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HOW TO CHOOSE A CLIMBING ROPE:

Let's face it: When it comes to selecting a rope, you have A LOT of choices to make. Single, double, or twin? Diameter? Length? Dry or Standard? Impact Force? The technical decisions to make are many. And that's a good thing, because different types of ropes are designed for different types of uses and conditions. So having a variety of options to choose from means you can always pick the right cord for the use that you intend.

Starting Point
Primary Use?
Dynamic/Static
Type of Rope
Diameter
Length
Dry/Non-dry/Double-dry
Anti-abrasion Treatment
Bi-Color & Factory Marking
  Weight
Number of Falls
Impact Force
% Static Elongation
Rope "Hand"
UIAA Testing
Sharp-Edge Rating
Final Words
Suggestions

Starting Point:

The first and most important question to ask yourself is, "what will be the primary use of this rope?" Toproping? Leading? Rappelling? Alpine ascents? Multi-pitch rock routes? Working a sport redpoint project? The answer to this primary use question will then help you to determine what technical features and rope(s) are the right ones for you. Secondly, choose a brand that you trust. It sure feels good to start the crux of your route with absolute confidence in the thin line between you and belay! And remember, all of the rope brands featured at JustRopes.com are top-quality cords that meet and exceed the UIAA standards (discussed below) for safe climbing ropes. The following information is a starting point only. Always check the manufacturer recommendations for their particular ropes that can be found on the tags that come with the rope, or check the manufacturer's website for more specifics (see Manufacturer's tab on our homepage).

Primary Use?

The first thing to do when searching for the right rope is to determine what you intend to use it for. If you are not going lead on it, but intend to use it only for toproping, gym climbing, or rappelling, then a durable static rope might be the best choice. If you are going to lead climb with your rope, then a dynamic cord is a must. If you expect to do a lot of toproping on the cord and/or working a lot of routes that you expect to hangdog or fall often on, a thicker diameter rope (like a 10+ mm rope) is a good choice. On the other hand, if you want a lighter rope to work you hard redpoint projects with, and the rope won't suffer all the abuse of frequent TR-ing and rappelling, then a smaller diameter single rope might be the thing. Similarly, double ropes are often the smart choice for alpine routes or wandering multi-pitch rock routes, where the ability to alternate clips can really help reduce rope drag. Twin ropes are often chosen for ice due to their light weight, and high safety margin (redundancy).Core and sheath dry-treated rope can big a big plus if a climber expects to use the ropes in situations where they will be exposed to moisture or water, such as ice or alpine routes, and long multi-pitch rock routes. On the flip side, a sheath only dry-treated rope or non-dry rope might be fine for sending at your local day crag.In short, put some serious thought into what you expect to actually use your new rope for.This will go a long way in helping you smartly pick a rope that will serve you well and is right for the intended job.

Dynamic/Static Climbing Ropes:

This is an easy decision-point.If you intend to lead at all on your rope, then it must be dynamic. Period. Dynamic ropes are designed to absorb the energy of a fall (and hence stop you, gently) by stretching. Static ropes, on the other hand, are designed not to significantly stretch, which is a desirable trait for rappelling, top-roping, hauling, and jugging, but is bad for leading. Static ropes, since they will not be used to clip gear (during a lead) and thus don't need a soft "hand" often are built to be durable and abrasion-resistant, which is nice for toproping, jugging, hauling, and rappelling. Accordingly, if you plan to lead at all on your rope, choose one that is dynamic. If you know you won't ever be leading (and neither will your friends!) and expect to use it only for top-roping and rappelling, a static line may be a smart choice for you (but a dynamic line can also be used for those functions, it will just stretch more under use).

