Black Diamond C4 Camalot ReviewMarch 22, 2015
- Great range
- Very ergonomic
- "The Standard" by which all others are compared
The Black Diamond C4 Camalots remain the benchmark against which all other cams are measured. Within a 10-unit set, C4 Camalots can cover the largest latitude of crack sizes of any cam set on the market, covering everything of 0.54” to 7.68”. The C4 Camalots are tried and true cams that work well in just about every imaginable climbing situation.
The original Black Diamond Camalot was the first double-axle camming unit and, until just recently (when its patent expired), it was also the only double-axle cam available to climbers. Though a number of other companies have since built their own iterations of the double-axle design, the Black Diamond C4 Camalots remain the standard against which all other cams are measured.
In my experience, the most useful individual units are #’s: 0.5, 0.75, 1, 2, and 3. I place these more than any others. The two smallest sizes—#0.3 and #0.4—are probably the least valuable cams in the set, especially considering that there are many other small cam designs out there that cover this range better. There is also so much overlap in coverage between #0.3 and #0.4 that I often wonder why I really need both units (I’d choose the #0.4 if I had to go with one).
On the other end of the spectrum, there really aren’t any other competing cams on the market that can cover the behemoth #6 size. That one is a real bitch to carry up a pitch, but when you find yourself in a wide crack of that size, you’ll be psyched you have it.
The C4’s Nylon sling is somewhat stiff, compared to some Dyneema slings. That said, I rarely found this to be a problem in terms of walking. Still, in general, I would recommend using a quickdraw for most placements—especially if it’s a situation where you’re worried about the cam walking.
A word on the Nylon slings: they add weight. However, they are much more durable than Dyneema, which is nice in this situation.
For many years, Camalots held the title for having the greatest range (for an individual unit) of any cam, but recently that title has been usurped by Metolius Super Cams and Omega Pacific Link Cams.
Still, each C4 Camalot has plenty of range and overlap between each unit, meaning that you are more likely to find a piece that works in that given situation. Due to the C4’s double-axle design, I rarely ever had a problem with getting a Camalot stuck. Still, it can happen. Looking at the range covered by the entire 10-unit set, C4 Camalots can fit the widest crack size of any cam set on the market, covering an impressive range from 0.54” to 7.68”.
Resistance to Walking
With the C4s, I have never experienced problems with cam walking that weren’t primarily related to a problem with how I managed my rope system. In other words, cam walking with the C4s typically resulted from situations where I should’ve used an extension (such as a quickdraw or shoulder-length sling) rather than clipping the rope directly to the C4’s nylon sling.
What is so great about the C4 Camalots is they seem to be made, just to fit in your hand. They are super easy to place, clip, and remove thanks to the thumb loop design and the trigger bar. The flexible stem is stiff enough that it doesn’t bend when activating the trigger. This is also one of the few cams you can easily operate while wearing gloves, which is great for alpine and ice climbing.
The thumb loop, of course, is full strength, which means that the C4s actually have two clipping points: the thumb loop and the Nylon sling. This is hugely beneficial for aid climbing, allowing you to gain a few precious inches higher in your top-step. It’s also nice for building anchors.
(Learn more about climbings cams and how to choose the right one, here.)