Best Climbing Rope

When done right, climbing is one of the safest extreme sports. However, properly protecting a climber requires knowledge and skill that must be learned, and if done wrong the consequences are disastrous. The system used to keep climbers safe typically involves two people attached to a single rope. The climber ties into one end of the rope, referred to as the sharp end, and the belayer connects themselves further down the rope with a device that creates friction to hold the climber up if they are to fall.

The type of rope chosen for protection depends on what kind of climbing you plan on doing, however, all ropes used for catching a climber should be dynamic, meaning they stretch when bearing a load. This decreases the amount of kinetic force a climber experiences when falling, making for a safer and more comfortable catch. The opposite of a dynamic rope is a static rope, which barely stretches when weighted. Static ropes can be used for rescues, caving, and ascending a rope, but are extremely dangerous when used for free climbing, top roping, or mountaineering. Every rope reviewed in this article is a dynamic rope.

Choosing a climbing rope can be a confusing process, that involves a certain amount of knowledge of the sport. All terms and ratings used to differentiate climbing ropes are explained below the reviews. It should also be noted that although this article rates and reviews climbing ropes, each of these ropes is completely safe if used properly. Any cons listed for a rope are there to decipher what kind of climbing a rope is best suited for and is not a reflection of actual issues in its make. Climbers entrust their gear with their lives, therefore it can be trusted that any product that makes it to the market has been thoroughly vetted for safety.

Petzl Mambo
  • Petzl Mambo
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Great beginner rope
  • Middle mark
  • Price: See Here
Sterling Fusion Nano
  • Sterling Fusion Nano
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Super lightweight
  • Dry treated
  • Price: See Here
Petzl Volta
  • Petzl Volta
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • High-quality rope
  • Dry treated
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Climbing Ropes

 

 

Petzl Mambo

Petzl Mambo
The Patzl Mambo is a thick rope that can be purchased in a large variety of different lengths. It is a good choice for beginner climbers and works well indoors as well as out.
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Rope Type

This is a single rope. With its thick diameter it is best for sport climbing indoors and outdoors, and top roping.

Safety Rating

This rope has a static elongation of 8.5% and a dynamic elongation of 34%. Its impact force is 8.5kN and it is rated to take 7 UIAA falls.

Diameter and Length

This rope is available at 30m, 40m, 50m, 60m, 70m, and 200m. If you are planning on using it outside make sure to buy the 60m or 70m, as lengths shorter than this will not be sufficient for many sport climbs. The 200m length is meant to be cut into shorter ropes, and will be hard to maneuver as one rope. This rope has a diameter of 10.1mm, which is thicker than most single ropes. The thickness makes this rope heavy, but also means it will stand up to great wear and tear.

Extra Features

This rope features a middle mark, which alerts you when you have utilized over half of the rope.

Price

The price for this rope is on par with what one should expect to pay.

Summary

The Petzl Mambo is a very thick rope, making it a good choice for beginner climbers who will primarily be using it for top roping.
Pros
  • Has middle mark
  • Great beginner rope
Cons
  • Very heavy
  • Not dry treated
 

Petzl Volta

Petzl Volta
The Petzl Volta is a thin, lightweight, all terrain rope that can be used for basically any type of climbing. The thin diameter does require skill to handle, so this rope is recommended for experienced climbers only.
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Rope Type

This rope is certified as a single, half, or twin rope, making it ideal for basically any type of climbing. The skinny diameter does make it more prone to wear and tear, so try to avoid top roping or other types of climbing where you will hang on the rope repeatedly and for long periods of time.

Safety Rating

Each rope type that this rope is certified as has its own safety ratings. As a single rope, this rope has a static elongation of 7.5%, a dynamic elongation of 33%, an impact force of 8.6kN, and can take 6 UIAA falls. As a half rope, this rope has a static elongation of 7.5%, a dynamic elongation of 30%, an impact force of 6.8kN, and can take over 20 UIAA falls. Finally, as a twin rope, this rope has a static elongation of 6%, a dynamic elongation of 26%, an impact force of 10.5kN, and can take over 30 UIAA falls.

