Selecting a nut tool may seem relatively straightforward. Most nut tools look alike, and they all serve the same primary purpose. Use this guide to learn the subtle differences between nut tools and select the most appropriate nut tool for your needs. Recommendations are unbiased and the buying links are affiliate links—purchases made from them support our free content.
This guide was last updated on September 24, 2016
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Anatomy of a 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 to free stuck nuts. Oftentimes, nut tools have a built-in carabiner, reducing both weight and bulk compared to tools which 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 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 carabiner 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, 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 carabiner 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 carabiner while keeping weight to a minimum. If “light and fast” is your motto, look no further than the Feather.
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 carabiner, so you’ll have to pair it with one, raising the weight and price, which are both already high at 83g at $25 respectively.
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 carabiner and a large, comfortable striking surface.
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Explore all nut tools
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!
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.
The Nutter weighs in at 48g, requires a carabiner, and it does not have a comfortable surface to strike. However, the Nutter is the only tool that features dual hooks to retrieve stuck cams. If you dream of hunting for booty, this tool will be indispensable in your quest to fish cams out of the cliffside.
The GrandWall Nut Tool is a good all-around option. It weighs 49g with a built-in carabiner, and is one of the cheapest nut tools on the market. Unfortunately, the striking surface is narrow, making the Climb X X-Tractor the best option for climbers on a budget.
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!
Omega Pacific’s Solution is a great alternative to the Wild Country Pro Key for climbers who are concerned about weight. It boasts a built-in carabiner and 1/2″ wrench, with a decent sized striking surface, without tipping the scale. At 42g, it is one of the lighter tools on the market.
The Chock Hooky certainly takes the gold for the most interesting name, but it falls short in functionality. It has a narrow striking surface, no built-in carabiner, and it weights 45g. However, its bottle opener will help you drink away the pain in your palms after hitting the back. A built-in wrench is helpful for tightening bolts but it doesn’t compensate for the lack of essential features.
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