The Alpinist Mountain Standards reviews apply Alpinist's tradition of excellence and authenticity to gear reviews by providing unbiased, candid feedback and anecdotal commentary to equipment tested (hard) in the field. Our panel is comprised of climbers who use the gear every day as part of their work and play. Only the gear they would actually buy themselves, at retail price, qualifies for the Alpinist Mountain Standards award. The five-star rating system is as follows:
One Star = Piece of junk.
Two Stars = Has one or more significant flaws, with some redeeming qualities.
Three Stars = Average. This solid piece of gear is middle-of-the-road on the current market.
Four Stars = Better than most comparable gear on the market. It has one or two drawbacks, but still 90% positive.
Five Stars = Is there such thing as perfection? An Alpinist Mountain Standards award-winner.
The rest of the MS Team
Lighten your rack with Trango's Max Cams
Posted on: October 4, 2006
When we first saw the novel design of the Trango Max Cam, we knew this stand-out of the 2005 Cam Revolution might rival our Mountain Standards choice, the Camalot C4. The new system mounts two outer lobes on two inner lobes, increasing its camming range beyond the C4. Add smooth operation and a doubled sling for versatility, and the Max Cam has all the hallmarks of a standard in the making.
And indeed, the Max Cam performs admirably. Taking a number 3 on a recent ascent of the Grand Teton by the famed Complete Exum route, I found its light weight—25-percent lighter than a comparable Camalot—welcome on my paired-down alpine rack. With ergonomic handling, smooth trigger action and a wide range, the Max Cam is a pleasure to place. Trango was also kind enough to follow Black Diamond's Camalot color sequence, so grabbing the blue sling gave me the number 3 I was looking for.
Yet this first-generation Max Cam has minor burrs that need polishing before it receives a Mountain Standards award. Likely a result of the compound action of the stacked axles, the Max Cam's range—at least in this large size—is partially impaired by its eagerness to walk. This disadvantage is pronounced in cracks at the wider end of the Max Cam's span. Also disconcerting is the main axle's design, which allows the central camming lobes to over-rotate. A cam-stop here would provide the cam with an added measure of robustness.
On balance, however, the Max Cam is an excellent advancement of cam technology. Combining light weight, a wide camming range and ease of use, the Max Cam could soon be a staple in your ideal trad rack.