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Link Cam Editorial Review


Submitted by vegastradguy on 2006-12-06 | Last Modified on 2006-12-31

Rating: 12345   Go Login to rate this article.   Votes: 14 | Comments: 26 | Views: 19899

by John Wilder


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John Wilder

Photo: John Wilder

Surprise! Link Cam Review
By Dingus Milktoast

We put a lot of stock in first impressions don’t we? In the world of business, on first dates, tasting some weird ice cream, first impressions are often a make or break situation. And yet… we all know that often enough, first impressions can be deceiving.

When I first became aware of Link Cams from Omega Pacific, I must admit I did not have a positive impression. In fact I literally thought, “there’s someone’s college design project gone wild.” It almost seemed like a 3-bladed razor, ya know? To be quickly superseded by a 4-bladed one, then 5. A marketing ploy if you will.

Know what I found out? Those 5-bladed razors work pretty damn good! Best shave ever, I almost hate to admit it; so much for first impressions. I own two 5-bladed razors now, one for home, one for travel. 3-blades? Bah! Stone age sheet!

When my new Link Cams showed up in the mail I took a hard look at them. The first of several surprises; I expected well-made. Omega Pacific makes good gear after all. But just looking at them, hefting them, working the trigger, they feel exceptionally well-made, like a fine watch or a sturdy clock. No slop in the throw, no hitches as the cams retracted, smooth as butter in fact, but with a solid, Mercedes-sort of feel.

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The red link cam finds some sandstone to love
John Wilder

The red link cam finds some sandstone to.
love. Photo: John Wilder

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The gold link cam loves the same place!
John Wilder

The gold link cam loves the same place!
Photo: John Wilder

The trigger assembly is very well designed too. I like the trigger wire material itself, never seen anything quite like it. The swivel points on the attachments make them very smooth too. I reckon the X-pattern increases the throw, very necessary considering how far the cams have to travel.

Further, the intricate shapes of the cams are a thing to behold. Watch the interaction of the lobes as the cams retract, it’s quite beautiful. I subsequently learned the design is based on a patented Greg Lowe concept. It seems wonderfully executed, reminds me of the multiple jaws coming out of that Alien creature in the SciFi movie.

I purposely avoided all available literature prior to my using the cams. I didn’t even read the user’s manual, sorry god. I wanted to evaluate them ‘untainted’ by the opinions of others. I avoided spec sheets, marketing claims and the opinions of other reviewers and testers. You’re getting my unbiased bullshit here.

I also wanted to solicit the opinions of my partners. I didn’t talk them up either, for the same reasons. I wanted their untainted opinions. I just asked them to try em out.

Rack-em up, they hang like Camelots. The gold one is the same outer size as a gold Camelot too, for reference purposes. That had to be on purpose and good for them, Goldilocks, as we like to call the gold Camelot, is a time-honored 3-generation standard for many folks, that great hand crack piece eh? Hang about the same length too.

When you try to grab one off the rack, the distance between thumb and trigger fingers takes some getting used to. I have big hands and I still had to open my hand pretty wide to ‘get at em.’ Specially the gold one. Also, I sometimes had difficulty getting my thumb though the webbing loop to push against the trigger. I think the flange on the end of the stem could stand to be just a tiny bit wider, to hold the webbing a little bit more open.

They are heavier than other cams, no getting around that. They’re especially top-heavy, so to speak. A floppier stem would have them floppin around all over the place. The stem seems *just stiff enough* to keep it from happening though. Still flexible for all that.

Place em, ohjeez these babies are out of this world! Within their size range they seem to fit almost any crack configuration, from flairs to pods. Those dreaded thin cracks that expand as they get deeper? SLAIN! Offset crack? DONE! Hand to finger potential? ONE PIECE. Flair? We don’t care bout no stinkin FLAIRS!

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The red link cam flexes its range muscles
John Wilder

The red link cam flexes its range
muscles. Photo: John Wilder

I commented to Angus after a my first lead up a nice finger and hand crack,

“This is the All-Time Panic Piece” Angus.” Seriously, you can rip one of these bad boys off the rack and slam in that hand to finger crack and pretty much expect the thing to find its own home. Keep the trigger pulled and drag it down the crack, presto it will stick somewhere!

Couldn’t get them irretrievably stuck either and I tried. Now I’m sure some rock and some cracks will snag them, but on the bullet-hard volcanic cracks I was climbing, full of inner rugosities and tenuous warts, I failed to put them in a position of no return.

Also, when you do get a good deep placement, you often also get an enormous cam surface contact, far more than with any other cam I ever saw or imagined. Its mind boggling, the more narrow and deeper you place them the more cam surface there is to catch. If the piece starts to pull, it has all that surface contact to resist and adjust.

I don’t know how these things behave in a hard fall, didn’t take any. Funked em pretty good but took no serious falls. We used them in flint-hard columnar volcanic cracks and in textured and sometimes grainy alpine granite.

