DMM Dragons vs. BD C4's vs. BD Ultralights


Original Post
Northeast Alpine Start · · Conway, New Hampshire · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 126

Disclaimer I'm still waiting to get my hands on the Ultralights but I did do some stat comparison that might be helpful for some. Is half a pound worth $200? Depends on the product AMIRITE?

I'm also giving away a brand new BD C4 #1, details in the blog post... thanks for checking it out!

https://northeastalpinestart.com/2016/09/01/dmm-dragons-vs-black-diamond-c4-camalots-vs-ultralights-comparison-and-giveaway/

Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 115

I have a mix and match set of C4s and DMMs. I buy them interchangeably depending on which one is on sale when I pull the trigger. In real use, the extendable sling on the DMM is nice, but not long enough to take the place of an alpine draw or a sling. The best use is to extend the placement a bit so the biner does not sit against the rock in an awkward spot.

None of my DMMs are old enough for me to say that I have put them through the ringer, but I like them. In practice, I don't see a difference that would make me convert into one cam over another.

Medic741 · · Red Hook, New York · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 265

I'm a huge fan of the DMM Dragons, and find that the extendable sling actually does take the place of an extendable runner and makes racking for the second really fast. Picture this:

Leader places cam, leaves racking biner through both strands of the extendable sling. Uses 22cm quickdraw to clip gearside to the bartacked strand of the extendable sling. Pull, and voila you've got an shoulder length of extension on your piece.

To clean the second just has to unclip the draw, and doesn't have to futz with clipping the racking biner to both strands on the sling.

Also, I've got big hands so palming the Dragon feels more natural than the C4, and having a more rigid stem with no floppy thumb looks makes it easier IMO to clean 'stuck' pieces. Find that when I get to a belay I've almost always placed dragons and left C4's on the harness. Have used the dragons quite a bit and they take a beating really well. Took a lot of falls this season so far, and the dragons stand up to the beating just as well as the C4's do.

When it comes to the smaller cams: 0.5-0.3 using a Dragon2 with the expanded lobe surface area is really comforting. They walk noticeably less and just 'feel' much more solid in placements, especially slightly flaring ones. If you're looking for new cams and have the coin, I'd go for the Dragon2. Feel about as safe as the U stem Totems without the bulky racking.

Getting into aid and find the dragons extendable really doesn't matter to me... yet. I feel better aiding off of them as well because they seem to deform less frequently/severely than the C4's after cleaning from wonky placements.

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35

I checked out the Ultralights in the store the other day. For me, I wouldn't buy them even if they were cheaper.

I tend to keep my gear for a long time. Many of my Camalots are the generation prior to C4 and some are even older. I have some forged friends that I'll use on occasion too.

That dyneema thumb loop just screams built in obsolescence to me. I keep my gear too long for that.

I prefer the C4 to the Dragon for ease of placement. I really like the thumb loop. Medic is right about the extendable sling though, I don't have to extend a full a 2 feet that often so the Dragon sling is pretty appropriate much of the time. For me though, my hardest climbs don't require extension or at least the spot that gets extended isn't the hard part, so ease of placement of C4's win.

Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 871

You should include the new Wild Country double axel cams in this review. They are basically an improved C4. Nearly the same range, color, thumb loop and weight. But, higher quality and an extendable sling which I find quite useful. I have had Draggons and many C4's. I think this is the best cam out there now in the medium and large sizes when considering all factors, quality, price, weight, range, extension, etc.

Chris Walden · · Soldotna, Alaska · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 640

FYI You are comparing the older style DMM Dragon cams. The 2.0 version came out earlier this year alongside the BD UL's. The Dragons 2.0 are awesome. They are lighter than the originals cams you reviewed here along with the extendable slings will save you even more weight. The camming lobes on the Dragons 2's set a new standard and I frequently find myself reaching for the Dragon first over the UL's.

DMM Dragon Cams Old (Left) and new (Right)

Cassidy Thomas · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 30

Yeah, I'd love to hear from more people who've used the new Wild Country friends. They almost seem like a cross between the Camalots and Dragon 2's. Double axel, thumb loop, and extendable sling- best of both worlds maybe? I'm particularly interested in how the extendable compares to the one on the Dragons, as well as the lobes.

Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 871

^^^^ Yes, they are great. I have 3 of them now. I will probably replace all my C4's with them over time. Better than the Dragon and C4 imo. Extendable sling is a bit wider than the dragon and more user friendly. Great trigger action. And I prefer the thumb loop of C4's over the dragon's stub. The Wild Country thumb loop is much like the C4. The lobe surface is much like the dragon.

Armin Colorado · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 225

I have #1 and #2 BD ultralight, and I must say I'm impressed. I have a lot of old style pre C4 camalots, so the weight savings is considerably more, maybe close to 40%? Between a lot of days in eldo, mt whitney alpine, and multiple days in RMNP alpine I have been hammering them the last part of the summer and they are holding up just fine. From a friend of mine who just bought a full set: "So BD says they are designed to last 5 years which means I will use them for 7 years. At that point the technology will have changed I will be ready to replace/upgrade anyways." That sold me right then and there.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456
Armin wrote:From a friend of mine who just bought a full set: "So BD says they are designed to last 5 years which means I will use them for 7 years. At that point the technology will have changed I will be ready to replace/upgrade anyways." That sold me right then and there.
He's got a point. If they weren't so damn expensive I'd get a few myself. Who knows what the new innovation will be after totems, so in 5-10 years when it comes out, these ultralights may well be old relics like the forged friends of today.
David Hous · · Boulder, Colorado · Joined Nov 2001 · Points: 195

I'll second Greg D's comments on the new Friends. I have the .5, .75, 1 and 2 and have gotten them out enough to have a pretty good sense of how well they work but not their durability.

They are extremely similar to C4's, the sizing is very slightly bigger that the corresponding C4, but not enough to fill in between sizes. I actually would have liked it if they sized them exactly between the C4 sizes, but this way they match the C4's both in size and color coding. I like the extendable sling, but it doesn't take the place of a runner. I might leave home a couple of draws with these on the rack. The anodizing has been machined off the cam surfaces (like the Dragons) and the "bite" seems better that a slippery new anodized cam. The trigger action is light which feels nice, but I'm not sure if the weaker springs cause them to walk more than a C4.

Overall they are an incremental step up from Camalot C4's. I hope Wild Country makes a .3 and .4 which are my two favorite sizes!

Robert Hall · · North Conway, NH · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 12,125

Re' ultralights - I think they make sense in size #4 and up, maybe #3 also. I don't have actual data, but ultralight #4 seems to "heft-in" at about the weight of a pre-C4 #3.

highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion · · Colorado · Joined Oct 2012 · Points: 35
eli poss wrote: He's got a point. If they weren't so damn expensive I'd get a few myself. Who knows what the new innovation will be after totems, so in 5-10 years when it comes out, these ultralights may well be old relics like the forged friends of today.
I've got to point out the absurdity of this line of thinking. Climbing gear is not bicycle racing, nor is it a smartphone. The improvements are super slow and sometimes backwards.

Aliens, in their current design, are unchanged from the early 90's.

The totems you're talking about are about 10 years old and are only starting to catch on.

Hell, C4's definitely came out well before the Obama presidency. Even the generation before those still function perfectly with the same width cam lobes and clearances. They're just a tad heavier and don't have the thumb loop. Those are pretty much a refinement on the same design as the even older U-stem models.

Rigid friends went functionally unchanged from 1978 until 2006 or so (rigid vs forged was not a functional change, only strength). Flex/Tech friends just got their second update from the early 90's. The first was a plastic sleeve.

To say that a quality cam will be obsolete in 5-7 just speaks to your own inexperience. To accept that a cam might only last 5-7 years is simply allowing a manufacturer to get away with built in obsolescence, we as consumers should not put up with that.
eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456
highaltitudeflatulentexpulsion wrote:To say that a quality cam will be obsolete in 5-7 just speaks to your own inexperience. To accept that a cam might only last 5-7 years is simply allowing a manufacturer to get away with built in obsolescence, we as consumers should not put up with that.
I'm not saying that they will be obsolete in 5-10 years, but rather that the new stuff will be better to the point that some, myself included, may want to get some of the newer gear to replace some of the older pieces on the rack. If you want to still use your old forged friends, that's fine.

For me, however, I should have a better job and therefore some disposable income in 5-10 years so I can see myself replacing some of my older cams at that point.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply

Log In to Reply