Types of Climbing Ropes:

There are three types or classes of climbing ropes: Twin Ropes, Double/Half Ropes, or Single Ropes. Twin ropes are the thinnest and lightest, and must be used together (with both ropes clipped into every piece) for safe climbing. They are typically around or under 8 mm in diameter, and, as a set, are heavier than single ropes. Individual twin ropes are not rated to take any falls alone, hence why they must be used together. Twin ropes, because they are used together, have built-in redundancy and often have among the highest number of falls rating of any ropes. They are typically favored by ice climbers, and since they are used in tandem, do not require trailing any additional rope for double-rope rappels. Double/Half ropes are somewhat thicker, but still relatively thin and light, and are also designed to be used together, but with each rope clipped, singly, into alternating pieces of protection. They are typically between 8.3 and 9.3 mm in diameter, and, as a set, are somewhat heavier than single ropes or a set of twin ropes. They may also be used as twin ropes if desired. Individual double/half ropes are rated for falls, since, because they are clipped into alternating pieces, one or the other will take the full load in event of a fall. They typically are rated for a significantly lower number of falls than twin ropes and larger-diameter single ropes. They are typically favored by ice, alpine, and multi-pitch rock climbers, as they provide the ability to significantly avoid rope drag on wandering routes by alternately clipping pieces of protection (which cannot be done with either twin or single ropes). Double/half ropes, like twin ropes, have the advantage on long routes of having the rappel line "built-in" and thus no extra rap line needs to be trailed. Single ropes are the thickest and heaviest ropes, taken individually, but are designed to be used alone, rather than in a set. They are typically between 9.4 mm and 11 mm in diameter. Generally speaking, the thicker the single rope, the more falls it is rated for. They are typically favored by rock climbers, since, from the lead standpoint, they are the lightest system. They are well suited for most types of climbing, although less desirable, due to drag, on wandering alpine routes than a double/half rope system. They do not have the advantage of having a second rappel line built into the system, and so such a second rope must be packed or trailed for double-rope descents. For this reason and for weight, many climbers buying a rope for long alpine routes, including multi-pitch rock routes, are turning to smaller diameter single ropes, such as 10 mm lines. O.K..! So now that you know the types of rope, how do you know the difference? Easy. Ropes are marked at their ends with standard UIAA markings to indicate the type of rope: ¥ = Twin Rope, 1/2 + 1/2 = Double/half Rope, and 1 = Single rope. These markings are presented within a circle.

Climbing Rope Diameter:

Despite what we've all been told growing up, size matters. For climbing ropes, the diameter of the rope is directly related to its ability to hold falls (by absorbing energy) and often, to its ability to resist sharp end cuts. Diameter of a rope is also proportional to weight, as thicker cords will weigh more than thin ones. This is a consideration mainly from the leader's standpoint, as he/she is the one that will be hauling the rope up behind them on the lead. But weight can also be a factor for long alpine or multi-day ascents, as more weight means more effort to be expended by the climbers in moving up, even if the rope is stowed in the pack. Twin ropes, designed to be used only in sets, are typically around 7.5 mm diameter or thicker. Double/half ropes, also designed to be used only in sets, are typically around 8.5 mm or thicker. Single ropes, designed to be used alone, are typically from 9.5 mm to 11 mm in diameter or thicker. Since the diameter of a rope impacts the number of falls it is rated for, the impact force the rope will generate in holding a fall, and, to a certain extent, whether it is sharp edge resistant, diameter is but one factor to be considered among many in choosing the right rope. However, as a general guideline, weight is less of a factor if you intend to mostly toprope or lead at your local single-pitch crag, hence a thicker cord may be a good choice in terms of strength, durability, and life. For such general use, a 10 mm, 10.2 mm, 10.5 mm, or 11 mm single rope is likely a good choice. On the other hand, for those aiming for long alpine routes, or hard redpoints, where lighter is better and may increase chance of success, a thinner (and hence lighter) cord may be the way to go. For these more specialized types of uses, skinny single ropes (like 9.4 mm to 9.8 mm cords) and/or thinner (rather than thicker) twin or double/half ropes may be the right choice.

