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Rock Empire Axel Cam Review
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By Kevin O'Connor
From Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 13, 2011
Needles, SD

Rock Empire Axel Cam Review


Spring Loaded Camming Device


Rock Empire Axel Cams
Rock Empire Axel Cams



Specifications and Comparisons of Rock Empire Axel & Black Diamond Camalot



Axel Cam Tech Specs vs. BD Camalot
Axel Cam Tech Specs vs. BD Camalot


Pros:


• Double axel design beats the single axel design in camming range
• Double sling is a nice feature that allows extensions without extra webbing
• Smaller cam head width allows for placements in smaller slots (view pictures below)

BD Camalot = 2.1"
BD Camalot = 2.1"


Rock Empire Axel = 1.8"
Rock Empire Axel = 1.8"


• Longer stem give the climber a change to reach those deeper placements (view picture below)


Length Comparison
Length Comparison


• Cheap price! Currently the US distributer (www.gorocksteady.com) has the cams on sale for the following prices: #1 - $52.95, #2 - $56.30, #3 – $59.95, #4 - $64.75, #5 - $69.75, #6 - $75.69
• Thumb loop allows direct clip in for aid placements
• Flexible stem

Cons:


• Strength ratings in the smaller sizes are less than other double axel cams
• Longer stem may feel awkward for users with smaller hands
• Thumb loop is not as ergonomic as the loop found on the camalot
• Weight is generally comparable to the camalot, but the smaller sizes are heavier
• Trigger action is slightly stiffer than the camalot
• Color coding does not match the standard set by Black Diamond

Field Tests:


Location:
Devil’s Lake, WI
Rock Type: Quartzite (very smooth)

@CEN-Cams are generally not very conducive to the rock type at Devil’s Lake because of how smooth the rock is here. There was an article in climbing magazine a few issues back that told the story of an aid climber who placed a solid cam and watched the lobes slide down the vertical crack in front of him. I knew that testing these cams on the smooth rock, and taking some whippers at the lake would be an experience.
I did indeed take some good whippers. Here are the pictures to document:-CEN@

Placement Before Fall #1
Fall Length ≈ 15’
Fall 1 Before
Fall 1 Before

Placement After Fall #1 (Placement Held)
Fall 1 After
Fall 1 After

Placement Before Fall #2 (Placement Did Not Hold)
Fall Distance ≈ 25'
Fall 2 Before
Fall 2 Before

The placement as you can see visually looked okay, but due to the smooth texture of the rock came right out. A preceding fall with a BD Camalot resulted similarly, placement blew.
Placement 2 Fall
Placement 2 Fall


Location:
Yosemite, CA
Rock Type: Granite

I took the Axel cams on my trip in July of 2011 to Yosemite National Park. I used them on every route that I got on, and took them up over thousands of feet of vertical granite. The cams worked perfectly, held a few whippers, and really came in hand with the extendable sling. I even used these cams on The Nose, where some aid climbing was involved. Just like the BD Camalots, these cams have a thumb loop that is invaluable for aid climbing. Instead of clipping into the webbing, you can gain a couple inches on your anchor point by anchoring into the thumb loop; this came in handy many times. I placed quite a few dicey placements on The Nose. I can personally attest to the fact that I was hanging on two lobes in some of those pin scar placements, never did the cam blow out. These cams rocked on the solid, Yosemite granite.


Yosemite 1
Yosemite 1


Yosemite 2
Yosemite 2


Yosemite 3 (Sling Extended)
Yosemite 3 (Sling Extended)



Laboratory Test



Understand that the lab test of a cam is totally different from a field test. A lab test does not show in reality the actual test that climbers will put the gear through on the rock. The last test I wanted to do for this review included an actual lab test where I could place the cam in a tensile testing machine, and see if the ultimate strength ratings matched what Rock Empire promises. I do want to disclaim that this test is not officially run by the UIAA 125, EN 12276 standards. The test proved to be successful. The UIAA rating is 14 kN for the #3 Axel Cam, and what it held before it destructed was 14.99 kN. The actual point of failure which is what I was really interested in, was located on the axel, which was the first part to snap (visible in the pictures).




Graph showing stress vs. strain of the #3 Axel Cam that was tested.
Graph showing stress vs. strain of the #3 Axel Cam that was tested.


Fail Point
Fail Point


Conclusion:



I did receive the set that I tested for free, but I would not hesitate to buy a set for myself. My first set of cams was a Rock Empire set and I love their durability. These cams share the same durability with added the camming range. For the price you cannot beat a cam like the Axel Cam from Rock Empire. For a beginner climber that wants to get into traditional leading, these are the way to go. You get the feel and camming range of the BD Camalot, at a fraction of the price. What you sacrifice is weight and strength rating, but for a beginner just starting up a rack of gear, or the climber looking to double up on sizes, the Axel Cam is a great option for the price.


