What the f**k is this thing???
What the fuck is this thing?
The whole purpose behind the design of this cam is that it has an increased range allowing you to place the cam in a bigger range of crack sizes, it has one axle and two stems, eight points of contact and the highest crack range for a cam I’ve been able to find anywhere. In testing and use the range I was able to get out of this thing was equivalent from a 0.75 up a 2. Green to gold, but with slight pang of worry that it would get stuck at the very lower edges of that 0.75.
It helps to think of this camming device as a spring loaded tricam rather than a conventional cam. That being said this like most cams is actually pretty simple, it just takes some getting used to. On the Kalquin the point at which the downward force is directed to is not in the middle of the cam, the “loading” axle is “offset” (I say loading axle, it’s really some dyneema wrapped in heat shrink but it does the job.) this means that the stem that you hold when using the cam would get in the way, if it weren’t for a thin cut out on the center lobe this means that the lobes can sneak down into cracks much smaller than you first think.
There are some trade offs though. I’m going to start off with the bad points about this piece of gear (cause I’m an arsehole like that)
The Cons of the Kalquin
It’s not a certified piece, it’s just made by some lad in Spain.
The trigger on this cam is extremely stiff, the cam won’t walk because the cam can’t walk, the main spring is unbelievably strong , to the point that when placing the cam at the smaller end of its range it’s quite hard to squeeze it down. I can already picture followers that are unfamiliar with it telling me its stuck and me having to rap to retrieve it.
A lot of the stated effective range is in what in a normal cam would be considered very tipped out, it’s a little unnerving placing a cam and seeing it seem very tipped out, this is something I’m sure will come with time, but at the start it’s tricky to quickly judge the quality of a placement.
The finish on the cam is ok at best, the thumb grip is very rough and needs some taping up. It would be sore if you were aiding on this thing and placing it every five minutes for a full day. It has a distinctly “homemade feel” as if the cam was made by someone who had an idea of what they were doing, but this doesn’t feel like a piece of kit that was made by a big name company like DMM or Metolius, more kind of like a rougher style of the old school CCH Aliens. (a harsh criticism coming from the feckshite who 3D printed his own nuts.)
***The cost…. this thing costs 120 euros that’s about 140 dollars for that I could easily buy two C4’s (not that I ever would) . It claims to be “3 friends in one” at that price I should fucking hope so.
A few times when placing this device I placed it in a bomber crack and then immediately pulled on the stem to test the placement as you normally would on a conventional cam, only to pull the thing out of the crack and lose my balance, loading the same stem you hold the device with pulls it out of the crack, this is something a competent climber will grasp after the first time they make that mistake but it took me a few tries.
The Pros of the Kalquin
The improvement in range is significant, some quick measurements tell me that it’s the same difference as between a single and double axle cam, it’s like adding another axle. This means it’s more likely to fit in a crack if plucked off the harness in a moment of desperation, more likely to get you out of a jam when you are running low on gear at the top of a pitch.
This device does have one other major and huge advantage over other camming devices, it behaves more like a tricam than an actual cam, and can be placed quickly as a result. In slippy rock types it is far less likely to pull. Dare I say it more bomber than a hex in West Irish Limestone. It seems to be more bomber in slippy placements than conventional cams, but this has yet to be confirmed with big whippers.
(The crag closest to where I live is notorious for spitting out seemingly “bomber” cam placements at the worst possible time, so I’ll likely report back on this.)
So…. should you buy the Kalquin?
Does it the get the just bomber gear thumbs up?
If you have 120 euro to spare and want an innovative/rare camming device, then sure, by all means, go buy a Totem.
This cam is cool but only for the very serious climbers would this cam hit the mark, I could see a niche for people who climb in the red rocks a lot where splitter cracks are all over the gaff, or people going on big epics, where every gram matters, or If like me you wanted it cause it looks cool, but for every day cragging I think I’m going to stick with my Dragons.
I didn’t work with the company on this gear review, or tell them about this review until after I had received the cam. I bought the device with my own money and only contacted the seller when the cam took about a long time to arrive. ( but in the box the cam came with he included a bag of Haribo, total ledgebag)
***something to consider about the cost, this is made by one guy in Spain, who has done all this on his own, and looking at it, he’s not really making money on this. For someone on their own to make and sell an innovative climbing device for only twice the cost of a normal piece is actually pretty amazing when you think about it.