Climbing Rope Length:

Thankfully, there are only three standard lengths of rope to choose from, which makes this factor somewhat easier to decide. Generally, the climbing rope length that you can chose from is a 50 meter (164 ft), 60 meter (197 ft), or 70 meter (230 ft) length cord (note: some manufacturers do offer longer lengths of cord on special order, and some specialty ropes, such as glacier ropes, etc., come in shorter lengths, such as 30 m or 40 m, however such cords are the exception to the rule). Presently, most folks climb on either a 50 m or 60 m cord. The old standard was the 50 m rope, which is still a good choice for most general use and cragging at sport climbing areas. However, over the past few years, 60 m cords have been increasingly become the new standard, and many new sport routes have been established that require a 60 m cord in order to lower or rap off on a single rope, without needing to trail up a second line (thankfully, most guidebooks are pretty good about specifically noting those climbs that require a 60 m cord, so you usually know if you can make it or not with the rope that you have -- however, always practice safe climbing and when lowering or rapping off any route, both you and your belayer should keep an eye on the end of the ropes to be sure they touch ground). So, either a 50 m or 60 m cord will serve your well.Longer means more expensive, and somewhat heavier, so a 60 m cord will cost you somewhat more and be somewhat heavier on the leader if he/she goes the full rope length on a lead. On the other hand, those extra 10 meters (33 feet) can really come in handy on many longer or multi-pitch routes. It's your choice. As for 70 meter lines, they are rapidly gaining popularity, particularly among multi-pitch and/or alpine climbers, both rock and ice. The longer length means that much further you can go per pitch, which means more efficiency. Since they are longer (than a 50 m or 60 m) cord, they can also provide a longer rappel if doubled, which means less weight needs to be taken, an important factor for long or multi-day routes. Generally speaking, a 70 m cord will be more than you need if you intend to only use your rope for cragging, but might be a smart choice if you expect to hit the multi-pitch or alpine scene. Again, longer means more expensive, so expect that a 70 m cord will be more costly than a shorter rope having the same technical features.

Climbing Rope Treatments - Dry/Non-dry/Double-dry:

The same thing that is true of a diaper is true of your rope: Dry is good. But that does not mean that it is necessary. Ropes usually come "standard" (also called "classic" or "non-dry"), which means there is no further treatment of either the core (which is the inside of the rope you don't see, and the portion that catches a fall) or the sheath (which is that pretty, colored outside cover of the rope that you do see, and which protects the core from dirt, elements, and abuse) to prevent the rope from become water-logged in event of rain, runoff, snowmelt, etc. Water-logged ropes can be a real problem, as they get heavier and harder to use, loose their elasticity to some degree, and can freeze and become totally unusable. Thus, the same standard ropes are typically also offered in "dry" versions (which means the sheath, but not the core, of the rope has been specially treated to repel water), and often, in "double-dry" (also referred to as "core dry") versions, which means that, in addition to the sheath, the core of the rope itself has been specially treated to further repel water. Most dry treatments of the sheath also help to some extent to keep grit from infiltrating into the core and add some degree of abrasion resistance to the sheath (although, some say that dry treatment tends to pick up dirt/dust more). As with most options, the right choice of standard, dry, or double-dry cords depends on how you intend to use your rope. For rock climbing use at your local crag, where you don't expect the ropes to contact any water, and you quickly rap off and get to your car if the rains come, a standard rope is fine, and a dry rope works well too (and a double-dry rope works well too, although it is probably more than you need). On the other hand, if you intend to use your rope on multi-pitch and/or multi-day routes, where you might get stuck in the rain (and where things can quickly get wet as water cascades down the wall you are on), a dry or double-dry rope is usually a good choice. Most ice and alpine climbers consider double-dry ropes a necessity, as the rope is constantly coming into contact with running water and snowmelt, and will quickly become like steel and unusable if it were to freeze, as a standard rope would. Keep in mind that dry treatment costs the manufacturer more, which means you should expect to pay more for a dry rope than for a standard, and even more for a double-dry cord than a dry one.

