The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

Black Diamond Yosemite Hammer Review

Black Diamond Yosemite Hammer
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $120 List
Pros:  Solid webbing anchor system, time tested design, overall pretty solid.
Cons:  Can't place # copperheads, head is a little light for serious nailing.
Manufacturer:   Black Diamond
By Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief  ⋅  Apr 14, 2010
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more

Our Verdict

This is probably the best selling big wall hammer ever. It has a time-tested design that has gotten people up big walls from Yosemite to Baffin. It is the perfect hammer for light nailing routes and climbs where you won't be nailing your brains out (which is 99 percent of most big wall ascents).

This is a good solid hammer for your average Yosemite climber. If you are a big wall addict, I would try to find an A5 hammer or similar model with the ability to place copperheads and a little more heft. But for most climbers this will get the job done. The only other hammer I have used recently is the Petzl Bongo Hammer. I was pretty impressed with it but I did not get to test its copperhead placing abilities.

Our Analysis and Test Results


This hammer is an overall solid performer. It has a nice weight and balance; not too heavy or too light. It comes with a hole in the head so you can attach a funkness. The way the webbing attaches to the bottom of the hammer is solid. I have never seen it break. A few other brands use screws for attachment and I have seen these screws come out and send the hammer to the turfit's a bad scene. It happened to Ammon McNeely and me on Rodeo Queen in Zion. This is the most widely available hammer and is pretty easy to find.


The main dislike with this hammer is that it does not have a tip that allows you to place #2 copperheads. It sorta works for #3 copperheads but not as well as a hammer like the old A5 that has a tip that comes down more to a point. Also, without a point, this is not as good at cleaning copperhead placements. In contrast, the Petzl Bongo has a big pick great for cleaning placements (copperheads, nuts or cams). The head is durable, but if you are a big wall addict, you will start to wear down the edges.

Best Application

Overall, this is a good hammer for climbers that occasionally do a nailing route. And, to be honest, there are not a lot of other hammers out there. If you are doing first ascents or serious nailing routes, it is a little limited. For serous routes I would rather have a hammer that has a heavier head and the option to place #2 copperheads.


This is by no means cheap, but there are not a lot of other options.

Chris McNamara