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CAMP Dyon carabiner detailed review (UPDATED)


Original Post
Systematic · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 321

Clean-nose Carabiners: CAMP Dyon

Intro

Carabiners are the cornerstone to every climber’s gear cache. You use them to connect yourself to your rope, your rope to your partner, your rope to your gear, your gear to your harness. This is why we typically have more carabiners than anything else, and why picking the right carabiner is so important. This review is about the biner used for 90% of tasks — racking, clipping into rope, and clipping into gear. A standard double rack will contain about 42 of these (12 draws + 18 cam/nut racking biners) so optimizing your choice here is the best approach to lighten up your rack and improve the functionality of your connections. Carabiner technology is constantly improving. Light clean-nose carabiners are the evolution of the wire-gate — reducing snagging to improve usability and safety. Snags of the rope or a sling sometimes are the difference between a closed, correctly oriented carabiner and a cross-loaded or open one, which is about 50% as strong. CAMP does a good job striking a balance between weight and usability by being innovative with materials and design. I love what they’ve created with the Photon Wire carabiner – it’s the lightest full-size carabiner out there – but it has obvious weaknesses: The gate tension is pretty soft, it can be awkward to hold, and it has a conventional snaggy hook nose. For a long time I thought CAMP had a chance of making the best carabiner in the category if they could deal with these issues. With the new Dyon, did they? This new carabiner has an exceptionally asymmetric body, and an interesting new hybrid wire-gate design, facilitating a clean-nose lightweight carabiner. This is intended to be a multi-part, on-going review – starting off with first impressions and some nerdy measurements. I’ll try to update this review every few weeks.

Data

The weight of a carabiner is an important consideration when carrying a big load of gear. Saving 10g per biner adds up to about a pound for a double rack. I weighed a bunch of biners I had laying around using my fancy chemical scale (Table 1). The Dyon is 2g heavier than the Photon Wire and lighter than the other full size biners. The Ange S and Nano 22 are lighter, but those are in a different category of carabiner focused on weight savings. For me, these sacrifice performance, especially in ice climbing. Figure 1 shows the other biners I measured. Note that the Photon Wire and Nano 22 used for comparison here are last year’s model (CAMP recently updated these). The Nose width determines how easy it is to clip into gear. Old pins and chain links can be pretty narrow and indeed I’ve had issues clipping into things with the BD Hoodwire’s impressive 11.5mm nose (I measured the widest part of the nose with my fancy calipers in Table 1). The Dyon has the smallest nose by an onion skin (very similar to the others from CAMP) so it shouldn’t have issues clipping into the gnarliest Weissner pins still occupying Gunks cracks or the exact chain link that will give you just enough extension to reach that ledge but not interfere with the rappel ropes. Figure 2 shows the profile of a Dyon compared to a Photon Wire. The width of the top of the basket of the carabiner is important for racking. You can fit fewer racking carabiners on a gear loop if it’s wider at the top. 1mm may not seem like much of a difference on its own but for 10 cams it can make all the difference between too tight to unclip comfortably and just fine. I measured the top of the basket at the widest part of each carabiner in Table 1. The winner of thinnest profile is the Oval Wire, so you should use those to rack all of your pitons and hexes. A close second is the Nano 22 at 7.9mm, then Dyon, Photon and the Ange S at ~9mm.

First observations and impressions

The Dyon has the same light hand-feel (density?) as a Photon Wire and the finish is high quality. Gate action is much tighter than a Photon Wire and it's definitely more natural to hold. The spine is radically different (convex vs concave) and to me that makes all the difference in ease of handling (Figure 3). Manipulating the gate feels ergonomic and natural as the thumb naturally gravitates toward a little notch at the bottom of the receiver (the new piece at the end of the wire-gate). The inner surface of the carabiner has very pronounced grooves on the major axis to keep things oriented correctly, but 2 areas are potentially prone to snagging (Figure 4). The rivet end of the gate is flat (blue arrow), making an abrupt angle coming out of the crotch of the carabiner (small end opposite the basket). Another potential area is at the point where the receiver sits on the nose on the inner surface creating a very small, smooth bump (green arrow). I don’t know if they are actually prone to snagging yet, but I’ll be testing that. Some carabiners have a hole in the gate which can help reduce freezing / jamming due to accumulation. The receiver pocket in the Dyon does not have such a hole (Figure 5, green arrow). The open-gate strength of the Dyon is 11kN. That’s higher than any other Aluminum carabiner I know of. The combination of reduced snagging and increased strength is actually a huge step up in safety.

