Nuts and Cams

Black Diamond Camalot Ultralights

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No more dieting to reach sending weight—we can just lighten our racks. The geometry of the Black Diamond’s Ultralights is almost exactly the same as that of the much-loved C4s in terms of stem rigidity, lobe size and head width, but there are some key changes that make the Ultralights, well, ultra light. BD has carved away any unnecessary metal on the lobes, replaced the traditional steel stem cable with a light and strong Dyneema cord, and even reduced the diameter of the trigger cables. The resulting set of seven cams has a combined weight of only 1.25 pounds—a 25 percent weight savings over the previous Camalots. Wowzers! Allow me to put this weight- saving potential into perspective: if you’re racking up at Indian Creek for a marathon stint of perfect hands and take six each of #1s and #2s, you save nearly 14 ounces by using the Ultralights over the older Camalots. If you were climbing fists and baggy hands, this savings amounts to over a pound.

The result of the weight loss in the Ultralights is a reduction of the strength rating of each device by 2kN compared to original Camalots; however,
unless you’re an elephant taking a 30-foot lob on a #2, this simply isn’t a problem. It was also speculated that the Ultralights would be less durable than other cams due to their Dyneema stem cord and thin trigger wires; however, after 50 pitches of use they don’t look any worse for wear to me, and the only thing they could use would be a good oiling. In addition to being the lightest, each Ultralight has the largest individual range of any cams in this series—with the set covering 0.61 to 4.51 inches—and have good overlap with each other, furthering their ability to constitute a super lightweight and minimal rack. This is key when minimizing weight is paramount. The 14mm Dyneema slings are non-extendable, further helping to keep the weight down and the strength up, but if you’re on meandering terrain then you’ll need to carry draws to extend them.

In summary, the BD Ultralights are great for instantly improving your power-to-weight ratio, hauling up big walls and reducing load on long approaches or in the alpine; they are easy to identify with their standardized colors and easy to plug with their thumb loops and wide finger triggers. They do cost approximately $20-$40 more than equivalent cams from other brands, but if cutting weight is your goal, these babies are your pick.

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