To purchase contact:
US Distributor: Rock Steady
info@gorocksteady.com
www.gorocksteady.com
tel: 202.518.8209


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By Evan Sanders
From Westminster, CO
Nov 13, 2011
Flaming Pumpkin

Pretty decent review, but I'm not sure that I really agree that they're cheap in price...


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By Woodchuck ATC
Nov 13, 2011
Rock Wars, RRG, 2008

Prices I've seen for most Rock Empire cams (other designs, models) have always been very very reasonable. Direct from the manufacturer, as most places and internet sources often don't carry them. Nice review.


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By Zappatista
Nov 14, 2011
Book me, officer.

Not much cheaper than BD, way weaker in all but the two largest sizes, "review" as advertising method...I'm not buying. Rock Empire makes cams that you would take to Pakistan as leavers in case your bags got lost, not anything seriously competitive with any of the major brands.

Just one man's opinion, I gave away the Rock Empires I had, because I wasn't going to Pakistan anytime soon and they weren't gonna get pulled out of the gear bucket anytime soon.

I'd buy Robot cams again if I was planning an expedition-these seem costly for the quality and low cost was the only selling point the brand had in my opinion.


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By Aric Datesman
Nov 15, 2011

Is there a particular reason you're flogging this horse, Killis? (saw you bashing RE undeservedly in snother thread the other day...) From the sound of it you have a very strong opinion regarding RE and are letting it run your mouth in spite of never actually having used the cams in the review. Quite simply, RE has seemingly set price pionts for their *multiple* cam lines and you're bashing on thierry flagship model based on experience with their value line. Furthermore, if a slight improvident in ergononomics of your gear is all it takes for you climb harder it's clearly nor the gear that's the problem. Plenty of people in Eastern Europe (and *gasp!!!*) Pakistan pull down plenty hard with gear like this, so step back a moment and actually think about things before you spout off repeatedly. Hell, 20/30 years ago folks were getting by just fine without cams altogether, so why the absolute need for smooth actions and refined ergonomics? More dollars than sense, near as I can figure.

Full disclosure: I have quite a few RE cams, which get used just as much as most all of my other cams. Sure, some work smoother than others but often one will fit better than the rest and it'll get placed regardless of how smooth the trigger pull is.



To the OP: BEST review I've seen in a long time, and jealous of your testing machine. :-)


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By Kevin O'Connor
From Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 16, 2011
Needles, SD

Thanks Datesman for the feedback. Many people do give Rock Empire a bad reputation. I hate to make assumptions but many of these people have the extra money to afford the high end cams (Black Diamond, DMM, Wild Country, Metolius, etc.), and Rock Empire equipment just might not be what they're looking for, which is understandable. If you are a college student, or just a climber with little money, these are a wonderful alternative to the bank breaking alternatives. I see the argument that the smaller sizes do not have equivalent strength ratings to the Camalot, but for someone looking to save money, we realize in retrospect, how many times are we actually going to need more than 9kN to save us on that whipper? All I can say is, that is one hell of a factor 2 fall one has to take in order to snap a 9kN rated piece of gear.

Also, some of these skeptics may have used the old versions of RE gear (circa 2007). Some of the old RE cams felt like they were going to rattle apart in your hand. A friend of mine who knew I was a Rock Empire enthusiast showed me a set of RE cams that he purchased around 2006, and I had to laugh. They flopped around so much when you shook the flex stem back and forth, the lobes did a 360. I can attest to the fact that they have improved a lot since they first came on the market and feel as secure, well built, and well engineered as the top models of today.


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By Evan Sanders
From Westminster, CO
Nov 16, 2011
Flaming Pumpkin

Kevin O'Connor wrote:
If you are a college student, or just a climber with little money, these are a wonderful alternative to the bank breaking alternatives. .


I'm just not seeing it though. Sure maybe with the other RE cam lines you MIGHT save some money (although with constant sales even that is highly doubtful), but specifically these cams won't save you anything really. I'd rather spend 3 more dollars for a better cam (and again, with sales you'd probably save money, making RE the bank breaker)

I'm not saying anything about the quality of these cams or RE cams in general, because I don't have enough experience other than climbing on that a couple times. But they just don't seem to be worth the money.


