The Top 7 Climbing Cams
A Spring Loaded Camming Device, or to use its more widely known name a “camming unit” or just a “cam”, provides secure protection for climbers that are navigating up rocks on a big climbing expedition. But, for something as important to your safety when climbing up rocks, you need to know the best types out there, and how they provide adequate protection. Here are some of the best.
For those of you in a hurry, our choice for the Best Climbing Cam is the Black Diamond Camalot C4 Cam Set.
Best Climbing Cams
With a great design, and is amazing for free climbing, it’s a very valuable piece of equipment that you can get a lot out of. There’s so much range of each unit, which makes it such a great advantage over many of the cams out there. If you find yourself in a scary situation, the increased range gives you that bit of extra peace of mind so you can find a quick piece that will fit into any crack. Not just this, but they work wonders in awkward placements. And instead of providing various types of links, in fact, only a couple of them will suffice, meaning that you don’t have to carry so much around. The material for the tri-sected loads highlights its strength and almost unlimited durability. When it comes to free climbing, you’ve got very sturdy support to keep you going. But at $108, you could question whether this is the most essential piece of equipment for your collection, especially when there are more competitive brands out there that provide a wider range. But due to the material and the complex design of these lobes, they will serve you well in a dangerous moment. With the increased range in combination with the material, it could be a big lifesaver when you really need it. Venture into this if you have an extensive collection already, this could tip the balance in a big way, but as long as you’re willing to pay out.
- STRENGTH - 14 kn (3147 lbs)
- Length 7.51", Weight 207 gm/7.3 oz
- Single Axle, Cam Ratio 2.5:1, Range .96"- 2.51",
- CERTIFICATION - CE and ISO 9000 (2015)
- TESTING - Break Test Per CE Specifications
For most climbers, the Black Diamond C4 is a mainstay of many a climber’s arsenal. As far as durability is concerned, nothing much matches up to it. When you look at the weight, it is a little bit more than its contemporaries on the market, at 27.97 ounces, and with a set of Totem cams adding 22.5 ounces to the loads can give you an extra bit of bulk for your climbing, but due to the extendable sling feature, this could save you some weight. They are very flexible and will work well with horizontal cracks, but the stem, although flexible enough, it can be prone to a little bit more damage. When it comes to walking, it’s not a problem at all. Due to the extended sling, you’ve got plenty of sway with this. As far as durability is concerned, this will keep going for months after heavy usage. It really holds its own when you put it through its paces, through whipping, bumping or plugging. And while the latest version has a wider trigger and the lobes are lighter, this doesn’t impact the overall durability. They’re great to help support you while climbing, and the thumb loop adds that bit of extra help when aid climbing. But where it comes into its own is free climbing, because the single stem design gives you plenty of room with the loops, they are also rigid enough so you can put them in a nearby crack, saving you precious time in a sticky spot. At $65, this durable piece of equipment is great value and should have pride of place in your cam collection, and for those that are just starting out, this is the perfect place to begin.
- Double-axle design offers widest range for each cam unit
- C-Loop continuous cable stem design is strong and durable
- Color-coded for easy identification and wide range of sizes
- FREE Action Packed Climbing DVD Included
You may wonder whether this holds up in comparison to the C4, but if you’re looking for a lighter model, this could tip the balance. Naturally, with the Black Diamond Camalot brand, you’ve got the name behind it which will tell you how durable and popular it is. But does this really hold up? Luckily, it does. While the stems aren’t as flexible as other brands out there, such as the Alien type cams, they still have a lot of life in them when you’re on the go. As part of the original extended-range cam, it surprisingly holds up against a lot of the newer ones on the market. Camalot tends to have the greatest number of sizes, from 13.8 mm to 195 mm of protection, and work amazingly well with different types of cracks, from horizontal to splitters. Design wise, the stem can easily rotate in the direction of the pole, which makes it a rare thing indeed. These are incredibly stable, and as far as durability is concerned, they perform well with aid climbing and free climbing. The stem is easy to place while you’re on the go, and gives an easy array of identification to to the colored anodized aluminum lobes. Put simply, this will work great in alpine climbing, as well as big wall climbing and when it comes to aid climbing, being a bit heavier than the C4 and the Metolius brands, they can pack an extra bit of weight that you might not need, but they still stand the test of time. The lowest options are around the $45 mark but can go up to $124, so the price is certainly varied, but you’ve got quality on your side so if you need to pick one, the Camalot can certainly start you off.
- Double-axle design offers widest range for each cam unit
- C-loop continuous cable stem design is strong and durable
- Color-coded for easy identification and wide range of sizes
- Neutrino rack pack Available for easy racking
If you’re looking for an alternative to the BD Camalot, this is a good shout. As the design is classic and familiar, the single axle and loop less thumb approach; it’s being brought back up to date with its neck. The little alterations have made it an improvement on the BD Camalot model. And for those people who have an allegiance to the Black Diamond brand but need something a little more up-to-date, this could provide the solution. When you compare it to the Black Diamond, the range is very similar, but where you will see the difference is when you’re out in the elements and the fact that Wild Country covers 42.5 mm to 69.3 mm in comparison to the BD’s 37.2 to 64.9 mm, you will definitely notice the benefits. As a very durable piece of material, the strong steel cable that comprises the thumb loop and stem, also covered in plastic gives it a real sense of stability. Granted, a lot of these features are present in other named brands, like the Black Diamond C4s, but if you’re looking to save a little bit more money, the Wild Country Friends just about beats the Black Diamond. When you are heading out for a bout of free climbing, the smooth action, and sturdy stem will give you a little trouble. The extendable sling can be troublesome in terms of re-racking, but the novice that needs aid climbing, this will work wonders. Due to the thumb loops, it provides an easy option for clippers and daisies. As a supporting piece of equipment for your cam collection, the Wild Country Friends can fit perfectly well within all of your others, but if you do have a Black Diamond C4 already, you may want to think twice as to whether you need both in your collection.
