily and were reassuringly solid: they really have bite. Also, because I found them slightly stiffer than the threaded nuts I usually use, I could gain a little advantage on the reach. I didn't find that the lack of swage made the Curve Nuts floppy. So far so good!
With more use, I found the Ultralight Curve Nuts very versatile - they fit more types of placements than other set of nuts due to the mixture of convex and concave surfaces combined with the tapered design. I could eaily see myself using these everywhere from trad routes in the UK to the Alps, although if I was going to need two sets of nuts they would both need to both be Metolius (or neither be Metolius!) to save confusion with sizing.
The Ultralights were also easy to remove ... until I lobbed onto one! Because they really have bite, once a lot of force was applied even to just 3 points, the nuts sometimes took a bit of effort to remove.
If you're thinking of your first set of nuts I would definitely recommend the Ultralight Curve Nuts as they fit more types of placements than other set of nuts and are more lightweight, too. These will definitely find a place on my harness on many outings for their versatility. A good product that most climbers will find useful.
You may like to revisit this 2007 review by Toby Archer: Metolius First Look: Ultralight Curve Nuts.
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