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Can you comment on the life-span of an Alien cam?
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Dec 9, 2012
Have you owned Aliens (manufacturer shouldn't matter for this question) for some time, put them through the wringer of placements and falls? If so, please give me some insight:

It's time to buy a new set of small cams, and after experience with many options on partner's racks, I'm into CCH/Fixe/Totem Aliens, sizes blue to yellow or red. I will only be free climbing on them.

BUT, I know their lobes wear faster than other cams. I fall on gear, I would say, more than most, and would not be keen on buying a cam that would last me a year. Aside from the worn lobes I've seen on some older Aliens, this Chris Mac quote on OutdoorGearLab got me thinking:

"As mentioned above, the trade-off with the cams' soft metal is that they wear out fast. After a few walls the cams will be a little sticky and lose their teeth. After a few more walls you might need to use two hands to retract them."

I'm just looking for the ballpark life-span people have had with these compared to other brands. I know Mastercams and some other options are more durable than question is: is the difference in multiple years, or minutes, or months, or what?

Thanks for any info.
Joined Sep 28, 2012
45 points
Dec 9, 2012
my green has been going strong for several years now. The blue (same vintage) is sticky but still functions. Those two cams have caught falls big and small, never ripped out. I feel a lot better when I'm above a blue alien than a purple master cam. Get 'em both as they complement each other really well! Keenan Waeschle
From Bozeman, MT
Joined Feb 8, 2010
165 points
Dec 9, 2012
I have loads of aliens. I mostly climb in sandstone and would say that whipping on them in those conditions does not really do to much to them. I could see lots of rough granite really working them over though. I would expect the new ones from fixe and totem to be more durable than the CCH units. you can and will get many years of work out of these units. Rob Warden...Space Lizard
From Springdale Ut
Joined Dec 19, 2011
0 points
Dec 9, 2012
I don't know how much aid climbing you do but it trashes your gear, doing a wall might be harder on gear than a year of free climbing. I've free climbed a lot with aliens and have fallen 10' onto a 2-lobe green alien placement without damaging the piece other than a little dent in the lobe. Aliens are great small gear - buy one and see how it holds up, or just buy the set and enjoy. adam winslow
From Santa Barbara, CA
Joined Jun 29, 2008
1,100 points
Dec 9, 2012
Using the Fixe set since they were released. 90% on granite. The green & blue are pretty worked. One good fall on the blue made an obvious flat spot on one set of lobes - looks more like a black/blue hybrid now. They show much more wear than any other cams on my rack (c3, tcu, mastercam). Aside from being really expensive and wearing out the quickest, they are fantastic cams! :-/

The c3s have proven to be much more durable than I was expecting. They are a great partner for a set of Aliens or Mastercams. I have high hopes for the Camalot x4 being as good as Aliens with better durability.
Joined Nov 22, 2011
0 points
Dec 9, 2012
My aliens are 9 years old and are still on the rack. They see plenty of action. caughtinside
From Oakland CA
Joined Nov 21, 2006
1,415 points
Dec 9, 2012
they are fine but are a bit more sensitive than others. doubt you would wear them out in a year. i don't have any of the new ones but i would assume the manufacturing processes and material sourcing are much more consistent. when they get sticky a drop of oil can go a long way in making them functional again. Kevin Connolly
From CO
Joined Sep 28, 2009
0 points
Dec 10, 2012
If you can wait till Spring 2013, you could get new BD X4. Looks like an alien, but will be more durable and cost about the same. There's another thread on MP where people are arguing about which is better. Will remain to be seen but worth a look. William Nelson
From Cave Creek, AZ
Joined Oct 25, 2010
0 points
Dec 10, 2012
Nick Mestre wrote:
After a few walls the cams will be a little sticky and lose their teeth. After a few more walls you might need to use two hands to retract them.

If this ever happens it is absolutely critical you lube them up so they move freely again, or if that is not possible, retire them. If the lobes cannot move on their own you basically have a CD instead of a SLCD, meaning that the cam is no longer spring loaded. Without the spring forcing the lobes against the rock it is unlikely the cam will hold a fall.
20 kN
From Hawaii
Joined Feb 2, 2009
1,123 points
Dec 10, 2012
I've got a CCH green and it's one of my favorite pieces. That being said it's definitely showing much more wear than my metolius small gear. Mike Tsuji
From Boulder, CO
Joined Mar 9, 2009
265 points
Dec 10, 2012
Mine have lasted a very long time. I still whip regularly on two green aliens i bought used 6 years ago. The lobes do lose some metal but the wear for me has been pretty even so they are a smaller now but still going. I have destroyed a couple in larger falls in awkward placements but only after many years of use. The smallest do get sticky but a little filing and work can rejuvenate them. I've retired some then after getting desperate for more gear, sent them to wiredbliss to fix them up and have been amazed what that guy can do to a manky cam. I also use tcus in the smallest and have found that they break alot easier and mank up pretty quick. The little cam stops/spring tabs break off or bend pretty easily. When they break off the cam can again be rejuvenated by wiredbliss. He has the tools to attach the springs to the trigger wires like his cams. Just try hard to place nuts as the high piece before the crux when youre in small cam territory, cuz any small cam takes a beating in repeated falls. Abel Jones
From Boulder, CO
Joined Dec 24, 2010
155 points
Dec 10, 2012
Most of mine (20+) were built between 97 and 01.

They aren't and have never been sticky. They have all seen a multitude of falls and placements and no shortage of hangdogging. They're fine.

If you want to keep aliens for a long time though, you need to learn to fix trigger wires. It's not as,simple as baling wire or weed whacker cable. I am convinced that most of that wire damage comes from loading it in the pack.

One interesting thing, my aliens do feel a tad smaller than they used to. Do I remember these routes wrong? Have my fingers fattened up more so my corresponding jam is no longer the size I am accustomed to? Am I old and no longer willing to have anything other than a tightly burried piece? Or have they become slightly smaller over the years?

Comparison and honesty indicate that all these things are a little true.
From Colorado
Joined Oct 29, 2012
0 points
Dec 10, 2012
i have a green alien i fall on ...

ive also used up a BD 0.3 C4, a TCU, a C3, etc ...

any small cam with enough enough falls will eventually go ... perfect placement can help when you get it ... etc etc etc ... but microcams are always a risk and less durable than their larger brothers

thats the price you pay for using such gear hard

which is generally why i prefer a small nut over a microcam if the placement allows for it .... you still wreck em ... but IMO a nut tends to hold better and they are much cheaper to replace
Joined Mar 1, 2009
25 points
Dec 10, 2012
I have a black, blue, yellow and red alien. Black and blue are great pieces for small cracks. I've weighted them numerous times and have had them since 2006/7ish. Yellow and red get placed just as much, and I took a good 15 footer on yellow earlier this year. There are dimples in the lobes, but no real deformation to talk about.

I've also had no "sticky" issues. My BDs get stuck more often. However, the BDs lobes are clearly harder with scrapes more than dimples.
Charlie S
From Ogden, UT
Joined Aug 23, 2007
1,233 points
Dec 10, 2012
I have a size zero, CCH original Alien from, what, 30 years ago? It still works, has not taken major falls and is trustworthy on my rack yet. A classic piece of gear for sure. Woodchuck ATC
Joined Nov 29, 2007
505 points

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