UKC

REVIEW: DMM Dragons V Black Diamond Camalot

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 UKC Gear 01 Dec 2010
Dragon Cams in a Crack, 5 kbToby Archer puts the DMM Dragon Cams and the Black Diamond Camalots head to head, to find out which are best...

"Black Diamond's Camalots were revolutionary when they first came out as they were the first camming units to use a double axle..."

"With the Dragons, DMM have clearly tried to take the best parts of the Camalot design and then improve on it..."

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/review.php?id=3213

 jon 01 Dec 2010
In reply to UKC Gear:

Don't know if it's just my screen, but the comparison table is very hard to read. Can this be clearer?
 Michael Ryan 01 Dec 2010
In reply to jon:

click on image to make bigger
In reply to UKC Gear: Nice review, however Toby forgot to mention the other main difference which is the head width. Narrower heads make a huge difference on some sorts of rock, specifically pockety stuff. I bought the size 1 dragon to replace the equivalent friend because it had a much narrower head than anything else on the market.
 jon 01 Dec 2010
In reply to Mick Ryan - UKC:

Thanks Mick. I'm afraid I hadn't realised it was an image.
 flaneur 01 Dec 2010
In reply to UKC Gear:

Thanks Toby, interesting review.


> My understanding is that friction between the rock and cams is not central to the holding power of cams, therefore the slimmer cams of the Dragons should not be a disadvantage in most placements but perhaps if you climb a lot on softer sandstone, then the greater friction and less pressure exerted by the wider Camalots cams might be desirable, at least psychologically.

> I hope the many excellent climbing engineers of UKC will weigh on once again on the friction and holding power issue in the thread below this review!

You are clearly not an engineer! As you hint, you need to rethink this section of the article as there are several factual errors. Perhaps fact-checking this section would have been wise?


> Using the manufacturers own weights...

Did you check this? As this seems one of the crucial differences between the units it would seem reasonable not to take manufacturer's figures for granted. Black Diamond Oz carabiners are heavier than the claimed weight for example. http://www.supertopo.com/review/Black-Diamond-Oz



 Jonny2vests 01 Dec 2010
In reply to flaneur:

> My understanding is that friction between the rock and cams is not central to the holding power of cams, therefore the slimmer cams of the Dragons should not be a disadvantage in most placements...


Nice article Toby, but I agree, that is a rather confused sentence. I think using 'lobes' where necessary would reduce the ambiguity too.
 Enty 01 Dec 2010
In reply to all:

If you were to recieve 6 cams for Christmas - which brand would go most want?

E
 Jonny2vests 01 Dec 2010
In reply to Enty:
> (In reply to all)
>
> If you were to recieve 6 cams for Christmas - which brand would go most want?
>
> E

Aliens.
 Enty 01 Dec 2010
In reply to jonny2vests:

Yes but can you still get them.

E
 Sarah Stirling 01 Dec 2010
In reply to flaneur:

>> Perhaps fact-checking this section would have been wise?

This review was actually fact checked by both DMM and Black Diamond.

Cheers, Sarah
 middlevern 01 Dec 2010
In reply to UKC Gear: Where are the crags in this article? Finland somewhere? the lines look ace! Any info would be appreciated
In reply to flaneur:

> You are clearly not an engineer!

No, I'm definitely not! I'm actually writing this in a hotel bar in Budapest having just flown down here - and in the same way I trust Airbus and (in this case) Malev to do the engineering for me to keep me flying, I also trust DMM and BD to make the cams to stop me flying! Hence I offer the review as an end user, who has actually fallen on the units to no ill effects! But I do remember very clearly a lengthy discussion here on UKC about whether friction and the width of the 4 individual cams make much difference to the how strong the camming unit will be. As I remember those engineers who seemed to be convincing their peers were saying that friction isn't really a very big factor. But on the other hand Metolius make fat cams, and they seem a very 'engineering led' company - so there must be certain rock types where wider cams do help to stop the rock from crumbling. I suspect this is quite minimal though at least for UK climbers.

I am interested in whether it is really the case that for example limestone is more 'slippy' for cams than say, granite. But to be honest, I've only ever pulled cams because they were the wrong size or badly placed though. I don't think I have ever had a cam pull that I didn't really know was a rubbish or at least suspect.

I would love to have a pair of accurate scales to geekily weigh everything, but unfortunately my kitchen scales aren't accurate enough. You can suggest to the UKC bosses that they spring for some for the reviewing team if you want!
In reply to middlevern:

Hi
Yep, they are all in Finland.
The first pic is: http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=49416
The second: http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=103417
And then me falling off at the bottom is: http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/c.php?i=89502 and I should say thanks to Jody for taking that picture (and to Diana for catching me so well!)
In reply to jonny2vests:

> Nice article Toby, but I agree, that is a rather confused sentence. I think using 'lobes' where necessary would reduce the ambiguity too.

