A spring-loaded camming device (also called SLCD or simply, cam) is a piece of rock climbing protection equipment. The invention of cams revolutionized rock climbing as it meant that they could be placed into parallel or flared cracks to prevent the climber from hitting the ground if they fell. If you are looking to select the best climbing camming devices for traditional climbing, then you have come to the right place. This article features seven of the best cams found in the market today.
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Black Diamond Camalot C4 - #2 Yellow View Price
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- Black Diamond Camalot
- Metolius Ultralight Power Cam
- Omega Pacific Link Cam
- Wild Country Friend Cams
- Metolius Ultralight Master Cam
- Black Diamond Camalot Ultralight
- DMM Dragon Cam
But first, you need to know about some of the most essential features to look for in the best climbing cam.
The most durable cam is the best one. They are designed to offer protection while climbing rocks and mountains, so obviously they need to be extremely strong and well built. Features such as the stem, triggers, slings, and even cam material affect the durability, so you must opt for very high-quality designs. Material like aluminum is lightweight and sturdy enough to make it perfect for climbing cams. DO NOT compromise on quality for something you are ensuring your life with.
Compatibility is a crucial feature to examine before buying any cam. It can simply be explained as matching the size/range of your climbing cams to the cracks you may come across, and this is why it is essential to carry different range sizes.
Double axel designs are ideal because they cover a wider range and are versatile, which allows for different placements. This is due to double axles are built with lobes that can quickly retract to fit in narrower cracks. Double axel features versatility as they get attached to different wider and smaller cracks. But it is recommended to carry with you different sizes of cams.
The size of a cam corresponds with your range. You should take several different sizes of cams with you when climbing to ensure you are well covered on various corresponding cracks. Many manufacturers color-code their cams according to their sizes to make identification much easier for you. But be careful when you are building a rack of different brands of cams. There is no standardized size, so it’s essential to pay attention to each cam’s size.
You want your climbing cams to be sturdy but lightweight. It can be very frustrating to be weighed down by your gear when climbing up. Remember, you are carrying several camming devices with you. Thus, it would be helpful for you to examine features that help cut down some of the weight, for example, extendable slings or sculpted cam lobes. But keep in mind you must not compromise performance over weight.
The expansion range of your climbing cams defines how far the lobes expand when they are fully contracted. A wider cam range means that your gear can be used in a variety of placements. It means that if you are climbing with cams with wider ranges, you will need to carry fewer camming devices with you. This is a great way to cut down climbing and rack weight, as discussed above.
Number of Lobes
The majority of climbing cams feature either three or four lobes. Four-lobed cams are the standard having a spring-loaded mechanism and can be quite bulky; however, they offer more secure attachments as they provide more contact with rocks to make a firmer placement. But they don’t fit well in smaller, shallower cracks.
Three-lobed cams are narrower and lighter, so they are ideal for tighter and smaller places such as shallow cracks or pin scars. But the only downside of three-lobed cams is that they offer less contact with the rocks.
If you choose to purchase a cam with longer sling design, you will have more pulling weight as more quickdraws will be used. But their longer designs can also be a little clumsy and annoying as they keep on pulling.
Cams with shorter slings are much better. However, keep sure that they are extendable, which means that fewer quickdraws will be needed, which results in significantly cutting down pulling weight and cam walking.
Older cam models may have rigid stems, but the standard today is to have flexible cam stems with single cables or U-stem designs. Single cable ones are used with a forefinger, middle finger, and a thumb to pull the trigger. They are slim enough to fit into smaller spaces compared to U-stems. U-stem designs, on the other hand, only require a forefinger and thumb to pull the trigger.
Choosing a brand:
Many different SLCD brands are available on the market today. Once you commit to a particular brand, you may want to stick to it as you expand your rack. This will especially help you when you’re figuring out which color corresponds to which size crack. Having a rack of mixed and matched cams of different brands can make it difficult to know what color to reach for, but of course, not impossible.
Practice makes a man perfect. With time you will have a pretty good idea about color coding of cams according to their sizes. Apart from that, more and more companies are switching to a standard color scheme (the colors used by Black Diamond company seem to be becoming the standard). So a yellow cam in one brand is about the same size as a yellow cam in another. However, I will recommend taking the time to find your favorite brand and then committing to it.
I have selected the best seven cams available in the market to review for you.
Black Diamond Camalot is one of the best easy to use climbing cams available in the market. It offers a wide range of sizes, budget-friendly and durable. They are good for both experienced and beginner climbers. These cams provide great support to you while climbing, and the thumb loop feature adds on extra help, which made your climbing journey more comfortable. Neutrino rack pack is also available for easy racking.
The weight of these best climbing cams ranges from 75g to 557g, whereas strength ranges from 8kN to 14kN. These climbing cams come in a double-axle design that offers the widest range for each cam unit. The best feature is color coding, which helps you quickly identify and provide a wide range of sizes. The C-loop continuous design of cable stem makes it strong and durable. Another great feature is they are lightweight.
- Available in a wide range of sizes
- Lighter weight from previous models
- The double-axle design allows a wider range than single-axle cams.
- Great all-around option.
- Durable and long-lasting.
- Provides safety and reliability.
- An affordable option for all climbers
- Not the best choice for horizontal climbing due to lack of flexibility
- A bit heavier that latest available models available in the market
Metolius Ultralight Powercams are the lightest available cams on the market. They come with Direct Axle Technology (DAT), which makes them the lightest 4-cam units available. The DAT technology provides for more options of placement in narrow, shallow, or bottom placements. Due to this technology, tricky placements became more manageable because of better cam lobe visibility, especially because of small sizes.
