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Black Diamond Camalot C4 Review

   
Editors' Choice Award

Climbing Cams

  • Currently 4.6/5
Overall avg rating 4.6 of 5 based on 17 reviews. Most recent review: April 18, 2014
Street Price:   Varies from $45 - $120 | Compare prices at 9 resellers
Pros:  Great range, bomber, relatively light.
Cons:  None.
Best Uses:  Trad climbing, big wall climbing.
User Rating:     
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 (4.5 of 5) based on 16 reviews
Recommendations:  93% of reviewers (13/14) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ September 18, 2013  
Overview
Black Diamond Camalots are likely the most widely applicable and quality cam on the market, winning them our Editors' Choice award. Their double axle design provides a good range, making each unit suitable for a wide range of possible placements; plus we found them to be the one of the best cams we tested for shallow and awkward placements. The flexible stem helps cut down on the cams' walking and the thumb loop at the end of the stem makes the cams easy to place while simultaneously providing a high clip-in point for aid climbing. The sling is made of durable nylon as opposed to skinny Dyneema, ensuring a longer lifespan of the sling itself. Couple that with the high durability of the metal parts and these cams will last you a long time. We find Camalots to work equally well in almost all rock types, though for really, really soft sandstone, you may want a cam with a slightly wider cam lobe such as Metolius' Super Cam or Fat Cam (not reviewed). Not the lightest cam out there, also not the cheapest, but in our opinion the most reliable and bomber camming unit you can buy. If you need a super light cam for a back country adventure, or just prefer the U-stem design, we recommend Metolius Ultralight Powercam. For a cam the with the biggest range try Omega Pacific Link Cam.

The C4 pairs nicely with the Black Diamond Camalot X4 , our Editors' Choice for a small camming unit.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Likes
For many people Black Diamond Camalots are the gold standard for camming units. Their double axle design allows each cam to have a good range, increasing the chances that you'll find a piece that fits on the first try. Camalots used to have the biggest range on the market, but with the advent of Omega Pacific Link Cams and Metolius' Super Cam, Camalots now land about in the middle of the pack. That said, we found that Camalots are one of the best cams we tested to fit into awkward and shallow placements commonly found in granite climbing areas. There's a reason BD Camalots seem to be the most widely used cams in Yosemite.

Click to enlarge
Showing the extra 2 inches of reach you get when aid climbing with the Camalot C4 (left) and the Wild Country Technical Friend (right).
Credit: Chris McNamara
The thumb loop design of the flexible single stem makes these cams easy to handle and place, while also providing a higher clip-in point to get those extra inches when aid climbing. The stem is flexible, allowing for horizontal placements and also making the cams more forgiving in terms of walking. While most cam manufacturers are moving toward skinnier Dyneema slings, the limitations of the thumb loop have kept Camalots with a more durable nylon webbing sling. (The Re-sling Black Diamond Camalot C4 and C3 page has a photo essay on why Camalots use the slings and cables they do.) The trigger action is smooth and easy to operate and once placed these cams just look, feel and are bomber.

AS mentioned before, the nylon slings on Camalots are more durable than the skinny Dyneema slings on many cams today. The cam lobes are more durable than other cams we tested and the stem is less subject to deformation when weighted in an improper placement.

Dislikes
Not much to gripe about here. The only real complaints that we have are that Camalots are not the lightest cam and are also not the least expensive. They stand at about the middle of the pack in both regards.

Best Application
Free Climbing, Aid Climbing, Big Walls, Alpine.

Value
The C4 is priced in the middle. They are not a bargain cam but not too expensive until you get to the larger sizes, where they get spendy fast. Since they are so durable, I consider them a good value.

To get your most bang for your buck, buy the Camalot C4 Package.

Other Versions
The Black Diamond Camalot X4, $60+, is our favorite small cam and wins our Editors' Choice award.

The Black Diamond Camalot C3, $60+, has an extremely narrow head and is a great small camming device for getting in tight spots.

Chris McNamara and Robert Beno

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: April 18, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (4.5)

93% of 14 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
16 Total Ratings
5 star: 69%  (11)
4 star: 13%  (2)
3 star: 19%  (3)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 16 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Apr 12, 2010 - 06:58pm
Cpt0bvi0u5 · Climber · Merced CA
Camalots have become the standard in modern day climbing and what a standard it is! A set of camalots will get you up many climbs and will last you for many many years. They are extremely durable and have uses for both free and aid climbing. What is nice about them for aid (as Chris said) is you can clip directly into the stem which will give you those extra few inches you may need to get to the bomber placements. And for free climbing the lobes are very easy to pull back and it is easy to spot what size goes in what crack making placement a pull, plug, and go situation. I highly recommend that every climber has at least a set of these on their rack as they will serve you well for the rest of your climbing career.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Jan 11, 2010 - 02:07pm
Mike. · Climber
C4s comprise the backbone of my big wall, cragging and alpine climbing racks. When I want to leave a cam as pro, I try to make that cam a C4.

