First there were Black Diamond Camalots and then came Black Diamond Ultralight Camalots. We love them both and both have their pros and cons. But here is why we reckon the ultralight version is such a great product.
Black Diamond Camalots have been our gold standard spring loaded camming devices (cams) for a long time. We’ve used plenty of other types, but for some years Black Diamond were the only company offering twin axle devices. As soon as we tried them we were sold on their holding power and increased camming range per unit. If each device can cover a wider camming range you can carry less to cover the same range.
Various other companies now offer twin axle cams, but you often end up defaulting to tried and trusted equipment. So it is here. We’ve stuck with Camalots for personal use (although as a business we use a lot of DMM cams too). We like everything about them. The strong nylon slings Black Diamond use have always proved to be durable and reliable. I also think Camalots have the smoothest trigger action on the market.
In recent years Black Diamond brought out a variation on the standard Camalot range. Their Ultralight Camalots offer the same size range for slightly reduced strength and a major reduction in weight. They are genius.
The weight savings are significant. While the smallest sizes offer less saving with the smallest #0.4 being 22 grams lighter than its predecessor, the largest #4 actually saves as much off the original as the 0.4 itself weighs! Over a full set of #0.4 to #4 the weight saving is 25% which is a fantastic achievement given that the standard models weights already stacked up well against the opposition.
Black Diamond achieved the amazing weight reductions in various ways. The cam lobes have more metal removed. As there is more metal to remove on the larger sizes this explains the bigger weight savings for these units. They also changed the clip in tape to lightweight Dyneema. Finally, the stem is formed from encased Dyneema cord rather than metal cable.
Ultralight Camalots operate in exactly the same way as the originals and the sizing and colour coding are the same. This means you could happily mix a set. Choose the standards in the smaller sizes where the weight saving is less. Splash out on the Ultralights for the larger and therefore heavier sizes.
The Ultralights may not be quite as long lasting as the standard models depending on how rough you are with your gear. But, for fast and light ascents, surely a lot of people will be happy to live with that. They are also more expensive. Again, you might feel that is a price worth paying. We certainly feel confident you won’t be disappointed if you do choose them. They are light on your harness and light in your hand. They have a great expansion range per piece and have, as mentioned above, what we reckon to be the smoothest trigger action out there. If you are in line for some new cams do have a look at the Black Diamond Ultralight Camalots. Full details are available on their website here.
Please also have a look at our article on Buying a Climbing Rack which gives some useful general advice on climbing gear choice. Of course, if you want to try placing some Camalots of your own one of our climbing courses is the ideal opportunity.