Climbing Rope Sheath Anti-abrasion Treatment:

Generally speaking, the sheaths (or covers) of most climbing ropes is designed by default to resist abrasion to a certain extent. However, beyond that, there are two additional factors that can help a cord resist abrasion that occurs from use. The first factor is the number of bobbins and type of weave used to forms the sheath. This gets a bit complicated, so an easy rule is to pay attention to what the manufacturer says about the abrasion resistance of that particular rope. Usually, ropes that are expected to take a lot of abuse (such as gym ropes, or rappelling ropes, etc.) will be made with a type of sheath that offers increased abrasion resistance, and most manufacturers will clearly indicate that. The second factor is whether the sheath of the rope is specially treated to offer increased abrasion resistance. This type of treatment is often offered on twin or double/half ropes that are intended for ice or alpine use, where they are expected to be in constant contact with the surface of the climb. Most manufacturers will indicate if a particular cord has this special anti-abrasion treatment. O.K. So how do you make a rational decision on this technical feature? Easy. If you find two ropes that equally meet your needs on other technical attributes, the one that offers an abrasion-resistant sheath or treatment would be more desirable. Or, if you expect to use your rope on alpine or wandering multi-pitch terrain, a rope with added abrasion resistance can be a nice thing. On the other hand, remember that all cords have sheaths that are resist abrasion fairly well, so this factor should not be the decisive one unless all other things are equal between two cords.

Climbing Rope Sharp-Edge Rating:

Update: The UIAA has presently (as of July 1, 2004) suspended certification of ropes under its “sharp edge” test, after testing consistency problems surfaced at its approved testing laboratories.  Discrepancies had been found in test results for the same rope at different testing laboratories.  (According to Dave Custer, U.S rep. to the UIAA, the test "has been suspended until a precise and repeatable test method can be determined", as quoted in Climbing #235 Oct. 2004). Accordingly, testing of new ropes against this safety standard stopped as of July 1.  Ropes already certified “Sharp Edge Resistant” will retain that status until Dec. 31, 2005, after which they can no longer be marketed this way. The UIAA is presently working on a new plan for rope sharp-edge testing  and will post updates on its web site www.uiaa.ch/index.aspx.

Despite the present new testing suspension, the sharp-edge resistant attribute sounds important, and it is! First, understand that all UIAA certified climbing ropes (such as those made by our featured brands) must pass a certain fall test in which their ability to catch falls over a certain diameter edge is tested. The ropes must catch a certain minimum number of such falls to pass (although most ropes exceed this test), and the number of falls that a particular rope is tested as safe for is the "number of falls" rating that appears in the technical literature for that rope. However, the traditional UIAA falls test is not over a sharp edge, hence does not give any indication of the rope's ability to resist cutting in event of such a fall over a sharp edge.  Since such falls can and do occur out in the real climbing world, particularly in wandering multi-pitch routes or alpine routes, the rope's ability to withstand such a sharp-edge fall can be important. Recently, an increasing number of manufacturers have had their ropes tested by the UIAA and certified as "sharp-edge rated" (or "resistant", or "tested"). See "UIAA Tests" below for more info. Not all ropes are sharp-edge rated. In some cases, they have in fact been tested and don't pass (for example, most skinny single ropes (intended for hard redpoint attempts, etc.) do not pass the sharp-edge test. In other cases, a particular manufacturer has not yet had their rope line tested this way, and the ropes may or may eventually get the sharp-edge rating. So how the heck to do make a rational choice here? It's pretty easy. Everything else considered equal, sharp-edge resistance or rating is a nice thing to have, so look for it.  Often, twin ropes will bear this UIAA rating, since, in event of a fall, there are two (not one) cords bearing the load, hence the system is less likely to fail. A few double/half ropes also bear this rating, and several different single ropes have it. Sharp-edge rating can be particularly desirable if you intend to use your rope for ice climbing and/or multi-pitch rock or alpine routes, where all kinds of sharp edges can present themselves. On the other hand, for the conditions you are likely to find at your local sport crag, and/or toproping, sharp-edge rating, while still desirable, is perhaps less imperative and a solid climbing rope from a reputable manufacturer that does not bear the UIAA sharp-edge rating is still a safe rope that will serve you well, provided you have chosen it for technical features that are right for the intended use.