Diameter and Length

This rope is available in 30m, 50m, 60m, 70m, 80m, and 100m. It has a diameter of 9.2mm, which is lightweight but also makes it more difficult to handle.

Extra Features

This rope has a middle mark that alerts you once you have utilized over half the rope. It is dry treated, so it will repel water in wet conditions, making it a great choice for ice climbing, mountaineering, and multi pitch climbing.

Price

This rope is more expensive than most other climbing ropes.

Summary

The Petzl Volta can be used for sport climbing, trad climbing, ice climbing, and mountaineering. Its lightweight means it works well on long approaches and multi pitch climbs. The only areas where this rope is not an appropriate choice is for beginner climbers and top roping.
Pros
  • Certified single, half, and twin rope
  • Middle mark
  • Dry treated
Cons
  • Not suitable for beginners
 

Sterling Fusion Nano

Sterling Fusion Nano
The Sterling Fusion Nano is a versatile rope that is designed to work well for basically any type of climbing. With a skinny diameter, this rope can be hard to handle and is not recommended for beginners, top roping, or projecting.
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Rope Type

This rope is certified as a single, half, or twin making it a great choice for ice climbing, multi pitch trad climbing, and mountaineering. It can also work well for sport climbing and single pitch trad, however one should avoid taking repeated falls or hanging on this rope for elongated periods of time.

Safety Rating

Each rope type that this rope is certified as has its own safety ratings. As a single rope, this rope has a static elongation of 7.0%, a dynamic elongation of 26.4%, an impact force of 8.5kN, and can take 6 UIAA falls. As a half rope, this rope has a static elongation of 7.0%, a dynamic elongation of 27.6%, an impact force of 6.6kN, and can take over 15 UIAA falls. Finally, as a twin rope, this rope has a static elongation of 3.6%, a dynamic elongation of 25.3%, an impact force of 10.4kN, and can take over 20 UIAA falls.

Diameter and Length

This rope is available in 30m, 40m, 50, 60m, 70m, and 80m. The bicolor version is only available at the lengths of 60m, 70m, and 80m. This rope has a diameter of 9.0mm, which is very skinny and should only be handled by expert climbers.

Extra Features

This rope is a dry rope, and is available for purchase with a DryCore technology, which treats the core but not the sheath, or DryXP technology, which treats the entire rope and guarantees less than 5% water absorption. This rope is also available as a bicolor rope, which means the pattern changes at the halfway mark, making it easy to tell exactly where you are on the rope.

Price

This rope is on the pricier side for climbing ropes.

Summary

The Sterling Fusion Nano is a multi-purpose rope that is a great choice for almost every kind of climbing. The very thin diameter makes it extremely lightweight, and its tripe rating makes it a great choice for ice climbing, multi pitch climbs, and mountaineering.
Pros
  • Certified single, half, and twin rope
  • Dry treated
  • Super lightweight
  • Bicolor available
Cons
  • Not recommended for beginners
 

Sterling Slim Gym

Sterling Slim Gym
The Sterling Slim Gym is a thick rope designed to be used in the gym. Coming in shorter lengths, this rope is easier to maneuver on indoor walls that don’t exceed 12 to 15 meters.

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Rope Type

This is a single rope that is specifically designed for sport climbing in an indoor rock gym.

Safety Rating

This rope has a static elongation of 8.4% and a dynamic elongation of 35.3%. Its impact force is 8.6kN and it is rated to take 6 UIAA falls.

Diameter and Length

This rope is available for purchase at 25m, 30m, 100m, and 200m. Each of these lengths are specifically catered to gym climbing. The short lengths are for individuals who wish to pursue sport climbing on short gym walls. Double check the length of the walls in your gym before purchasing either of these ropes.

The long lengths are made for gym owners, who wish to buy rope in bulk to set up gym top ropes. The diameter of this rope is 10.1mm, which is thick for a single rope. The thickness of this rope is also ideal for gym climbing, as thick rope moves less quickly through a belay device and therefore is great for less experienced belayers.

Extra Features

This rope has no extra features.