I was totally surprised! I went from ‘marketing gimmick’ to GENIUS! On one crack lead, blew me away! My partners put em to use and had similar comments, observations and surprise. Each of them expressed doubt, till he used them. Then they were all, “Chyaaaaaaaaaahhh!” Seriously, they were.

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The gold link cam works as well in off fingers as it does in hands
John Wilder

The gold link cam works as well
in off fingers as it does in hands.
Photo: John Wilder

Angus placed two of them on his ballsy first ascent of Crack-a-dile Hunter, both flaired granite pods where no other piece would fit. Scuffy used them a couple of times, again in places where no other cam had a hope of fitting. Miwok slammed in a few as well. The main point with all three men, each having climbed more than 20 years, is that when these pieces were on the rack? They got used, inevitably. And they received good marks in the process.

Design features touted by Omega Pacific include the greatest expansion range of any cams on the market, constant cam angle throughout, full-strength holding power, a unique trigger wire arrangement including the ‘swivet’ attachments and cross-cabling.

Omega Pacific cites several benefits of these features including increased surface contact in small sizes, reduced tendency to walk, offset capability, less time to find the right piece, and the crack-jumaring already mentioned.

So as you can see, my untainted observations matched up almost point-for-point with the marketing hype. Definitely not hype in my opinion, these Link Cams, from Omega Pacific. I think they rock.

I see many of the same potential roles as suggested by OP too. Crack jumaring, check. They were BORN for crack jumaring. Supplement a single rack of cams, instead of taking halves of the next set, take two Links and one larger one and yer prolly good2go. Might take 5 or 6 additional pieces otherwise. I can totally see them augmenting a rack of hexes for the great alpine rack… hexes for lead pro, cams for the belays, or whatever.

I figured they’d end up in the bottom of my aid box, to be blunt. Little did I know, they ended up on my primary lead rack, lol. And like I said to Angus, they are the All-Time Panic Piece, best ever in that category. Since I climb scairt a lot I should know.

Now if you’re one of those list-makers (you know who you are… you checked it on the master after all), my review will leave you feeling less than satisfied. You’ll be wantin numbers bygawd, charts and shit. Done tole yall, I don’t do lists. You wanna compare specs, sorry, I’m not doing your OCD for you.

Infer your own list conclusions. Or better yet, just try em out yourselves. BTW, I never did compare their strength to the competition, or size-range to size-range. I’m an analog climber damnit. They seem strong enough to me and I know they have a wide expansion range, know that for a fact. Why fret numbers (cept the $$$, they aren’t cheap) I’ll promptly forget anyway? I don’t really get my bowels in an uproar over that end of the bidness.

But you can do it yourselves here… easy as pie.

Enjoy mates!
Cheers,
DMT

Manufacturer's product page

Go to this item in the Gear Database.



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26 Comments CommentAdd a Comment

 gblauer
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 2006-12-07
5 out of 5 stars I think I will by one for xmas! Thanks for the insightful review.
 tim
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 2006-12-07
It's true, they rule. Every partner of mine that's tried them has discovered that they are, in fact ,the all-time panic and alpine piece. They cost a hell of a lot, but eventually I suspect that most people will find it worth the pain to have a pair of these things on their rack.
 brent_e
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 2006-12-07
5 out of 5 stars good review DMT. they are still too expensive for me, though!!
 breezey
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 2006-12-07
Screw the cams where i do get a 5 blade razor :P
we can only get 4 blades in australia :)
 tallnik
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 2006-12-07
Alpine piece? Damn, those things might be versatile. But HEAVY!
 8flood8
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 2006-12-08
5 out of 5 stars Thanx Dingus, a review for the common man. Oh and a review for the scairt climber. Now then i will be very sad if you are the same kind of common man as George Bush and you really are just a schill for OP
 dingus
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 2006-12-08
I once offended the hell out of the president of OM for making unsubstantiated remarks about their prison labor program on usenet. I eventually apologized but have had not interaction with the company since.

DMT
 tim
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 2006-12-08
The reasoning for having them as an "alpine piece" is simple -- over the course of 20-30 pitches, where you're taking maybe a few cams and a set of nuts as protection, the weight of these is canceled out by the fact that you can replace 4 or 5 cam sizes (camalot cam sizes, for example) with a link cam. They're really good at what they do well, although they're certainly not a replacement for a full trad rack on the sorts of routes where you actually place all your cams.
 super80drivr
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 2006-12-08
5 out of 5 stars I posted my review, and there are a couple of others from before this article. When you take them all into consideration, you should way serious consider having some of these, particularly the all time panic-I'm-gonna-die-if-I-don't-get-some-pro-in-now comments. I'm not pro or anti OP gear, but these are the shit, specially when you're not sure what size cam you need, but you need it right now.
 p0bray01
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 2006-12-08
I am glad this review came out my Gf just hinted that I may be getting a few....as I was playing with them a while at miguels. She rocks! THANKS DINGUS !
 --ross
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 2006-12-09
I'll wait until I hear how the piece holds up with abuse, falls, dirt and mixed. Of course no piece is perfect but these look really cool. Your right about the smooth 'action' of the pro. I'm wondering how dirt may effect the cam joint, where the cams mate to become one. It appears to be a well designed joint.
--Ross
 majid_sabet
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 2006-12-10
1 out of 5 stars I played with one this cams then I asked few stone masters about this product and they turn their head and said

" that pc....of...."

