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Black Diamond C4 Cams Review


Black Diamond have redesigned their most popular camming device. Moving from a durable heavy workhorse, to a lighter, more effective workhorse. They have also added some cool features, making them a little more user-friendly.

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I have always loved the Black Diamond C4 Cams over any other brand of camming devices. The quality of them, their strength, the ease of use, also they seem to last longer than any other cam on the market. They originally came up with the double axle camming design, creating a greater strength, and a bigger range of motion. Hence taking fewer cams out when climbing.  Also, the first cam that can be placed as a nut placement.


So why, you ask, have they redesigned the C4 cam?  How could you improve upon a piece of equipment that is already extremely high performing?


Features and benefits

Black Diamond have made the following improvements:


  • Shaved 10% off their weight
  • Size 4, 5, and 6 cams have trigger keepers
  • Updated the slings for easier identification
  • Slightly wider trigger



One of the main features of the new Black Diamond C4 cams that stands out is the weight saving.  They have always been one of the heavier cams on the market, but that has not put many people off buying them.  So, let’s compare the size .3, and the size 4 with their old counter parts.

The old C4 size .3 on the left (top), and the new C4 on the right.  There is a 6 gram difference, not quite 10%, but close to it (8% for you math nerds out there).  And the old C4 size 4 on the left (bottom), and the new C4 on the right.  You can see there is a 28 grams difference, exactly 10%.


It may feel like only a fraction of weight is saved on each cam.  But when carrying a whole rack, or even a double rack when going big walling, this does make a substantial difference. And you will definitely feel the difference, if you are going chimney/crack climbing, when using a selection of the bigger cams.


A whole rack, from size .3 to 4, would give you a saving a total of around 130 grams.  Which may not seem like a lot, but every little helps.  This does not mean I would discard my old C4 cams, but if any of them need replacing, I would definitely go for the newer C4’s.


Although these are not as light as the ultralight cams, these will last you much longer.  Because the loop of the Black Diamond Ultralight cams are made from dyneema, these have a limited lifespan of 10 years.  Whereas the C4’s can last you a lifetime, with occasionally the tape being replaced, as the loop is made of metal wire.



Has the lobe redesign affected the strength rating of the new Black Diamond C4 cams? Yes it has, some of the cams have been affected.  Please see the table below:

I am assuming the change in strength is due to design change in the lobes of the cams.  Although, comparing the new Black Diamond C4 cam size 0.3 to its predecessor, there does not seem to be an obvious lobe redesign, apart from they are slightly thinner.  But the strength rating is still very big.  It would have to be a very large fall factor to create a force big enough to break the smaller cams.  Based on an 86Kg climber (me), a factor 2 fall would generate around 9.7KN.  (blog on fall factors will soon be published).


Trigger keeper

One of the features which is an ingenious, yet simple addition, are the trigger keepers.


These are featured on the larger sized Black Diamond C4 cams. Namely size 4, 5 and 6.  These allow the lobes to stay retracted, hence saving space when hanging off one of the gear loops.  As well as when stored in a haul bag.  There are no long term effects on the spring, if the cams are stored or kept retracted for long periods of time.


The trigger keepers also make placements that little easier. You place the retracted cam in a crack, pull the trigger slightly, and you have a placement.


Also, the Black Diamond C4 cams have duplicate colours, but different sizes.  So, they have made identifying them easier.  Where the duplicate colours, in the smaller sizes have a black band on the edge of the slings.  As you can see below, size .3 has this feature.  Hence, making it easier, when frantically looking for the right sized cam, getting pumped out on a crux move.  Saving those few vital seconds that could mean a flash ascent, or a whipper.

The lobes are exactly the same size, as their predecessor. Meaning that the new Black Diamond C4 cams have the exact same range of placements.  They have done away with the number on the side of the cam, explaining which size it is.

Also, the sticker on the side of the newer cams is a little smaller, and a little more difficult to read.  But the coloured tape, does help out, identifying on the duplicate coloured cams. Having climbed with these cams for such a long time, all I look for is the colour of the tape.

The older style Black Diamond C4 cams, all had the same design of stem, making the larger sizes, which carry more weight on the head, more flexible.  With the new C4’s as the size goes up, you get a stiffer stem.  Giving each of the cams similar/same flexibility.  The only benefit I can think of is that the new C4 cams will walk less, due to a more rigid stem.


Black Diamond have also put the information tag on inside of sling.  This is as so the tag does not get stuck on a carabiner.



  • Lighter than the previous C4 range (around 10%)
  • Easy unique identifiable slings
  • Trigger keeper for sizes 4, 5, and 6
  • Durable
  • Hidden information tag
  • Large range of cams available
  • Easy to place
  • Slightly wider trigger
  • Easy to operate



  • Due to the new plastic being used for the stem, some of the cams are a little more rigid.  Making placements in horizontal crack, a little more inefficient
  • Some of the sizes are weaker in breaking strength, than the previous C4 range

One of the improvements I would love to see on the C4’s, is an extendable sling.  That would make these the perfect cam for me.



The changes made to the Black Diamond C4 cams are subtle.  Small, yet beneficial.  They have not just reinvented the wheel, but they have a hard job to improve something that is already high performing.  If you are after a slightly lighter cam, than the original C4, and something that will last longer than the ultralights, these are the cams for you.  Durable, a little lighter, and an easy-to-operate work horse of the camming world.  And every climbing rack should have these.


If you are interested in purchasing the new Black Diamond C4 Cams, Ellis Brigham sell them:

Black Diamond C4 Cams