Price

This rope is much cheaper than the average price for climbing ropes, however, it only comes at short lengths and doesn’t offer any extra features.

Summary

The Sterling Slim Gym is designed for beginner climbers who sport climb in a gym. The thick diameter will move more slowly through a belay device and is therefore ideal for unpracticed belayers. The thickness of this rope also withstands the stresses of top roping and elongated hangs better than a thin rope.
Pros
  • Cheap price
  • Great beginner rope
  • Thick diameter withstands wear and tear
Cons
  • Very heavy
  • For gym climbing only
  • Short lengths only
  • No middle mark
  • Not dry treated

BlueWater Icon

BlueWater Icon
The BlueWater Icon is a skinny rope designed to be as lightweight as possible and perfect for advanced climbers. Coming in a variety of different colors, this rope won’t weigh you down as you go for the send on you project or hike deep into the backcountry looking for new cracks.
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Rope Type

This is a single rope, and is best used for sport climbing or trad climbing. Its thin diameter makes it a poor choice for top roping.

Safety Rating

This rope has a static elongation of 7.2% and a dynamic elongation of 32.7%. Its impact force is 8.8kN and it is rated to take 5 UIAA falls.

Diameter and Length

This rope is available at 60m, 70m, and 80m. It has a diameter of 9.1mm, which is very skinny for a single rope. The skinny diameter means this rope is lightweight, but also that it is difficult to handle and requires an attentive and expert belay.

Extra Features

This rope is available in bicolor options. It is also available as a double-dry treated rope, meaning the sheath and core both repel water.

Price

This rope has a price point similar to most other climbing ropes.

Summary

The BlueWater Icon is a great, super lightweight rope ideal for multi pitch climbs. It also works well for sport climbing, however, due to its super thin diameter repeated falls and long hangs should be kept to a minimum.
Pros
  • Bicolor available
  • Dry treated
  • Very lightweight
Cons
  • Not suitable for beginners

Petzl Arial

Petzl Arial
The Petzl Arial comes in two different colors so that you can pick the one that fits your style best. Bright orange will help you stand out at the crag, while a deep brown will stop the rope from showing dirt. Do be aware that dark colored ropes tend to get hot in the sun, which can become a hassle for the belayer.
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Rope Type

This is a single rope, and is best for sport climbing, top roping, and trad climbing.

Safety Rating

This rope has a static elongation of 7.6% and a dynamic elongation 32%. Its impact facture is 8.8kN, and it is rated to withstand 7 UIAA.

Diameter and Length

This rope can be purchased at 60m, 70m, and 80m. Think carefully about the length you need before buying a rope, since extra length never hurts but not enough could mean you come off the end. This rope has a diameter of 9.5mm, making it thinner than most sport climbing ropes but also more lightweight.

Extra Features

This rope is dry treated, and will, therefore, repel water if it gets wet. A middle mark at the center of the rope alerts the belayer when they have lowered past the halfway mark.

Price

The price for this rope is average for what one should expect to pay for this type of product.

Summary

The thinner diameter on the Petzl Arial makes it a lighter weight rope. This is especially helpful if you plan to buy it at the length of 80m.
Pros
  • Dry treated
  • Has a middle mark
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Thin diameter makes it harder to handle

Mammut Infinity

Mammut Infinity
The Mammut Infinity is an all around great rope that can be used for a variety of climbing styles. With a diameter that is on the thin side, this rope is also lightweight and won’t weigh you down on a long approach.
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Rope Type

This is a single rope, which means it is best for sport climbing, top roping, and trad climbing.

Safety Rating

The static elongation on this rope is 6.5% and the dynamic elongation is 30%. The impact force of this rope is 8.4kN and it is rated to withstand 7 to 8 UIAA falls.

Diameter and Length

This rope can be bought at the standard lengths of 60m, 70m, and 80m, meaning you can cater the length to your needs. It has a diameter of 9.5mm, which makes it thinner than most other single ropes. This is an advantage if you are looking for a lightweight rope, but does mean that it will slide more quickly through a belay device.