I've taken hard daisy falls on a couple of them. An older style #4 had its axles bent but held, more recently a #2 which has no apparent damage after a good 4+' drop onto a Spectra daisy.

I would call Camalots the standard cam as the ST review suggests, though I do own and use Wild Country Friends and have owned Metolius Power Cams as well. I've used C4 sizes from .5 up for years and recently bought a .4.

Very nice action, great for aid, durable and lighter than ever.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Apr 18, 2014 - 11:21am
WML · Climber · Edge of the Electric Ocean Beneath Red Rock
Truly the modern golden standard of active protection. There is a reason that people look at you like you're a Leper if the backbone of your rack isn't BD C4's. Excellent range of use for each size, lightweight, durable, and most importantly….BOMBER! If you are reading these reviews, you are probably a beginner climber looking to build your rack (I would assume). I know the price tag is a bit higher on the C4's, but buy nice or buy twice.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Feb 24, 2014 - 03:08pm
Rankin · Climber · Greensboro, North Carolina
They're a very good cam, and when the lobes are parallel and tightly cammed, there is nothing more confidence inspiring. But I don't reach for them often because their wider heads require a wider section of parallel crack. Where I climb, parallel cracks are rare, so the narrower Metolius master cams and power cams often place better. Also, C4's are noticeably heavier in the sizes .75 and above. With all that said, I always have a .3, .4, and .5 in my pack, and I own up to a no. 4.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jan 16, 2014 - 02:40pm
gibbon69 · Climber · Stalowa Wola


Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jan 29, 2011 - 08:45pm
Captain...or Skully · Climber · Where are you bound?
They're ok, but one could very easily do better.
Camalots are the KMart of cams, truly. They seem to break a lot.
Older Friends have not folded, yet the camalots do.
Kinda good gear, that. Yeeash.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 19, 2010 - 11:29am
donini · Climber · Ouray, Colorado
By far my favorite cams from .3 on up. The great action and overall quality inspire confidence on hard leads. I'll give them 5 stars.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 9, 2010 - 01:30pm
Seamstress · Climber · Yacolt, WA
Diamonds are a girl's best friend. I lilked the first gen trigger, but hated the second gen trigger. They got it right again. No modifications necessary for small hands to work the cam as in previous design. Since I carry way too much gear, I really appreciate the weight reduction.

I would like to see cam amkers go back to cams without slings and reduce their pricing accordingly. On the small sizes, it is a pain to rack up muliple pieces on a single biner with the bulky slings.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 9, 2010 - 01:06pm
bearbreeder · Climber
everyone and their mom has one … colors are standard … they are bomber ..

i use all sizes from 0.3 to #4

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Sep 9, 2010 - 01:04pm
 
Mighty Hiker · Climber · Vancouver, B.C.
The blue camalot (#3) is also known as the "Donini cam". All climbers should own at least four, as this will enable them to perform amazing feats of alpinism and rock climbing well into 'retirement'.
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   Aug 26, 2010 - 12:50pm
Srbphoto · Climber · Kennewick wa
They have always worked great for me.

I think BD lightened them so the freight charges would be lower.

Chris: can you put the camera on a tripod? The little bit of movement while you are talking almost makes me sea sick :) Keep up the good work.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Aug 26, 2010 - 12:29pm
Plaidman · Climber · South Slope of Mt. Tabor, Portland, Oregon, USA
Most of my rack cam rack is the C4. Lovem.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Aug 24, 2010 - 08:11pm
Brokedownclimber · Climber · Douglas, WY
I haven't used my BD Camalots as much as my older, classic Friends, but so far the ease of placement and design of the trigger system is great. I find them much easier to use, and are quicker to place than Friends.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Mar 10, 2010 - 07:30pm
clockclimb · Climber · Orem, Utah
I own and have used almost every brand of cam out there. These are my favorite as long as I can throw in a few Omega Pacific link-cams as well.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Feb 2, 2010 - 12:28pm
Rocman · Climber · Reno,NV
I started climbing 1972,first saw wc freinds in 77 Max Jones had a few,very simple,bd cams had horseshoe stems,seams that all the new cams have come back to the Freind stem design

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
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   Apr 17, 2010 - 03:33pm
miwuksurfer · Climber · Mi-Wuk
Metolius Super Cam has a wider range per cam. Plus they are made in the US, not in China.
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Black Diamond Camalot C4
Credit: backcountry.com
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