This is a very good point! Of course now we so often say "cams" instead of "friends" it makes it very confusing when you are refering to the 4 (or 3 with TCUs) individual cams. Apologies - I hope you can work out what I mean eventually.
In reply to Toerag:
> Nice review, however Toby forgot to mention the other main difference which is the head width. Narrower heads make a huge difference on some sorts of rock, specifically pockety stuff. I bought the size 1 dragon to replace the equivalent friend because it had a much narrower head than anything else on the market.

This is very good point although I have to admit it didn't really occur to me as I can't really think of any pockety rock I've climbed on. Where is it that you have noticed this? I hope the picture of them all lined up gives some idea of the comparative widths. I'm not home so can't check but I don't actually think between these two types the difference is massive - but it is interesting if you say it is much narrower than a friend. Could you stick a photo up in your gallery of them head to head? Its not that I don't believe you, but would be very interested to see how different they are.

cheers
Toby.
 flaneur 01 Dec 2010
In reply to Sarah Stirling-Assistant Editor:
> (In reply to flaneur)
>
> >> Perhaps fact-checking this section would have been wise?
>
> This review was actually fact checked by both DMM and Black Diamond.

That is a useful exercise but it is not fact-checking which is done by a knowledgeable third party. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fact_checker



As one example:

> My understanding is that friction between the rock and cams is not central to the holding power of cams, therefore the slimmer cams of the Dragons should not be a disadvantage in most placements

This is incorrect; without friction cams do not work: http://www.wildcountry.co.uk/HintsandTips/UnderstandingCams/General/

I think Toby may mean that friction between two surfaces is independent of the contact area so the thinner lobs of Dragons will not affect their holding power (an idealization and not completely true in practice). Or he could mean something else. So whilst Toby nicely described the devices from a user's perspective he was running it out above some shaky gear when it came to the mechanical engineering. This section should have been written by someone else or omitted.




 JJL 01 Dec 2010
In reply to flaneur:

As someone who has initiated threads about camming angles, tangents of camming angles coefficients fo friction and the relation of the aforesaid, can I just say that I thought the article was fine and you're coming across as a bit up yourself?
 SCC 01 Dec 2010
In reply to JJL:
> (In reply to flaneur)
>
> As someone who has initiated threads about camming angles, tangents of camming angles coefficients fo friction and the relation of the aforesaid, can I just say that I thought the article was fine and you're coming across as a bit up yourself?

A bit??

May I present you with the "Understatement of the Day" award...

Si
 Sarah Stirling 01 Dec 2010
In reply to flaneur: OK, fair point, but the input of the people who designed/developed/know the gear inside out is also useful when it comes to fact checking. All reviews are read and checked by several people, including UKC staff and representatives at the gear companies - preferably design engineers, product developers, or other experts - and are then edited.

Gear reviewers are entitled to their own opinions of course, but if facts are wrong, hopefully they are picked up on during this process. Not always though. Human errors do creep in. These reviews are written in layman's terms by every day climbers. Fair point, the sentence you mentioned was a little confusing and perhaps wrong, but it's a shame to pick up on this when it was such a good review, I would say.

Cheers,

Sarah
 chopin-smith 01 Dec 2010
In reply to UKC Gear:

One thing I would like to see in future gear reviews: country of manufacture.

Black Diamond Camalots are made in China, and DMM Dragon Cams are made in Wales.

I do think it's important to support local business when possible. I recently bought a load of wiregates, and was deciding between Camp Nano 23's (made in china) and DMM Phantoms (made in wales). The products were very similar and virtually the same price, so I got the Phantoms.




 La benya 01 Dec 2010
In reply to UKC Gear:

could have done with a spell check/ sense check too... 4 or 5 easily spotted mistakes
 Martin Davies 01 Dec 2010
In reply to mark_wellin: Are you for real? GET A LIFE!
In reply to chopin-smith:
> (In reply to UKC Gear)

>
> Black Diamond Camalots are made in China,

Apparently Camalots and all BD's other hot forged gear is made in Salt Lake City.
Kane 01 Dec 2010
In reply to JJL: I found that sentence very confusing as well. What I think Toby was trying to say is that the thinner cams don't affect the performance of the cam.

This is not quite true as the mechanics behind the situation aren't simple but either one clearly works however it's very hard to say which one will hold best in marginal placements and only extensive use can clear that up.