Extra Features

This rope is dry treated, meaning it will repel water when it gets wet. This makes it a good choice for ice climbers and multi pitch climbers who prefer to use a single rope.

Price

This rope is on the cheaper end for what one can expect to pay for a climbing rope.

Summary

The Mammut Infinity is a great rope for sport climbing or single and multi pitch trad. Although it will also work well for top roping, its thin diameter means it will fray more quickly, and repeated hangs may compromise the rope after some time.
Pros
  • Dry treated
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Thin diameter makes it harder to handle
  • No middle mark

BlueWater Lightning Pro

BlueWater Lightning Pro
The BlueWater Lightning Pro is a fantastic rope that comes with a plethora of great extra features. It can be purchased in multiple colors and at multiple lengths, so you can cater is specifically to your style and needs.
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Rope Type

This is a single rope and is best for sport climbing, top roping, and trad climbing.

Safety Rating

This rope has a static elongation of 8.9% and a dynamic elongation of 32.2%. Its impact force is 7.8kN and it is rated to take 8 UIAA falls.

Diameter and Length

This rope is available for purchase at 60m and 70m. It has a diameter of 9.7mm, which is average for sport climbing ropes.

Extra Features

This rope is available for purchase with or without multiple extra features. It can be bought with a double-dry water-resistant coat that protects both the sheath and core from getting wet. The double-dry version is also available in a bicolor pattern, that shifts at the half-way mark.

Price

The price for this rope is similar to that of other climbing ropes.

Summary

The BlueWater Lightning Pro is available with or without dry treatment or a bicolor pattern. This makes it very customizable to your needs and your budget.
Pros
  • Dry treated
  • Bicolor
  • Standard diameter for free climbing
Cons
  • It doesn't come with a bag

Beal Booster III

Beal Booster III
The Beal Booster III is an economic choice for a climbing rope. The lower price does not mean that you are sacrificing anything in terms of weight, safety, or features though.
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Rope Type

This is a single rope, and is best for sport climbing, top roping, and trad climbing.

Safety Rating

This rope has a dynamic elongation of 38%. Percentage for static elongation was not available. The impact force on this rope is 7.3kN and it is rated to withstand 7 to 8 UAII falls.

Diameter and Length

This rope can be bought at the length of 70m, which will get you up most sport climbs with plenty of room to spare. It has a diameter of 9.7mm, which is within the average for lightweight single ropes.

Extra Features

The sheath on this rope is dry treated, meaning it will repel water keeping the rope dry even in the rain. This makes it a good choice for multi pitch climbs.

Price

This rope comes at a low price compared to similar products.

Summary

With a standard diameter for free climbing and a great price, the Beal Booster III makes for a great rope for someone just starting to climb outside. High dynamic elongation creates soft falls, and the thickness also makes this rope a decent choice for top roping.
Pros
  • Dry treated
  • Low price
  • Standard diameter for free climbing
Cons
  • Only comes in one length
  • No middle mark

Sterling Evolution Velocity 9.8

Sterling Evolution Velocity 9.8
The Sterling Evolution Velocity is a versatile and sturdy rope that comes in an assortment of attractive color. This rope has been used by professional climbers like Chris Sharma, and is a great choice for working on your project.
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Rope Type

This is a single rope and is best for sport climbing, top roping, and trad climbing.

Safety Rating

This rope has a static elongation of 8.6% and a dynamic elongation of 26.4%. Its impact force is 8.8kN and it has been rated to take 6 UIAA falls.

Diameter and Length

This rope can be bought at 35m, 60m, 70m, and 80m. Only use the 35m rope for gym climbing, or if you are absolutely certain that the climb you are getting on is less than 15m in length. The diameter of this rope is 9.8mm, which is the standard width for sport climbing ropes.

Extra Features

This rope is dry treated, and can, therefore, be a good choice if you prefer to use a single rope for multipitch climbs or ice climbs. All lengths of this rope except for the 35m feature a middle marker. Since the 35m rope should only be used on gym walls equal to or less than 15m in height, the middle marker is less important on this length.

Price

This rope is priced on par with other similar products.

