A good climbing rope is one of the most important parts of your climbing gear, if not the most. However, most people face a real challenge in choosing the best climbing rope or the one that best fits their needs.
You’ll look at the manufacturer’s label and check characteristics like impact force, dynamic elongation, UIAA falls and other things, and you probably won’t know exactly what they mean.
Here, I’m gonna explain the main considerations to take into account when choosing a good rope. I’ll also provide a detailed comparison of theropes.
The best climbing ropes – Comparison
Types of ropes
Static and dynamic ropes
Static ropes are hardly ever used in climbing. They can be used in rescue, rappelling and industrial applications.
Dynamic ropes, however, can stretch to absorb the impact and provide a soft catch to the climber.
In this review, we are going to focus only on the properties of dynamic ropes.
Choosing the right dynamic rope
This is the most common type of rope. It’s a strong rope you can use for sport climbing, traditional climbing and big walls on a fairly straight line.
It is perfect for 25 to 30 meter high routes, with 60 meters the minimum recommended length and 10.5mm the maximum diameter because the weight might hinder the dynamic movement of the rope.
These ropes are usually used by experienced climbers. Sometimes, the route doesn’t follow a straight line and you have to climb in a zigzag. The system of half ropes allows you to complete this kind of route. You will be tied into two half ropes and will clip them independently to the left and right to avoid the zigzag effect; each rope will keep a straight line.
Although they can be used in trad climbing, these are popular for alpine climbing where you might need two ropes to rappel off the peak.
Twin ropes must always be clipped together to the same protection. The system is based on two very thin ropes, usually less than 8mm, that are used together like a single rope. This system is a bit lighter than the half rope one, and you can rappel twice as far.
Twin ropes are used in ice climbing and rock climbing routes where full length is needed for rappelling.
Choosing the diameter and weight of your rope
Workhorse ropes (Ø9.9 – 10.2mm)
Thick workhorse ropes are designed to resist the toughest conditions, so they are perfect for those routes with rough rocks and edges, big walls and extreme use in general.
Their large diameter makes them the strongest and most durable of all ropes. On the downside, they can be quite big and heavy in comparison to the other types.
All-around ropes (Ø9.5 – 9.8mm)
If you are looking for a rope with an average weight, diameter, resistance and fall rating, don’t look further.
These popular ropes are used in sport, traditional, rock and ice climbing, and they are the ones people choose the most.
Skinny ropes (Ø<9.5mm)
Using the latest technology, manufacturers have designed very light and thin ropes, that still offer good resistance and fall rating.
They are great for alpine climbing routes where you have to carry your gear all the time, and saving a few kilos can make a difference.
On the downside, they are usually expensive and not as durable as all-around ropes.
UIAA number of falls
This is an indicator of the number of falls the rope can withstand before failing. These numbers are based on tests in which lab falls are usually heavier than real climbing falls. Therefore, your rope should last longer than indicated, but always check it after heavy falls.
This is the force that the first fall puts on the rope, measured in Kilonewtons. The same force is felt by the climber at the end of the fall. You should look for a rope with a low impact force, because it absorbs more energy and reduces the impact the climber feels.
This will show you how much the rope stretches when a 176 pound weight is tied to its end. This percentage is linked with impact force and dynamic elongation. Just to get an idea, you should look for a static elongation around 7 percent.
This percentage refers to the elasticity or the amount of stretch in the rope during a fall. A good rope should have a dynamic elongation around of 30 percent.
Choosing a length for your rope
Ropes are generally between 30 and 80 meters, with 60 meters being the most common length.
If you are looking for a rope you’ll use only in indoor climbing centers, 40 meters might be a good length for walls between 15 and 18 meters high.
For most sport and trad climbing routes, 60 meters will be enough.
Top 8 Best Climbing Ropes Review
Petzl Arial 9.5 mm
The number-one rope on the list is a versatile rope for experienced climbers, ready to be used in rock, mixed or iced environments. And it is super light!
It’s a very thin rope, only 9.5mm in diameter, and it has an excellent balance between performance and weight, as well as great longevity and a good price-to-quality ratio.
Thanks to its Duratec Dry Treatment, the Petzl Arial is very resistant to water, dirt and abrasion.
This is the rope I would recommend for use by experienced climbers who are looking for a versatile and lightweight rope with high resistance.
