Friends are great to have. They have evolved over the years, getting lighter, stronger and smarter…
Black Diamond have recently updated the forever loved and well trusted Camalot C4. The main change is in the lobes, and the larger sizes got some clever features.
This next generation was due, with new Wild County Friends and DMM Dragons circa 2017. This saw both having major upgrades and honestly, leaving BD a little in the dust. But before anyone could even ask the questions, Black Diamond had announced the next generation of the Camalot C4.
The new C4’s hit shop shelves late last fall, giving enough time for gear nerds like to me play with them in Yosemite before the season ended. With everyone talking about the new trigger holders, the small details are also just as noteworthy: lighter sculpted lobes optimized to have the best strength to weight ratio, updated slings – they are “flattened” (a.k.a. non-tubular) and have easier differentiation when racking, along with increased durability, and using a C-Loop continuous cable stem design removes any weakness in the aid loops / stems.
TECH SPECS AND WEIGHT COMPARISON:
|Size Range (mm)||Strength (kN)||Weight (g)||Old C4 Weight (g)||
Differences between the new and the old:
The last generation is without question the most used cam in the world. But, with technology evolving, so should our gear. The lobes have several changes including the tooth pattern, seen in the picture below. Now using small squares, this gives more corners and in theory, more bite.
We all know that walking a single cam up a long off-width is super scary. In the back of your head, you’re probably thinking “I hope this cam doesn’t fall, flip, or even fail”. So to give you some better peace of mind, Black Diamond has made the head of the C4 wider for the #5 and #6. This difference is noticeable beside an older generation C4, and any modern cams that are comparable in size.
The added trigger catches are amazing, no more fumbling around with sticks holding the lobes of that massive cam. The 4s, 5s, and 6s all got clever trigger holders (see bottom picture).
Overall, the new C4 Camalots are 10 percent lighter and yes, the weight difference is noticeable with even just a few cams changed out. They’re still not as light as the Ultralights though. Not surprising, since most of the weight is in the dyneema stems.
Compared to Ultralights:
It’s pretty simple really, the new C4s are not as light as the Ultralights. But they are more durable and have a way longer life expectancy.
Keep in mind the Ultralights are still different in many ways because of the dyneema stems and other features to make them light. That said, the lobes on the new C4s appear to have shred some engineering from the ultralights. See pictures below.
Pros of the new C4s compared to the Ultralights:
- More Durable
- Longer life span
- Trigger holders on #4 (no Ultralight #5/6)
- More durable slings
Cons of new C4s compared to the Ultralights:
Compared to DMM Dragons:
DMM is known to have some of the worlds highest quality control and greatest products. The DMM Dragon is a direct competitor to the Black Diamond Camalot C4. Both are great options. The DMM Dragon would take the win for most experienced climbers if price was not a factor. The most common complaint with the DMM Dragon is that they don’t have an aid loop. I find this funny coming from brand new trad climbers who don’t even know what aid climbing is, but who am I to judge.
The DMM Dragon is a fully hot forged cam and even though the total width of the cam is less, the lobes have a wider surface area thus giving them amazing bite and a very solid feeling on the rock. As seen in the photo below, the BD Camalot C4 has a noticeably wider head, thus giving it good stability in the crack.
All this said, I still own mainly BD cams because the DMM might be just a little too nice for what most of us need. The new Camalot C4 is the go to workhorse that we have relied on for years.
Pros of the new C4s compared to DMM Dragons:
- The #5 and #6 have wider heads
- BD cams have aid loops
- #4, #5, #6 have awesome trigger holders
- Lighter from #3 and down
Cons of the new C4s compared to DMM Dragons:
- Not hot forged
- Non-extendable slings
- The tooth pattern is not anodized
- Less smooth feeling overall
The Final Word:
One thing Black Diamond is known for is the great reliability and durability of the Camalot C4s. It’s pretty safe to say that you can use them almost forever (with some re-slings every few years). For the new generation of C4s I expect the same, even with advances in technology catching up making the new C4’s 10% lighter.
If you have used the previous generation of C4s you will be able to pick up a rack of the new generation and jump right on your proj. You don’t feel any negative difference and should be solid placing cams with confidence they will do their job.
Black Diamond provided cams for test but in no way influenced this review.