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Omega Pacific Link Cam Review

An innovative cam that can serve as a solid supplement for most climber’s multi-pitch racks
Omega Pacific Link Cam
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Price:  $108 List | $105.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Huge range per cam, familiar color scheme
Cons:  Heavy, lacking durability, limited types of placements, only four sizes, no thumb loop
Manufacturer:   Omega Pacific
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 19, 2019
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56
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 10
  • Free Climbing - 20% 5
  • Weight - 15% 4
  • Range - 15% 9
  • Horizontal Cracks - 15% 6
  • Tight Placements - 15% 5
  • Durability - 10% 5
  • Walking - 5% 7
  • Aid Climbing - 5% 3

Our Verdict

The Omega Pacific Link Cams are possibly the most unique camming units available today, with each cam lob trisected into three parts so that they can contract far beyond the normal range of any other type of cam. It is no exaggeration to say that one Link Cam has a range greater than two normal cams, offering a great advantage if you aren't sure what size protection a pitch may require. They are useful for easy alpine routes where you want to carry less gear, but still want to protect the maximum amount of sizes. Our testers also enjoy carrying one to use as the last "emergency" piece on a pitch, and also find them quite useful for building anchors when you are low on gear. However, these cams are also heavy, finicky, and come with quite a few limitations, so are not ones we would choose to build our rack around.


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Pros Huge range per cam, familiar color schemeSuper light, durable, easy to place while free climbing, great rangeFantastic design, smallest cam in the world, great strength, extendable sling, flexible stemDurable, wide rangeFlexible stem, great range, narrow heads
Cons Heavy, lacking durability, limited types of placements, only four sizes, no thumb loopExpensive, need for potential early retirementNot available in offset sizes, smaller individual cam range, action on smaller cams not as smooth as larger camsHeavy compared to Ultralight C4s and MetoliusWide stem may feel bulky to some
Bottom Line An innovative cam that can serve as a solid supplement for most climber’s multi-pitch racksThese are our favorite cams for all around use.The highest quality small, Alien-like cam design that you can buyC4s are the perfect workhorse cam for any rack, keeping you off the ground for yearsThese unique cams are awesome and fit in placements where no other cam will work.
Rating Categories Omega Pacific Link Cam Black Diamond C4 Ultralight DMM Dragonfly Black Diamond Camalot Totem Cam
Free Climbing (20%)
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5
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8
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9
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7
Weight (15%)
10
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4
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9
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7
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6
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6
Range (15%)
10
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9
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9
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5
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10
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8
Horizontal Cracks (15%)
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6
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6
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9
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7
Tight Placements (15%)
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9
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9
Durability (10%)
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8
Walking (5%)
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7
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7
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8
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7
10
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8
Aid Climbing (5%)
10
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3
10
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7
10
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8
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6
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10
Specs Omega Pacific Link... Black Diamond C4... DMM Dragonfly Black Diamond... Totem Cam
Weight (1 inch size piece) 3.5 oz. 2.6 oz 2.6 oz. 3.28 oz 3.35 oz
Range (inches) .53-2.51" .61-4.51" .31-1.11" .54-7.68" .46-2.52"
Sling Length (inches) 4" 3.75" 5-10" 3.75" 4.6"
Stem width above trigger
Single or Double Axle? Single Double Single Double Single
Extendable Sling? No No Yes No No
Sling material Dyneema Dyneema Dynatec Nylon Dyneema
High Clip in for Aid? No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cam Stops? Yes Yes Yes Yes No

Our Analysis and Test Results

Omega Pacific Link Cams are unique because each individual cam lobe is actually made of three pieces instead of one. These pieces are riveted together at a pivot point that allows the cam to contract, then contract even further, and then even further, when the trigger is pulled. As such, each cam not only serves to protect its primary range, but can also protect the entire range of the next cam down, meaning that each cam can function for two different sizes, instead of just one. A full set is made up of four cams, from purple .5 up to gold #2, following the same colors and sizing as Black Diamond Camalots.

The obvious advantages to these cams are size versatility — you can carry less cams while not compromising on the sizes that you can protect. However, they have heaps of downsides that ensure they remain a supplementary addition to a rack, rather than its foundation. The single biggest issue is their potential durability. Simply put, the rivets in each lobe present potential breakage points, and a lot of care is needed to avoid weighting or especially torqueing these rivets, or the cam can break. Other issues include their weight, propensity to walk and get stuck, rigid stem and necessity of directional pull, and lack of thumb loop, which will be discussed in more detail below.

