Don’t worry! Even though each rock climbing nut tool (a.k.a. nut key) has a subtly different design, selecting a rock climbing nut tool isn’t too complicated. All nut tools serve the same primary purpose of removing cams and nuts. This guide evaluates how well each nut tool is able to remove nuts and cams, how comfortable they are to use, other features that help or hinder their usefulness. Recommendations are unbiased and the buying links are affiliate links—purchases made from them support our free content.
This guide was last updated on December 27, 2019
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Anatomy of a Rock Climbing Nut Tool
All nut tools serve the same basic purpose: removing nuts from rocks. However, there are many design differences between models and brands. Most nut tools feature a large striking surface on the back, which can be hit repeatedly with the palm of your hand to free stuck nuts. Oftentimes, nut tools have a built-in hanger (sometimes called a “carabiner”), reducing both weight and bulk compared to tools that require a separate carabiner to attach to the harness. Finally, many nut tools feature a built-in wrench to tighten loose bolts. Explore the nut tools below to learn more about each one.
Top nut tool pick: Wild Country Pro Key
The Wild Country Pro Key boasts every feature we hope to see in a nut tool. It has a built-in hanger to attach to your harness, and it comes with a detachable leash so you won’t have to worry about dropping your tool while bashing on stuck nuts. In addition, the tool has a large striking surface, which can be struck painlessly with the palm. Unfortunately, the Pro Key is also the heaviest nut tool, weighing in at 10r grams with leash and hanger clip, so alpinists should consider a more minimalist option.
Best deal: Climb X X-Tractor
The Climb X X-tractor retails for only $6. Climbers on a budget should strongly consider the X-Tractor. While it may be the least expensive option, it does not skimp on features. The X-tractor sports a built-in hanger for hanging on your harness loop and a large striking surface. This nut tool weighs 60g, putting it in the middle of the pack in terms of weight. The X-tractor is also available with a leash for an extra $4.
Lightweight champion: Metolius Feather
Weighing in at a stunning 21g, you won’t even notice the Feather on your harness! The Metolius Feather is one of the more expensive nut tools, but it boasts a large striking surface and a built-in hanger while keeping weight to a minimum. If “light and fast” is your motto, look no further than the Feather. Of course at 21g it’s not as stiff as the heavier made nut tools
Honorable mention: Metolius Torque
The Metolius Torque nut takes a feature present on many nut tools, a bolt tightener, and runs with it. The Torque includes four different sized wrenches, so you can tighten almost any bolt you can find. Climbers who find themselves climbing both sport and trad will benefit from this nut tool’s versatility. At 64g, this tool is on the heavy side, but it offers a built-in hanger and a large, comfortable striking surface.
Honorable mention: Trango Shark
The Trango Shark is the most interesting nut tool on the market. It combines a nut tool with an important safety item missing from many racks: a knife. Unfortunately, the nut tool does not have a built-in hanger, so you’ll have to pair it with a carabiner which raises the weight and price, which are both already high at 83g at $25 respectively. It is also recommended that you leave the carabiner on when striking the tool so the knife doesn’t accidentally open.
Black Diamond Wiregate Nut Tool
The Black Diamond Wiregate Nut Tool is a tried and true classic. It weighs in at 46g, and you won’t need a carabiner due to the built in hanger. The striking surface is quite narrow but the rounded shape helps reduce the pain of banging on the tool.
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Explore all other nut tools
Black Diamond Nut Tool
The Black Diamond Nut Tool is a tried and true classic. It weighs in at 44g, but you’ll need to add a carabiner to clip it to your harness. The narrow striking surface is uncomfortable to hit with your hand, but if your hand hurts too much to open a beer afterward, the built-in bottle opener has you covered!
CAMP Nut Key
The Nut Key from CAMP takes a unique approach to the design of nut tools. It is the only tool that features an ergonomic handle. In addition, the rubber striking surface is much more forgiving on the palm than the bare metal on most other nut tools. The Nut Key weighs 68g, making it one of the heavier tools on the market.
DMM’s Nutbuster is one of the most comfortable tools to use, with a wide striking surface on the back of the tool and a removable rubber cover for added comfort. It sports a wrench to tighten 17mm bolts, but the rubber back must be removed to use the wrench. The Nutbuster weighs 40g, but you’ll have to pair it with another carabiner, bringing the total weight higher.
Kong Trick Nut Tool
The Kong Trick ties with the Metolius Feather for the lightest tool on the market, weighing 21g. However, in the attempt to add a wrench to the tool, a much more valuable feature was lost. The striking surface can best be described as a hand piercer. Use at your own risk!
Check out this quick video on how to use a Rock Climbing Nut Tool (a.k.a. Nut Key)
Moja Gear’s full Rock Climbing Nut Tool Infographic
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