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Black Diamond Camalot C4 Review: Most Popular Trad Protection Gets an Upgrade

Black Diamond Camalot 2019 review test
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Black Diamond upgrades the most popular piece of trad protection, the Camalot C4, for 2019. After testing, we found these cams are an off-width climber’s dream.

With winds strong enough to peel a climber off the rock, I slowly made my way up the Eldorado Canyon classic Bastille Crack. I reach for a three, plug it into the crack, and keep climbing. Moments later, the crack widens. I look for a four and can’t help but notice my four is already compressed to its placement size. That’s thanks to Black Diamond’s Trigger Keeper technology, which holds the cams in a retracted state until you deploy them into a crack.

The experience of climbing with Black Diamond’s new Camalots is subtly better than the previous version and generally positive.

Black Diamond Camalot 2019 Trigger Keeper

Camalot 2019: BD Updates a Classic With 'Trigger Keeper' Tech

The classic Black Diamond Camalot sees major upgrades for 2019 with a significant weight reduction and new lobe-retraction technology. Read more…

Black Diamond redesigned its most popular piece of trad climbing protection, the Camalot C4, for 2019. The main changes to this year’s model (which don’t often change) include weight savings, a color makeover, and ‘Trigger Keeper’ technology for bigger cams.

In other words, the cams weigh you down less, are easier to identify, and easier to climb with on wide cracks.

For most climbers, the changes are minor. But for the rare breed of climber that enjoys off-widths, you’ll want to take note.

Review: Black Diamond Camalot C4

The pro required to protect cracks wider than your fist takes up a lot of space on your harness. Black Diamond gives wide crack climbers a superior cam thanks to its Trigger Keeper tech.

On cams 4, 5, and 6, Black Diamond integrated two triggers that extend and latch onto the stem, causing the cam to retract. This dramatically lowers the overall volume of gear on your harness. Then, when you’re ready to place protection, the trigger releases with a simple pull, and the cam lobes splay out.

Black Diamond Camalot C4

The tech is pretty ingenious and works surprisingly well. It’s kind of a “huh, why didn’t they think of this sooner?” innovation. Wide crack climbers previously had to either deal with fat cams on their harness or delicately place twigs between the lobes to retract the cams. Black Diamond solves this problem.

Out of the whole range of new cams, the weight savings is noticed most on big cams. Black Diamond only offers Camalot Ultralights up to 4, so this weight-reduction redesign of the cam’s lobes on 5 and 6 is huge.

Black Diamond Camalot C4
Old and new; cams 5 and 3 pictured

Pick up an old 6 followed by a new 6 and you’ll immediately want these on your harness. Conversely, the weight savings on the smaller cams are not as substantial. Check out the specs box below to see how the old cams compare to the new ones.

Old vs. New Black Diamond Camalot C4 Weights

  • [0.3] 2.65 oz. vs. 2.46 oz.
  • [0.4] 2.93 oz. vs. 2.73 oz.
  • [0.5] 3.49 oz. vs. 3.28 oz.
  • [0.75] 4.18 oz. vs. 3.79 oz.
  • [1] 4.8 oz. vs. 4.37 oz.
  • [2] 5.47 oz. vs. 4.95 oz.
  • [3] 7.1 oz. vs. 6.39 oz.
  • [4] 10.2 oz. vs. 9.09 oz.
  • [5] 13.4 oz. vs. 12.28 oz.
  • [6] 1 lb. 4 oz. vs. 1 lb. 2.7 oz.

On the Rock: Black Diamond Camalot C4 Test

Black Diamond Camalot 2019 review test
The author climbing in the creek; photo credit: Miles McParland

We tested the new cams on splitter cracks in Indian Creek, the sandstone of Eldorado Canyon State Park, and other Colorado Front Range climbing crags.

The cams are easier to spot on the harness, as Black Diamond colored both lobes to match the size of the cam, instead of only two out of four on the old ones. Experienced climbers who have plugged gear for years may not notice this. But beginner climbers desperate to spot that No. 1 before they lose grip will dig it.

Other changes to the cams, like wider triggers and tags on the inside of the sling, are pretty minor, and I didn’t notice the differences when climbing. The triggers are only slightly wider.

The Trigger Keeper is by far the biggest innovation to the cams aside from weight reduction. Because of the retraction tech, I didn’t feel skittish about racking up a No. 4 I may or may not use because they take up such little space.

With Trigger Keeper, the No. 4 is effectively smaller than a No. 3.

The trigger never got caught on anything or impeded the standard use of the cam. I’d take it off my harness, release the trigger, and plug it into the crack.

Is It for You? Black Diamond Camalot C4

In all, Black Diamond created a better cam for 2019. For most climbers, the changes are subtle.

Color-coded cams are nice to climb with, and you’ll have a slightly lighter rack.

But if you like to dabble with cupped hands and knee jams, aka off-widths, the cams are a marked improvement. The Trigger Keeper tech frees up a ton of space on your harness, and the weight savings are for sure noticeable.

Head over to Black Diamond’s website to learn more about the cams. But if you’re still hung up on the old cams, loads of retailers like REI and Backcountry are marking down older cam models.

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