Cams: Wild Country Zeros
Let's start with a quote from Kevin Thaw: “New products appear from time to time that make routes easier and sometimes people claim these advances warrant grade revisions. I know these claims are for real. Zeros will do much more than we can yet imagine. Speed times will shrink and grades really will need adjustment. These are the indispensable granite tools for the 21st century.”
So what's different about them? They are not just small, they are tiny! The smallest of the six-size range is the smallest and lightest cam in the world. It's very hard to imagine a smaller cam ever existing, certainly one that will be useful to climbers. That may sound like a strange statement to make, but I have to say that beautiful though they are, the smaller sizes of Zero do look a little flimsy to be holding my weight in a fall. Indeed a glance through the stats table and a little maths shows that if a 70kg climber was 20m above his belayer and 5m above his last piece of pro, a fall would result in a 4.23kN force*, 50% more than the breaking strain of the smallest cam. The moral of this story is to heed the manufacturer's information. The smallest Zero's are NOT for taking big lobs onto. They are for passive weighting - i.e. aiding, and will theoretically absorb small falls. Once up to Size 3 however and they are into the realm of respectable forces (6kN and more).
But then we all know that tiny rp's and brass offset nuts are not for big lobs (Dave MacLeod are you listening?) yet we religiously carry them in case of extremis, so why not do the same with cams. I strongly suspect that this is why they are proving popular. They really weigh very little and take up barely any space on your harness so take along a few for those placements where nothing else will do. At the very least they might slow you down some!
So what are they like in practice? Wild Country have been making Friends for a long time so it is no surprise that the quality of the Zero's is tip top. For such diddy kit the attention to detail is impressive. The single stem is protected by a passive coiled spring sheath, the trigger is operable by two fingers and a thumb. The miniscule cams impressively feature passive cam stops. The sling is doubled up allowing a little extra extension. Personally I'd have put on a shorter sling and saved a few more grams. They place nicely, but as always with diddy cams it's a fine line between pull-testing too vigorously and risking loosening the placement.
At £50 they are very reasonably priced for such a neat bit of kit. Well worth it for the smaller sizes, up to a 3 or 4, but the larger sizes are possibly bettered by the smallest sizes of other cam ranges.
Check out Wild Country's site where there is a load of information on the Zero:
Sizes, Ranges, Weights & Strengths:
1, 5.5-7.8mm, 25g & 3kN
2, 7.0-9.8mm, 32g & 4kN
3, 8.5-12.2mm, 44g & 6kN
4, 10.3-16mm, 50g & 6kN
5, 13.0-19.0mm, 66g & 9kN
6, 17.0-24.0mm, 70g & 9kN
What I liked:
Very well engineered, neat looking kit
Super light and compact
What I didn't like:
The larger sizes are bettered by the smaller sizes in other cam ranges
Very little else
* Fall Factor Calculator: http://www.getbeta.com/fall_factor.asp