Climbing Rope Reviews

Modern climbing ropes are lighter, thinner, and more durable than they've ever been, and they're also more expensive than ever! Climbing's editors will help you choose the right rope and find the best value. Here you'll also learn how to care for a rope and when to retire it.
  • HPECAlpine

    Gear Guide 2014: Alpine

    Rock, ice, or snow, these 12 tester-approved toys will get you to the top.

  • HPECTrad

    Gear Guide 2014: Trad Climbing

    From cams to carabiners to shoes, here are 18 of the best new products for plug-and-chuggers.

  • ECSport

    Gear Guide 2014: Sport Climbing

  • HPEC

    Gear Guide 2014: Editors' Choice Awards

    Innovative, smart, lust-worthy, and just plain cool: 10 new must-have products that topped our testers’ lists.

  • Mammut-Serenity-Rope

    Your Lifeline: 5 New Ropes for Sending Season

    The climbing rope is a unifying piece of gear. Primarily, it connects a climber to his belayer, but every tribe member who wants to get higher than 15 feet off the ground ties into one, whether he’s toproping or big walling. (The Honnolds and Crofts of the world don’t count!) However, a toproper and a big waller will be looking for two very different cords. Our testing crew visited nearby Colorado areas, Ten Sleep, Wyoming, half a dozen Utah crags, and California’s High Sierra to find the five best single ropes on sport, trad, and alpine routes.

  • Arcteryx-Haku-Rope-Bag

    Arc'teryx Haku Rope Bag

    The Haku makes transporting and flaking a breeze, with this bag, bucket, and tarp in one ultra-portable package. When you’re done climbing, flake your rope onto the 4’x4’ tarp, grab the corners and give a shake, and the cord will disappear into an attached nylon bucket (that lies flat when not in use).

  • Edelrid-Snipe-Rope

    Edelrid Snipe 9.8mm

    Slated for a fall 2013 U.S. debut, these ropes sold out so fast in Europe that Edelrid couldn’t meet demands for both the U.S. and all of Europe—and that should tell you something. The Snipe is a 9.8mm rope that increases to 10mm for six meters at each end and in the middle using Edelrid’s EnduroTech technology.

  • Beal-Unicore-Tiger-10mm

    Beal Unicore Tiger 10mm

    The brunt of a rope’s strength comes from the core, and while the sheath doesn’t add significant strength, it does protect the core from damage. A sliced sheath will quickly unravel, exposing several feet of core, making the rope unusable. Solution? Beal introduced Unicore technology last year in two ropes; this bonds the core to the sheath via a thin, lightweight filament that’s woven between the two.

  • Bluewater-Icon-91mm-Rope

    BlueWater Icon 9.1mm

    This cord quickly became the top choice among our sport climbing testers thanks to its supple feel, easy handling, thin diameter, and kink-free performance. “We’ve had this line for about seven months, and it permanently stays in the rope bag as our go-to cord,” said one testing duo. “It hasn’t kinked once on 100+ pitches, and it clips like a dream.”

  • Metolius-Ropemaster-HC

    Metolius Rope Master HC

    Although the average diameter of most ropes is getting smaller, the standard length is growing, and Metolius has responded by making their tried-and-true rope bag in a “high capacity” version. For day trips to Clear Creek Canyon and weekend trips to Shelf Road, both in Colorado, the bag easily fit an 80-meter rope and full rack of 15 quickdraws.

  • 2012 Gear Guide: How to Buy - Ropes

    The climbing rope is the centerpiece of your safety system. Unless you’re bouldering, it’s your most critical climbing equipment. You may buy a one-size-fits-all rope, or build a quiver of ropes that suit each type of climbing you do. Modern nylon climbing ropes use a kernmantle design, meaning they have a thick “kern,” or core, providing most of the strength, plus a thin “mantle,” or sheath, to protect the core. Extensive twisting of the core yarns gives a rope most of its stretchiness and energy-absorbing capabilities.

  • New England Ropes/Maxim Airliner 9.1

    2012 Gear Guide: Ropes

    New England Ropes/Maxim Airliner 9.1: Easy clipping and complete smoothness out of the gate made this Maxim rope an absolute favorite for the serious sport climbers in our test squad. Knots were easy to tie and untie, and initial kinks were kept to a minimum. The 9.1mm diameter is absolutely perfect for redpointing—thick enough to stand some abrasion and big whips, but thin enough (61 g/m, or less than 9.5 lbs for a 70m rope) to feel like there’s practically nothing there.

