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Whether you’re into climbing as a sport or just have a passion for gnarly alpine ascents, your rope is quite literally your lifeline. Therefore, the first thing to look for when choosing a climbing rope is its International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) safety certification. After that, factors to consider range from rope diameter and length to elongation, impact force and dry protection. The right choice for you depends on your climbing style and local conditions. In this article, we look at our top picks for several unique categories, including all-rounder single ropes, half ropes, twin ropes and static ropes. So read on to find the best climbing rope for you to use on your next adventure.
Our Top Picks
Best All-Rounder: Mammut 9.5mm Infinity Dry Dynamic Rope
The perfect all-rounder, Mammut’s Infinity Dry Dynamic Rope is consistently voted best-in-class by climbing experts. Measuring 9.5mm in diameter and tipping the scales at 59 grams/meter, it’s light enough to take on multi-day mountain ascents, yet durable enough for top roping. It boasts a smooth, supple feel and like all Mammut ropes, it’s known for its exceptional durability. The latter is aided by the rope’s dry treatment, which makes it capable of withstanding prolonged exposure to snow and ice.
The rope also performs well in UIAA tests. Single ropes must be able to withstand a minimum of five UIAA test falls; and the Infinity Dry is rated for up to nine. It has a dynamic elongation of 30 percent, giving it a relatively low impact force of 8.4 kN. On the mountain, this figure means that less force will be exerted on the climber, the belayer and your gear during a fall. The rope’s static elongation is 6.5 percent. Choose yours in apple green or ocean blue, which conveniently marks its halfway point with a change in weave pattern.
Best Large Diameter: Beal Tiger 10mm Golden Dry Rope
Traditionally, choosing a large diameter rope meant sacrificing lightness in favor of durability, but at 61 grams/meter the Beal Tiger 10mm Golden Dry Rope weighs the same as several skinnier options. Its 10mm diameter is adapted to fit all auto-lock belay devices and is thick enough to withstand top roping and big-wall climbing. The rope’s Golden Dry treatment means that each strand of the core and sheath is treated with a hydrophobic chemical compound, giving it a water absorption rating of less than three percent.
As a result of this treatment, the rope has impressive resistance to frost and water and flows more fluidly through carabiners and belay devices. It’s also easy to clip and manipulate and has increased abrasion resistance. If the sheath is cut or torn by sharp rock edges, the rope’s Unicore technology kicks in. Because the core and sheath are fused together, the sheath cannot slip and bunch (which could create an impassable obstruction on the rope). Other notable features include the rope’s low 7.6 kN impact force and its UIAA fall rating of seven.
Best Small Diameter: Beal Opera 8.5mm Unicore Rope
Small diameter ropes cut down on weight and come in handy for on-sight attempts, redpoint climbs and alpine ascents. At 8.5mm, the Beal Opera Unicore Rope is the slimmest single rope on the market and is actually certified to be used as a half or twin rope as well. It’s also incredibly light: At an astonishing 48 grams/meter, it’s the world’s first sub-50g/m single rope. Such thinness comes at a price, however. This rope pushes the UIAA minimums for fall rating, static elongation and dynamic elongation (five, 40 and 10 percent, respectively), making it suitable for advanced climbers and belayers only.
On the flip side, when traveling light is a priority, this is one of the most trustworthy ultra-light ropes out there, thanks to Beal’s revolutionary Unicore technology. This improves the rope’s abrasion resistance, allows for supple performance through belay devices and carabiners and completely eliminates sheath slippage even in the event that the sheath is severed. Additionally, the brand’s Golden Dry protection exceeds UIAA water repellency standards. The rope has a low impact force of 7.4 kN.
Best Gym Rope: Edelrid Boa 9.8mm Climbing Rope
If you’re looking for an indoor climbing wall rope, the 40-meter Edelrid Boa 9.8mm Climbing Rope is an excellent fit. Its relative shortness matches the length of indoor training routes, while the versatile 9.8mm diameter suits most climbing styles. The rope lacks dry protection or sharp edge resistance, both of which are unnecessary inside. The simplicity of its design helps to keep the cost down, although the rope is relatively high-quality (to be expected from Edelrid, a German company with over 150 years of rope-making experience).
