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Fixe Hardware Alien Revolution Review

These are our favorite finger sized cams.
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Price:  $80 List | $74.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Light, flexible stem, awesome in pin scars
Cons:  Not very durable
Manufacturer:   Fixe Hardware
By Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 30, 2018
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 9
  • Free Climbing - 20% 7
  • Weight - 15% 8
  • Range - 15% 6
  • Horizontal Cracks - 15% 9
  • Tight Placements - 15% 9
  • Durability - 10% 4
  • Walking - 5% 8
  • Aid Climbing - 5% 9

Our Verdict

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 bodyweight placements. The Alien Revolution excel on granite, whether you're aid or free climbing. Their 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 or the Gunks.


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Fixe Alien Revolutions are easily one of our favorite choices for finger size pieces thanks to their weight, range, and flexibility. They have an incredibly felxible stem, allowing them to hold better in pods and pin scars where their 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 the very lightest finger sizes available, but still have a thumb loop. These cams are a great choice for doubling up on finger sizes and complementing a rack of BD cams. While Fixe has done away with the larger orange and purple sizes that used to be part of the CCH size range, they still offer a selection of offset sizes, including the green/yellow, the best cam for finger-sized pin scars. Aid climbers will love that these cams come in offset sizes as well.

Quality Control
While we love these cams, we feel we would be remiss not to mention that they have had some issues in the past with quality control. After nearly two years, our initial set of testers is still in great shape, and we use them whenever we head out to place gear. That said, the internet has plenty of stories to read about poor quality pieces that break easily, and difficult struggles to get Fixe to own up to their problems and refund or replace problematic units. The Alien Revolution seem to be doing better than the previous version, the Alien Evolution, which had become notorious. Their checkered reputation is one of the few reasons we don't recommend these as the top overall finger sized cams.

The new and improved Aliens are our favorite finger sized cams.
The new and improved Aliens are our favorite finger sized cams.

Performance Comparison



Free Climbing


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 over other small cams that 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.


Weight


A run of six sizes from black to red weighs in at 11.4oz. 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, a compelling reason to add some to your rack.


Range


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 cam's range might be fine for eeking out a bodyweight 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.

The super flexible stem helps these cams perform well in horizontal cracks without kinking or deforming.
The super flexible stem helps these cams perform well in horizontal cracks without kinking or deforming.

Horizontal Cracks


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 can bend in the direction of a downward pull, but are more likely to become permanently bent if you take a fall with a lot of force onto them.

The Aliens have the narrowest heads of any cam in our review.
The Aliens have the narrowest heads of any cam in our review.

Tight Placements


These cams have a narrower head than almost any other type of cam, making them especially adept at shallow or flaring placements where you are still trying to get all four lobes into contact with solid rock.


Rigid stem cams don't even come close when it comes to performance in tight placements, due mostly to their propensity to actually lever a cam out of a placement if the stem is weighted against a protrusion of rock lower than the lobes. Flexible stems easily help avoid this problem.

Walking


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 cams with tighter cam springs, especially when slightly under cammed. This is something to keep in mind, especially on traversing pitches or climbs with roofs. Fortunately, you can buy versions of these cams with an extendable sling option, so you can always extend these cams, even if you run out of slings.


Durability


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. They won't be as durable as cams that are made with a harder aluminum alloy. It's also a bit tricky to repair the trigger wires on these cams, but Fixe does sell trigger wire replacement kits on their website.

Because of where the trigger wires attach to the lobes  the wires can be difficult to replace.
Because of where the trigger wires attach to the lobes, the wires can be difficult to replace.

Aid Climbing


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.

Aliens have smooth and easy action  making the triggers a breeze to engage when you're pumped.
Aliens have smooth and easy action, making the triggers a breeze to engage when you're pumped.

Value


While these cams are by no means the most expensive you can buy, they also don't come cheap. The real issue is not the price, but more likely the reliability. 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. If you get many years of solid use out of your Aliens, then they are worth the money without question, but if you are concerned whether you will get those hard earned years, you may consider buying from a more reputable brand.

Conclusion


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 some of the sweetest little finger sized cams out there, with 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