The best climbing cam is going to be your best friend out there on your rock climbing adventure. The strength, durability, and grip of these little climbing tools will be the difference between having a safe experience and a dangerous one.
Finding the best climbing cam is a process, but below are a few of the highest rated cams available. From these details, you can find the best equipment to fit your personal climbing needs and weigh the pros and cons of similar climbing cams.
In Depth Guide for the Top 5 Climbing Cams
Black Diamond Camalot C4 Cam
The double axle design and continuous cable loop of the Black Diamond Camalot is definitely one of the best climbing cams available.
As opposed to a single axle design, the double axle will give you a much larger expansion ability. Not only that, but both the trigger and cable loop are pretty easy to grab on to, and the durable sling can be handled easily even with gloves on.
Sometimes the stems on cams aren’t too flexible, making them harder to manipulate when placing them into between crevices in the rock face. But these cams are very flexible and easier than most to manipulate.
Can’t Handle Small Crevices
The only thing these cams don’t handle all that well are especially small cracks, and these don’t work as well as flaring cracks, so you may need to buy a pair of those in addition to these.
Resell value and longevity is high with these climbing cams. The resell Is high because of their durability, and they last longer because of how durable they are as well.
Then C4 is also a newer model. In this model the manufacturer has actually made several great changes.
- 10% lighter than the previous iteration.
- Easier to carry
- Better size differentiation at a glance
- Holds its retracted state
The retraction is one of the best features because while not in use, the cam actually stays in its retracted state for easier, quicker deployment. You won’t have to retract it yourself before placing it into the rock crevice.
- Retracted mode is default
- Doesn’t handle flare cracks
Metolius Ultalight Master Cam
Metolius Ultralights are 20% lighter than their previous model and every size has specific color coded size. The cam lobe angle is optimized which will increase the power of your hold.
They have also put a rangefinder on each cam to tell you its exact size so you will know which cam to use for a specific rock crevice quickly. This is very helpful and will add efficiency to your climb.
No Thumb Loop
A disadvantage to these particular cams is that there is no thumb loop to add extra stability. Not all climbing cams have them, but the thumb loop just gives you a little more stability than otherwise might have had.
The ultralight’s are single axle climbing cams, so they don’t have as large of expansion of double axle cams.
When using the smaller sized cams, you may want to be careful when wedging them into place. With all cams, the small crevices are the toughest to get them into, but with these it may be a little tougher to wiggle them out without breaking them.
Lopsided Larger Sizes
Also, the larger sizes, particularly seven and eight, are a little lopsided in their construction and may not fit in place as well as the smaller sizes. Use your best judgement when placing the larger sizes and you may need to carry extra pairs of different brands to accommodate for this.
A good note about the slings attached to these climbing cams. The slings are actually threaded into its unit, as opposed to it being just attached below where the thumb would go on a different brand of climbing cam. Since it is threaded into the unit, this cam will not take up as much space as other cams.
- Space saver
- No Thumb loop
- Larger sizes not as sturdy
Wild Country Friend Cams
Hollow axles and high friction, machined cam faces make the Wild Country Friend Cams superb.
Their axles are actually hollow, making them a little stiffer and weight less as well. Older models of the Wild Country were only one axle as well, but now these have double axles for greater expansion ability.
A great feature is the extended sling allows you to carry fewer slings and will also help you place your gears much quicker since you will not have to take an additional sling to clip to the cam. This will help you climb with lighter weight and much faster too. Also, you will be able to place your climbing cams father into a crevice to get the perfect, solid hold that otherwise you would not have been able to get with shorter slings.
As mentioned before, the lobes are a little bit grittier than other climbing cams. The lobes get much better grip onto the rock because of their holding design and wider construction.
Thump Loops included
Thumb loops have also been added to this model of cam. Thumb loops really help you while climbing to be able to reach that much higher up to a desirable crevice. They also give a little more stability when you have to quickly grab onto them for support.
A drawback with these climbing cams is the size. Other cams go from very small to very large, however, the range for these are pretty limited. The smaller they go down to is 0.5, and the largest they go up to is 4.
- Extendable sling
- Range of sizes
Dmm Dragon Cam
Strong Holding Power
These triple grip climbing cams are great if you are looking to increase your holding power while on your climb and also if you want to reduce the amount of walking you do with your cams.
