So it’s been top secret for a little while now but the cat is finally out of the bag, and boy does it look sharp! Wild Country have unveiled their new style “Friends” which should be on the market by spring. Are they revolutionary? No. They are part of a design evolution, and they are amazing.
Since Ray Jardine came up with the idea of the Friend in 1978 Wild Country have built single axle cams. Noting the growing popularity of double axle cams, they decided to do something about it. So the latest incarnation is not a radical jump for the climbing world but takes everything people want from the all different cams out there and puts them all in one piece of awesome kit! Now before you say they “but haven't they just copied the competition?” just remember who invented the cam; they have been copied for 37 years!
Anyway let’s talk about what makes these Friends so good. They have the tried and tested double axle, allowing more range, smooth action and cam stops (can be used passively). Wild Country have managed to stick to the tried and tested constant angle of 13.75 degrees (some brands vary their camming angles). They also feature the thumb loop which is often the deal breaker when deciding which cam to choose and makes them much harder to fumble, very important when winter climbing in big gloves!
Testing has also shown that the smooth anodising on cams can reduce friction and thus holding power. This does wear off over time but these cams have machined faces, which bite better from purchase and also look cool! They also feature wider lobes, which means more metal on the rock and even better friction.
The cams are forged, which makes them lighter than the competition but without compromising strength. They have also developed a patented hollow axle which again saves on weight.
The actual weight saving between this new cam and similar cams is only small in terms of grams, however thanks to the extending sling you won't need as many quickdraws, which can make a considerable difference.
I was lucky enough to test the first samples back in January, so the first run they got was a brilliant trip to Scotland (see earlier blog). Here they were excellent: light weight, big range, fewer quickdraws due to extendable slings and not forgetting the thumb loop, so we didn't drop them at that vital moment. You tell me another cam that has all those features at the moment? Didn’t think so.
The latest Friend is a creation from the talented James Wilson, who also brought us the awesome Proton quickdraws (or pleasure clips as they are becoming known). So with him on side I think there are many more exciting things to come from Wild Country in the future. Watch this space.
With the grand unveiling of these new Friends at this year’s Outdoor Trade Show in Friedrichshafen, we now have to sit tight till they arrive. Wild Country have also promised a good price, so the cam choice from now on will be easy. Well done Wild Country, well done!
Here's a few pics comparing the new cams side by side with current model BD Camalot C4 and DMM Dragon Cams:
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