Black Diamond Camalot X4
Sizes Tested: 0.1, 0.2, 0.5, 0.75
- 0.1 — 5 kN
- 0.2 — 6 kN
- 0.3 — 8 kN
- 0.4 — 9 kN
- 0.5 — 9 kN
- 0.75 —9 kN
- 0.1 — 51 g
- 0.2 — 54 g
- 0.3 —75 g
- 0.4 — 82 g
- 0.5 — 91 g
- 0.75 —112 g
- 0.1 — 8.4-13.8 mm
- 0.2 — 9.9-16.5 mm
- 0.3 — 12.4-21.2 mm
- 0.4 — 15.5-26.6 mm
- 0.5 —19.8-33.7 mm
- 0.75 — 24-41.2 mm
Days Tested: ~4 months
Locations Tested: Clear Creek Canyon, Boulder Canyon, CO; Index, WA; Vedauwoo, WY
The Black Diamond X4, the latest small cam that bears some family resemblance to the CCH Alien, arrived this year to high expectations. For me at least, this was a welcome addition to Black Diamond’s line-up. Although the company’s C3 line already covers the range of the smaller X4 sizes (while the larger X4s overlap with the Black Diamond C4 line), the C3 design has several drawbacks that leave it a step or two behind the Metolius Master Cam or the recent Alien clones made by Totem and Fixe.
(And it might be helpful to check out our Cams 101: Glossary before reading the following review.)
I bought four of the six X4 sizes earlier this season and brought them with me every time my trad rack saw the light of day. Since I used them mostly in the summer months, they haven’t seen much sandstone.
I tested the 0.1, 0.2, 0.5, and 0.75—the two smallest and largest sizes. Interestingly, there are significant design differences across the line, particularly between the smaller half of the line (0.1, 0.2, 0.3) and the larger half (0.4, 0.5, 0.75). I’ll get into those specifics a bit later on.
I haven’t climbed yet with the 0.3 or 0.4, so while I think the four sizes I did climb with represent the X4 line well, please keep that in mind.
A Few Comparisons
The X4 challenges the paradigmatic understanding that certain designs (Single or U-stem? Three lobes or Four?), come with certain compromises. Like the C3, the X4 attempts to find a balance between four-lobed, single-stem cams and TCUs.
The C3 cams do this nicely in several ways—they have the extremely narrow head width (and high lobe surface area relative to head width) of TCUs, but the dual stem sits inside so the cams fit into flares a bit better than the classic U-stem TCU. The C3s also have some stem flexibility (in one direction at least), a quality typically found in single-stem cams.
The X4s have an extremely narrow head for a single-stem cam, a difference that’s less pronounced in the smaller sizes. The head width on the 0.1 X4, for example, is comparable to the purple 0 Master Cam.
On the other hand, the 0.5 and 0.75 X4s (the largest two of the six), are dramatically thinner than comparably sized C4s, Helium Friends, or Master Cams. In fact, the four cam lobes on the 0.5 and 0.75 X4 sit in the same space as just three of the four lobes found on the same size Black Diamond C4.
NEXT PAGE: The Stem