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By Yarp
Nov 16, 2011

Aric Datesman wrote:
Is there a particular reason you're flogging this horse, Killis? (saw you bashing RE undeservedly in snother thread the other day...) From the sound of it you have a very strong opinion regarding RE and are letting it run your mouth in spite of never actually having used the cams in the review. Quite simply, RE has seemingly set price pionts for their *multiple* cam lines and you're bashing on thierry flagship model based on experience with their value line. Furthermore, if a slight improvident in ergononomics of your gear is all it takes for you climb harder it's clearly nor the gear that's the problem. Plenty of people in Eastern Europe (and *gasp!!!*) Pakistan pull down plenty hard with gear like this, so step back a moment and actually think about things before you spout off repeatedly. Hell, 20/30 years ago folks were getting by just fine without cams altogether, so why the absolute need for smooth actions and refined ergonomics? More dollars than sense, near as I can figure. Full disclosure: I have quite a few RE cams, which get used just as much as most all of my other cams. Sure, some work smoother than others but often one will fit better than the rest and it'll get placed regardless of how smooth the trigger pull is. To the OP: BEST review I've seen in a long time, and jealous of your testing machine. :-)


Excellent response Aric.

This is one of the best gear reviews I've read on this site and although I have to agree that they aren't really any cheaper than C4s that wouldn't stop me from considering them either. That is, if I needed any more of those damn wedgie springy things. If they work as well as a Camalot why wouldn't I pay the same price for them. My rack is a smattering of different brands and depending on what I'm climbing I've most likely got at least three different brands of SLCDs on me.

I do loves me some Wired Bliss though. Are they making offsets yet?


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By -sp
From East-Coast
Nov 16, 2011
Buenos Dias!

You were doing fine until you started in with all the hyperbole:


- For the price you cannot beat a cam like the Axel Cam from Rock Empire.
- You get the feel and camming range of the BD Camalot, at a fraction of the price.
- ...these are a wonderful alternative to the bank breaking alternatives.



It was a nice effort but your logic is flawed if you think sacrificing 30% of your strength rating to save $5 is worthwhile. Besides, I've paid less than the RE cams sale prices you listed for every BD cam I own.


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By Aric Datesman
Nov 16, 2011

Evan Sanders wrote:
Pretty decent review, but I'm not sure that I really agree that they're cheap in price...


A small bit of digging shows that the prices listed for them are the MSRP, which even RE doesn't sell them for: Link to RE site

Prices there are generally $10 - 15 less than the comparable BD, with them going for:
#1- $50
#2- $48
#3- $50
#4- $53
#5- $58
#6- $78
Full set: $348

True, that's a sale price so possibly not fair to compare against full price BD, but when it's the manufacturer normally selling them at that price is it really a sale price? I'd argue it's actually a pricing scheme where they inflate the MSRP a bit so the price they want to sell at appears to be a sale price, and therefore a valid comparison.


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By -sp
From East-Coast
Nov 16, 2011
Buenos Dias!

Aric Datesman wrote:
...Full set: $348 True, that's a sale price so possibly not fair to compare against full price BD, but when it's the manufacturer normally selling them at that price is it really a sale price? I'd argue it's actually a pricing scheme where they inflate the MSRP a bit so the price they want to sell at appears to be a sale price, and therefore a valid comparison.


And a small bit of further digging would show that if you buy the "same" six cams from BD you get a 10% discount which means it's is not a valid comparison.

RE - $348
BD - $368

Like I said above, you did a good review but you keep getting stuck on the price thing - they are marginally cheaper than BD in some circumstances.


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By Joe Virtanen
From Asheville, NC
Nov 16, 2011
Pit BBQ

I've used Rock Empire cams before, the single stem ones that look exactly like the Trango Flex Cams. Action was decent and they held fine. Walked a bit and had to do some nut tool surgery a few times but other than that, they were decent cheap cams.

My problem with Rock Empire comes in here:

rockempire.com/about

Neat and Cool doesn't have a store in Squamish. They don't have a little gear shop. They operate out of a P.O. Box in Garibaldi Highlands. You can't just "go by and say hello". I was going to do just that on a trip to Squamish and ask to see some of the other cams but no one in Squamish had even heard of them.


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By Matt N
From Santa Barbara, CA
Nov 16, 2011
OTL

My thoughts from the previous review thread www.mountainproject.com/v/gear4rocks-2-axle-cam-set-review/1>>> still apply:

"Another vote for overpriced for what you get. That was supposed to be their one "advantage".

Labor Day sale saw a set of BD c4s .5-3 for $229 on backcountry. $46/ea for something that looks quite a bit more refined/finished.

The unfinished look on these is a tough sell at $30 each; $55 HA!


Oh and this comes from a cheap ass bastard."

Although, these appear to be more finished - I still say their one advantage is price and is easily beaten with BD c4s bought on sale.


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By Aric Datesman
Nov 16, 2011

You're certainly entitled to your opinion, so if you don't mind spending the extra money more power to you. Way I look at Mgear has BD .5 - 3 for $325 list / $287 sale (backorder only). Adding the 4 for $85 brings it to $410 / $372. The RE set is $365 list / $348 sale. The $50 difference list will get you another cam. Sale price a bit over halfway to another cam. And bear in mind the dollar hasn't been doing well against the Euro, so if the economy ever picks back up and the dollar strengthens RE cams will likely be an even better deal (especially if the EU is still mired in their current mess).


