Why aren't new friend cams more popular?


Original Post
akafaultline · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 225

So I bought some new friend cams (double axle variant) and I think they are nicer by far than the bd c4.    In comparison, the c4 seem old in design and in the manufacturing process IMO.    I own some c4s and like them but wouldn't buy any more if the friends are offered in the same size.   So my question is- why aren't the friends more popular?   Is it really just marketing or is there some esoteric fault in the friends that eludes me? Thanks

Nathan Burke · · Hermosa Beach, CA · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

There was a recall issued recently for their bigger sizes (http://www.wildcountry.com/en/friends-voluntary-notice-to-inspect). This could be causing some hesitation over here in America. 

Dylan B. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 938

My guess is because they're not widely available in the U.S. With something like a cam, I want to handle one before I buy it. I don't know anyone who owns the new Friends, and I don't know any brick & mortar stores that carry them. With no opportunity to get my hands on one, I'm far less likely to buy one than a C4, Totem or Metolius cam, all of which I've used or handled extensively. Even Dragons, which are not that common, I've had a chance to play with. The new Friends? Nary a one.

christoph benells · · tahoma · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 235

i've handled them and plan on buying a full set. I think they are comparable to new ultralight C4's without the dyneema stem thing. if you get the extendable sling ones you can save some weight and space on your harness by leaving a few quickdraws.

Slogger · · Anchorage, AK · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 80

I bootied a red Friend this winter. I really like it, I would say it's on par with the BD cams I own. I don't like the stiffer plastic stem that the Friend has, seems brittle and prone to cracking when loaded over an edge, though that's just speculation, hasn't happened to me. I do like the extendable sling on the friends. Action and quality of build seems equal to BD cams. Seems like the only cause for differences in popularity would be regional marketing. 

Bryan Gilmore · · New England · Joined Nov 2005 · Points: 1,200
Nathan Burke wrote:

There was a recall issued recently for their bigger sizes (http://www.wildcountry.com/en/friends-voluntary-notice-to-inspect). This could be causing some hesitation over here in America. 

Yet, the ongoing recalls of pretty much all Black Diamond gear seems to have had the opposite affect- seems their gear keeps getting more popular. 

I think it's more akin to a new kid at school, every bit as good as any other kid at the school and possibly better. Though for some reason, certainly not a logical one, nobody wants to be seen with this new "friend"! 

King Tut · · Citrus Heights · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 420

Familiarity is the key to cams, and having all of the same type on your rack is a big part of that to me. When your reg partner has one type, easiest to double up with more of the same.

Once you get started with one company's cam, its human nature to stick with them.

I was never an original Camalot fan, preferring the easier placement of rigid stem friends (handling). I was totally familiar with their range and never saw the need for a different design. Eventually however, they became superior and rigid stems have gone the way of the Dodo.

The question for Wild Country now is: What do they do better to get people to change?

Creed A · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 775

I bootied a number 3 new Friend. They are awesome, no doubt about it, but I still prefer the C4 for two reasons:

1) I already own a bunch of them. 

2) I think those built-in extension slings are kinda dumb. It extends the piece by like 4 inches. That isn't enough to reduce rope drag. Maybe it could help with walking, but I don't think that's a huge advantage. As a follower, cleaning a new Friend that has been extended is a PITA. The cam hangs low and hits your thigh. The sling isn't long enough to throw it over your should like I do when cleaning alpine draws. So it just dangles there until you have a no-hands rest. I think the built-in extension sling is a gimmicky feature. 

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

Retail, they go for the same price as BD C4s, but I generally see C4s discounted fairly often, and I don't see the Friends on sale.  That said, Backcountry is selling a BD#2 right now for $56 and the WC#2 for $59, there is no real difference at these prices.

BD does have a wider range of cams, so if you want to have a consistent set, BD is the way to go.  Also, I rack according to BD colors, so I mix and match generally between BD and DMM, since they cover virtually identical spans and use the same colors for sizing (tough the WCs use the same colors).  But the WC cams seem to have a wider placement range per cam (1.63 - 2.72 in for the #2) vs 1.19 - 2.05 in for the BD#1 and 1.46 - 2.55 in for the BD#2, so WC might be a great way to fill in gaps.

Of course, you could (wait for it...) gust get a whole set of Totems.

ebmudder · · Bronx, NY · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 50
Creed A wrote:

I bootied a number 3 new Friend. They are awesome, no doubt about it, but I still prefer the C4 for two reasons:

1) I already own a bunch of them. 

2) I think those built-in extension slings are kinda dumb. It extends the piece by like 4 inches. That isn't enough to reduce rope drag. Maybe it could help with walking, but I don't think that's a huge advantage. As a follower, cleaning a new Friend that has been extended is a PITA. The cam hangs low and hits your thigh. The sling isn't long enough to throw it over your should like I do when cleaning alpine draws. So it just dangles there until you have a no-hands rest. I think the built-in extension sling is a gimmicky feature. 

I believe the primary use for the extendable sling is to allow the carabiner to be extended over an edge instead of lying against it and running the risk of unclipping. Without an extendable sling you would have to loop or girth hitch a second sling through the carabiner's sling.

