Climbing Gear Reviews ยป Black Diamond Camalot C4 Review: The Most Popular Camming Device

Black Diamond Camalot C4 Review: The Most Popular Camming Device

Buying new cams can be a stressful experience because you’re paying a lot of money for a critical piece of climbing gear. Cams are some of the most expensive pieces of gear you’ll buy as a climber.

Thats where the Black Diamond Camalot C4 comes in to play. The C4 is one of the most beloved cams used by beginner and experienced climbers alike. Whether you’re looking for new cams to add to your rack or your first purchase, the C4 is one of your best options.

We’ve aggregated a list of all of the best climbing cams that are available on the market today. See how the C4 matches up to other cams on the market today.

Click Now For Best Price

Black Diamond Cam C4 Review

Pros

  • Wide range of sizes available, from 0.5 inches all the way up to 12.6 inches
  • Color and sizing is the gold standard in North American trad climbing
  • Thumb loops improve handling and increase efficiency in aid climbing
  • Very innovative trigger keeper on the larger cams (#4 and up)
  • Factory seconds can be ordered directly from the Black Diamond website

Cons

  • Heavier than the C4 Ultralights and Metolius Ultralight Master Cams
  • More expensive than the Wild Country Friends
Click Now For Best Price

Features

One of the recent innovations with the Camalot is that the new C4 cams are 10% lighter than previous generations.

These updated cams are slightly more expensive, but the weight savings and additional features are well worth the slight price increase.

The new features include

  • Double axle design
  • Four cam lobes
  • New innovative trigger keeper for larger sizes (#4 and up)
  • Wider trigger improves handling when placing cams
  • Cam tag tucked inside the nylon sling to prevent it getting snagged on a carabiner

Performance

Weight

A rack of Black Diamond C4s will weigh close two pounds.

These Black Diamond Cams aren’t the lightest cam on the market, the Wild Country Friends are stil heavier. If you have a had requirement for a light cam, then you could take a look at the DMM Dragon cams (the extendable sling on the dragons may save you some weight with less alpine draws) or the Metolius Ultralights.

But in my experience, I never notice the extra weight from these cams. When I climb, I end up carrying a double rack of cams just due to my own fear of running it out on gear. I’m definitely not pushing the limit in trad climbing, but I am pushing myself against my own limits.

The weight of C4s has not impacted me, but keep in consideration that there are lighter cams on the market if you

Click Now For Best Price

Range

The Black Diamond C4 runs through a wide range of sizes. The smallest cam, #0.3, has a smallest placement of 0.54 inches, while the largest cam, #8 has a maximum placement of 12.6 inches.

The C4s are good quality cams that offer you a ton of different sizes. If you fall in love with these cams, then you’ll have plenty of options to get these in a wide variety of sizes.

Durability

The Black Diamond C4 cams are well known in the climbing world for their durability.

These solid placing cams hold up season after season. One of the big reasons for this is that within the thumb loop there is solid cable loop rather than dyneema or some other lighter weight material. This trade off increases durability but also increases the cam’s weight.

Free Climbing

The Black Diamond camalot is an excellent cam for free climbing. Go to any classic trad crag, like Yosemite or Indian Creek, and you’ll see a C4 on nearly every trad climbers rack.

The C4 has been a trusted cam for many years. The cam has a durable color coded pattern.

Each different size cam is a different color for quick identification. This color pattern is so universally known that it has been adopted by Wild Country and DMM.

When I first started trad climbing, I bought cams that did not have a thumb loop. The more I climbed, the more I saw the value of the thumb loop. When I’m pumped out and trying to plug gear, the thumb loop gives me a bit more confidence. I can’t quantity why, but that has what my experience has been.

If you’re looking for a cam that has a cam and an extendable sling, then check out the Wild Country Friends. You’ll get some weight saving since you won’t have to carry as many alpine draws.

Click Now For Best Price

Aid Climbing

The Black Diamond Camalot C4 isn’t the best for aid climbing, but it’s not the worst cam for aid climbing.

