Editors' Choice Classic: Black Diamond Camalot c4

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Black Diamond Camalot C4 Rock climbing protection

Climbers’ choice for top all-around cams

They weren’t the first. They’re not the lightest. They’re not the newest. But sometimes being the best isn’t about those things. And our numbers don’t lie: The Camalot C4’s were unanimously voted in as the best midrange cams by our panel of experts. “Everyone knows the sizes and corresponding colors, unlike other brands,” one devotee said. “Most racks are built with the Camalot C4.” Designed by Tony Christianson, Julio Varela, and Honk Kyu Kwak in the mid-1980s, the Camalot had a distinct advantage over earlier spring-loaded camming devices in the form of a double-axle design, which greatly increased the camming range of each individual unit, meaning one piece could fit more crack sizes. 

Chouinard Equipment, which became Black Diamond, began marketing them as Camalots (so-named from various employee suggestions) in fall 1987, and three major updates later, Camalots are still the gold standard for trad climbers. Camalots have easier, smoother trigger action, slot into placements faster, hold better in shallow cracks, and both the metal of the lobes and wires and the nylon of the slings last longer. We do love the flexible stems of Aliens, the narrow heads of Metolius Master Cams, and the groundbreaking innovation of Wild Country Friends, but the C4’s have the best all-around performance and durability. Twenty-seven years after their first appearance, one climber says he’s still “having a love affair with these Batman tools for the vertical world.” 

$60–$120; blackdiamondequipment.com

Further Reading:
Editors’ Choice Classic: The Climbing Gear Hall of Fame