Here's a bit of a nerdy description factors that affect holding strength.
In an ideal world the frictional force is independent of contact area, but with cams it's different and a significant factor that alters holding strength is the plastic deformation of the lobes over irregularities in the surface of the rock. If you've ever tried to pull test cams against smooth steel you'll find although the technical angle of friction is near 30 deg it's not actually easy to get them bite and even when they do I've had them hold to 2kN before slipping. With that in mind different lobe materials will have different yield strength and lower yield strength will mean the cams will deform more over irregularities and provide better holding strength. An example of this is aliens. They have a camming angle of 16 deg but have the best holding strength in marginal placements of any cam I've used because they are made of aluminium with a lower yield strength. Because the dragons have thinner lobes they will likely have a higher yield strength than camalots and so less holding power. This is offset by their lower camming angle however as mentioned above it's hard to say which will work best in marginal placements without extensive use.
Kane 01 Dec 2010
In reply to Kane: I thought I'd just add that I thought the review was good and that it wasn't necessary to bring in theoretical arguments as personally I don't give a toss how cams perform theoretically but do care how they perform in real situations when used by experienced climbers.

Kane
 PeteH 02 Dec 2010
In reply to flaneur:
Ho ho ho. You are indeed coming across as a bit of an arse, my friend. Sorry.

To imply that only an engineer could write a valid and useful gear review is rather ridiculous, don't you think?

Your own explanation seems to correlate fairly well with Toby's pragmatic (and acknowledged as such in the article) simplification of the friction situation with respect to lobe width. Although you just had to get in there that "without friction cams do not work". Because of course Toby was indeed claiming that, when climbing those all-too-common cracks-between-two-frictionless-planes, your cams will work just fine!

Pete.
At the recent International Trad Meeting in Valle dell'Orco I was the only participant with a set of Dragons (among 40+ with BD's). A great deal of subjective comparison took place. But generally folks were impressed with the Dragons. A few pictures:

http://www.bigwall.dk/billeder/2010_orco_meet/2010_orco_hjorth_240.jpg

http://www.bigwall.dk/billeder/2010_orco_meet/2010_orco_hjorth_255.jpg

http://www.bigwall.dk/billeder/2010_orco_meet/2010_orco_hjorth_285.jpg

Michael Hjorth
Copenhagen

 Jonny2vests 02 Dec 2010
In reply to Enty:
> (In reply to jonny2vests)
>
> Yes but can you still get them.
>
> E

Oooh. Maybe not. Gosh.
In reply to Michael Hjorth:
now picture 2 looks like a proper review - why did you not do this level of testing Toby? in the context of these images your review is revealed as the shambolic work of an amateur!
Simon Marsh 02 Dec 2010
In reply to Kane:

There are a lot of other variables in addition to those mentioned that affect holding power.

It is worth mentioning that we deliberately chose to use the softer 6082 alloy on our cams rather than 7075.

Aliens are interesting and difficult to analyse because of the variations in both lobe shape and metal hardness, however whilst the smaller units have a cam angle of around 16 degrees the cam angle decreases as the cams get larger to 13+/14 degress.

We will be doing a video article on this topic in the near future.

Regards

Simon

DMM

 Erik B 02 Dec 2010
In reply to UKC Gear: I always add an extender to cams to reduce the chance of the cam 'walking' so the Dragon's design clearly wins
Kane 02 Dec 2010
In reply to Simon Marsh: Thanks for your reply Simon. The main point I was trying to make was that the holding power is not a straightforward thing to model purely theoretically and it doesn't just depend on cam angle as a lot of people believe.

I look forward to your article,
cheers.
Kane
In reply to Dr.S at work: I seconded it, to do some removal testing!
Andy Wyper 02 Dec 2010

In reply to Tom Ripley:

>Apparently Camalots and all BD's other hot forged gear is made in Salt Lake City.

Apparently some are made in China and some in the US no official figures from BD but all of the examples I have seen in the shops are from China. A common marketing trick since they push the US made in all promotional material.

Climbing hardware made in Europe or US appears not to have any premium on the branded China manufactured product so I always support local. DMM is a fantastic example but there are others.

Andy

 chopin-smith 02 Dec 2010
In reply to aywip:

From what I understand Camalots are USA-made parts that are assembled in China, hence being obliged to be labelled as 'Made in China' but marketted as USA. All the new ones I've seen recently are made in China.

Interesting thread (with amusing response to Black Diamond spin) here:

http://www.erockonline.com/forum/upload/index.php?showtopic=1307

Likewise I prefer to buy local and (unless severely mistaken) I'm delighted that DMM are still manufacturing in Wales and keeping their prices competitive.

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