It’s main advantage for aid climbing is that it has two clip in points: the sling and then the thumb loop. When you’re aid climbing, every inch matters. if you can gain a few extra inches on every placement, then that can be the difference between an efficient day of climbing or an all nighter epic.

The disadvantage for aid climbing is that the C4s are a bit heavier than other cams. There’s a good chance you’ll be carrying a triple rack of cams for some aid climbs. Your rack is going to get heavy quickly. Look into lighter cams like the C4 Ultralights or the Metolius Ultralight Power Cams.

Another great option is the Totem Cam, which has some unique aid climbing feature thanks to its cam’s lobes. Totems also offer multiple clip in points which is helpful in aid climbing.

Horizontal Cracks

The Black Diamond Camalot can be placed and they will hold falls in horizontal cracks.

The stem on the cam is flexible enough so that it will bend if you fall on it. But the camalot does have stiffer stems than other cams on the market, like the Black Diamond Z4. If you are looking for a cam that will perform better than the C4 in a horizontal crack, look into the Z4, the Totem Cam, or any other cam that has a flexible stem.

But I have had no issues placing the C4 in a horizontal crack and I have made many bomber placements. Just keep in mind that a more rigid stem wont flex as much in a horizontal placement.

Tight Placements

When we talk about tight placements, were talking about narrow placements (think vertical rather than horizontal).

I personally prefer the Z4 for tight placements. If you’re looking for cams that seem like they can fit just about anywhere, give the Z4 a try.

Click Now For Best Price

Walking

The C4s aren’t prone to walking. Climbers who had the Omega Pacific Link Cam suffered a ton with those cams always walking into hard to reach placements.

Handling

I really enjoy how the C4 cams handle.

The trigger keep keeps the big guys contracted and I find it very easy to use these bigger cams. All I have to do is squeeze the trigger and then the cam is ready to be placed.

But the smaller cams are incredibly easy to use too. The thumb loop, has a few grooves that increase your grip when your hands are sweaty and your pumping out. The triggers are slightly wider which gives your fingers some margin when you go to contract the cam.

Placing

I always reach for the C4 before my other cams because I love the thumb loop on the c4 so much. Having that loop there gives me a bit of extra security if i need to readjust my fingers or thumbs while placing gear.

Black Diamond Camalot C4 Tech Specs

ActivityTrad Climbing
AxleDouble
Cam Lobes4
IncludesNew lobe pattern, new color tags on slings, trigger keeper on larger sizes
Manufacturer Warranty1 year
MSRP$84.95
Placement Range13.8mm - 195mm (smallest to largest sizes available)
StemSingle
Strength12 kN (size #1)
Weight4.37 oz (size #1)

Comparison

Click Now For Best Price

In my climbing experience, I have found myself reaching more and more for the Black Diamond Camalot C4 cams..

They are solid cams and nearly every trad climber I’ve climbed with has had at least one C4 on their rack. They are a great cam for beginner climbers because of their durability and friendly price.

Another thing I like about the C4 for beginners is that since the C4 is universally known, nearly every climber will be comfortable combining racks and having a comfortable camming device at their disposal.

If you’re looking for a lighter cam, then I recommend the Black Diamond C4 Ultralight cam. I am a huge fan of using the Ultralight cams as well because they have all the familiar features as the regular C4 cams but Black Diamond made some small but significant upgrades to shave weight off of the cams. The downside to the ultralight version is that they are more expensive.

If you want to save some weight but also save money, then I recommend the Metolius Ultralight Master Cam. These cams are lighter and less expensive than the Camalot C4. But in my experience, I do not like that the Metolius cams don’t have a thumb loop. This may not be an issue for all climbers, but I recommend testing out a cam without the thumb loop before you buy.

Click Now For Best Price

Review Criteria

We looked at the following review criteria when reviewing cams:

  1. Durability
  2. Price
  3. Weight
  4. Performance

We wanted to find the cams that would perform the best in a wide variety of terrain. You can read more about our review criteria.

Photo of author
Author
Rob
Rob developed ORB to help himself categorize and find all the outdoor gear he needed at great prices. He loves writing about the outdoors and climbing. Rob is a certified Single Pitch Instructor through the AMGA.

Leave a Comment