Generally, cams will move toward the wider sections in a rock, which is called “walking”. But the DMM’s prevent this by having a stronger staying/holding power in the cam.
This cam also features a double axle which just gives it that much more range extension. They are, like others, also colored coded according to their size.
A hot forging process is used to construct these climbing cams, which means they are a little bit stronger than most which affects holding power, and also are a little bit lighter as well. They are actually a little bit lighter than the Black Diamond C4s.
A downside to these cams like some others is the lack of the thumb loops. If you are a more experienced climber you may not miss this feature as much. However if you are intermediate or a beginner you may rely on those thumb loops from time to time, so you may be disappointed with the Dragons.
Also, these climbing cams have extendable dyneema draws. This allows for more protection from the cam “walking” too much.
Good news for the Dragon cam and bad news for the Black Diamond C4 is that the dragon cams actually have more purchase on the rock because of its 25% larger surface over the C4. This means greater stability and a safer climb.
Slings and Wiring Don’t Last Long
A downside is that dyneema slings may need to be replaced more frequently than other types of slings.
Another smaller flaw with the Dragon cams is that the wiring that controls the retraction and extension of the head of the cam has been known to fray over a longer period of time. It will depend on your frequency and harshness of your climb whether or not you will face these issues, however.
- More surface contact
- No thumb loop
- Retracting wire durability
Fixe Alien Revo Cam
The Fixe Alien features a 20% decrease in its model weight as compared to the last model put out. These smaller range cams are perfect for those smaller crevices that are difficult for larger cams to wedge themselves into.
This is a newer version of these cams and they feature a stronger wire which connects the head and the retraction mechanism.
The wire is now made of solid wire rather than woven cable which makes it much stronger than it previously was. Also, they have improved the durability of the sleeve of the trigger. It is now made out of aluminum, which is actually what the original trigger was made out of.
It is pretty much the same weight as the older version, but the original weight was really good to begin with.
Very Flexible, But No Cam Stems
Also, the stems are very flexible, which adds to its ability to slip in between those narrower cracks in the rock.
A problem with this particular cam is that there are no cam stops anywhere on here. The cam stops usually prevent the head of the tool from flipping, especially when used on softer rock.
- Stronger trigger wire
- No cam stops
How to Choose the Best Climbing Cams
When you are looking for climbing cams to accompany you on your traditional climbing expedition, you will want to have the best climbing cams out there. You will also want to make sure that you have climbing cams that fit your specific needs.
The best way to do this is to plan out what kind of climbs you will be going on.
Are you going to climb in places where the rock crevices are extremely small? Or maybe you are going somewhere that you will need a whole lot more grip than normal.
Check out some of these key features to help you decide what must haves are going to be included in your climbing cam.
Climbing cams have a big array of sizes to choose from. Since you don’t know exactly what kind of rock cracks or crevices you will come across, you are going to want to have plenty of sizes so that no portion of your climb will be an obstacle.
Some cams, like the Fixe Alien, are made smaller than usual to specifically cater to smaller openings. Other brands have much larger cam heads to accommodate the larger openings.
A general rule should be unless you know the climb extremely well, bring as many sizes of climbing cams as possible.
The sling is the portion of the cam located at the end of the shaft. It allows you to have something stable to attach carabiners to or to loop climbing rope through.
A good advantage for a sling is to have an extendable one so you can put your cam farther into a crag at a point where it is more secure. If you have a long sling you will be able to still reach your cam even if your placement is pretty deep.
Some climbing cams don’t have thumb loops, but a good amount of them do. These thumb loops are great at giving you stability while climbing, and are great for when you need to suddenly grab onto your cam when in a precarious situation.
However, the lack of thumb loops sometimes makes the climbing cam more compact and weigh less, so if that is more important to you then stick with cams that don’t feature that thumb loop.
The Best Questions About Climbing Cams
Q: How many cams do I need on my climb
A: It depends. As many as is feasible to carry and within reason to start with. However, you will probably be placing two to three at a time if climbing by yourself, and about twice that many if climbing with someone. Though that other person will be able to provide cams as well.
Q: How much weight can climbing cams hold?
A: Each brand and type of climbing cam has a different weight limit, you will want to check the limits for your specific cam on the manufacturers website. However, each come is meant to be as strong as the next, even the smaller ones, so within each model, each cam should hold about the same amount of weight.