Zach Parsons · · Tacoma, WA · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 100
Creed A wrote:

I think those built-in extension slings are kinda dumb. It extends the piece by like 4 inches. That isn't enough to reduce rope drag. Maybe it could help with walking, but I don't think that's a huge advantage. As a follower, cleaning a new Friend that has been extended is a PITA. The cam hangs low and hits your thigh. The sling isn't long enough to throw it over your should like I do when cleaning alpine draws. So it just dangles there until you have a no-hands rest. I think the built-in extension sling is a gimmicky feature. 

Absolutely, I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Khalyd · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 0
reboot · · . · Joined Jul 2006 · Points: 125
Khalyd wrote:

That's really only applicable to BD C4 & ultralights, the former uses a thinner gauge wire loop than most cams (the main stem has 2 wires running in parallel, like almost all wire stoppers (besides WC ultralight rock), while most comparable cams use a single thicker wire cable and terminates one end just above the loop), and the latter uses dyneema, which will collapse w/o the plastic sheathe.

Jimmy Downhillinthesnow · · Bozeman, Montana · Joined Mar 2013 · Points: 10

I've got a few of the New Friends in hand sizes and like them a lot.

Scott Morris · · Bountiful, Utah · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 475

A few months back I was in the market to buy a few new cams. I looked very closely at the new Friends and was pretty close to pulling the trigger, but I ultimately stuck with C4's because of 1) consistency with what I already have on the rack that's tried and true  2) hesitation over the extendable sling. Part of me wanted to believe, but the hassle of reracking them after they've been extended and the added bulk of the doubled up sling seemed like a minus  3) price - they were really hard to find on sale.

Matt Westlake · · Durham, NC · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 588

I already own a full set of c4 camalots and although the new friends are cool (got to play with the yellow/2 size) it isn't radically different enough to replace stuff, unlike totems for example. Barring a killer deal or losing a piece I will refrain from adding it to the rack. I don't think they are functionality that different from c4s, apart from feeling a bit higher quality. Sorta like the way a DMM locking biner compares to a BD locker. Harder to impulse buy something for $60 than $10 though...

I kinda like the extendable sling - I think that little bit of extension can be helpful. Sometimes the difference of a few inches can clear an obstruction and it's nice to not have to take another step to bring in a draw/sling but I totally agree it is a PITA for the follower to deal with. I've got one alien that got reslung this way and have mixed feelings about it for this reason.

Noah Yetter · · Lakewood, CO · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 105

REI has started carrying them, at least at "flagship" stores, so they should become more widely available soon.

At least around here they're already easy to buy in person at Bent Gate, Neptune, or R&R.

verticon · · Europe · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 25
Matt Westlake wrote:

I kinda like the extendable sling - I think that little bit of extension can be helpful ... but I totally agree it is a PITA for the follower to deal with.

It looks like there is a solution for this issue: The best trad tip ever :)

20 kN · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,352
Nathan Burke wrote:

There was a recall issued recently for their bigger sizes (http://www.wildcountry.com/en/friends-voluntary-notice-to-inspect). This could be causing some hesitation over here in America. 

I love their wording "No safety critical incidents have been reported; however, in the interest of customer safety, Wild Country has decided to voluntarily issue a notice to inspect." 

In other words, it's not unsafe, but in the interest of safety send it to us without hesitation. Makes sense.

20 kN · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,352
reboot wrote:

That's really only applicable to BD C4 & ultralights, the former uses a thinner gauge wire loop than most cams (the main stem has 2 wires running in parallel, like almost all wire stoppers (besides WC ultralight rock), while most comparable cams use a single thicker wire cable and terminates one end just above the loop), and the latter uses dyneema, which will collapse w/o the plastic sheathe.

Most companies do not terminate the wire at the thumb loop. Actually, aside from the old CCH Aliens I cant think of a single model of cam off hand that does. The Wild Country Friends, TCUs, Master Cams and WC Zeros all use a similar gauge of wire as the BD C4s from what I can tell. I've held them side by side and I couldent tell upon visual inspection, although I dident exactly cut them open and measure the wire thickness. I have always wondered why BD has the problem with kinking wires with Dyneema slings on the C4 while WC does not despite the designs basically being identical. I dont think WC uses thicker wire.

ViperScale · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 235

I don't like the extendable slings. I think when you rack up 15+ cams all the slings doubled back on themselves it just starts to make a mess and can tangle up on the other gear. Also I wonder if they ever did the test like BD because they look the same yet BD thumb loop was damaged during test.

I do like how they have gone with all cams colored. I hope BD updates their C4 and make all the cams colored as well. I don't plan on ever getting ultralights because I don't want to have to worry about the webbing in the loop going bad on them. I am sure metal wire would last longer which means the life of them would not be as long as a normal C4. I have a policy where I will not buy any second hand textile products from another climber I don't know. I am sure alot of other climbers do the same so this means the used ultralights will likely never have a very good second hand market if you ever wanted to sell them.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply

Log In to Reply