Summary

The Sterling Evolution Velocity has less dynamic elongation than other ropes, which makes a good beginner rope. Top roping will wear on this rope less, however, large whippers may feel harsher.
Pros
  • Dry treated
  • Has middle mark
  • Standard diameter for free climbing
Cons
  • Not too cheap

Criteria Used For The Evaluation

Rope Type

There are three different types of rope that one can buy: single ropes, half ropes, and twin ropes. Although these types of rope look similar, each goes through a different process for being properly rated. Only use a rope in the style for which it has been intended and tested.

Single ropes are the most common style of rope. The name ”single” indicates that these ropes are meant to be used on their own without any other ropes for protection. These ropes are most commonly used in sports climbing, trad climbing, big wall climbing, and top-roping. When using a single rope the climber ties into one rope and then attaches this rope to quick draws, cams, or nuts as they climb. These ropes have a diameter of 9mm or larger and are denoted by a number “1” found at the end of the rope.

Half ropes are meant to be used with another rope. When climbing with a twin rope the climber ties into two ropes and then alternates attaching each rope to their protection. Typically they will use one rope for protection that is located to their left and the other rope for protection that is located to their right. This style of rope is typically used for ice climbing and mountaineering to create redundancy in protection, and on wandering multi pitch routs to decrease rope drag. These ropes have a diameter of 8 – 9mm and are denoted by a “1/2” symbol on each end.

Finally, twin ropes are used in tandem with another rope, hence the name “twin”. For this system, a climber again ties into two ropes, but unlike the half rope system, both ropes are placed in every piece of protection. These ropes can be even skinnier than half ropes, with some having a diameter of less than 8mm. Twin ropes are used in ice climbing, mountaineering, and on multi-pitch routs that do not wander. They are denoted by the symbol “?” on each end.

Half ropes and twin ropes systems require expertise to handle, and are not appropriate for most free climbing endeavors. However, in ice climbing, mountaineering, and big wall climbs these systems provide more safety as there is a second rope that can work to catch your fall if an ice screw fails or a rock severs one of the ropes. These systems also allow for longer repels, since the two ropes can be tied together once the climber reaches the top. Some ropes are certified as single, half, and twin ropes. If this is the case, make sure to inspect the safety ratings carefully, as use will have been tested differently and therefore will have different numbers.

 Safety Rating

Every rope that is on the market is tested for safety in the same way. The governing body that administers these tests is the Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme or the UIAA.

The first test that they do is for static elongation. The percentage that appears on a rope is how much that rope stretches when an 80kg weight is placed at the end of the rope. For single and twin ropes, static elongation may not exceed 10%, while for half ropes it may not exceed 12%.

The second test is for dynamic elongation, which is the percentage a rope stretches after taking a fall. To achieve this number weights are dropped onto each type of rope. Single ropes are dropped with an 80kg weight, half ropes are dropped with a 55kg weight, and twin ropes are dropped with an 80kg weight on two strands. Dynamic elongation on a rope may not exceed 40% of the ropes length.

Lower numbers for dynamic elongation are desirable if you wish to prevent a large fall. However, a longer fall means a softer catch since rope stretch slows you down before reaching the bottom of the fall. This also means the climber will experience less impact force. The lower the number is for impact force, the more comfortable a fall will be. Therefore, although it may seem like a good idea to buy a rope with as little dynamic elongation as possible, in reality, more dynamic elongation makes for safer climbing.

Diameter and Length

The standard diameter for most climbing ropes is 9.8mm. This width strikes a good balance between ease of movement through your belay device but does not move so quickly that it can be hard to handle for inexperienced belayers. This width is also light enough that it will weigh the climber down as they climb, and knots are easy to tie. In general, thicker ropes are easier to manage for beginners, while thinner ropes require more skill.

When picking rope diameter, another consideration is the length of the approach and the length of the climb. If you are going to be walking a distance to get to your climb, a thinner lighter rope is desirable. This is also true if you will be doing multi pitch climbs or mountaineering, where you will have to carry your rope up hundreds or thousands of feet of elevation gain.

