In perhaps the biggest update to cam design in recent memory, Black Diamond unveiled their new C4 Ultralights which are, on average, 25% lighter than their standard counterparts. While we didn't notice a huge difference in weight when comparing individual models, the difference over a full rack of cams was undeniable.
The overall saving on weight has been achieved by making reductions across many different areas of the cam deign. Most notably, the steel cable has been replaced with a Dyneema® cord, in the first design of its kind, ever. Further savings have been made by increasing the size of the cut-outs in the cam lobes and reducing the weight of the sling with an updated, thinner tape.
While the saving on weight would clearly be a benefit to practically any climber, we expect to see these new C4s to prove particularly popular amongst alpinists and big wall climbers for whom small savings on weight can make all the difference. It is important to note however that early reports indicate that the Ultralight models will be rated to 2Kn less than their normal C4 counterparts.
Wild Country have taken longer than other manufacturers to move to a twin axle cam design, but with the launch of their updated 'Friends,' they have made a strong entry to the market. Not content with simply updating to a twin axle design, Wild Country have also made efforts to reduce weight, removing the centre portion of the axles which they found to be completely uninvolved when the cam is subjected to a fall meaning that they could be removed without compromising safety.
The other major update comes at the cam lobes. The biggest changes here are the removal of the anodisation from the lobes and the addition of a sharp right angle finish on the edge of the lobes. The removal of the anodisation will provide a greater coefficient of friction, essentially making the cams grippier, (ideal for slippier rock like limestone), while adding the right angled edge to the lobes has been found to limit their potential to 'walk.'
Wild Country weren't the only brand making updates and while the Dragon Cam has gone through less of an overhall than the Friend, there were some key updates to the DMM's ever-popular design. The key areas of change come at opposite ends of the cam with alterations to the thumb press and the cam lobes.
At the thumb press, DMM have sought to make the design more ergonomic with a sharper curve added to the press and deeper grooves machined into it for improved grip.
However, the more startling change to the design comes at the lobes which as you can see from the picture above, are wider on the newer model (right) than on the older model dragons (left). This provides more contact area when the cam is placed and increases the chances of finding a successful placement in slippier or softer rock types. Another obvious change is the loss of anodisation on the lobe surface which have also been CNC'd to provide more bite points. Both of these changes combine to produce a cam that is less inclined to walk in its placement and less inclined to slip when a load is placed onto it in a fall.
Thanks to Weigh My Rack for the use of the old/new Dragon Cam comparison image.
To learn more about all of the latest gear from OutDoor 2015, you can check out our series page.