1 Year Review: Totem Cams

The Totem Cam is truly one of a kind, they offer extraordinary holding power by using a Direct Loading system.  For any free or aid climber these hard-to-get cams are a must have.


Black Totem 0.50 6kN 11.7mm 18.9mm 69g
Blue Totem  0.65 8kN 13.8mm 22.5mm 75g
Yellow Totem 0.80 9kN 17mm 27.7mm 83g
Purple Totem  1.00 10kN 20.9mm 34.2mm 95g
Green Totem 1.25 13kN 25.7mm 42.3mm 109g
Red Totem 1.50 13kN 31.6mm 52.2mm 132g
Orange Totem 1.80 13kN 39.7mm 64.2mm 144g


As you can see in the chart above, Totem does have colours similar to Black Diamond cams. The exception is the Yellow Totem, which would be comparable to the BD 0.4 or Grey. This is advantageous due to the fact that a vast amount of people around the world are familiar with the colour reference for  sizing.

Also the new Wild Country Friends and the DMM Dragons use the same colour scheme. This should make it easy for most trad climbers to learn this sizing relatively quick.

How they work:

Totems use Direct Loading, which make the holding capability incredibly strong! They don’t have a single stem going to the head. They have two stems that go directly to the top of the lobes (see picture below) instead of the standard single stem. All of the lobes rotate on a single axle though each pair of lobes can engage independently. This gives Totems incredibly strong holding strength in less than ideal placements. Think flared, offset, and tipped out.

Yellow Totem – Yellow cable is trigger wire, Black cable (with spring) is the Stem

Since they have 2 stems they don’t have to be as thick and therefore not as stiff. This makes Totems very flexible, giving them 3 advantages over other cams.

  1. They do not walk in the cracks; well very little.
  2. Aid climbers can clip into one stem and weight just 2 lobes (not recommend for free climbing).
  3. Totems work well in horizontal placements.
Yellow Totem

Who are they for?

Totem Cams are a very specialized piece of equipment. Due the unique holding power and double stem they are ideal for traditional climbers who are looking for that piece they can rely on in a “not so good placement”. I purchased these cams when I was working a project that needed an off-set placement. I’m very happy I went with Totems over standard off-set cams because they are way more versatile and work just as good if not better.

Climber: Meghan Denny Photo: Alex Eggermont

Aid climbers eat these things up! Totems are the first cam (that I’m familiar with) that actually can be loaded on just 2 lobes according to the manufacturer. Keep in consideration that they do not have a KN rating for 2 lobes.

I have heard stories of people free climbing and whipping onto just 2 lobes and apparently the cam held, but I didn’t feel the need to test that. Aid climbers also love them because they have the double stem system allowing them to clip in direct to just on just 2 lobes.

I should note more so for free climbers, because of the double stem they do rack a bit bulky (wide). Totems are totally worth the extra space though.


Not much to say here, my Totems have held up just fine over the past season. I would not hesitate to compare them to any other small cam. They are wearing very comparably to my Fixe Aliens, although I would be a little scared if the top wire started to fray (but it’s NOT) for 2 reasons.

  1. It is your stem so if it snapped, your cam would fail
  2. It would not be repairable

Overall a durable cam that has help up great over the past year. The trigger wires are very bomber so you don’t have to worry about them!

Green Totem – Took Several Falls on Granite
Red Fixe Alien vs. Purple Totem



  • Very little walk
  • More secure in less-than-ideal placements
  • Flexible


  • Bulky to rack (due to double stem)
  • If damaged not sure that they can be repaired



We were not compensated for this review in any way, we’re just calling the cards like we see them. Lastly, if you’re looking for a set of Totem cams Climb On Squamish in BC, Canada is a good place to start. A great local climbing shop where you just might find me behind the counter.