9. Cam Considerations – 4 Lobe vs. 3 Lobe

In this video we review considerations between using a 4 lobe (Alien) vs 3 lobe (Metolius TCU) cams. Both can be useful, and have different applications (see below):

4 Lobe:

– Wider than the 3 lobe, so not ideal for shallow cracks.
– More surface area than 3 lobe, can inspire more confidence in less-than-perfect rock
– Higher tendency to walk than 3 lobe.
– Four lobe cams may have 1 or 2 axes. Cams with 2 axes have greater range, but are heavier than single axes cans

3 Lobe:

– Narrower profile than most 4 lobe cams, better for shallow cracks.
– Less surface area than 4 lobe cams, so it’s extra important to be placed in high quality rock.
– Less tendency to walk back in the crack, but may pivot more than cams with 4 lobes due to having one side with a single lobe touching the rock. Manage this risk/issue by extending the cam with a sling.

We hope you found this video helpful. Feel free to comment below with questions or thoughts!


Please remember, climbing is inherently dangerous. Climb at your own risk.