The rope weighs 62 grams/meter and features the brand’s Thermo Shield technology, which uses a heat treatment cure to ensure a suppleness that lasts throughout its lifespan. The UIAA safety ratings are as follows: A dynamic elongation of 32 percent, a static elongation of 9.3 percent and an impact force of 8.8 kN. In testing, the rope withstood seven severe falls, making it a trustworthy option for rookie climbers. Available in oasis/flame color on Amazon, the rope also comes in longer lengths for sport climbing routes.
Best Bicolor Rope: Sterling Evolution Velocity Bicolor Climbing Rope
When it comes to climbing ropes, knowing where the mid-point is is key; that way, you’ll always have enough rope left for your descent. Traditional single color ropes sometimes use a middle marker for this purpose, but ropes like the Sterling Evolution Velocity Bicolor Climbing Rope change pattern halfway through for added clarity. This rope is also popular for its incredible durability, which justifies its high price tag. With a diameter of 9.8mm and a weight of 62 grams/meter, it’s ideal for cragging and top roping.
The rope is UIAA-rated for six falls, has a dynamic elongation of 26.4 percent and a static elongation of 8.6 percent. Its impact force is 8.8 kN. As an added bonus, the silky smooth sheath is designed to withstand abrasion and slides effortlessly through the carabiner or belay device, helping to reduce rope drag. Choose from a variety of lengths ranging from 35 meters to 80 meters, with DryXP treatment available in the four longest lengths. The rope linked here is bicolor neon green, but there is a bicolor silver version for sale elsewhere on Amazon.
Best Half Rope: Petzl Rumba 8.0mm Half Rope
Half ropes are clipped alternately through your protection to reduce impact force, manage rope drag and allow full-pitch rappelling. They are popular for multi-pitch climbing and mountaineering on rock and ice. The Petzl Rumba 8.0mm Half Rope weighs 44 grams/meter and boasts a super durable reinforced sheath. EverFlex treatment improves the rope’s consistency and ensures that the grip and handling are maintained over time; while Duratec Dry treatment prevents it from absorbing water, dirt, and abrasion.
The rope withstood seven UIAA falls during testing and has a static elongation of 11 percent. A dynamic elongation of 34 percent gives it an incredibly low impact force of just 5.9 kN, meaning that the rope will absorb more impact than any of the single ropes on this list should you suffer a severe fall. These ratings change if the rope is used as a twin rope (it’s certified for both purposes). Choose red or blue in lengths of 50 or 60 meters. Whichever combination you go for, a middle mark helps ensure accurate rope management.
Best Twin Rope: BlueWater 7.7mm Ice Floss Twin Rope
Popular with trad and alpine climbers, twin ropes must be used as a unit. They provide backup if one of your ropes gets severed by sharp rock edges and also allow for full-pitch rappelling. The Bluewater 7.7mm Ice Floss Twin Rope is designed with extreme alpine and ice climbing in mind and at 38 grams/meter, is exceptionally lightweight. This lightness is essential for difficult, demanding climbs, as there is no added weight to drag you groundwards. The single pick sheath reduces rope drag and is designed not to catch on rough terrain.
The rope has a static elongation of 9.3 percent, a dynamic elongation of 31.5 percent and an impact force of 9.2 kN. It is UIAA-rated for 12 falls and boasts Double Dry treatment for protection against the elements. Choose yours in 37, 60 or 70 meters depending on the length of the routes you plan to attempt. There are two high-visibility color options: red/yellow and yellow/red.
Best Static: Sterling WorkPro Static Rope
Static ropes are not intended for climbing per se, but as your best bet for hauling loads, rescue work and rappelling, they are the sport’s workhorses. Sterling’s WorkPro Static Rope uses a unique construction method to balance elongation in the core and sheath so that they distribute weight evenly. It also gives the rope a small amount of elongation (it will stretch by three percent when holding a 300-pound weight). This minimal elongation helps to absorb some of the impact while still giving you the control needed for precise maneuvers such as lowering an injured climber to the ground.
With a minimum breaking strength (MBS) of 36 kN, this rope is stronger than most other 11mm ropes. This model is black and 61 meters in length. There are other colors, including red, blue, neon green, and white available elsewhere; while lengths range from a short 46 meters to a 200-meter rope suitable for hauling loads up significant walls and cliff faces.