Performance Comparison


These cams come in a range of four sizes  from purple .5 size up to gold #2 size  both of which are shown here. Their design allows one to retract the trisected lobes much further than normal cams  so they can protect a vastly larger range of sizes per unit.
These cams come in a range of four sizes, from purple .5 size up to gold #2 size, both of which are shown here. Their design allows one to retract the trisected lobes much further than normal cams, so they can protect a vastly larger range of sizes per unit.

Free Climbing


In the right situation, Link Cams can be advantageous weapons on a free climber's rack. We don't particularly like using them when climbing near our limits, but on easier routes, especially long multi-pitch, we like to carry one due to its increased versatility, and feel like we can often get by with one Link Cam where we might have needed two normal cams. In these situations we often use them as one of our last pieces on the pitch, or to build an anchor.

Leaving the ground with a whole rack of hand sized cams for a lead of another long Trout Creek splitter  Gold Rush  which takes a whole lot of gold metal to protect. While they are a bit heavier than other similar sized cams  the largest Link Cam worked well to protect this hands sized crack.
Leaving the ground with a whole rack of hand sized cams for a lead of another long Trout Creek splitter, Gold Rush, which takes a whole lot of gold metal to protect. While they are a bit heavier than other similar sized cams, the largest Link Cam worked well to protect this hands sized crack.

What we don't like about free climbing with them is that they must be placed in a way that the direction of pull is perfectly in line with the stem, which is rigid. If they are not oriented perfectly, a downward pull in the case of a fall places lateral forces on the cam lobes, potentially causing the rivets holding the lobes together to break. Simply put, these points are way weaker than a single molded cam lobe. Furthermore, you must visually inspect each placement to make sure that the contact point is not one of the joints between lobe pieces, but this can be hard if you are maxed out, or the cam is buried deep in a crack. Other limiting factors are the rigid stem, which is not great in horizontals, and a lack of thumb loop, which makes it harder to quickly grab correctly.

Some of our testers with smaller hands complained that these cams were hard to grab quickly to place because the stem is so long it stretched their fingers out to the max to be able to simply grab the trigger. Unfortunately  the stem needs to be this long to give enough room for the super long trigger pull  a by product of having extremely contractable cam lobes.
Some of our testers with smaller hands complained that these cams were hard to grab quickly to place because the stem is so long it stretched their fingers out to the max to be able to simply grab the trigger. Unfortunately, the stem needs to be this long to give enough room for the super long trigger pull, a by product of having extremely contractable cam lobes.

Weight


There is no arguing with the fact that Link Cams are heavy, but looking at their complex design, this should come as no surprise. They are very nearly the heaviest cams in this review, and this factor alone could be reason to opt not to use them. That said, a range of four can protect the same as five regular cams, and it could even be argued that a range of three cams could protect the same as five normal cams, so despite their heavy individual weights, the potential for weight savings is there when you consider range.

Due to their complex design  Link Cams are by no means one of the lightest options  and in fact they are one of the heaviest when comparing individual units. That said  because of their greatly expanded range  they still may offer decent weight savings if you just end up carrying a few of them compared to many more of a different brand.
Due to their complex design, Link Cams are by no means one of the lightest options, and in fact they are one of the heaviest when comparing individual units. That said, because of their greatly expanded range, they still may offer decent weight savings if you just end up carrying a few of them compared to many more of a different brand.

Range


The great advantage to these cams is their vastly increased range. It is possible to take a #2 Link Cam and contract it until it can be shoved into a crack that would normally fit a .75 sized piece, an impressive feat! However, like most cams, the more you contract it, the less play you have to contract the lobes for extraction, and the more likely it is to get stuck. Their great range does add to their versatility, though, and if you are almost out of gear at the end of a 200' pitch and need to place one more piece of gear before mantling to the anchor, a Link Cam is far more likely to fit whatever size you encounter than a similar sized regular cam.

Here you can see the progression of contraction of the lobes that leads to such a wide range of placements. On the left is a normal range of contraction, but keep pulling the trigger and the cam gets smaller and smaller.

Horizontal Cracks


Link Cams have a rigid stem that is made up of a piece of flexible metal cable sheathed with aluminum and plastic. The part sheathed in plastic is semi-flexible, but by and large these cams to don't do well when weighted horizontally.

