DMM are world-renowned for making some of the lightest and finest climbing hardware available, so it was with great interest that planetFear took a couple of their new Dragon cams for a test flight in what is arguably the world's most cam-reliant climbing area: Indian Creek, the crack climbing capital of the USA.
Having used the Dragons intensively for several weeks on the sandstone splitters of the Utah desert, the universal conclusion of the planetFear review team is that they are probably the best camming units currently available for the free climber, combining superb functionality with incredibly light weight. The twin-axle design is near-flawless, providing the cams with an ultra-slick action that means placement and removal is virtually effortless. Due to the 13.75 degree camming angle, the Dragons have marginally less range than Black Diamond's ubiquitous Camalots, but have greater holding power - a distinct advantage in marginal British placements!
The only gripe with these cams will come from aid climbers, who naturally prefer the clip-able oval hoop on BD's Camalots over the thumb unit on the Dragons through which the extendable dyneema sling is threaded. The Camalot design, whilst heavier, means that aid climbers can clip in to the unit directly. This feature is also useful for equalising complex belays. However, the weight advantage that shedding the oval hoop provides is an invaluable asset to the free climber.
Despite - or perhaps partly because of - this caveat, what DMM have produced with the Dragon cam is an exceptional, uncompromising free climbing tool. The Dragons are a joy to use, and give the climber every confidence to 'run it out' above a secure placement. They have surely set the gold standard for the new generation of ultralight twin-axle cams of the future.
Click here to buy the Dragons direct from the planetFear shop.
This is what DMM say about the Dragons:
Six colour-coded sizes are used to cover a range from 20mm to 114mm, based on a constant cam angle of 13.75°. Not all manufacturers use the same angle for spring-loaded camming devices (SLCDs). DMM believes that this angle offers the best combination of holding power and expansion range. The logarithmic spiral is the mathematical theory behind ensuring that the line between the axle and point of contact is always at a constant angle to the rock surface, irrespective of the unit's orientation.
To prevent corrosion the cam lobes are anodised. A Duplex cable system is used, 5mm cable on the stem and 3.2mm on the loop, so that the unit has the same flexibility through 360°. Whether the placement is vertical or horizontal you'll reap the benefits.
The cable assembly is overmoulded using Zytel, offering good flexibility and durability with proven reliability in a variety of climatic conditions. The trigger bar is made from the same material with a 'relief' designed grip to help you get that crucial placement first-time, even with sweaty fingers. As with our 4CU and 3CU range, Dragons have an extendable Dyneema sling, allowing you to carry fewer quick draws, saving on bulk and weight on your harness.
DA1: 20.0 - 33.5mm
DA2: 24.8 - 41.0mm
DA3: 29.8 - 50.1mm
DA4: 38.0 - 64.0mm
DA5: 50.0 - 85.0mm
DA6: 68.3 – 114.0mm
For those of you interested in the psychics of camming protection, you can read John Middendorf's excellent 1980's summary on the bigwalls.net website.
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