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How to care for your trad rack

April 08, 2022

How to care for your trad rack

An often neglected process, inspecting your climbing equipment should be a routine habit before heading out to the gym or crag. Confidence that your gear is in top condition is an important part of staying safe on the wall. And might just reduce the pucker factor when you're struggling through that sandbagged, run-out route your friend suggested to you. DMM have produced a video on inspecting Dragon Cams - read on and see the video below for some tips on inspecting your gear.

Inspecting your Cams

Step 1: Age

While most metal climbing equipment has no defined maximum age, it is important to keep an eye on the age of slings, ropes, and webbing. The slings sewn into your cams should be replaced after 10 years, either with a suitably sized cord or by a cam re-slinging service.

Step 2: Function

Ensure that your cams function correctly through their full range of motion. Feel for irregular spring tension, restricted action, and uneven retraction of the cam lobes. See the cleaning section below if your cam is functioning poorly.

Step 3: Lobe Inspection

Check that cam lobes are straight, without any bend or deformity. Feel for sharp edges, gouges, or flat spots on the lobe. This damage can occur when a big fall is arrested, from excessive wear, or if the cam is dropped. If you frequent sea cliffs, be extra sure to check for corrosion on the lobes - cleaning your cams after use is a great preventative measure to reduce the chance of corrosion.

Step 4: Axles and Side Plate Inspection

As with cam lobes, check that the cam axles are straight and free of bend or deformity. Ensure that the side plates are not damaged, looking for cracks, sharp edges or other irregularities. Check that terminating rivets are correctly peened.

Step 5: Cam Lobe/Axle Clearance

Ensure that there is adequate, but not excessive clearance between the cam lobe and axle. Movement of the cam lobe should be free, but not have excessive play that would allow an off axis load. Excessive play may occur after significant use, or enlarging of the hole in the cam lobe after arresting a number of large falls.

Step 6: Trigger Action and Trigger Wires

Confirm that the trigger wires are securely attached, and not frayed or distorted. Check that the trigger mechanism is free of cracks and damage. Ensure that when the trigger mechanism is pulled, cam lobes retract at an equal rate. If trigger wires are bent, they can be carefully straightened by hand, keeping in mind that repeated bending and straightening may cause breakage of the trigger wire.

Step 7: Stem

Check the stem for sharp bends and permanent deformity and that the trigger moves freely along the stem. Where possible, pull back covers on the stem to inspect the internal joins, and ensure that the thumb press or loop on your cam is free of sharp edges that might damage the sling.

Step 8: Sling

Like any runner or climbing sling, check that the bartack is intact with no pulled stitching or broken threads. Inspect the entire length of the slings for cuts, heavy abrasion, loose threads, colour fading indicating UV damage, or heat damage. Be sure to check the section of sling that may be covered by the thumb press or loop.

Cleaning your Cams

Keeping your cams clean will help to extend their usable life, and may be necessary to properly inspect your cams and ensure they are functioning correctly. Dirt and debris can make it difficult to check your cams for damage, and may cause issues with cam lobe function, or corrosion of metal components.

Cams should be rinsed in clean, warm water (Max 30 Degrees Celsius for DMM Dragon Cams),  mixed with a mild washing detergent as you would use to wash the dishes. Use a toothbrush (we recommend one that is no longer used for brushing your teeth) to gently remove dirt and debris from the cam. Rinse the cam with clean water, and dry with a clean towel or rag. For very dirty cams, the washing process may need to be repeated.

Following washing, lubricate the moving parts of the cam to ensure easy operation. Use a light oil such as 3 in 1 oil, Duck Oil, or dedicated Cam Lube. WD-40, graphite powder, and lubricants containing degreasing agents are not suitable for use on cams.

Apply lubricant to the cam springs, in between the side plates and lobes, and between the lobes and axle.


Pull the cam trigger while applying lubricant to work the lubricant into the cam mechanism. Use small amounts of lubricant, and do not allow lubricant to come into contact with the sling.

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