Bi-Color & Factory Marking for Climbing Ropes:

Knowing where the middle of your rope is can be really important. It not only helps you know, while preparing to rappel, and that both ends of the ropes hanging below you are essentially even (more than one rap accident has resulted from mismatched ends), but it is nice on the lead to know that you have run out half the rope, which your partner can yell out to you as the center-mark (if it exists) passes by. Thankfully, many ropes are manufactured in way such that the center of the ropes is factory-marked. However, many ropes still do not have factory-marked centers. There are two common ways that ropes have their centers marked. One is by a change in the weave/color pattern of the sheath, which is readily recognizable. This option is called bi-color (many manufacturers have proprietary names for this option, such as Mammut's Duodess™), and is very nice to have. You can expect to pay more for a bi-color rope than a standard one. Some manufacturers also offer ropes, which, in addition to a weave pattern change in the middle, also have it near (e.g. with 20 feet, etc.) of the ends of the rope, which lets the belayer know when the leader is running out of rope on the lead (e.g. Mammut's Triodess™ option).  Sheath weave pattern changes cost money, so you can expect to pay more for a rope with weave changes at middle and ends than than for a bi-color one. The other way a rope can be factory-marked in the center is with a black dye that is designed, to some extent, to resist wear and fading (e.g. Mammut's Triosafe marking option).  Given the recent objective test results that have firmly established it is unsafe to mark the center of a rope yourself using a marker (see Caring for Your Rope tab on our homepage), it is now more than ever nice to look for a cord with that comes factory-marked in the center. On the other hand, many climbers report that the black mark in the center, does, in fact, fade and wear off over time and use, which some manufacturers cite as the reason they are not factory-marking their rope centers. What's the bottom line on this option? For multi-pitch or alpine routes where you expect to do a lot of rappelling and won't necessarily have fixed belays marking the start/end of each pitch, or for ice routes where you typically go as far as you can before setting up a screw-belay, bi-color (or tri-color) ropes are really nice, and factory-marked centers help out too. For shorter routes down at your local crag, where the anchors are pretty much fixed and you can lower off most everything or rap with a single line, it's still nice to have a factory-marked center if everything else is equal, but it's not as imperative as for the longer routes, and is but one more factor to consider when you compare cords in making your decision.

Climbing Rope Weight:

Ironically, while most of the U.S. population is increasing in weight, lighter and lighter climbing cords keep coming to market in a quest for the ultimate balance between performance and amount of effort the climber has to exert lugging their cord up a route. As discussed above, weight is generally proportional to rope diameter, so the thinner the cord the lighter it will be. For this reason, twin ropes (when a single strand is taken alone) are the lightest cords, followed by double/half ropes (taken individually), and then single ropes. Weight per meter of rope (usually presented in grams per meter of rope) is standard technical information that is provided for all ropes, and should be considered when comparing two or more ropes that are equivalent or similar in other technical features. Here's the reality. Weight (per meter) is probably a minor consideration when comparing ropes if you intend to use it as a general purpose cord down at your local cliffs and crags. It becomes a more important factor if you intend to do long, multi-pitch, and/or multi-day alpine routes where the weight of rope you lug into, up, and down, and back out from a big climb or mountain needs to be kept to a practicable minimum. Differences in weight between two cords is something you'll probably only need to worry about once you've already narrowed down the field based on other, more important, technical attributes.

Climbing Rope Fall Ratings:

As you'd expect, this is an important attribute, since, after all, the purpose of a rope in climbing is to stop and hold a fall. The ability of a particular dynamic rope to hold falls is presented, technically, as the "number of falls" rating of that rope (remember, static ropes are not suitable for lead climbing and hence are not rated for falls!) This attribute is standardized and tested by the UIAA (see below), which sets a floor on the minimum number of falls a rope must hold in order to pass. Again, most ropes exceed the UIAA minimums. This information is provided on the tags that come with your cord. As a general rule, twin ropes (because they are used in a set that shares the load and builds in redundancy) and thicker-diameter single ropes (such as 10.5 mm and 11 mm cords) are rated for the highest number of falls. On the flip side, generally, double/half ropes (because they absorb the full load of a fall on only one or the two ropes) and skinny single ropes (less than 10 mm in diameter) are rated for a lower number of falls. Which type of rope (twin, double/half, or single (fat or skinny)) is right for your intended primary use has been discussed above. Once you determine which type is right, generally, it is good to look for a rope with highest number of rated falls. However, keep in mind that other important factors, like sharp-edge rating, and impact force, factor in too, so don't consider number of falls alone in a vacuum when selecting your cord. As also discussed above, don't push the limits and expect that, just because you buy a cord rated for 14 falls, that you should use it until it's taken 14 falls. Err on the safe side and retire your cords early! Lastly, there is good news if you are buying a cord intending to use it for general purpose climbing and toproping at your local crags. It is quite possible that a 10.2 to 11 mm dynamic, single rope will be the right choice for you, and this diameter of rope is often rated for a good number of falls.

