Whether you’re new to the climbing scene or you’re a seasoned climber, at some point, you’ll have to buy a new rope. Our trusty lifelines work hard, taking beatings from repeated falls on our projects and rappels down sandstone cliffs, so it’s important to make sure you get the best climbing rope for your days out at the crag.
But with so many different climbing ropes available on today’s market, how can you ever possibly choose a climbing rope that’s right for you? Where do you even start?
That’s where we come in. To help you find the best rated climbing rope for your needs, we’ve created this ultimate guide to the best products. We’ll start things off with a review of the top 10 climbing ropes so you can get an idea of what’s out there waiting for you. Then, we’ll finish things up with a discussion of the top features to look for in a climbing rope and some need to know information about purchasing a new lifeline. Let’s get to it!
Table of Contents
- Climbing Rope Buyer’s Guide
- Best Climbing Ropes on the Market Reviews
- Climbing Ropes - Care and Maintenance
- To Conclude
Climbing Rope Buyer’s Guide
Purchasing a new climbing rope is no easy task. There is so much technology packed into every single climbing rope on the market that it can be difficult to discern which is really the best for you. Thus, it’s helpful to have a list of key characteristics to look for in a climbing rope when you’re shopping around.
Luckily for you, we’ve come up with just that. Here are the top things you need to know about climbing ropes and the features you should look for in your new lifeline:
Modern climbing ropes are what we call “kernmantle” ropes. “Kernmantle” is a German phrase, where “kern” means core and “mantle” means sheath. Climbing ropes pretty much all use this design in their construction, which allows for a strong, durable, and flexible rope as the end product.
Thus, any discussion regarding the merits of a particular climbing rope must revolve around the sheath and core of the rope in question. Therefore, as you learn more about climbing ropes, you’ll hear diffierent manufacturers talking about the technology that they use to perfect the kernmantle construction of their products.
Climbing ropes, as you might imagine, come in a variety of different lengths. The “standard” climbing rope length is 60m. That being said, climbing ropes are generally manufactured to lengths of 30m, 40m, 50m, 60m, 70m, and 80m, with 60m and 70m being the most common varieties.
The length of your climbing rope is not an arbitrary measure, however. Instead, you should spend a considerable amount of time deciding what length rope is best for your needs. Generally speaking, 60m ropes are sufficient to climb and rappel off of most climbing routes.
But, in some parts of the world, where longer pitches are the norm, you might need a 70m or 80m rope just to make it to the next belay ledge. On the other hand, if you spend most of your time at small crags, you may opt for a 40m or 50m rope instead, which will save you a lot of time and effort as you won’t have to coil an unnecessarily long rope. Often, the guidebook for the area you’re climbing at will give a rope length recommendation for the local routes.
Single, Half, and Twin
No, these aren’t bed sizes. It turns out that climbing ropes can be rated as either a single rope, a half rope, or a twin rope and that these ratings have serious implications for your climbing. Let’s take a look at them here:
Single ropes are your bulk standard climbing rope. They’re designed to be used alone (hence the name “single”), so when you use a single rope, it’ll be the only thing you clip into your gear. Single ropes are incredibly versatile and can be used for everything from rappelling to lead climbing to toproping.
The main downside to single ropes is that they are not great for wandering routes. Instead, single ropes are best used on routes that follow a fairly straight path. This is because, on wandering routes, a single rope tends to zig-zag back and forth between pieces of gear, creating unnecessary and annoying rope drag that can hinder your climbing ability.
The other disadvantage to single ropes is that, unless you climb with a tag line, you can only rappel half of the length of the rope. Thus, single ropes are sometimes not ideal for longer climbs where double rope rappels are necessary.
Twin ropes are two skinny (think 7.8mm) ropes that are used together as if they were one single rope. This means that instead of tying into one single rope, you tie into two twin ropes and clip them both into all of your gear as you climb. Since the two ropes effectively act as one rope, they can be much smaller and lighter than your standard single rope.
While this might sound a bit odd, the main advantage to twin ropes is that you can split the carrying of the rope’s weight between two people while simultaneously having the ability to do a double rope rappel, as you’re always carrying two ropes in a twin rope system.
Half (Double) Ropes
Half ropes are the final type of dynamic rope in the climbing world. They are sort of like a cross between a single and a twin rope. Like twin ropes, you tie into both half ropes, but instead of clipping into all of your gear with both ropes, you only clip one rope into each piece of protection, usually alternating which rope you clip.