  • GG-Beal-Joker_31509.jpg

    2011 Gear Guide: Ropes

    Over the winter, we climbed with a wide sampling of single ropes (most are new for 2010/2011) and boiled the selection down to eight favorites. During the review process, certain biases became evident: Some testers wouldn’t even look at a rope above 10mm in diameter, while others nervously said “no thanks” to anything under 9.8mm. Dry treatments also became a point of contention: Sport climbers in Colorado shrugged them off as an unnecessary extra expense, while ice climbers were incredulous at this indifference. While such characteristics will factor into your own decision, we hope to at least point you in the right direction on the journey to find your dream cord.

  • EC-Singing-Rock-Crux_31219.jpg

    2011 Gear Guide Editors' Choice

    After months of testing on hundreds of routes, we offer up our picks for the most innovative, useful, and just damn good gear of the year. The Singing Rock Crux, Mammut Smart Alpine, Black Diamond Gridlock Screwgate, Petzl Grigri 2, Five Ten Arrowhead, Arc'Teryx Squamish Hoody, Beal Joker 9.1, North Face Verto, and Salewa Rapace GTX all won our high praises and took home the Editors' Choice Award.

  • New and Notable: Millet 10mm Low Impact Triaxiale - 2010 Gear Guide

    New and Notable: Millet 10mm Low Impact Triaxiale - 2010 Gear Guide

    By thinking eco, French company Millet has raised the bar on their already top-notch Triaxiale rope line. The 10mm Low Impact Triaxiale is a green rope, literally and metaphorically — Millet found ways to reduce energy consumption and use fewer chemicals during production, as well as minimize packaging.

  • MILLET CRISTAL 9.8MM - 2009 Gear Guide

    MILLET CRISTAL 9.8MM - 2009 Gear Guide

    New for 2009, Millet’s Cristal buffs out the popular 9.8mm-diameter category with this addition to the French manufacturer’s cabled-core line (the threads are twisted and assembled, not braided). The Cristal is an excellent all-arounder with an angle toward sport climbing — thick enough to work with all belay devices and withstand a day of crux-bolt whippers.

  • Skinny Rope Review - No 224 - September 2003

    Skinny Rope Review - No 224 - September 2003

    Within the narrow-diameter rope market, you have a wide variety of options. Many of today’s 9.8mm cords are full service — you can use them for practically any facet of climbing except heavy-duty wall climbing, which dishes out serious wear and tear to even the stoutest 11mm ropes.

  • Sterling Nitro Rope Review - No 224

    Sterling Nitro Rope Review - No 224

    At a slim 60 grams per meter, Sterling's Nitro is light enough for limit-pushing redpoints, yet also stood up to route-working abuse with aplomb, thanks to its durable sheath.

  • Roca Minus Rope Review - No 224

    Roca Minus Rope Review - No 224

    If you're looking for a skinny rope that can take a beating on abrasive multi-pitch granite or sandstone, the Roca Minus is an ideal candidate.

  • PMI Elite Rope Review - No 224

    PMI Elite Rope Review - No 224

    Weighing in at a scant 57 grams per meter, the PMI Elite was one of the lightest ropes in the test. It also provided the cushiest catch due to its 35-percent dynamic elongation.

  • Maxim Whippet Rope Review - No 224

    Maxim Whippet Rope Review - No 224

    The Maxim Whippet handled like a charm and absorbed plenty of route-working punishment. The cord's smooth sheath and moderately stiff core made clipping and belaying a breeze.

  • Mammut Infinity - Rope Review

    Mammut Infinity - Rope Review

    Mammut's Infinity strikes a balance between light weight, durability, and handling. Virtually kink-free right out of the factory coil, this cord clipped well, held up to extended working sessions, and fed smoothly through all belay devices.

  • Edelweiss Laser Rope Review - No 224

    Edelweiss Laser Rope Review - No 224

    While many testers considered the Edelweiss Laser to be too stiff, one individual took advantage of that stiffness for rodeo-clipping (swinging a loop of rope to clip into a sport route’s first draw), describing the action as “full-on gaucho.

  • Edelrid Livewire Rope Review - No 224

    Edelrid Livewire Rope Review - No 224

    For those looking to make their first sub-10mm rope purchase, the Edelrid Livewire fits the bill well, without that bill being too high.

  • BlueWater Dominator Rope Review - No 224

    BlueWater Dominator Rope Review - No 224

    Currently the world’s lightest and skinniest single rope, the BlueWater Dominator weighs two grams less per meter than its closest competition.

  • Beal Stinger Rope Review - No 224

    Beal Stinger Rope Review - No 224

    The Beal Stinger, imported by Black Diamond, had just the right amount of stiffness for swift clipping — pull up a bight and slap it in.