Climbing Rope Impact Force:

Ropes are tested in order to ensure that they do not exert more than certain maximum force on the climber in event of a fall (after all, the idea is for your rope to catch you, not hurt you!). Impact force is measured in kilo-Newtons and is provided as standard technical information about your rope. So, what the heck is a kilo-Newton (kN) anyway? And does it have anything to do with that guy we learned about in physics class named Sir Isaac Newton who got hit on the head with the apple? Well, kind of. A kilo-Newton is a metric system measure of force, which itself is defined as the product of the mass of an object times it acceleration (force = mass x acceleration) (or in the case of a lead fall, deceleration!). The English system has a measure of force too, which is defined as the pound-force. The conversion factor is 1 kN = 224.8 Lbs-force.What all this means in rope land, is this: If a rope has a listed impact force of, say, 8.6 kN, then in the event of a lead fall on that rope, the maximum force that the rope will exert on the climber in stopping the fall is 8.6 kN of force, or 1,933 pounds of force. In reality, because most falls that are caught are dynamic in nature (some rope slips through the belay device before the fall is caught), the impact force is usually less than the theoretical maximum. Now, why should you care about impact force in choosing your rope? Well, because the impact force, in addition to giving you an indication of how "soft" the ride will be for you in event of a fall, is also an indication of how much force will be exerted on your protection in stopping a fall. This can be quite important in situations where the gear is deemed suspect or sketchy, such as with placing ice screws in thin or rotten ice, and anywhere you are protecting with thin rock gear, such as micro wires, or micro cams. In such cases, a rope that generates a lower impact force on the gear (typically by stretching more) is less likely to rip the gear. So, how do you decide? Easy. First, remember that impact force is really only an issue for dynamic ropes (that you intend to lead on), as static ropes are not designed to catch falls and should never be used for leading on. If you are buying your cord for ice or alpine climbing (where ice gear is expected) and/or intend to climb hard trad routes with thin or marginal pro, look for a rope with as low of an impact force as possible. On the other hand, if you are buying your rope for toproping, or for clipping bolts at your local sport crag and/or expect to climb routes with bomber gear, the impact force the rope produces is less of an issue, and is probably not something that will be a make-or-break in your decision between cords (although, everything else considered equal, lower impact force is a good thing).

Climbing Rope Static Elongation:

Both dynamic ropes (which are designed to stretch) and static ropes (which are designed not to stretch) will, to some extent, stretch and elongate when weighted. Percent static elongation is, therefore, standard technical information provided about a rope and indicates the amount it will stretch when weighted "statically" with the weight of a typical climber. For static ropes, it gives a good indication of how little the rope will stretch, which is useful information if you want a static rope for rappelling, hauling, or only toproping. For dynamic ropes (that you intend to lead on) it is not as useful, and less important than the impact force of the rope. Many manufacturers are now providing information on what the % dynamic elongation of the rope is when it catches it first fall. Like impact force, this measure can provide some indication of how "soft" the catch of the rope is. The bottom line: In selecting a dynamic rope, % static elongation is not going to be a really important issue, but in selecting a static rope, it is something to consider, and as between two otherwise equal cords, the static line with less static elongation will generally be more desirable.

