When I saw DMM's announcement about these cams I was extremely excited to try them out. I've been satisfied with every piece of DMM equipment that I've used in the past and really wanted to see how much DMM could challenge Black Diamond. There is no doubt that the C4's are fantastic cams and I'm always happy to rack up with them. However, after almost a year of climbing with the Dragon cams, I'm a touch happier racking up with them.
So many things are similar between the two cams but two things really stand out in my mind:
1) Honestly, it feels good to support DMM and their commitment to their local workers. I'm not going to say much else about this as it has more to do with my morals than anything else. But if you value such things, it's a selling point.
2) The entendible slings. At first I wasn't really sure how much I'd use this feature, but when it's so convenient I realize how often I want more extension than you get with the C4's but less than you get with an alpine draw.
Are either of these reasons to replace a set of C4's with Dragon's? No. But, if you're looking to get your first or subsequent set of cams they are worthy of strong consideration.
My climbing partner and I have been using this pack for the last 2 years and have been extremely satisfied with it. We spend the vast majority of our time trad climbing and it suites our multi-pitch needs quite well.
It's true that the pack is not huge, and for a trad climber that's fantastic! For the approach, it has just enough space to hold two 1 liter sigg water bottles in the side compartments, most of our food for the day in the zippered top and two 8.4mm double ropes inside! The loops on the outside are perfect for our alpine draws and allow the creative climber to strap on shoes and other layers to the outside.
For the climb we naturally replace the rope with our shoes and any extra layers or water that we may have. The smaller (yet adequate) size of the pack means that it stays out of our way while climbing. The water bottle compartments on the outside of the pack are simply genius. They allow you easy access to your water while at a hanging belay without digging around in your pack, reducing the risk of dropping gear.
After a couple hundred pitches of climbing our bag was in good shape. The only thing that it didn't stand up against are the teeth of a squirrel which was the fault of myself, not the bag.