Questions for field test

Aside from general usability, clip-ability, and feel, I plan to specifically evaluate: -How likely is the pocket to collect debris, ice, and freeze? -How likely is the gate to open against rock if not properly managed? -What is the tendency of the above-described features (Fig 4) to snag? Stay tuned! Full disclosure: I received a set of Dyon biners and QDs for the purposes of this review, but all opinions, observations, and measurements expressed here are my own.

Fig 1. Carabiners used for measurements

Table 1.Carabiner measurements

Fig 2.Nose profile of Dyon (orange) and Photon Wire 2016 (Blue)

Fig 3. Spine shape of Dyon (orange) and Photon Wire 2016 (Blue)

Fig 4. Features of Dyon inner surface

 Fig 5. Receiver pocket of Dyon (green arrow). Insert shows drainage hole of Petzl Attache. 

Update #1 (6/20/17): Review of Dyon Quick Draws following field testing

CAMP is making 3 types of Dyon Quick Draws (QDs). One with 2 Dyons with the skinny sling, 2 Dyons with a wide sling, and a hybrid Dyon+Photon straight-gate with a wide sling.  I took the QDs out for late-season ice and really enjoyed using them. They are light and easy to clip with gloves on. So far no issues with gate freezing.

I used the Dyon QDs alongside Chimera, Alpha Trad, Alpha Sport, and BD Oz QDs for sport climbing. For sport climbing weight is much less important and typically I prefer something super beefy with a wide dogbone like the DMM Alpha Sport but I really liked the wide-sling Dyon and Dyon-Photon QDs. For reference, the weight difference between the Dyon  and wide-sling DMM/Petzl QDs is about 20-30g per QD.

I’m not going to try to grade clipping / handling but after getting used to them my partners and I had no significant issues. The tight gate tension on the Dyon is very noticeable at first and requires conscious adjustment. The super skinny nose is maybe my favorite feature of the Dyon because it makes them SO easy to clean on steep terrain and it fits much more easily into a bolt hanger already occupied by another draw or rusty link compared to chimeras, Oz, or Alphas.  

On the photon in the hybrid QDs, the gate is notched (like the Petzl Spirits and DMM Alpha Sport), which adds feedback and improves handling. The mixed QD is also easier to mount on the beta clip stick I use than the all-Dyon ones because the Dyon gate tends to slip out of the metal clip that holds the gate open. The mixed QD is a couple bucks cheaper too.

Overall these are really nice QDs that can be used for a wide range of styles because of low weight and good performance. 

 Dyon Express KS Quickdraw on Adirondacks ice

Josh Janes · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2001 · Points: 8,503

Thanks for your detailed review (thus far) and look forward to hearing more.

Some thoughts on lightweight carabiners (and reviews of them in general). Most of these thoughts are rooted in anecdotal experience rather than "data", but for me this is more important than just about every carabiner stat except weight. These are the kinds of things I want to think about (not the numbers) when considering gear purchases.

1) You mention nose width. I agree that a narrow nose is much easier to slot through gear (and pins). Hoodwires (and their OZ brethren) are terrible in this regard. The ANGE is by far the best I've ever used (though they have other problems). However, you also mention a narrow "basket width" as being an advantage for racking, and while I agree with this I also think that a wide basket generally equates to a wider rope bearing surface which is much easier on the rope. The horrible, narrow radius of a Nano 22 is the major reason I won't use them.

2) CAMP is notorious for having QC issues with their lightweight carabiners - mainly with their gates. There are many posts out there about the crappy Photon gates and I've seen so many Nanos in the field with sticky gates that it is a red flag. Furthermore, while these two carabiners are shockingly light, and good "on paper", they also feel frighteningly thin - no big deal when circumstances are perfect but lay one over a tiny edge or bump and, personally, I start worrying that they'll snap right in half. The OZ is the same way. I know that loading a biner the wrong way can break ANY carabiner, but I prefer a bit more metal even at the expense of weight/size... The Neutrino, for example, feels more burly, as do carabiners with more pronounced I-beam designs (Helium, Spirit, ANGE). And regarding overall quality, just pick up a DMM Chimera or Phantom (or even a Metolius FS Mini) and it simple "feels" way better than a Photon or Nano. Tighter tolerances, stiff and even gate tension, etc.