- Hot forged cams
- High frictioned machined cam faces
- Hollow axles
- Original 13.75 degree angle
- Wide rock friendly cam lobes
The Ultralight power cam works so well for climbers that go on all sorts of adventures, from the standard big walls to the lightweight of surfaces, the design gives you easy handling but also works so well for aid climbing. As they’re so liked, and are the lightest cams on the market, its transportability makes life easy for anyone going long distances. As the cam lobes are wide, for those going on soft rock surfaces, it’s a no brainer. As they are so fantastically durable, as the u-stem is so flexible that it works on so many different placements, that’s the transportability combined with the durability means that as a cam that covers all bases, you would be hard pressed to find a better one. The biggest positive is the fact that it is so light, which is amazing if you want more scope for your adventures, but if you’re looking for something with a bit more range, Metolius has a similar brand, the Supercam. But when you’re looking for flexibility and something to keep you secure in tight placements, the ultralight is diverse enough for the average climber. And with such an inexpensive price tag, at $33, you are hard pressed to find something that’s more comprehensive for that cost. And, with the addition of the rangefinder, this can provide a bit of extra help for the more novice climber. It has color coding so you are able to get the right piece in an instant, but with one of the lowest ranges of cams, you may need to add extras to your collection so you have enough range to cover your expeditions. Overall, it delivers the goods, but only to a point.
- LEFTnotruc(Direct Axle Technology (DAT) makes Ultralight Power Cams the lightest 4-cam units in the world,500)
- DAT allows for more placement options in shallow, narrow, or bottoming placements
- DAT makes tricky placements easier due to better cam lobe visibility, especially in the small sizes
- 13 mm (0.51") Monster Sling webbing (36 Dyneema/64 nylon)
- Range Finder tells you at a glance if you've chosen the right size cam for the placement
When you are scaling a beast of a rock, you will want a camming device that is both lightweight and trustworthy. Thankfully, you can rely on the Metolius Ultralight Master Cam whatever rock face you are climbing.
These single stem Metolius cams are lighter than their predecessors. In fact, they are twenty percent lighter than the originals, making them easier to carry while being strong and reliable.
Available in ten different sizes, you can choose the right sized cams for you, which will save you from needing to spend lots of money on buying a complete set.
The colour-coded cams will make it much easier for you to pick the right cam for the space you need it for. This saves you time and stress, which will allow you to remain focused on the task at hand.
The cam strengths are between 1125 lbf / 5 kN – 2250 lbf / 10 kN, and you can use the range finder system on sizes 2-8. Each color cam is a different size. So you pick the size that you need and enjoy the climb.
The optimized cam lobe angle provides improved precision when compared to stamped or extruded cams. The shark fin pattern on the teeth provides the cam with the best grip on soft rock.
These precision cams are all individually put through their paces with proof testing, meaning that your safety is of paramount importance. All of this means that, as you would expect from the Metolius brand, these are well-made pieces of kit that are designed to last for a very long time.
- These newer cams are 20 lighter than the originals
- Each color option represents a cam size, allowing you to pick and choose which size cams you need instead of buying a whole set
- Flexible, single stem unit with optimized cam angle for increased holding power
- The Range Finder system assists you in choosing the correct size cam and is available on sizes 2 through 8 only
- Optimized cam lobe angle for increased holding power
When it comes to choosing a camming device that you can trust, look no further than the Dragonfly Mirco Cams. These cams are great for the narrowest of cracks and the smallest pockets in the rock. They are hard-wearing and reliable. And best of all, they are compact.
The range of Dragonfly Micro Cams includes six different options ranging from 7.8mm through to 28.3mm meaning that you have versatility and choice at your disposal. There are cams to suit the different climbing environments that you may encounter. The size 1 Dragonfly is the smallest certified climbing cam available currently on the market with a range of 7.8mm- 11mm meaning that you can easily stow this away until you need it most. This ultra compact cam is ideal as it will even fit in your pocket. You don’t want to be weighed down by bulky kit as you climb, so the fact that this is so small is a real advantage.
In terms of performance when in use, the narrow head widths and compact triggers allow the cams to be placed easily in small pockets to a decent depth, and the 13.75inch camming angle gives the ideal holding power and range. This trusted angle has been used in other popular Dragonfly cams and is tried and tested. The Dragonfly camming device has an ergonomic thumb loop and a compact trigger that will come in very handy when you are faced with the tricky placements.
- 13.75 camming angle - proven optimum combination of holding power, range and performance
- TripleGrip lobes with a raw alu surface - improved grip
- Ergonomic thumb loop and trigger - easy to handle
- Flexible stem cable - minimises walking
- Narrow head width - fits small pockets
How To Use Climbing Cams
Here is a great YouTube video explaining how to properly use climbing cams, along with how to choose good cam placement:
If you were interested in this article, you may be interested in some of our other climbing reviews. Be sure to check out our pages on the best crash pads, best hangboards, best climbing pants, and best bouldering shoes.