CGR does battle with the new welsh Dragons
An increased contact area with a raw aluminium finish and additional bite points are the hallmarks of our revolutionary TripleGrip cam lobes.
I’ve been climbing for over thirty years this year, so you can imagine that in that time I have owned every major advance in equipment that has been available in the UK from sticky rubber climbing boots (for they were still boots and not shoes in those days) to cams (they were called Friends and Wild Country still call them that). They were rigid stemmed then and I spent an entire weeks wages on two of them when they finally hit Birmingham) – armed with Boreal Fires and a couple of Friends my grade leapt from VS to E2 is a season! When the next generation of flexible cams came out, I resisted for a while bemoaning that you couldn’t stand on a flexible Friend and have a cheeky foothold! I eventually saw sense and gradually changed my rack to the more flexible ones.
It’s been over two years now since the Black Diamond patent ran out on their eponymous Camelot and the twin axle cam design is now such an established design I can’t imagine there are many trad climbers who don’t have at least one or two on their racks. I use them for both recreational climbing as well as being the cam I demonstrate to clients and although I do point out there are less expensive cams the range on a twin axle design more than makes up the difference in cost. Cams will be the most important and expensive items of hardware you will buy for your trad rack so you will need to analyse your needs and research accordingly.
DMM were quick on the scene with the excellent Dragon Cam and now we have an upgrade in the form of the new Dragon Cam. The range remains the same from 00 to 5 there is no change in the actual sizes, the colour range also remains the same with 00 being Blue and 6 Silver so you don’t have to learn a new colour range in order to get at the cam quickly. The colours do double up at the top and bottom end of the range but if you’re so spaced out you can’t tell the difference between the 00 and 5 then you’ll need to have a word with yourself.
The colouring appears on two lobes, the thumb rest and the tape so they can be identified quickly enough. Identification can be further enhanced by matching, colour coded carabiners in the Spectre range of carabiners. I like this as I’m finicky about these things, especially when working with clients because I’m always asked questions on racking. My mates, however, think I’m just weird 🙂
For the test all comparisons are with the new Dragon Cam #4 together with the size of BD Camelot #2 I have on my rack. These two are the same size and the same colour so are perfect for comparison.
The engineering of the new Dragon Cam is superb, just what I would expect from DMM who always make great equipment that is still made in Wales. The lobes are drop forged aluminium with enough cut outs to shed excess weight. All four are anodized with the two outer ones with the colour for the size and the inner gunmetal grey. For 2016 the surface area on the edge of the lobes has been increased to 7mm across the lobe giving the Dragon Cam substantially more surface contact with the rock. This also makes it 25% more than the BD #2 (approximate calculations as I didn’t have access to a micrometer – I just used my steel rule). The BD Camalot #2 is lighter weighing in at 153g (official weight 155g – but I have used it so it could easily have shed 2g in wear) against the Dragon #4 at 156g (official weight 154g).
The contact surface has also been stripped of colour to reveal just aluminium. I’ve come across this with the Totem Cams I tested in 2014, Totem had recalled the cams as they found they had issues with the lobe biting in polished limestone. They replaced them with bare lobe edges and DMM have decided that bare aluminium edges bite better and they do, in gritstone they are brilliant and they even performed on the legendary Stoney Middleton limestone – the epitome of polished limestone! The friction is further enhanced by the addition of a grid pattern on the lobe. Most cams have horizontal cut aways on the lobes and DMM have introduced a vertical cut out to further aid the grip.
The rest of the DMM Dragon Cam is well engineered and feels nicely ergonomic in the hand. The plastic trigger has a nice feel with good grip with gloves or without and has a full range of motion up and down the plastic coated stem, which is important when the cam gets stuck. There was no upward movement of the cam head at all (as in you take the corners of the cam and pull them upwards to see if there is any movement) which is a real issue when it does as it can lead to the cam over camming in cracks. The base of the cam fitted my thumb well as well as the base of my hand, the twin holes, that contain the double tape loop, offered a little more surface area than the Camelot and had some cut outs to help grip.
The spring action is super smooth and is easily as good as my BD Camelot and as long as you keep the springs clean and lubricated they should perform well for the lifetime of the cam. The weak point on any cam is the swaged wire connecting the trigger to the lobe, this often begins to fray with excess use and age. I asked DMM if they provided a wire replacement service and they replied … ‘We offer a full service including inspection, cleaning, lubing, and replacing trigger wires and slings for £12 per cam (all inc.). Details here: http://dmmclimbing.com/about/servicing-repairs/ ‘
The new DMM Dragon Cam is finished off with the very useful double loop of 8mm Dyneema tape. I came across this on the DMM Torque Nuts and have found it really useful. Just take the biner out of one loop, pull and hey presto! You have just doubled the length of the tape –genius and kit saving too as you haven’t just used a quickdraw to extend the tape when the cam is buried in a crack. The lengthened tape is also handy when climbing with a single rope, when I tend (and instruct) to have longer quickdraws to keep the rope as straight as possible and avoid excessive friction. The sewn section is covered with clear plastic to keep the ends in place and adding safety information (doing away with the sewn in label).
So, in conclusion I can’t fault the new DMM Dragon Cam. There are lighter cams out there but with such an important and expensive purchase I feel that Dragons offer great value as they will last years. They are superbly engineered and the updates are well thought out and do make, I wouldn’t advise clients to upgrade for the sake of it but if you are looking for a replacement or even thinking of purchasing your first cam then you should take a good look at the DMM Dragon Cam 2.
- Good cam range.
- Excellent, double loop.
- Lightweight (for the style of cam).
- Increased contact area on cam edge.
- There are lighter cams on the market.
SRP: Various prices from £63. for the #00 to £73 for the #6. Sets# 00 – #1 £170, #2- #4 £175 and #0- #5 £312