Using the smooth walls of the local Welsh slate quarries as a testing ground, DMM has produced confidence-inspiring cams that, they say, are better designed to perform in sub-optimum placements. It is the modifications to the cam lobes that distinguish these Dragons from those of previous generations.
First, DMM has widened just the ends of the cam lobes, increasing contact surface area without adding weight. Then there are the beast’s teeth: each lobe is heavily grooved in a “TripleGrip” pattern. This, topped off with a raw aluminum finish, was experimentally proven, says DMM, to increase the friction coefficient and cam-holding power in outwardly flaring cracks.
The eight dual-axle Dragons have a great range for the set—spanning 0.51 to 4.49 inches—and a healthy degree of overlap between sizes. As such, as you enter moments of wild panic, the cam you grab is more likely to fit into the crack that you are slowly smearing out of. DMM also holds the baton for creating cams with the highest strength ratings (14kN for all cams except 00, which can sustain 10kN). My only word of caution would be to take care when setting these chaps in tight placements, as the new lobes bite pretty hard and can sometimes be reluctant to let go.
Another upgrade for the Dragons is the addition of texture on the hot-forged thumb press, which, in combination with the curved finger trigger, makes operation a breeze. By maintaining a thumb press rather than adopting a thumb loop, DMM has ensured that cam strength is not forfeited when the sling is extended. I don’t find the thumb press harder to use than a thumb loop, although some people may find it takes getting used to, and it will reduce potential reach by an inch or so. Aid climbers will also note that always having to clip the sling will leave them a couple of inches lower in their stirrups. On the up side, the Dragons’ 8mm extendable Dyneema sling—which is 10 inches at full extension—will reduce the number of quickdraws you need. The only issue with the sling is that if you don’t pull the correct loop, it can tangle; not ideal while you’re precariously balanced and pumping out, but avoidable if you’re sharp about it.
The individual Dragons weigh a touch more than the comparable BD and Wild Country Ultralight offerings—particularly in the larger sizes—but are by no means cumbersome. The sturdiness, durability and reassuring bite of these cams on the rock are worth a few extra ounces.
-Excellent grip and reduced walking.
-Good range of sizes and size overlap.
-Thumb press may take some getting used to and not the best for aid climbing.
-Easier to get stuck in tight placements.
-All-around heavy- duty use.