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Fixe Hardware Alien Revolution Review
Cons: Not very durable
Bottom line: These are our favorite finger sized cams.
Range (inches): .33-1.3"
Length (from top to bottom of clip point): 12.62"
Manufacturer: Fixe Hardware
The Fixe Hardware Alien Revolutions are everything we loved about the original CCH Aliens with some rad improvements. The new Aliens are lighter, have a narrower head design, an ergonomic thumb loop, and have the option of an extendable sling. We've always loved the size range, and while these cams have a single axle design, the grey size lets you dial in that perfect, bomber placement in finger cracks. The softer metal detracts from the durability of these cams but gives us some added confidence as these cams seem to bite into the rock and hold under weird body weight placements. While Fixe has done away with the larger orange and purple sizes, they still offer a selection of offset sizes, including the green/yellow, the best cam for finger-sized pin scars.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The Fixe Alien Revolutions won the Editors' Choice for finger size pieces thanks to their weight, range, and flexibility. They are more flexible than the Black Diamond X4s and the Metolius Ultralight Mastercams, allowing them to hold better in pods and pin scars where cams can't be vertically aligned. Six sizes from sub-tips to fat fingers leaves no size gaps, and they're a mere two ounces heavier than the same size run of Ultralight Mastercams, but still have a thumb loop. These cams are our favorite cams for doubling up on finger sizes and complementing a rack of BD cams.
A run six sizes from black to red weighs in at 11.4oz. A set of six Black Diamond X4s weighs five ounces more and covers a larger range because of the .75 (green) size. Aliens are .4 ounces lighter than the same size run of Metolius Ultralight Mastercams, and (ahem) still have a thumb loop. This makes Aliens the lightest of the finger sized cams.
Comparing cam range can be like splitting hairs, especially when you consider how many cams it takes to cover the same range and how this relates to the overall weight of the rack.
To make things more complicated, the maximum end of a cams range might be fine for eeking out a body weight placement when you're aiding, but not when you're looking at a fat whip. Aliens hold the best (and inspire the most confidence) when the tip of each lobe is just barely starting to overlap. The smallest (black) Alien can weasel into cracks as small as 8 mm (.33 in) and the red Alien will accommodate fat fingers splitter as big as 33mm (1.3 in). Additionally, there is the gray Alien, a cool size in between red and yellow that is similar to the beloved orange Metolius. The offset versions cover the same range plus a bonus Red/Yellow size.
These cams have the most flexible stems, hands down. They excel in horizontal placements where the stem easily bends to be more in line with the direction of force.
This also helps keep the cam from getting damaged. Cams with less flexible stems like the Black Diamond C4 or the Wild Country Friend can bend in the direction of a downward pull, but are more likely to become permanently bent.
These cams have a narrower head than the Black Diamond X4s, and the Metolius Ultralight Master Cams, and are ever so slightly narrower than equivalently sized Totem Cams.
The more rigid stem cams like the C4s and the DMM Dragons don't even come close. Aliens fit in tighter spots than any other cam in our review earning them a perfect 10 in this metric.
Our testers loved the easy action on these cams that allows for smooth trigger pulls, but with less pressure on the lobes from the springs, these cams are more prone to walking than the Black Diamond X4s and the Metolius Ultralight Mastercams, especially when slightly under cammed. This is something to keep in mind, especially on traversing pitches or climbs with roofs. Fortunately, fix offers an extendable sling option, so you can always extend these cams, even if you run out of slings.
Our aid climbing testers love aliens for their soft aluminum lobes.
They grip the rock well but wear down faster than the lobes of other cams. Aliens don't have cam stops, so they're more likely to open up and umbrella if poorly placed and under cammed or in soft rock. The Black Diamond X4s and the Metolius Mastercams have cam stops and harder aluminum lobes. It's a bit tricky to repair the trigger wires on these cams, but Fixe does sell trigger wire replacement kits on their website.
Once the king the of the pin scar, Aliens have been dethroned by the Totem Cam, at least in the minds of our testers.
The Totems have independently camming lobes, allowing them to function like an offset. Aliens are still more flexible than any other cam and are available in offset sizes. The thumb loop is also a great clip-in point for adding precious inches to your top step.
The ergonomic thumb loop on the Alien Revolutions is awesome for free climbing, making it significantly easier to grab the cam and engage the triggers when you're pumped out of your mind. This gives them a huge advantage of the Metolius Mastercams and the DMM Dragon Cams, which lack thumb loops. The flexible stems that allow Aliens to hold so well in pockets, flares and horizontal placements frustrated one of our testers because the stem isn't rigid enough to just shove the cams into cracks without pulling the trigger.
The Alien Revolution excels on granite, whether you're aid or free climbing. Their unmatched flexibility makes them an excellent piece for pockets and pin scars. Aliens are most at home high up on El Cap, especially the offset sizes. Their super narrow heads fit into small pockets and holes found in places like Eldorado Canyon, the Gunks, and Neice areas like Moore's Wall in North Carolina. They'll protect Indian Creek splitters well, but aren't our first choice since they're too flexible to shove into cracks when you're pumped.
At $69.95 per cam, Aliens are $5 less than the Black Diamond X4s, but not quite the bargain as the Best Buy Award winning Metolius Ultralight Mastercam. Also, Consider that Black Diamond X4s cover a wider range with fewer cams because of their double axle design. In our experience, the soft aluminum lobes break down faster than on other cams, and the trigger wires are more difficult to replace. That being said, Fixe offers a trigger wire replacement kit and provides a great how-to video on their website.
In the past, Aliens have been hard to get. A shipment would show up in the Yosemite Mountain shop and they'd be sold out in a couple days. They were also subject to manufacturing inconsistencies and recalls. Thanks to Fixe, we now have unfettered access to the sweetest little finger sized cams out there, plus narrower heads and less weight than the originals. These are the lightest of the narrow-headed cams in our review, and our testers found them very easy to place. Our lead tester never climbs without a red alien.
— Matt Bento
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