The DMM Dragon Cams are a stable double axle cam with an extendable sling built into the thumb piece that doesn’t sacrifice strength when extended. The TripleGrip cam lobes are the widest cam lobes out of the cams tested and feature square cut edges and a non-anodized surface to increase stability and holding power. While the extendable sling was harder to use than others the Dragon Cams are built with durability in mind but that also made them the heaviest cams tested.
The Dragon Cams were one of the three cams that lack a thumb loop. While thumb loops in general were found by testers to be more friendly for racking and placing the Dragons thumb piece was the most effective out of the three non-thumb loop cams. DMM uses a hot-forged thumb loop and it’s far wider than the other thumb pieces used. The subtly featured and contoured shape of the Dragon thumb loop worked well for most testers. Aiding in its ergonomics was the wide, featured and slightly curved trigger bar, helping give testers purchase when using the cams, whether placing in a crack or removing.
The Dragon Cams proved to be some of the most stable cams tested. The use of dual axles with a loose sling that can also be extended aids in providing stability and keeping the cam from moving. The cam lobes on the Dragon Cams, called the TripleGrip, are the widest cam lobes of the cams tested and are noticeably so. That increased surface area along with small features DMM built into the cam lobes were designed to increase stability and presumably holding power, particularly in softer rock. The contact area of the cam lobes lack anodizing, leaving a raw aluminum finish and instead of rounding the edges DMM left them more square, providing more contact between the cam lobes and rock and in their view, increasing stability and holding power.
The Dragon Cams were found to be the most durable cams during testing and appear to be workhorses, intended to last a long time. Everything from the wide TripleGrip cam lobes to the hot forged thumb piece are solid. The cable stems are covered in plastic, providing great durability although sacrificing some flexibility. The only part that may not be as durable is the extendable sling as it’s the skinniest sling on any of the cams tested. While all cam slings face replacement at some point, the Dragon Cam slings will likely need to be replaced sooner than other cam slings due to abrasion and general wear.
The Dragon Cams are a quality workhorse cam that are attractive for rock climbers looking for a durable cam that are stable and have an extendable sling. As such, they were popular with testers for climbing all manner of single and multi-pitch climbs, both on desert sandstone and granite. Many testers appreciated the convenience of the extendable sling, eliminating the need for a quickdraw or sling to extend a deep placement or to keep the rope running straight. With eight sizes available, climbers have a good range of sizes to fill a wide range of cracks. As the heaviest cam in this round of testing, the biggest drawback for the Dragon Cams comes in their utility for alpine climbing where every ounce counts or other weight conscious climbers where they may need multiples in one size or have a long route ahead of them.
The feature that stood out for many testers on the Dragon Cams were the extendable slings. DMM used a hot-forged thumb piece or press that enabled them to use an extendable sling without sacrificing strength when extended. Hence, except for their smallest cam, all of the Dragon Cams are rated to 14 kN. By comparison, the Wild Country Friends are rated to 12 kN with the sling doubled but only 10 kN when the sling is extended. The one drawback to the extendable slings on the Dragon Cams was the need to clip the proper side of the sling. Climbers have to be conscious to clip the stitched side of the sling otherwise the bar tack bunches up at the thumb piece. Additionally, the sling doesn’t move as easily through the thumb piece. Hence, the extendable slings weren’t as easy to use as those on the Friends. Another noticeable feature on the Dragon Cams, discussed above in Stability, are the TripleGrip cam lobes. The robust construction of the cam lobes was noted by many testers as an attractive feature for their stability and greater holding power.
At 103 grams (3.4 ounces) for the purple colored size 1, the Dragon cams are the heaviest cams tested in this round of testing. While cutting weight has been the trend in climbing in recent years DMM goes in the opposite direction with the Dragon but in doing so they’ve also created a cam that is more durable than the others tested. The solidly constructed head and aluminum thumb bar adds weight relative to others but also adds durability.
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HOW WE TESTED
These cams went through a number of in-house tests for controlled and measurable metrics and were used by a number of climbers in the field with varying experience levels and interests. Their feedback provided the information to best understand how each cam performed. We spent a lot of time climbing single pitch cracks but an equal amount of time climbing multi-pitch routes in the mountains or in the desert. We paid close attention to how cams handled when being placed or cleaned and by various climbers to gain a sense of each cam’s ergonomics and ease of handling. We looked for signs of walking and stability when placing cams in various cracks of all different sizes.