Climbing Rope "Hand":

The suppleness of a rope -- how it feels when using it, for example, when clipping gear, is called the "hand" of the rope. Although not a standard, objectively measured quality of your rope, many rope reviews will refer to the hand as either stiff or soft, which can provide some indication of how stiff or supple the cord is. Some manufacturers are now providing an indication of the "knotability" of the rope, which gives the same type of insight into suppleness. However, wear and dirt, etc. can affect the hand of the cord over time, so rope hand, while nice to know, will not often be a deciding factor in your choice of rope. More likely is that, over time, through your experience climbing on different brands of cords or models of rope from the same brand, you'll come to find a rope that has a "hand" you like.

UIAA Testing of Climbing Ropes:

The International Union of Alpine Associations (UIAA) is a Europe-based organization that has established performance and safety standards for technical climbing ropes for many years. Ropes bearing the UIAA label have been tested according to their stringent standards and have passed these safety and performance standards. As noted above, the UIAA tests many aspects of rope performance, including Impact Force, Number of Falls, % Static Elongation, and Sharp-Edge Resistance. More detailed information on the UIAA tests and how they are conducted can be found at UIAA's website, www.uiaa.ch, and Mammut puts out a really great booklet on rope safety and testing as well. Briefly, for Number of Falls rating, the rope is tested using an 80 kg weight (176 lbs) in a factor 1.75 fall over a slightly rounded edge (55 g is used for double/half ropes). This is a stringent test, as factor 1.75 fall is a hard one. Twin ropes must hold at a minimum of 12 such falls, double/half ropes must hold a minimum of 5 such falls, and single ropes must hold a minimum of 5 such falls. For Impact Force, the rope is tested to ensure that the maximum impact force on the climber in event of a hard lead fall does not exceed 12 kN. For % static elongation, the rope is weighted with 80 kg to ensure that static elongation does not exceed 10% for single or twin ropes, and 12% for double/half ropes.

Final Words about Choosing a Climbing Rope:

Each rope comes with tags providing the technical information about a particular cord that has been outlined above. Read over it carefully. Most manufacturer websites also typically provide a wealth of information on rope testing and about the uses of particular models of rope they offer. Use their websites as resources (see the Manufacturers tab on our homepage for links to our Featured brands), and get as smart as you can about different ropes, and which one is suitable for your intended use!

Our Climbing Rope Suggestions:

Are you a new climber? Buying your first rope?  Are you a more seasoned climber thinking of trying out a new style/type of rope?  If so, making a choice among the many different cords we offer from our top brands can be a bit daunting.  So, to help you get started, we’ve put together the following list of recommended ropes, separated by use/type, all of which are always in stock on our shelves.  For more detailed information on how to choose a rope that’s right for you, don’t forget to check out CordCompare.

All Purpose Single Climbing Ropes:

Need a rope for general purpose climbing use, including leading, toproping, and rappelling, whether at the local sport crag or trad cliff; one rope that does it all?  Then take a look at the following cords.  They have a high fall-rating and stand up to frequent use and abuse well.  If you are an entry-level climber looking for an all-around rope that won’t break the bank, consider the “Price-Point” ropes, which deliver a lot of performance at a value-oriented price.

  • *Price-Point Single Climbing Ropes:

• Edelrid –  “Sky Pilot” (10.3 mm) or “Skyline” (10.5 mm) (bi-color available)
• Beal –  “Edlinger II” (10.2 mm)
• Mammut – “Eiger” (10.5 mm)

  • Workhorse Single Climbing Ropes:

• Beal – “Flyer II” (10.2 mm) or “Top Gun II” (10.5 mm) (bi-color available)
• Edelrid – “Live Wire” (10.5 mm) or “Fat Rock” (10.5 mm) or “Skyline” (10.5 mm)
• Esprit – “Clean Gear” (10.3 mm) (bi-color available) or “Little Big Wall” (10.8 mm)
• Maxim – “Leavittator” (10.5 mm) or “Bi-Pattern” (10.5 mm) (bi-color)
• Mammut – “Flash” (10.5 mm) (bi-color available) or “SuperSafe” (10.2 mm)
• PMI – “Cirque” (10.6 mm) (bi-color available) or “Encore Wall Rope” (10.6 mm)

  • Fat Single Climbing Ropes:

• Beal – “Apollo II” (11 mm)
• Maxim – “Leavittator” (11 mm)
• Mammut – “Flex” (11 mm)

Topropes and/or Rappel Climbing Ropes:

Looking for a rope that you’ll be using only for toproping and/or rappelling and NOT for leading?  Consider the following cords (some are static ropes, as indicated) which are designed to stand up well to heavy abuse from frequent toproping and/or rappelling.