Cutting down weight by choosing a thinner rope is also important, since rope length is never an area where less is more. Choosing a rope that is long enough for the climbs you want to do is crucial, since a to short rope may cause a climber to repel off the end, or for the rope to slip out of the belay device, rendering the system useless and causing the climber to fall. Before getting on a climb always remember that your rope must be two times as long as the climb – reaching the top may be the goal, but a rope is useless if it can’t get you safely back on the ground.

For most climbs a 60m meter rope will be sufficient, however more and more longer routs are being put up these days. If you can afford it, buy an 80m rope. With a rope of this length you will be able to confidently get on almost any climb. Still always double check the length of a rout. As an extra precaution always also tie a knot at the end of your rope, that way even if a mistake is made your climber won’t fall.

Extra Features

There are a few extra features that can be found on climbing ropes that make a big deal in terms of safety and performance. First and foremost are middle marks, which are typically black lines in the center of the rope that alert the belayer once they have fed out over half the rope. Even better than this are bicolor ropes, which change the pattern of their design at the halfway mark. Both of these features allow the belayer to know if there will not be enough rope before it becomes a major problem. Some ropes also change patterns near both ends.

Another extra feature that is becoming more common is dry treatment on ropes, which prevents a rope from taking on water if it becomes wet. Dry treatment is not especially important for sports climbers or single pitch trad climbers, who typically stop climbing if it begins to rain, but it integral for multi pitch climbers and ice climbers. Multi pitch climbers can’t hide from the rain and therefore need a rope that won’t get soaked through when wet. Water doesn’t damage, but will make it much heavier and more difficult to manage. This is even more important for ice climbers, who climb in freezing temperatures. If their rope takes on water there is the added danger that it will freeze, making it stiff and stopping it from functioning properly.

  

FAQs

Q:    What effects the price of a climbing rope?

Prices for climbing ropes are most readily effected by the length of the rope you choose. Logically, the longer the rope that you buy is, the more it will cost. Prices also change depending on which extra features you purchase. For example, a rope with dry treatment and in a bicolor pattern will be much more expensive than the same rope that doesn’t include these features. Finally, skinnier ropes tend to be more specialized and therefore more expensive than thicker ropes.

Q:   What are the different types of climbing?

This article has continually referred to many different types of climbing. Each type requires different skills and is best done with a specific type of rope. It is therefore important that you understand each before deciding what rope is right for you.

First and foremost, almost all of these types of climbing fall within the realm of free climbing. Not to be confused with free soloing, free climbing is climbing using only your hands and feet to ascend the wall. While free soloist climb without a rope, free climbers use a rope for protection only.

The most popular type of free climbing is sport climbing. This type of climbing utilizes bolts that have been drilled into the rock as protection. One side of a quick draw is placed into each bolt and then the rope is placed on the other side. Sports climbing can also be done in an indoor gym.

Trad climbing, short for traditional, is free climbing that uses pieces of gear called nuts and cams to protect the climber. This protection is wedged into a crack, and then the rope is placed into a carabiner attached to the other side.

Ice climbing utilizes ice picks and campons to ascend frozen waterfalls and other ice sheets. Ice screws that are placed as the climber moves upwards are how these climbs are protected.

Multi pitch climbing is when a climb cannot be completed with just one belay. These are long climbs, that can be a couple hundred to a couple thousand feet in length. They are typically done using trad gear, although many also have bolt scattered throughout.

Top roping is when the rope goes all the way to the top of the climb and comes back down. Unlike other types of free climbing, when top roping the climbing never climbs above their protection. This minimizing falls and is safer than being on the sharp end.

Finally, mountaineering is a method for ascending high peaks using any and all methods. Mountaineers will free climbs, ascend ropes, and scramble to the top. This is the one style of climbing mentioned in this article that does not fall into the category of free climbing.

 

Final Thoughts

A good climbing rope is one of the most important pieces of gear used in this sport. It will not only stop you from falling, but can help make falling a more pleasant experience. Understanding how ropes are categorized and rated is integral to ensuring you pick one that caters to your specific needs. Climbing is a complicated sport, but I hope that this article has helped you clarify what you are looking for and how to find it.