By doing so, a climber can more easily protect a wandering route, where protection tends to be fairly far apart. Like twin ropes, half ropes are also skinnier than a single rope, so they allow you to split the weight between two people on the approach. Additionally, with half ropes, one can easily set up a double rope rappel on a long climb. However, climbing with half ropes is a skill that takes time to learn, so it’s not for everyone.
Know more about the different types of ropes in our Climbing Techniques - Single, Double, and Twin Rope Systems section.
Rope diameter is a fairly important part of buying a climbing rope, at least in the modern day and age where everyone seems to want the lightest, fastest, newest pieces of gear. In the olden days, everyone climbed on thick ropes, usually in the 10.2-10.5mm diameter range.
While you can still buy ropes of this thickness today, they are incredibly unpopular amongst the recreational climbing crowd. Instead, people usually opt for ropes in the 9.2-9.8mm range. This is because thinner ropes are lighter and generally have a nicer “hand” or feel to them than the thicker options have. That being said, skinny ropes are less durable so they usually need to be replaced more often.
One of the most important features of a climbing rope is its weight. Climbing rope weight is measured in grams per meter, so it’s fairly easy to compare the relative weight of ropes of different lengths. Although a shorter rope will usually be lighter than a longer one, by measuring rope weight in grams per meter, we can get a better picture of how that rope performs compared to other models.
Although no one wants to carry more weight than they need to, lightweight ropes are usually an important part of a sport climber’s gear list because they are less of a hindrance on difficult routes. Lightweight ropes also help alleviate some of the weight burden that you feel when lugging a heavy rope on a long approach.
That being said, lightweight ropes tend to be quite skinny, which means they’re often less durable. Thus, many sport climbers will sacrifice long-term durability for better performance but will have to pay (literally) for a new rope much sooner than many of us would like.
Additionally, rope weight is one of the reasons why people opt for a half or twin rope system. Since half and twin ropes tend to be skinnier and lighter than a single rope, even though you have to carry two of them, you can split the weight between the packs of two climbers, so your overall pack weight is lower than it might be with a single rope.
When buying a new climbing rope, many climbers find themselves embroiled into a debate over whether or not they should buy a dry rope. Basically, a dry rope is a regular old climbing rope that’s been treated with chemicals so it’s less likely to absorb water when lying in the snow, a puddle, or just getting rained on.
As you might imagine, this is of great benefit to ice climbers, who hate wet ropes because they’re heavy and they freeze solid which is less than ideal in the middle of a climb. Thus, people who enjoy ice climbing and mountaineering might find that paying a little extra for a dry-treated rope is worth the money, but sport climbers might not.
Best Climbing Ropes on the Market Reviews
Now that you know what to look for in a climbing rope, let’s get right to the reviews! Coming up, here are the top ten climbing ropes you can buy:
1. Black Diamond 9.9mm 70m
If affordability is your main concern, then the Black Diamond 9.9mm might be the climbing rope for you. Built to last, the Black Diamond 9.9mm is a year-round climbing rope with a thick diameter for extra burliness. That being said, while the 9.9mm is durable, it doesn’t compromise when it comes to a soft feel for great handling.
The 9.9mm is a no-frills rope with a 2x2 weave construction and a standard, non-dry treated sheath for everyday fun on the rock. This is a great rope for anyone who wants a burly workhorse for daily use at the crag.
2. Sterling Evolution Helix 9.5mm
Do you need a rope that combines the best of durability and versatility? Then look no further than the Sterling Evolution Helix 9.5mm rope. Built with a new sheath and core construction, the Evolution Helix is a small but durable climbing rope for high-end sport, trad, and mixed climbing.
The rope comes in a variety of different lengths, from 40m to 80m and can be ordered with bicolor or middle marker options. Plus, you can even get a dry treated version of the Evolution Helix, so say goodbye to a huge gear closet and say hello to your climbing rope quiver of one.
3. Petzl Arial 9.5mm
Designed specifically with experienced climbers in mind, the Petzl Arial 9.5mm is a versatile rope that strikes a great balance between weight savings and performance. The Arial can be used in rock climbing, mixed, snow, or ice environments and features a Duratec Dry treatment for water-resistance in cold, wet conditions.
Plus, with an UltraSonic Finish, the Arial’s core and sheath are bonded together at the ends of the rope to prevent those annoying frayed ends. If that wasn’t good enough, the Arial comes with a ClimbReady coil so you don’t have to deal with any annoying uncoiling procedures when you get your new rope - you can just head out the door and climb!
4. Edelrid Python 10mm
Thick and durable, the Edelrid Python is the ultimate workhorse rope for all of your projecting needs. At 10mm in diameter, the Python is designed to last, so it’s a great option for people who climb frequently but don’t want to constantly shell out money for a new rope.