• Beal – “Apollo II” (11 mm)
• Edelrid – “Prostatic” (11 mm)(static) or “Superstatic” (10 mm)(static) or “Skyline” (11 mm)
• Esprit – “Sport Static” (10.5 mm)(static)
• Maxim – “Leavittator” (11 mm) or “KMIII Max” (11 mm)(static)
• Mammut – “Flex” (11 mm)
• PMI – “Encore Wall Rope” (10.6 mm) or “P6 Toprope” (11 mm) or “Sport Static Maxwear” (10 mm)(static)

  • Thin Rap/Trail or Haul Ropes:

• Beal – “Trail Line” (8 mm)(static)
• Edelrid – “Static/Rap Cord” (7 mm)(static)
• Esprit – “Sport Static” (9 mm)(static)
• Maxim – “KMIII Max” (8 mm)(static)
• PMI – “Rap Line” (7.5 mm)(static) or “Rap Line” (9 mm)(static)

Lightweigt Redpoint/Alpine Single Climbing Ropes:

If you’re in need of a lightweight, high performance dynamic single climbing rope for long multi-pitch routes, alpine use, or working hard redpoints at the local crag, where shaving grams counts, then these “skinny” single climbing ropes are what you want.  Designed to strike the best balance between weight, performance, and an easy “hand,” these thin singles don’t have as high a fall-rating, or abuse-resistance, as their thicker all-purpose cousins, but are noticeably lighter on the lead.

  • Thin:

• Beal – “Booster III” (9.7 mm)
• Edelrid – “LiveWire” (9.8 mm) (bi-color available) or “FatRock Slim” (10 mm)
• Maxim – “Glider” (9.8 mm) or “Leavittator” (9.8 mm) or “Bi-Pattern” (9.8 mm) (bi-color)
• Mammut –   “Galaxy” (10 mm) (bi-color available) or “Eternity” (10 mm)
• PMI – “Arete” (9.7 mm) (bi-color available)

  • Thinner:

• Beal – “Stinger III” (9.4 mm)
• Maxim – “Whippet” (9.5 mm)
• Mammut – “Revelation” (9.2 mm) or “Infinity” (9.5 mm)
• PMI – “Elite” (9.4 mm)

Ice/Alpine Climbing Ropes:

These are the climbing ropes of choice for ice/alpine climbing and/or multi-pitch routes that may wander.  Twin climbing ropes provide the most security with highest fall rating and redundancy, while doubleclimbing ropes provide redundancy and ability to reduce rope drag since each rope is alternately clipped into protection.

  • Twins:

• Beal – “Ice Twin” (7.7 mm)
• Edelrid – “Live Wire” (7.6 mm)
• Mammut – “Twilight” (7.5 mm)
• PMI – “Verglas” (8.1 mm)

  • Doubles:

• Beal – “Ice Line” (8.1 mm) or “Cobra II” (8.6 mm)
• Esprit – “Half/Ice” (8.5 mm) or “QuickDraw” (9.1 mm) or “Sportster” (9.7 mm)
• Edelrid – “Live Wire” (8 mm or 8.5 mm) or “Skyline” (9 mm)
• Maxim – “Double Happiness” (8.5 mm or 9 mm)
• Mammut – “Phoenix” (8 mm) or “Genesis” (8.5 mm) or “Universe” (9 mm)
• PMI – “Verglas” (8.1 mm) or “Fusion” (8.6 mm)

  • Singles:

• Any of the Lightweight redpoint/alpine single ropes listed above (but choose the core + sheath dry option if available)

Note: To compare technical attributes on any of these Suggested Ropes, please visit our CordComparepage.