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By Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
Nov 16, 2011
Cleo's Needle

$50 savings on six cams isn't enough to get me to buy an inferior knock off.


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By Evan Sanders
From Westminster, CO
Nov 16, 2011
Flaming Pumpkin

Aric Datesman wrote:
You're certainly entitled to your opinion, so if you don't mind spending the extra money more power to you. Way I look at Mgear has BD .5 - 3 for $325 list / $287 sale (backorder only). Adding the 4 for $85 brings it to $410 / $372. The RE set is $365 list / $348 sale. The $50 difference list will get you another cam. Sale price a bit over halfway to another cam. And bear in mind the dollar hasn't been doing well against the Euro, so if the economy ever picks back up and the dollar strengthens RE cams will likely be an even better deal (especially if the EU is still mired in their current mess).


Eh, i guess, but almost nobody buys the #4 BD for full price. So 287 for a normal sale of .5-3 (sometimes less), then 20% off quite a bit on a #4 so 68 bucks is $355, compared to $348 RE cam. So the realistic price difference is 7 bucks.

Even though RE lists their cams as a lower price than the MSRP, they still list it as a "sale" price. So the MSRP is still the higher price.


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By -sp
From East-Coast
Nov 16, 2011
Buenos Dias!

Ray Pinpillage wrote:
$50 savings on six cams isn't enough to get me to buy an inferior knock off.


Two different websites, two different sets of specs?


1st site,

2nd site


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By Aric Datesman
Nov 17, 2011

First one is the actual company website (note the .cz in the address) and the second is the company in Canada that's been importing them to North America for years (and actually called Neat&Cool Climbing Equipment). The US distributor mentioned in the OP is news to me, as there wasn't one when I bought mine a couple years ago.


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By Kevin O'Connor
From Salt Lake City, UT
Nov 17, 2011
Needles, SD

The US distributor listed is a new one. The website they have now links to the english version of rockempire.cz, but in a short period of time they say they will have their own website. As for where I got my price list, I got it from the the individuals at Go Rock Steady. They informed me that this would be the MSRP price for 2011-2012 for the Axel Cam


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By Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
Nov 18, 2011
Cleo's Needle

-sp wrote:
Two different websites, two different sets of specs? 1st site, 2nd site


So less than $50 difference. Meh, still a cheap knock-off.


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By -sp
From East-Coast
Nov 18, 2011
Buenos Dias!

Ray Pinpillage wrote:
So less than $50 difference. Meh, still a cheap knock-off.


Yup, and (to beat this dead horse further to death) you could wait for one of the annual 20% off everything sales at IME, Rock and Snow, Mountain Gear, etc. and get a full set of BD cams that are stronger, lighter AND cheaper than RE.


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By Zappatista
Nov 22, 2011
Book me, officer.

Michael Jackson Beat It, I just beat off. And I'm thinking someone's a little sore about my (apparently) valid opinions, which seem to be echoed by others on the site.

If you don't like people disagreeing with you, don't bother backing a ghetto fifth-rate cam company like they're the second orgasm of Kryst or some such nunsense.

Sale price comparison horse:

Rock Empire Price Debate
Rock Empire Price Debate


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By Zappatista
Nov 22, 2011
Book me, officer.

Also, to make this discussion way more interesting, here are titties:

First-class all the way.
First-class all the way.


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By Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
Nov 22, 2011
Cleo's Needle

I like titties...but not sheered off axles.


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By Craig Childre
From Lubbock, Texas
Mar 3, 2014
Potrero Mexico, Sport Climbing Mecca.

In US markets, the price/value point of RE's line is lost when the BD C-4's. In European markets.... the RE price point might be far less, and the imported BD's might see it's price balloon? I would be interested in what the guys across the pond think of Rock Empire. I've used their comet cams for awhile and don't have any complaints. They are going into my aid rack once I replace them with C-4's.


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By Robbie Mackley
From Tucson, AZ
Mar 3, 2014
Me and Holden at the "Matterhorn"

"I own many, they're not as smooth, but the hold and sometimes fit where nothing else will..."
You can throw that in with the set of RE cams, because I'm not buying it. I could say the same for my curve hexes, but I'm not posting a review of them against my C4's.
Just for the record, I have absolutely nothing against RE or any of their gear, but to me the benefit of "high end gear" vs the <;$10 savings I'll go with BD, Metolius, WC, etc. As the sole provider of a family of four, the $35 I or so I save on a set by buying RE just isn't really saving.
Thanks for the great review though.
-Mackley
Edit: Aric, the product doesn't jive (strength), the price doesn't jive ($), so now it's the USD vs EU?
We get it, you use inferior cams. But who is really beating a dead horse here?


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