Camalots are designed to provide protection across the full spectrum of crack sizes, from small incipient seams, to perfect hands, to full-on offwidths. Camalots, Camalot C3s, Camalot X4s and Camalot Ultralights each have their own unique advantages, and a well-rounded rack will likely contain some or all sizes of each cam. Check out the chart to see how the members of the Camalot family overlap.
Camalot X4 .1
Combining unparalleled expansion range with single-stem flexibility and a narrow head width, the Black Diamond Camalot X4 represents the missing link in our gold-standard Camalot family. Thin desert tips corner? The smallest three sizes of the X4 feature our Stacked Axle Technology, which uses a unique machined axle to give more expansion range per size than any small four-cam unit on the market. In fact, the six sizes of the Camalot X4 cover the same range as eight sizes of comparable units. Funky pin scars? The X4's embedded cam springs allow for an ultra-narrow head width that fits in those tight spots other cams won't. Awkward horizontal placements? Thanks to super-durable aluminum protection beads, the X4's cable withstands repeated abrasion without compromising flexibility. Pumped out of your mind and ten feet out from your last piece? We also added a hot-forged trigger bar and symmetric swage to improve handling and eliminate buckling.
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|Weight (g / oz)|
Weight (g / oz)
In grams and ounces, the weight, as stated by the manufacturer/brand.
|51.0 g / 1.80 oz|
|Cam Head||4 lobes, single axle|
|Stem||Flexible single stem|
|Sling||Dyneema (single loop)|
|Active Strength|| 5 kN|
|Cam Range (mm / in)|
Cam Range (mm / in)
In millimeters and inches, the maximum dimensions of the cam lobes when shut tight and fully extended. Since the "usable" range is so debatable, all manufacturers now list the full dimensions to avoid selling themselves short.
For offset cams, we'll list the max dimensions possible and then afterwards list each of lobe dimensions.
|8.4 - 13.8 mm (0.33 - 0.54 in) |
This is where the X4 excels the most. It has a very narrow head and it is really easy to get into weird pods and cracks. This has been become Chris Mac's secret Clean Aid weapon. The smallest size goes in really tiny pin scars where it doesn't seem like anything else will. Most importantly…it then holds!
Overall, I think the X4 is a great design. BD does make a rather sweeping statement with their claims of larger range, smaller head width, and less weight. This may be true vs. it’s own C3 or C4 cams, but isn’t true across the board when compared to Aliens or Master Cams. Nonetheless the X4 is an excellent product. If money were no object, I would recommend them unconditionally. But money is always an object. And the BD X4 is R930, vs. R775 for BDs own C4, or R585 for the Metolius Master Cam. That’s a huge difference, almost 60%. So if you were on a budget and are buying your first trad rack I would still consider the Master Cams for smaller sizes, and the BD C4 for larger ones.
Camalots have steadily increased their following in the UK since they were redesigned a few years ago. Not a lot of people know this but, internally, a Camalot is a twin-stemmed device. The two sides of the stem are pinched together in the plastic sleeve and swaged into the head to give the handling of a single stem but the weight saving of a double stem. Camalots gain extra range from the double axle, and also by slightly increasing the camming angle of some sizes. In theory this will very slightly reduce holding power but, as Black Diamond point out, these are well tested units that certainly don't make a habit of coming out. Camalots are as lovely to use as they are beautifully built. I consistently got the right size first time, even though I am more used to other units, which is probably the extra range at work. There is precious little to fault and yet, somehow, I often found myself reaching for other units first. The springs felt a little less stiff than many others and the head of the unit just didn't sit quite as rock-steady as I clipped. The difference in holding power is probably negligible to non-existent but it did mean that the single axle units inspired me with a tiny bit more confidence. To cover a range from 19-100mm (actually 19.6-114.7mm) requires 6 units with a total weight of 984g.
If you read the review roundup at the end of this article you will find that the Camalot is universally beloved by its users, more than any other piece of gear we have given one of our best in class awards to. Sometimes gear isn’t about a particular feature you can pin down, sometimes it is about how those features come together seamlessly. At that moment when the gear is out there doing what it was designed to do it can be like magic. The Camalot embodies that magic.
We’ve climbed with a lot of people and used a lot of cams. Most climbers we’ve climbed with prefer the Camalot. We’ve also climbed long enough to see the evolution of the Camalot. First the Camalot went from a U stem to a single stem. Then it went from a thumb stud to a thumb loop. Black Diamond resized everything above a size 3 along the way to better fit how climbers use their cams. These small improvements make a positive difference, but if you pull out an old U shaped Camalot you would still instantly recognize it as a Camalot and know exactly how to place it. This is a design that has been tested over time and tweaked to perfection.
The X4s are currently my all-around favorite small cam. Setting aside minor gripes about the short stems in smaller sizes and a slightly wonky stem, they’re a fantastic whole package.
They take up less room on your harness and marry a lot of the positive aspects of Master Cams and Aliens (which are fantastic in their own rights) to a sleek, slim profile and familiar camalot sizes.
I will rack the X4s over the C3s, and if I need additional units or one that’s even smaller, I’ll supplement with the C3. I’ll also carry the X4s over the C4 in the latter’s four smallest sizes. Happily to that end, the X4s are color coded the same as the C4s (blue, grey, purple, green).
I gave the X4s the highest possible rating because they are among the best small camming units I have used, and I couldn't find a fault them.
The UIAA equipment standard provides a baseline for equipment performance in a test lab under controlled conditions on new equipment. Although these test conditions are relevant to the conditions encountered climbing, conditions encountered at the crags and the condition of the equipment are equally important. This recommendation from the UIAA member federation The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) provides vital equipment information that is NOT explicitly addressed in the standard, particularly failure modes of the equipment and recommendations for the use, inspection, maintenance, and retirement of equipment.
A pictoral representation of the UIAA-125 and EN-12276 standards for frictional anchors (which includes SLCD's [cams] and Ballnuts).