3) Usability... not just how easy it is to clip and unclip, but does it rack well (and slid off a gear loop easily) and does it stay oriented on a sling (or does it tend to invert or worse, cross load)?

CAMP is doing some things right - lots of colors for racking (hello PETZL?!) and relatively low cost. I'm curious to see how the Dyon stacks up... Thanks again for the review.

Systematic · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 321

Hey Josh -- thanks for your comments. This is exactly what I'm looking for as I carry on with the review process. In my assessments I try to deal as much as possible with objective measures. How many times have you read a glowing review about how a product feels and functions in one reviewer's hands, only to be surprised when you pick it up yourself? I will for sure describe usability but will always try to bring it back to facts such as measurements and widely-recognized references, to give you the best depiction of how something really looks, feels, and works.

Josh Janes wrote:1) You mention nose width. I agree that a narrow nose is much easier to slot through gear (and pins). Hoodwires (and their OZ brethren) are terrible in this regard. The ANGE is by far the best I've ever used (though they have other problems). However, you also mention a narrow "basket width" as being an advantage for racking, and while I agree with this I also think that a wide basket generally equates to a wider rope bearing surface which is much easier on the rope. The horrible, narrow radius of a Nano 22 is the major reason I won't use them.
Great points. The Ange is an awesome biner with a completely smooth inner surface and a narrow nose width. The Dyon has an even narrower nose width so it's easier to clip into narrow gear (or to quickly clip into one strand of an alpine draw).

I hear your point about narrow radius and intuitively it seems like it could be a factor but I haven't seen any studies showing that the difference in radii seen here (1-2mm) leads to significantly higher wear on a rope. If you have any more information on this I would be very interested to see it!

Josh Janes wrote:2) CAMP is notorious for having QC issues with their lightweight carabiners - mainly with their gates. There are many posts out there about the crappy Photon gates and I've seen so many Nanos in the field with sticky gates that it is a red flag. Furthermore, while these two carabiners are shockingly light, and good "on paper", they also feel frighteningly thin - no big deal when circumstances are perfect but lay one over a tiny edge or bump and, personally, I start worrying that they'll snap right in half. The OZ is the same way. I know that loading a biner the wrong way can break ANY carabiner, but I prefer a bit more metal even at the expense of weight/size... The Neutrino, for example, feels more burly, as do carabiners with more pronounced I-beam designs (Helium, Spirit, ANGE). And regarding overall quality, just pick up a DMM Chimera or Phantom (or even a Metolius FS Mini) and it simple "feels" way better than a Photon or Nano. Tighter tolerances, stiff and even gate tension, etc.
Good points. I have the same questions over reports of QC issues related to the rivet and sticky gates (although I have never seen this happen with my Photons or Nanos, have you?)... I am not associated with CAMP but from talking to them I can tell you they are aware of complaints and are committed to improvements. This year the riveting / peening process was refined for all of their products. The gate on the Dyon is quite stiff (as I mention in the review, much tighter than the old Photon).

With regard to how they "feel,"I do agree that they have a a lower density feel than other carabiners... I guess that's how they are so much lighter than all other carabiners. All I can say is that they have certifications so they are obviously tested extensively. (How confidence-inspiring a piece of gear is for you personally is a different story. For me, even if it feels heavier, using an FS mini is not confidence inspiring, and I would not load it over an edge :) ).

By the way, I do have Phantoms (and have extensively used them for racking) and will also be reviewing the Chimera, so I will make sure to use those as references in the future.

Josh Janes wrote:3) Usability... not just how easy it is to clip and unclip, but does it rack well (and slid off a gear loop easily) and does it stay oriented on a sling (or does it tend to invert or worse, cross load)? CAMP is doing some things right - lots of colors for racking (hello PETZL?!) and relatively low cost. I'm curious to see how the Dyon stacks up... Thanks again for the review.
A major focus of the next stage of this review. Thanks again for all your comments!