I guess I got my answer
 j_ung
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 2006-12-11
3 out of 5 stars I think it's a good review, but I'd also like to know more about their durability before I drop the coin.
 j_ung
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 2006-12-11
3 out of 5 stars I'd especially like to know how the unit responds to getting its triggers "wires" bent over the lip of a sharp horizontal.
 dingus
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 2006-12-11
I'll let you know in 4 years.
 patto
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 2006-12-11
I have seen may reviews comment that the Link cams have more contact area. This is quite misleading. When placed, the actual working contact area of the cam still remains the same as compared to regular cams. True the extra metal in contact in link cams may help prevent walking but for any load the cam operates in pretty much the same fashion as a normal four cam unit.

If you want greater contact area to go for metolius FAT cams. However a greater contact area isn't really needed unless you climb on soft rock.
 holdplease2
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 2006-12-12
I cannot say enough good things about these cams. I've taken them up 2.5 walls and had them on my rack for every pitch of crack climbing I've done since January of '06. The trigger wires are fine and the action is like new. I no longer carry my C4s from green to gold, I carry two red and two green OP Link Cams instead. For pods, flares, and anything from fingers to cupped hands (girl sizes) these things are unbelievable. Crack jumaring/speed weapon on walls? There's nothing better. I paid full retail for my four Link Cams and will be buying two of whatever size comes out next. Go OP!
 tradmule
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 2006-12-13
Took a small fall on the red this weekend and it felt like falling on a bolt. It was at the top of Old Man's Sport Rout on Sauratown Mt Nc if anybody knows that area. I placed it in a horrizontal for the last move to the anchors where I pumped out futzing around with the last clip. The stem was slightly bent and the plastic sheath cut over the edge but the cable looks fine after close inspection. Two thumbs up.
 masonjar
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 2006-12-13
keep it out of indian creek!!!! the fine red sand will get inside the hinges and totaly sieze the entire thing up!!!!
 bafiesta
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 2006-12-14
5 out of 5 stars I live the yellow link cama too. Although it costs a bit, it has the range of the green, red, and yellow BD cams and can help you save money by not having to double or tripple up on these sizes.
 tim_b
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 2006-12-15
As as self-proclamed "gear guy", and an engineer to boot, I've been eye-balling' these gizmos for quite some time (I'm surprised I don't have them already), BUT, thanks to THIS review, I'll definitely add at least 2 to my bag-o'-gear. Things go right, they get promoted to my lead rack.
THANKS for the review. I appreciate the effort you went thru to keep it unbiased.
 idahoclimber
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 2006-12-18
thanks for that review. i've been wonderin about those things.
 dingus
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 2006-12-21
"I have seen may reviews comment that the Link cams have more contact area. This is quite misleading. When placed, the actual working contact area of the cam still remains the same as compared to regular cams."

The first and the 3rd photos suggest you're wrong, as does my personal experience. Especially in cracks that are wider in the back than in front, or V-slots where gthey get narrow below the piece, often the retracted parts of the cam remain in full contact with the rock. In a perfectly parallel crack I would agree. Look at the 3rd photo in particular, that's the behavior I'm talking about. Cheers
 holdplease2
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 2006-12-23
The extended parts of the lobes of the cams may be in *contact* with the rock, but due to their orientation to the axels, there is zero force applied to them and they are doing nothing.

To prove this, just weight the cam in a crack by sitting on the sling. Now feel free to move all of the lobe parts that are not lined up with the axel around with your fingers. The only part that is pressed against the rock creating holding power is the part that is alligned with the axel.

If the additional hinged lobes are not "pressed" against the rock by your bodyweight and contribute nothing to holding power.

-Kate.
 johnclimbrok
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 2006-12-31
just took some shots of my buddy on Desert Gold today - he made use of some link cams - they hold.
 pbcowboy77
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 2007-01-16
I so give these 2 thumbs up, if I had more thumbs I would give them too. I can't find anything wrong with them at all. I just did Touchstone Wall in Zion and on the third and fourth pitch they didn't leave my aiders. They are awsome for crack jugging. They may be a bit heavy but they are worth their wight in gold. As far as free climbing, I don't know how may times I've been able to place them without even looking. I could go on and on about them, but the review and all the comments already hit all of it. I'm getting a second set. Oh and if your an aid climber, they rate up there with offsets...

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