- A lightweight single stem cam with dual axles.
- Special thumb grip and trigger bar for easy handling
- Hot forged cam lobes to reduce weight
- A6082 cam lobes for added bite
- Original 13.75° camming angle
- 14kN in passive position (sizes 1-6)
- Fitted with extendable 8mm Dyneema slings
- Color coded to help you make a speedy identification
- Eight Sizes
Range: 13.6 – 114mm
Days Tested: 12
Test Locations: Indian Creek and Castle Valley, Utah; South Platte, Clear Creek Canyon, and Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
When DMM introduced the Dragon in 2010, they definitely aimed high, trying to compete directly with the market-dominating Black Diamond C4. Combine that with a high price tag and a sleek, stylized look, and people were chomping at the bit to see what they were really like.
The DMM on Paper, with Comparisons to the Black Diamond C4
Aside from the sleeker look, though, it’s clear the Dragons are built on a blueprint very similar to the C4s. In fact, it takes more time to list the ways in which they are similar than to find and list their differences. Both have four lobes, both are built on a twin-axle head design, and not only do the sizes line up almost exactly with the C4 line (up to number 4, anyway), but the colors are the same—a gold number 2 C4 covers the same range as a gold number 4 Dragon. For those used to Black Diamond’s scheme, this makes integrating Dragon cams into your rack extremely easy.
The differences between the two are really only apparent on the spec sheet. The Dragon lobes have a slightly smaller cam angle of 13.75° (the same as the Wild Country’s cam lines), though that probably isn’t enough to make a difference in the experience of using the cam. The Dragons also use thinner lobes made of harder aluminum that are slightly lighter, but the softer Black Diamond metal bites into rock more.
The DMM in Practice
Despite these similarities, my experience with the Dragon cams was very different from other cams I have used (Metolius, Wild Country, CCH, Rock Empire, Wired Bliss, and several generations of Camalots). This is, in my opinion, primarily because of two things.
The first is the short stem on the cam. At 12cm for the number 4 Dragon, the stem is substantially shorter than both C4s and Wild Country Friends—shorter even than Metolius Mastercams, making the Dragons comparable to TCUs in this regard. I found this to be enough to occasionally make the placements difficult to reach. The number 6 Dragon, the largest in the line and sized for fist-cracks, has a stem length of 15cm.
Obviously, this is not a problem across the board: if you’re climbing laser cut cracks at Indian Creek, this won’t make a bit of difference. I did notice it, however, when using them in the flaring cracks of Lumpy Ridge. For the most part, it’s a difference that you don’t notice, but from the one instance where it made fitting a placement noticeably more difficult, I could see how it could be a deal-breaker for certain climbers.