-Mark
Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 483
Josh Janes wrote: CAMP is doing some things right - lots of colors for racking (hello PETZL?!) and relatively low cost. I'm curious to see how the Dyon stacks up... Thanks again for the review.
I agree on much what you said Josh, except the Dyon is placed firmly on the expensive of things at $15. That's edging out higher than the heliums. I'm still looking forward to the review though, I could really see these being great for ice. I have some photons, but I've never been happy with the soft gate tension.

On the small biner note, I too had concerns over both rope radius and loading on an edge with some of the small biners. I use a wild country astro on the rope side, I think it's too often overlooked. Stiffer gate tension, slightly shrouded gate, easy to handle, 29gr.
For the gear side I have black nanos, same with racking biners. If I'm really worried about a gear side piece on a cam I can clip opposite and opposed.
nathanael · · Riverside, CA · Joined May 2011 · Points: 307

With both the Photon (which I have many of) and the Nano (which I don't) CAMP has made pretty compelling though flawed products. The are both among the lightest carabiners available for their respective sizes, and on top of that they are also super cheap. Downside is this shows in the weak, sticky gates (which I see in my own Photons). A serious flaw, but I'd say top 3 criteria for a biner is going to be weight, gate, and cost. It's usually a game of pick 2, they did light+cheap fairly well.

At $15/biner and focused on a fancy gate, the Dyon really needs to be compared against the other biners that prioritize weight+gate at expense of cost. WC Helium, DMM Alpha Light (also Chimera, Phantom, and other alpha variants), etc. Saying it's lighter and nicer than the Hoodwire or Photon doesn't mean much when those are $6-7 a biner.

Anyways, thanks for your work on a review, just some of my thoughts on the topic. The Dyon does look pretty neat. And of course you don't have access to every biner on the market and you're just working with what you have.

Goat Slayer · · Olympia, WA · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 0

Buy heliums. End of story.

Nick Drake · · Newcastle, WA · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 483
Allen Hart wrote:Buy heliums. End of story.
Heliums have a big fat nose that doesn't fit old pins and some chains.
caughtinside · · Oakland CA · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 1,470
 At $15/biner

Wow.  Really?

Josh Janes · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2001 · Points: 8,503

Well, I handled a Dyon today and I was surprised by it: The build quality seems a bit better than other CAMP carabiners (Photons and Nanos); the gate tension was firmer and the tolerances seemed tighter. It seemed very clippable.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 456

So I was at the gear shop today and fondling away and I was comparing the dyon with the photon that I currently use for lots of my draws and some of my racking biners. I noticed that the photons got a nice little update and here's my comparison of all three (old photon, new photon, dyon):

The old photons had the worst spring action, really weak and scratchy and the dyons had a much stronger spring action while the new photons were somewhere in between. I've never had sticky gate issues with my photons or nanos but the issue is well documented. I think the dyons would do a lot better in this regard as the spring just felt much more robust.

I liked the shape of dyons much better than the photons as it is much less clunky and more curved. The new photons are a bit better than the old ones in this regard but nowhere near as good as the dyon. For me the new photons were tied with the dyons in ease of clipping. The dyon's shape made clipper easy, but I liked the spring action better on the new photons. I think the dyons filled a sort of void in CAMP's line of biners and I really like them. 

However, I don't think they will replace the photons for me for a few reasons. First of all is the price point, they are much more expensive then their photon and nano sibling. They are also slightly heavier than the photons, and while I like the snag free nose, it's not a huge selling point for me personally because I don't really mind the lip on other biners. With an adjustment to my hand movements, I rarely get biners snagged except for Omega Pacific biners which are always horrible when it comes to snagging. The snag free nose is probably my favorite out of the various snag free wiregate designs. 

Systematic · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 321

Updated. More pictures coming. 

Josh Janes · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2001 · Points: 8,503

 Thanks. I ended up replacing all my ANGE draws with Dyons.

Austin Fort · · Kennesaw, GA · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0
Josh Janes wrote:2) CAMP is notorious for having QC issues with their lightweight carabiners - mainly with their gates. There are many posts out there about the crappy Photon gates and I've seen so many Nanos in the field with sticky gates that it is a red flag. 

I think almost everyone has heard of this issue. Unfortunate that they can produce such lightweight biners with good potential only to be undermined by the faulty gates. However, I've heard that CAMP is very easy to deal with when it comes to having any Photons/Nanos replaced due to a sticky gate. Better to not have them stick in the first place, but always nice to see a company committed to keeping your investment going.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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