A Guide To The Best Climbing Ropes
Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned climber, at some point, you would have to get yourself some good ‘ol climbing rope. Our trusty lifelines work hard, taking beatings from repeated falls and rappels down sandstone cliffs.
A perfectly designed climbing rope should act as your bulletproof vest – always ready to take the hit. It is your best protection and your most high-powered weapon.
When you decide to buy a climbing rope, whether it’s your first or fifteenth, it’s worth considering how you plan to use the rope, what technologies are available, and what companies are at your disposal. Below are the best climbing ropes of 2020, and for more background information, see our detailed comparison table and buying advice below the picks.
Sterling 9.8mm Evolution Velocity Dry Dynamic Climbing Rope
The Velocity is our favorite rope in the Evolution series, and at 9.8mm, it’s a real workhorse. The Velocity hits a real sweet spot for most climbers. It’s a great buy for beginners who don’t necessarily have all the tricks of the trade when it comes to caring for and maintaining a rope. At the same time, it’s a solid purchase for the seasoned veteran.
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. This rope has a long lifespan, which we can attest to having personally used it for years in an unforgiving desert environment full of sand and sheath destroying edges.
If you are looking for something lightweight and durable, Sterling’s Evolution is a great choice for you. Usable for any long routes. The velocity has a stiff feel to allow for easy clipping.
Can be used for rock and ice climbing
35 mm doesn’t have a middle marker
Perfect for beginner and veterans
Not as high-performing as skinnier options
BlueWater Ropes 9.1mm Icon Double Dry Dynamic Single Rope
The Icon Double Dry, as the title suggests, offers the double dry treatment for core and sheath, which gives you the possibility to use the rope in wet conditions too. You will likely find this model to make it to the top of your list as a result of its proven durability and compatibility with unexpected weather scenarios.
BlueWater’s Icon is a well-loved rope that transitions between climbing environments better than most. With a 9.1-millimeter diameter and low weight, it’s light enough for hauling into the mountains or taking on your redpoint burn, but the durable sheath (which makes up 35 percent of the rope’s weight) is tough enough to take on the rigors of cragging.
The Icon is affordable compared to much of its skinny-rope competition. Its tightly woven sheath handles a season-long beating much better. The rope has price point similar to most ropes.
Overall, The BlueWater Icon is a great, super lightweight rope ideal for multi pitch climbs. It also works well for sport climbing, however, due to it’s super thin diameter repeated falls and long hangs should be kept to a minimum.
Not suitable for beginners
The zippers of the pockets are not ideal
Very lightweightThe dry treatment is handy as it includes every possible weather scenario associated with rock climbing
EDELRID Eco Boa 9.8mm Dynamic Climbing Rope
One of our favorite things about the Boa Eco is that it’s made with leftover yarn from the cutting room floor, so not only are you saving money, you’re also supporting resourcefulness and conservation.
Edelrid ropes to last a fair bit longer than some of the more expensive competitors. Keep in mind that like any budget rope, you can expect the Boa to get soft and squishy, the sheath to get fuzzy, and the light color to turn black from running through carabiners and belay devices. But cosmetics aside, the Boa Eco is a solid value for any climber looking for a durable workhorse.
The Boa Eco is built to withstand long climbs and bouldery sessions alike. This piece of gear equips you with the Thermo Shield feature that maintains the rope’s flexibility and smoothness while also providing you with the ultimate reliability. With opting for this model, you invest in a durable sports gear that is affordable and that pairs well with your shoes and helmet.
Incredibly affordable; rather durable.
No dry treatment.
It is reliable and suitable for beginners.
The exterior may get fuzzy over time
The construction is completely eco-friendly
Color is prone to turn dark from the carabiners and belay fastening
has middle markers
A standard diameter for free climbing
Black Diamond 9.4mm Dry Climbing Rope
The Black Diamond brand made a smart move when it came out with a line of climbing ropes and thus expanding its sports equipment range. Its reputable position on the market allowed the company to supply its loyal customers with highly durable and smooth ropes that won’t break the bank. The built-in burly sheath is to thank for that as the dry-treated sheath and core protect the rope from getting moist while the 2×2 weave structure prolongs the rope’s lifespan.
The 9.4mm climbing rope functions well with ice and rock scenarios alike. You don’t have to choose two different ropes for two different surfaces. To add to the mix, it has got easily notable center markers to make the entire climbing experience less stressful and more convenient for you.
Priced reasonably, Black Diamond’s ropes are highly durable, supple and smooth right out of the box, and come in a minimalist selection of colors and sizes that make decision-making a breeze and it’s impressively durable too: the 9.4 has been our go-to crag cragging rope for over a year now, and even after logging over 300 pitches, it has yet to grow fuzzy or lose its supple feel in-hand.
Affordable and Durable
Heavy and thick diameter
The rope knots and grips onto the belay tools easily.
Slightly shorter diameter
It has a perfect diameter/impact force ratio that allows you to feel safe when descending among the sharp angles
Rated to fewer UIAA falls than the Mammut Infinity.
PETZL – Volta 9.2 mm, Ultralight Rope
A more luxurious climbing rope by Petzl can be a great addition to your sports gear collection no matter what type of climbing you are into. Volta’s skinny rope of 9.2mm allows you to follow every imaginable alpine route and climb with no limitations. This is made possible due to the Duratec dry treatment that enables the rope to withstand harsh weather. The feature also is known for giving you a better grip of the rope in the same nasty circumstances.
In case this sounds like something that would benefit your climbing adventures, rest assured that the ClimbReady coil will help you avoid tangles when taking the rope out of its bag.
The Petzl Volta blows that characterization out of the water, and in our opinion, is an ideal thin choice for any type of climbing. While Petzl recommends it for sport climbing (sold in 80m and 100m versions) as well as for alpine climbing and mountaineering, we primarily tested it, and loved it, as a lightweight option for alpine rock climbing, glacier travel, and multi-pitch climbing.
There are few downsides to point out with this rope, it doesn’t come in a bi-patterned weave, which means that one must make sure the middle marker stays well-marked, but we found the marking that came in place to be highly durable. There is an increased risk of belaying accidents due to less friction in belay devices, so it may be best for experienced climbers only.
Impressively durable for thin diameter
Not ideal for lots of hang-dogging
Eco Dry treatment is harmful PFC chemical-free
Dry treatment wears off quickly
Rated as single, half, and twin, making it especially versatile for guiding
Is on the small side for some belay devices
This gear is universal as it can be used in a variety of scenarios.
Beginners will find it hard to use
It is water-repellent, which is handy in wet weather conditions.
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.
Rope Care Tips
Check your rope regularly. Just like the rest of your rock climbing gear, ocular inspection is very important. Check your rope for signs of wear and tear such as a damaged sheath, fraying, and abrasion before and after each climb.
Use your rope only to where it is designed for. In other words, climbing ropes should be for climbing purposes only.
Do not step on the rope. Dirt particles can go deeper and damage rope fibers. Keep your rope away from direct sunlight, acids, and oxidizing agents that can weaken your rope and shorten rope life.
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.
Life is a Climb
Through rope climbing, you set specific goals for yourself- to reach the top and to arrive at your destination. Even with trembling arms and unsteady legs, you challenge your physical and mental capacity to achieve your purpose. You remain undaunted, steadfast and undeterred.
There is nothing more satisfying than reaching the top. You literally and figuratively, invest blood, sweat and tears to get where you are and it is the best feeling.
After all, the best view comes after the hardest climb.