Helium Friend 0
For only the third time in 33 years Friends have truly changed. The new Helium Friend is lighter and more solid than ever, building on the unique heritage of the most inspired, innovative and copied product in climbing. Stylish, dynamic and ergonomic; the Helium Friend is designed to be the ultimate Friend and has been superbly re-engineered to achieve this aim. At the head, radically revised new hot forged cam lobes shed weight without loss of strength, create more range per unit and optimize the overlaps between sizes. At the base, a new thumb loop, trigger and sling combine to give a smoother action with more reach and extra clipping points. The Helium Friend redefines ease of use. As testament to the first Friends, the Helium stays true to the original, key, immutable concepts, those features Friends did first and best, that have been proved time and again since day one. So the Helium keeps a slick single stem and predictable single axle, a ‘floating’ trigger design and the awesome holding power of our 13.75 degree cam angle. It is this mix of old and new, classic and radical, of experience and proven design that makes the Helium Friend the most complete cam there is. This is the Friend that completes the sharpest lightest racks, the Friend for the hardest sends and the most insane cracks; the Friend to lead the next generation.
Technology, Features and Specifications
Designing the Helium Friends from scratch has made some essential differences to it’s features, form and function. Significantly, Helium Friends have got a more concise and ordered range - trimming the number of units to nine - while at the same time each Friend’s individual range has increased and importantly so has the overlap between units, both adjacent and alternate. Simply put, this means there’s a better chance the unit either side of the one you need but don’t have will fit the placement you need it to - more placements with less units! The slick external overhaul also brings big benefits with a new stem/thumb loop making smoother triggering and giving a longer reach per unit, meaning deep placements are easier to place and remove and the new sling should mean less need to extend. However, not scrapping all that went before has also left lots of well tested features, instilling this new unit with an instant confidence and familiarity in the hand and creating a unit with an unrivalled combination of utility, durability and ergonomics.
Hot forged cams, New trigger, New Thumb loop, New 12mm Dyn sling. Trigger stop, Nine Sizes. New springs, New stainless axle, All units 12kN, New stem cover. More reach, Up to 6% lighter per unit, Up to 20% more range per unit, Bigger overlaps.
13.75 cam angle, Single axle, Single stem, Scaled head width, Full floating trigger with independent cam triggering, Full strength cam stops , Colour coded.
|Weight (g / oz)
Weight (g / oz)
In grams and ounces, the weight, as stated by the manufacturer/brand.
|87.0 g / 3.07 oz
|4 lobes, single axle
|Flexible single stem
|x12 mm (single sling loop)
|13.75° (angle is consistent throughout)
| 12 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.
|14.0 - 22.5 mm (0.55 - 0.89 in)
|CE, EN, UIAA
Helium Friends aren’t “the cam reborn” but they are pretty close. The design, beautiful. Execution, perfect. I hope to climb many pitches and take many falls on mine. They are now my first choice when I take singles, and they will be complimented well by the rest of the gear I carry around.
I was surprised by how impressed I was. Superficially they don't look all that clever but Wild Country has got a couple of subtle aspects of the design spot on. The springs are good and strong, at least on the prototypes I tested. That might mean they feel less smooth in the shop but it also makes them a little less prone to walking and also very slightly reduces the chance of the unit slipping at the point of loading (as the rope comes tight in a fall the load isn't constant - there is usually a bit of 'flutter' which can lead to cams slipping and a strong spring helps minimise this). Wild Country has also increased the trigger length in the smallest sizes so you get more reach and so the second can get to the trigger easily for removal. The Heliums felt reassuringly stable in use, they went in placements first time and stayed put. Overall, they are a very good unit and there isn't much to fault. To cover a range from 19-100mm you would have 7 units weighing a total of 949g
The Wild Country Helium Friends cams are a great option for any trad climbing application. The longer stem and sling make deeper placements possible, while the small, single-axle head keeps the bulk down on your rack. As stated above, even Camalot loyalists should think about outfitting with these so as to fill in the size gaps that exist between cams.
Because of the smaller cam angle, you need one extra cam to cover the same range when compared to C4s, a significant drawback from a cost perspective, though this is really only an issue when looking at buying a full set of cams. When looking at individual pieces, they are as solid as anything else on the market and are ideal for filling in gaps on your rack.
The new Friends have increased range and reliability for better protection and better placement opportunities. A completely upgraded and refined design offers a set of gear that increases each individual unit’s range and overlap, so you can bring less metal while opening up more options.
Wild Country did a nice revamp of their Friends and aside from being a little pricer, they are lightweight, cam smoothly and I’ll be bringing them along on all my trips from Cannon to Katahdin.
This year, the British manufacturer Wild Country has unveiled the second major change to Friends since they were introduced way back in 1977. (The fi rst was the switch from rigid to fl exible cable stems.) Although the company said the new Helium Friends should be on sale in the U.S. by mid-March, production samples were not available in time for our testing. We’ll do a full review as soon as we can test the fi nal product. The nine Helium Friends have the same numbering and approximate size range as the Friends we’ve known for years—for most climbers, a 2.5 or 3 will protect the perfect hand crack, a 2 will be tight hands, and a 1.5 will be desperate rattly fi ngers. But nearly everything else about the Helium Friend looks different. Most striking are the hot-forged cam lobes, with complex shapes and fl ower-petal cut-outs to save weight, as well as the extra-long stem—a full 2.5 to 3 inches longer than stems on the Technical Friends they are replacing. (In the biggest cams, the stem is 8 inches long.) A longer stem should let you reach higher and deeper placements. While keeping the constant 13.75° camming angle and single-axle design they’ve used for 34 years, the new Friends are said to have signifi cantly greater range and overlap with adjacent size cams. Gone are the 1.25 and 1.75 Friends used by crack climbers to dial in the perfect fi t in desert splitters. We’ll be curious to test a couple of things about Helium Friends. In addition to these cams’ general ease of use and durability, will people with small hands or those used to palming the end of a cam like the longer stem? And is there a signifi cant advantage in placing or retrieving cams with the jumbo stem? One thing’s for sure: After selling nearly 1 million Friends over the years (according to Wild Country’s website), this company is not resting on its laurels.
The Friend, introduced way back in 1977, has been completely revamped for the third time in its illustrious history to create Wild Country Helium Friends ($65 to $75, wildcountry.co.uk). The new units retain the single-axle design of the Technical Friends they replace, but their hot-forged cam lobes are a bit lighter, and each unit has greater overlap with its neighbors—a full set is nine cams, versus the old 11. In the most notable change, the Helium’s stem has grown by as much as 2.5 to 3 inches, for high or deep placements, and the trigger has been repositioned so it’s easy to reach, even when buried in a crack. During many days of climbing, from Indian Creek to the high granite crags of Rocky Mountain National Park, no tester had a problem retrieving a cam. The Helium also adds a big thumb loop for more clipping options, and the trigger system has been re-engineered for much smoother action. If you like your current cams, don’t rush to dump them on Craigslist, but you should definitely consider Heliums when you need to replace or expand your rack. —Dougald MacDonald
The combination of longer shaft and slightly smaller range makes these a touch more finicky to place and clean than the Camalot. In all, Wild Country's redesigned Friends have injected themselves right back into the running for best camming devices available today.
Pros: High-quality construction; color-coded Dyneema runners; longer shaft allows deeper placements; extremely lightweight.
Cons: Smaller range than other cams due to single axle; longer shaft allows deeper placements, but can be harder to clean as trigger goes deeper as well.
No voice explanation but the video shows all the features of Helium Friend Cam.