Metolius Ultralight Powercams comes with light and compact design, which makes them an ideal choice for climbers. The wide cam lobes make them a perfect option for softer rock types. These cams perform very well sandstone, andesite as well as on Patagonian granite.
Metolius Ultralight Powercams is the best weapon for climbers for all small cracks. It features a range finder that tells you at once if you have selected the correct size cam for the placement. Color coding is also a user-friendly feature that comes with these best climbing cams. The u-stems are much flexible for horizontal placements. The cam head is compact in design to fit into some awkward and tight placements.
- Excellent for all types of rock
- Light and compact design
- Color coding available
- DAT Technology
- Cheaper than other cams available.
- A limited range is available.
Omega Pacific Link Cam offers more range per unit than any other camming device available on the market. Its each cam lob is trisected into three parts to contract more than the normal range of any other cam. They are accommodating for you on climbing routes through difficult terrains in high mountains. You want to protect the maximum amount of sizes by carrying less gear.
Omega Pacific Link cams are no doubt heavy in weight and have a complex design. They are versatile and durable. This climbing cam’s strength is 14kN; length is 7.51 inches, whereas it weighs 207 grams. It comes with a single axle with range varies from .96 inches to 2.51 inches. It is CE and ISO 9000 certified. Omega Pacific Link cams come with a rigid stem constructed of a piece of flexible metal cable cladded with aluminum and plastic.
- Huge range per cam
- familiar color scheme
- Not good for use in tight placements
- Complex design
- No thumb loop available
Wild Country Friend Cams is one of the best climbing cams of my reviewing list. They are straightforward to operate, very well-rounded, and extremely ergonomic. Its 13.75 cam angle provides the axis around which climbers always trust. Wild County Friend Cam comes with a stylish and attractive design that surely attracts its users.
Wild County Friend Cam is reliable, durable, and robust in design. The new 12mm Dyneema saves time and is easily extended. The patented Dyneema is constructed of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene, which provides its high strength at a minimum weight, making it super strong. With this Dyneema setup, the climbing sling becomes strong with increased sharpness, which enables it to extend easily.
Its twin-axle allows you to increase the range per unit. Some of its features make it ideal for users like rock-friendly lightweight lobes, ergonomic thumb loop design, and lightweight aluminum fabrication. For best holding power, friction is increased between cam and rock. Its strength ranges from 10kN to 12kN. These cams are ideally designed to tackle horizontal placements.
- Lightweight aluminum fabrication.
- Extendable sling.
- Excellent grip and reduced walking.
- Thumb loop.
- Easier to get stuck in tight placements.
Metolius Ultralight Master Cam is one of the best climbing cams for shallow and awkward placements. It is one of the best compact gear available in this price range. You can easily carry it for your climbing adventure. It comes with a narrow head, which allows you to easily get in the pin scars.
Metolius Ultralight Master Cam is budget-friendly and compact in design. It is durable and robust, which makes it ideal for you to invest in long term performance gear. It features an optimized cam lobe angle, which enhances holding power. It is also one of the best lightweight climbing cams available in the market.
The range finder system of this cam helps you in choosing the correct size cam. Each color option represents a cam size, which allows you to pick and select which size is right for you to select instead of buying the whole set. The strength of this cam ranges from 5 kilo Newton to 10 kilo Newton.
- Very narrow head width helps in shallow placements.
- Very lightweight
- Compact in design
- Range finder, a user-friendly option
- Small cam range.
- The largest sizes are too heavy.
Black Diamond Camalot Ultralight is the upgraded edition of C4. These cams are very light in weight and really cut down on weight when climbing. The cut in weight does not affect the quality factor. They are still durable with enhanced holding power and are easy to place and remove because of the thumb loop.
Black Diamond Camalot Ultralight offers a better range of placements than the comparable weighted cams due to their double-axle design. Dyneema sling is protected for extra longevity and is strong and durable. Standard color coding helps you to identify them easily. These cams are excellent and have a strong hold in shallow cracks.
- Good range.
- Particularly nice for long approaches.
- Great holding power.
- The main stem does not have a trigger stop.
- The trigger wire has a habit of popping out of the trigger bar.
DMM Dragon Cam comes with a variety of features for you to make your journey comfortable and enjoyable. They feature dual axle with a single stem for flexibility of 360 degrees and greatest range. The main advantage of the single stem design with the dual axle is that it provides a greater range for every camming unit. Strong springs are used to make the cam sit more securely, making them more resistant to being pulled out of slippery placements.
DMM Dragon Cams are very much suitable for parallel placements with the flexible stems enough for horizontal placements. Color coding feature makes it easy for you to identify the size. It comes with hot forged ergonomic press features for improved handling. Triple grip cam lobes enhance holding power and reduce walking. The constant camming angle of 13.75 provides you a perfect balance between holding power and range.
- Range is good
- Extendable sling option
- Color coding feature available
- Triple grip cam lobes enhance holding power.
- Excellent, double loop.
- Increased contact area on cam edge
- No thumb loop
- A bit heavier than other cams available
These are the seven best climbing cams available in the market, according to my research. But I will definitely choose Metolius Ultralight Power Cam. It provides various useful features such as light and compact design, DAT Technology, Color coding feature, Suitable for all types of rocks, and most importantly cheaper than other available cams. All these features will surely make this product ideal for your climbing adventure.