One of the most important and yet basic supplies you need for rock climbing is a high quality climbing rope. Shopping for the best climbing rope, with so many different choices out there, can be really overwhelming if you are not sure what to look for. We can all agree that when it comes to choosing a climbing rope, durability and safety are most important. Those were our main criteria for selecting the best climbing rope. If you want to get straight to the point, the Sterling Evolution Duetto Dry Rope, is a combination of these features and was selected the “Best Overall” pick from our editorial team.
Climbing Rope Comparison
|1,936||2,400 – 4,200||7,418||5,000||1,936||8,000||1,958||4,400||5,000||2,156|
|8.40||6.00 – 8.00||12.00||38.10 – 50.80||9.80||12.70||10.00||10.50||38.10||10.20|
Climbing Rope Buying Guide
There are four main considerations that you need to look at when you are shopping for a climbing rope. We have listed these considerations below along with some information about each one.
- Type of Rope – You have options that include single, twin, half and static. Which one you choose depends on the type of climbing you do.
- Length and Diameter of Rope – These two factors affect the weight of the rope as well as its durability. Length and Diameter are also two of the main factors that determine the best use for the specific rope type.
- Features of the Rope – Middle marks and dry treatments will affect how the rope is used.
- Safety Ratings – While you are considering which type of rope to buy, look at the safety ratings that each type has. Consider the type of climbing you will be doing as well.
Types of Climbing Rope
There are two types of rope available:
- Static – Static climbing ropes have very little stretch which makes them a good choice for lowering injured climbers, hauling loads up or ascending a rope. Don’t use static rope for lead climbing or top roping. They have not been certified for these loads and are not designed for this type of climbing. Static rope is sometimes sold by the foot, making it easy to get the length you need.
- Dynamic – Dynamic rope is made to stretch so it can absorb the impact if a climber falls. There are three types of dynamic rope: half, single and twin. Dynamic rope usually ranges from 30m to 80m with 60m being the standard. Most of the time a 60m rope will meet your climbing needs.
Single Ropes – Single dynamic ropes are best suited for sport climbing, top roping, big wall climbing and trad climbing. Single ropes are the most commonly purchased climbing ropes. This type of rope can be used by itself with no other rope. They come in many different lengths and diameters so they are great choices for a number of climbing types.
They are easier to maneuver and work with than two rope systems. There are some single ropes that have been rated as twin and half ropes as well. These can be used with all three climbing techniques. You can identify single ropes by the 1 that is circled on the ends of the rope.
Half Ropes – Half ropes are well suited for mountaineering, ice climbing, and trad climbing on rock routes. They have some advantages and disadvantages when compared to single ropes. If you tie two ropes together whenever you are repelling, you will be able to go twice as far as a single rope allows. Using two ropes will provide peace of mind that you have backup should you fall during a climb.
Depending on the brand, some half ropes are rated twin ropes also. This allows them to be used with either climbing technique you choose. There are a few triple rated ropes that can be used as twin. Single and twin ropes as well. This provides a lot of versatility for the climber. Half ropes are only tested as a matching pair and should never be mixed and matched with others not included in the pair.
You will need to have more skill as a climber to use half ropes properly. This is because you are climbing and/or repelling while managing two ropes instead of just one. You can identify half ropes by the ½ symbol, circled, on the ends of the rope.
Twin Ropes – Twin ropes can be used for mountaineering, trad climbing and ice climbing. They are similar to half ropes in that they utilize a two-rope system but when using twin ropes, both strands are always clipped through each piece.
There will be more drag than there is with half ropes which makes them suitable for non-wandering climbing routes. Twin ropes are thinner which means they are lighter and less bulkier than half ropes. With twin ropes you should not mix and match sizes and brands. Twin ropes can be identified by the double circle symbol on the ends of the rope.
- Indoor climbing rope – These shorter length ropes are usually about 35m long and are most often used for indoor climbing in the gym. Indoor routes are usually shorter than outdoor routes so longer lengths of rope are not necessary. You do want to ensure that the rope you use is long enough to lower an injured climber if necessary.
- Outdoor climbing rope – Your outdoor climbing rope should be long enough so half of the length is at least the same length or longer than the route you’re climbing. You also want to be sure there is enough length to lower to the ground safely.
What is Dry Treatment?
Ropes that absorb water become a lot heavier and don’t handle force as well. (an example of force is if a climber falls) Worse yet is when it is cold enough for the wet, water logged rope to freeze. This makes the rope unmanageable and stiff. A way to combat this is to choose rope that has been dry treated. Although they are more expensive than those that have not been dry treated, many who climb in wet, damp weather often enough feel it is definitely worth it despite the fact that dry treated ropes cost more.
If you never climb in ice, do mountaineering or otherwise climb in damp conditions, dry treated ropes will not be necessary. Some dry ropes have a dry sheath or dry core and others offer both. The best moisture protection comes from a rope where the core and the sheath are dry treated.
Definitions to Know
- Middle marks – The majority of ropes will have what is called a middle mark. This is often made of black dye so the middle of the rope can be identified easily. When engaging in rappelling knowing where the middle of the rope is, is crucial.
- Bicolor – Some climbing ropes feature a change in the weave pattern that separates each half of the rope. This is called bicolor rope. This also makes identifying the middle mark easy. It is the preferred method of marking the middle of the rope since the black dye used can fade over time and make it difficult to see.
- End warning marks – If your rope includes thread or black dye toward the end of the rope, it includes what is known as end warning marks. If you are lowering a climber or rappelling, these end warning marks are very helpful.
Rock climbing is a very popular outdoor activity that is enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people every year. With its popularity comes the necessity of choosing the right equipment. Climbing rope is one of the most important pieces of equipment a climber will buy. It needs to be high quality rope that contains the features you need for the style of climbing you participate in.
In addition to the three top rated climbing rope choices we have provided, we have also ensured that you have information on what to look for when researching climbing rope. This knowledge makes it much easier for you to make an informed, confident decision when choosing the best rope for your climbing needs.