Sterling Evolution Velocity 9.8 mm
Another great model, the Sterling Evolution Velocity is a bit thicker than the Petzl Arial so that it will withstand the toughest conditions. It is also more appropriate for less experienced climbers.
This is an all-around rope meant to be used in rock, mixed and ice climbing, with a great balance between performance and weight as well as one of the best quality/durability/price balance.
This is a top-quality rope with high resistance, dry core treatment, low impact and a great fall rating.
Petzl Contact 9.8 mm
This is a great all-around rope with an excellent balance between light weight and durability for greater versatility.
The core and sheath of this rope are bonded together at the rope ends by a modern ultrasonic process called UltraSonic Finish, giving it greater durability. It also has a special thermal treatment that stabilizes the core strands and improves consistency.
It’s in the range of all-around ropes which means it’s a versatile rope you can use in sport, trad, mixed and ice climbing, and is suitable for entry-level and experienced climbers.
This is the best climbing rope I recommend for someone who will own only one rope or someone buying his first rope.
Bluewater Lightning Pro Double Dry 9.7
The Bluewater Lightning Pro Double Dry is a great all-around rope for sport, trad and alpine climbing. It’s very lightweight and has a very low impact force and super high fall rating.
The Lightning Pro is easy to handle and easy to clip. This rope has become very popular lately due to its great performance.
It has a very affordable price; definitely a good value for the money.
Edelrid Eagle Light Pro 9.5
Edelrid has created a very light and compact rope for experienced climbers. Despite being quite skinny for an all-around rope, it remains very strong and durable.
You can use this versatile rope for a wide range of activities like sport, trad, indoor and alpine climbing.
The rope is made in Germany, so you have the guarantee of a serious brand that has been making ropes and alpine equipment for over 150 years. It’s a high-quality rope for serious climbers.
Best Workhorse Ropes
Sterling Marathon Pro 10.1 mm
This is a great all purpose single rope to work harder projects or to use on big walls. It is designed to withstand impact, abrasion and friction, and it has a relatively low impact, giving it a very comfortable catch.
Even though it is a workhorse rope of 10.1mm in diameter, it’s still light enough for use in almost any situation. It actually weights 63 g/m, which is super light for this kind of rope.
This is the rope for those looking for some extra confidence while facing hard conditions, for beginners or for someone looking for a very durable and resistant rope.
Best Skinny Ropes
Sterling Fusion Nano IX 9.0 mm
Although this list is focused mainly on single all-around ropes, I’m going to review what I think is one of the best skinny ropes on the market: the Sterling Fusion Nano IX.
There are some situations when you want to pack lighter, and no rope can beat the 52 g/m weight and the resistance of the Sterling Fusion.
It has a great durability/weight balance and it’s more resistant than other skinny ropes of the same diameter.
This light rope won’t last as long as some all-around or workhorse ropes, but it is ultra light and resistant.
Of all the skinny ropes you can find on the market, the Sterling Fusion Nano stands out the most. One of the best climbing ropes on the list.
Beal Joker Golden Dry 9.1
The Beal Joker Golden Dry is a great choice for the light and fast climber. This rope uses UNICORE technology and a Golden Dry treatment to improve functionality, weather protection and durability. This rope is meant to resist extreme winter conditions, so it’s a good choice for sport, trad, alpine and ice climbing.
On the other hand, it’s a skinny rope, so you have to treat it with care. Skinny ropes are not as durable as all-around ropes. I would recommend the Beal Joker Golden Dry only for experienced climbers who will enjoy its high-tech features.
Conclusion. The best climbing rope for you:
For climbers with some experience, I’d recommend the Petzl Arial 9.5mm for its versatility, light weight and durability.
For entry-level climbers or someone who will own only one rope, I’d recommend the Petzl Contact 9.8 mm which is lighter than the Sterling Evolution Velocity 9.8 mm (even though both are really good ropes).
For someone looking for an ultra-light skinny rope with the best resistance on the market for its thin diameter, I’d go for the Sterling Fusion Nano IX.
Finally, if you want a very durable rope that resists the toughest situations and routes with rough rocks and edges, or extreme use in general, the Sterling Marathon might be your rope.
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Hi, I’m Miguel; Adventure traveler, scuba diver and hiking lover. I have been traveling the world for the last 7 years and I hope my experiences, photos and hiking routes inspire you to travel the world too.