Gear4Rocks Links Cams' appearance doesn't inspire trust. With their bare-wire stems and roughly-finished lobes, the cams looks like what they are: cheap climbing gear made by a near-anonymous company in eastern Europe. Sketchy, but at $36 a pop, they're the most affordable cams on the market. And honestly, they're not half as bad as they look.
Though the designers behind the Ukranian company have been manufacturing rock pro for over two decades, it's only in the past few years that Gear4Rocks has attracted attention (most of it skeptical) from American climbers. Unlike some of the company's scarier products—plastic nuts, anyone?—Links Cams are CE certified, meaning their breaking strength has been laboratory-tested and conforms to European Union standards.
To test Gear4Rocks' Links Cams, I took one of their purple size twos up a few cracks at Potrillo Cliffs, a small basalt trad crag near Los Alamos, New Mexico. The cam handled surprisingly well: it was easy to place, and walked less than any of the Metolius cams on my rack. I found myself reaching for it for horizontal and diagonal placements, where the cam's extremely flexible wire stem bent easily over sharp edges. In bounce tests, it didn't budge.
The stripped-down design does have its shortcomings, the most obvious of which is the lack of a sewn sling (users have to either tie their own or clip directly into the thumb loop). The trigger action is somewhat wobbly, and the flimsy plastic trigger itself cracked and had to be glued back together after a month of being jostled around in my backpack.
Gear4Rocks Links are definitely no substitute for gold-standard pro like Camalots or Totem Cams, but they may find fans among cash-strapped dirtbags looking to beef up their racks. The cams come in five sizes covering 1-2.5 inches, and are available on Gear4Rocks' website.