These are not cams that we would recommend for too many horizontal placements. While you can see that the wire stem encapsulated in the black plastic sheath is somewhat flexible  you can also see how the trigger and trigger wires are being bent over when this cam is weighted  and falling with the cam in this position could easily damage these wires and impact how the lobes retract.
These are not cams that we would recommend for too many horizontal placements. While you can see that the wire stem encapsulated in the black plastic sheath is somewhat flexible, you can also see how the trigger and trigger wires are being bent over when this cam is weighted, and falling with the cam in this position could easily damage these wires and impact how the lobes retract.

Tight Placements


Generally speaking, these cams do not fit well into tight placements. Not only are they only made in the middle range of sizes, but their heads are quite wide, and the rigid stem doesn't do them any favors when fiddling a piece into a pod or pin scar. When you contract a Link Cam to its fullest extent the trisected lobes line up along the stem in a way that would preclude them from fitting into any other type of opening than a parallel sided crack.

While these cams have the ability to be shoved into much smaller constrictions  you can see how they end up being very bulky when this is done  meaning they need a parallel sided crack  like this one  rather than a pod or pin scar to fit into. You can also see how undulations in the rock can serve to trap the cam in place if you retract the lobes too far.
While these cams have the ability to be shoved into much smaller constrictions, you can see how they end up being very bulky when this is done, meaning they need a parallel sided crack, like this one, rather than a pod or pin scar to fit into. You can also see how undulations in the rock can serve to trap the cam in place if you retract the lobes too far.

Durability


These cams have a ton of moving parts, and many places where solid metal in a regular cam has been replaced by rivets that are clearly not as strong. Simply reading the warning language on Omega Pacific's website should clue you into the unique ways that force can damage these cams. While we haven't personally broken any of these cams, it's obvious that one fall when the lobes aren't perfectly positioned could result in too much stress being placed on these rivets. Not only does this mean that these cams are not guaranteed to hold as many falls as regular cams, but it also rattles our confidence a bit. Furthermore, due to the location of the trigger wires on the lowest of the three lobes, if rivet break, that lobe will become un-retractable, and you aren't likely to get the cam out of the crack.

Walking


Unfortunately, Link Cams are quite prone to walking when compared to other competitors, and have a reputation for easily getting stuck. The stem on these cams is extra long because their increased range requires a long trigger pull, but this long, rigid stem acts as a more powerful lever when pushed about by the rope, meaning a slight movement of the rope could translate into a greater distance of cam walking inside the crack. They do not come with an extendable sling.

Because of their long rigid stems and short slings  we found these cams pretty prone to walking  and since they have so many moving parts  they seemed to be especially prone to getting stuck if they walk deeper into a crack.
Because of their long rigid stems and short slings, we found these cams pretty prone to walking, and since they have so many moving parts, they seemed to be especially prone to getting stuck if they walk deeper into a crack.

If a Link Cam is contracted into its second or third range, there is a lot of metal now compressed into a small space. If the cam in this situation walks back into the crack, it is far more likely that these other lobes could hang up on undulations or protrusions in the rock, blocking the cam's easy removal. They also block you from easily seeing what is getting stuck in there, and from easily freeing a lobe with your nut tool.

Aid Climbing


Lacking a higher thumb loop clip-in point, or the ability to easily fit into tight and awkward placements, not to mention their durability concerns, we find there to be little practical application for these cams while aid climbing and don't recommend them for this purpose.

Value


Link Cams are expensive, with the smallest sizes retailing for a price normally associated with the largest of cams (cams tend to get more expensive as they grow in size). Considering their durability concerns, and genuinely limited application, we have a hard time recommending them based upon value.

Looking down the classic splitter Suzuki at Trout Creek  while lowering off and cleaning the gear. Link Cams work great for cracks like these  which often switch sizes  because you can fit them into a couple different sized openings  and are not limited to the relatively few pods where their size perfectly fits.
Looking down the classic splitter Suzuki at Trout Creek, while lowering off and cleaning the gear. Link Cams work great for cracks like these, which often switch sizes, because you can fit them into a couple different sized openings, and are not limited to the relatively few pods where their size perfectly fits.

Conclusion


Omega Pacific Link Cams have a niche place on some climber's racks, but despite their very unique and innovative design, simply have too many drawbacks to consider them a better option than their loads of competition. For those who remain interested, one or two of the larger sizes can be useful on appropriate multi-pitch adventures.

Organizing the rack and making sure everything is perfectly in order before heading up another classic Smith Rock dihedral while testing Link Cams.
Organizing the rack and making sure everything is perfectly in order before heading up another classic Smith Rock dihedral while testing Link Cams.


Andy Wellman