Hands-on Gear Review

Rock Empire Robot Cam Review

Rock Empire's u-stem Robot Cams
Price:  $50 List
Pros:  Inexpensive, Extendable sling, Somewhat durable
Cons:  Low Range, Hard to place/clean, Walk, Heavy
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Rock Empire

Our Verdict

The Rock Empire Robot Cam has been discontinued.

Please take a look at our Editors' Choice award-winning cams, the Black Diamond Camalot and Black Diamond Camalot X4 to consider as alternatives. You might also want to take a look at the winner of our Best Buy award the Metolius Master Cam.

Also, don't forget to check out The Best Climbing Camming Device Review.

Here is the (now outdated) Rock Empire Robot Cam Review;

"Cams Start at 36.95"

This statement, taken from Rock Empire's website, could stop a trad climber's heart and simultaneously empty his wallet (they're so cheap, I can afford more!).

Rock Empire's Robot Cams are some of the cheapest cams on the market making it possible to outfit yourself with a full rack of cams at a fraction of the cost of some of the other brands that we tested. They are rated at 15kn across the board (excepting the Microrobots) and cover a range of .79"-.6" Unfortunately the old adage "you get what you pay for" seems to hold true for these cams and while they perform moderately, there are much better options out there if you are willing to spend just a little more. We found the cams to be both durable and solidly constructed, but rather poorly designed and somewhat nerve racking to have below you in all but the most solid straightforward placements. The cams lobes are rather close together giving the Robots tendency to walk, and while the cams feature and extendable sling it is generally not long enough to eliminate the need for quickdraws or alpine draws to extend your placement. If you are on a super strict budget and are in need of some gear now the Robot Cams will complement the other cams that you have on your rack just be sure to place them well and sling them long to avoid walking. Overall we prefer the stability and performance of the Black Diamond Camalot. For a similar design but superior performance check out Metolius Ultralight Powercam or Metolius Super Cam.



RELATED REVIEW: The Best Climbing Camming Device Review

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Robert Beno

Last Updated:
Wednesday
November 17, 2010

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Likes


Rock Empire makes the least expensive cams on the market. You can outfit yourself with a rack of Robots for a fraction of the cost of other cams that we tested. The cams are of solid construction and are quite durable. The u-stems are made of the thickest cables we've seen on u-stem cams and the cam lobes are durable and solid.

Despite the thickness of the u-stem cables, they are still flexible enough for horizontal placements and the sling is extendable spectra providing a bit of extension and helping to cut down on the walking of the cams. The trigger is easily operated and the action is fairly smooth.

Dislikes


The first, and most readily apparent issue is a design flaw and primarily effects the larger size cams (# and ). To put it simply, the middle lobes on the Robot Cams are just flat out too close together effectively negating any stabilization gained from properly spacing the lobes. In the smaller units they are immediately side by side, almost touching, creating a TCU-like effect. In the larger units, the middle two lobes are slightly separated but only minimally so. While you'd think that this squeezed in design would create a narrower cam head, we found that the heads on these guys were just as wide as a BD Camalot. No advantage in shallow placements to be found here. Convenience of placement aside, the main problem with having the cam lobes so close together, is that the larger cams have a major tendency to walk, creating potentially hazardous scenarios. Though the smaller units do walk a little, in most cases it is significantly less than the larger units, and not much more than some other cams I've used.

Another contributing factor to the Robot's tendency to walk is that the springs seem to be a bit weak, particularly (again) in the larger units. The springs just don't provide enough pressure to hold the unit solidly in place. When placed in a solid placement, where my # Camalot could hold a falling truck, my largest Robot Cam seems a bit shaky. Not very confidence inspiring 10ft after the placement with no pro between. Here again the smaller units do not seem to suffer from as severe a case of "wimpy springs."

We also found these cams to be difficult to place and clean in all but the most straightforward placements. Their low range and super close together lobes don't make for a very forgiving unit in terms of squeezing into awkward placements, and the cams tend to walk themselves into sticky spots for your second to clean. To top it all off Rock empire's Robot Cams are among the heaviest of all the cams that we tested, only to be outdone by Omega Pacific's Link Cam and Metolius' Supercam both of which have far greater ranges than any of Rock Empire's units.

Best Application


Trad climbers on a super tight budget rejoice: here is something that will get you out on the rock. Not recommended for inexperienced gear placers due to the precision and caution that needs to be taken when using these cams.

Personal Stories


I got a full set of these for super cheap and they sat on my rack as compliment to my Camalots #.-. I had a fairly OK experience with them but after two seasons on them the damage they were doing to my nerves was becoming apparent. Despite having fallen onto all of them, I didn't find myself believing in their ability to keep me safe after seeing them walk, wiggle and invert so many times. It was effecting the extent to which I would push myself and created a mental block. I replaced them all the end of last summer and never looked back. It could be that they became less confidence inspiring over time, or that I just became a smarter climber. Either way I don't find them to be bomber enough for my liking these days.

Value


Rock Empire makes the least expensive cams on the market. Ranging from about $40-45 each, if you are on a shoestring budget these are the cams for you. There are, however, some much better options for not much more so it might be best to save for a little longer and pick up something of higher quality.

Robert Beno

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Most recent review: June 28, 2012
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (2.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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 (1.7)

0% of 3 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
4 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 75%  (3)
1 star: 25%  (1)

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   Jun 28, 2012 - 07:48pm
Matt Haron

I bought these after Rock and Ice magazine said that they were the best value on the market. Wrong. totally wrong. like other reviews have said after about 1 summer, or 2 depending on how often you get out, these are useless. the last one My partner placed (Out of my set) I just left. they overcam easily and walk even easier. Also another cam I simply threw in the trash because one of the metal wires bent and now it is a stuck cam. just like a sticky carabiner, except a cam. Not safe at all. Buy a set that will last. BD or metolius.



Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.

goofing off at pine creek

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   May 23, 2011 - 04:01pm
jfailing · Climber · Lone Pine

Roughly 75% of fixed cams I see are these Rock Empire ones.

A friend took a set of these up to Squamish for the summer. Apparently most of them were unusable after just one season.



Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.

Climber

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   Nov 18, 2010 - 02:53pm
YetAnotherDave · Climber · Vancouver, BC

I've had a few of the smaller ones, bootied from easier routes mostly. I gave them all away - not confidence inspiring at all. Probably safe to fall on in a perfect placement, but far inferior to any of the the metolius options.



Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.


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