The Edelrid Python features a Thermo Shield treatment that uses a heating system to stabilize the individual threads inside the rope so the Python will stay soft and supple throughout its useable lifetime. If that wasn’t good enough, the Python is bluesign approved, which means it uses 62% less CO2, 89% less water, 63% fewer chemicals, and 63% less energy than comparable ropes. What’s not to love?
5. Petzl Volta 9.2mm
Need the functionality of a single rope but the light weight of a twin rope? Thanks to the Petzl Volta 9.2, your dream is nearly a reality. At just 9.2mm in diameter and 55g per meter in weight, the Volta is one of the lightest single ropes on the market.
The Volta is designed for elite climbers who need an ultra-light rope to send their insanely difficult project. The rope’s thin diameter allows for optimal functioning in belay devices while its triple rating as a single, half and twin rope makes it highly versatile. Plus, with a Duratec Dry treatment, you can even use it in the mountains!
6. Mammut Eternity 9.8mm
The Eternity 9.8mm is Mammut’s answer to any climber who can only have one rope. With a burly but versatile 9.8mm diameter, the Eternity is a solid all-around rope that can be used in nearly any situation.
A high-quality rope for a great price, the Eternity features a black-dye middle marker and can even come with a dry treatment if you’re the type of climber that’s keen on adventures in poor conditions. If you’re looking for a versatile rope that won’t break the bank, the Eternity 9.8 might be for you.
7. Edelrid Tommy Caldwell DuoTec 9.6mm
Tommy Caldwell is one of the world’s foremost climbers, so it’s no surprise that a rope designed by him has made it onto our list of the best climbing ropes. At 9.6mm, the Eldelrid Tommy Caldwell is a versatile yet durable rope with a high sheath proportion for working routes.
This rope uses the DuoTec braiding technology that allows for a bipatterned sheath for permanent middle marking, which is great for ease of use on rappels. Plus, with a Pro Dry treatment, this rope can even be used in poor conditions. If that wasn’t good enough, the Tommy Caldwell rope is bluesign approved for environmental friendliness so you can feel good about your rope choice.
8. Edelweiss Energy Arc 9.5mm
Light, yet supple and highly durable, the Edelweiss Energy Arc is a rope designed for sending hard. At the light weight of 58g per meter the weight of the Energy all but disappears as you work your project. Plus, with Edelweiss’s Perform 3 technology, falls on the Energy Arc feel super soft, leaving you ready to hop back on the route.
The Edelweiss Energy Arc also features an HD Cover for ease of handling and optimal belaying efficiency. A bipattern ARC braid rounds out the Energy’s list of features, making it a great rope for your next project.
1. Mammut Infinity 9.5mm
Climbing never felt so effortless with the Mammut Infinity 9.5mm rope. Designed specifically for pushing limits and climbing to new heights, the Infinity combines a skinny diameter with high-performance features to get you to the top of your project.
Although it’s a skinny rope, the Infinity is a good, all-around option for the everyday climber. It comes in a variety of lengths and even with a dry treatment option, so there’s a Mammut Infinity rope for everyone.
10. Edelweiss Curve 9.8mm
A long-term stalwart of the climbing rope market, the Edelweiss Curve is a do-everything rope. At 9.8mm, the Curve is no skinny rope, but with Edelweiss’ Perform 3 concept, the Curve feels solid and soft, all at the same time, for ideal handling on difficult routes.
Plus, the Edelweiss Curve comes with the company’s HD Cover technology for a smoother handling experience and a longer lifespan. The Curve is a durable rope that’s perfect for indoor and outdoor use, yet is versatile enough to be a quiver of one.
Climbing Ropes - Care and Maintenance
A Climbing Rope should always be taken care of. This is important to ensure that you get the most out of it and enhance your performance.
Here is a list of the many things that you can do in taking care of your Climbing Ropes:
Take note that these are just guidelines. It is really up to your judgment. You ought to realize the nature of the climbing style you usually do, so you would know when to replace your climbing rope, or for any gear in general.
Always bear in mind that a climbing rope that receives proper care works well on climbs. Thus, do not take it for granted. As with all other gear, make sure to treat your climbing rope properly. Aside from the fact that it is not that cheap, taking care of your rope will make it last longer and more useful in many climbs.
Ultimately, buying the best climbing rope is no easy task. There are many different models to choose from, so it’s important to identify the features that are most important for your needs. Whether you’re a sport climber or a dedicated trad climbing junkie, there’s a rope out there for you. Happy climbing!