Picking out the right climbing rope for you can be quite the artform. Buying the wrong rope can lead to a lot of dissatisfaction and wasted money. I hope to prevent this and help you make an informed decision on which rope may be right for you.
For the most part, you will be using your rope outside the majority of the time. Most climbing gyms will not allow you to bring in your own rope and will provide you with their own. It is pretty rare that a gym will allow use of personal ropes because it can be quite the liability.
With that in mind, this page will recommend ropes primarily designed to be used top roping and sport climbing outside. Below are my top recommended climbing ropes based on intended use:
- Top Roping Rope: Edelrid Boa Eco 9.8mm Rope – Check its current price on Amazon here
- Sport Climbing Rope: Mammut 9.5 Crag Classic – Check its current price on Amazon here
Further information regarding the primary factors to consider when choosing the right climbing rope for you along with an explanation of why I recommend the ropes I do is provided below.
What To Look For When Buying A Climbing Rope
While there are a variety of different rope types including static, single, half and twin. Single ropes are the kind you want if you are just looking for a rope to top rope or sport climb with at the crag.
Static ropes are primarily used for hauling gear. Twin and half ropes are designed to be used in two rope systems for mountaineering, ice climbing, and multi-pitch trad climbing.
When getting a single rope, there are # main factors you should look at:
- The rope’s dimensions (thickness and length)
- If the rope has been dry treated or not
- The rope’s UIAA safety ratings (fall rating, static elongation, dynamic elongation, and impact force)
These factors and how they affect your climbing rope decision are explained in more detail below.
Single ropes will generally range between 8.5mm to 10.2mm in diameter with the vast majority falling between 9.4mm and 10mm. Thinner ropes are typically lighter and less durable than thicker ones as they have much less material. That said, the thickness of a rope is not the only factor that determines how long it will last you. (More on this in the UIAA Safety Rating section below).
In general, single ropes will range between 40 and 70 meters long. The standard rope length, and the rope length I recommend going with, is 60m. This length allows you to climb the vast majority of routes/pitches you will encounter.
The shorter 40m and 50m ropes are primarily used for indoor gym climbing as the walls are not as high. Getting too short of a rope will prevent you from climbing the routes outside you want to.
Getting a 70m rope is typically a bit overkill unless you know for sure that you are climbing a route that requires the extra length. If you are unsure, I recommend talking to your climbing buddies or looking up your crag on Mountain Project to see what rope length is needed.
Sticking with the 60 meter length is almost always the way to go (especially for your first rope).
Non-dry vs Dry Treated Ropes
Climbing outside introduces a lot of environmental factors that you will need to be aware of because they can drastically affect your rope’s integrity. Your climbing rope will be subject to getting wet, full of dirt, and rubbing against the rock.
Certain ropes have been “dry treated” to help mitigate the effects of the environment on the rope and increase their lifespan. Dry treated ropes are more expensive than non-dry ropes; however, they provide an incredible increase to a rope’s durability.
If you are someone who will climb through rain storms (if your crag allows it) and is planning to subject your rope to long hours of continuous UV exposure, getting a dry treated rope would be the route to go.
However, if you are the average crag climber and are planning to go home in bad weather, a non-dry rope will likely be the way to go. Getting a dry treated rope will likely not be worth the extra cost for you.
My recommended ropes below are not dry treated as the majority of crag climbers will not require the extra treatment.
Climbing Rope UIAA Safety Ratings
A rope’s price or thickness are not necessarily representative of how strong or safe it is to use. All ropes must meet UIAA safety standards to become certified for climbing.
The UIAA safety standards cover 4 basic categories:
- Fall Rating – how many falls the rope can take before failing. All single ropes must sustain 5 lab tested falls of an 80kg weight. A higher fall rating typically means the rope will last longer than ropes with lower fall ratings.
- Static Elongation – how much the rope stretches with a weight hanging from it. All single ropes cannot stretch more than 10% of their total length to meet the standard. Ropes with lower static elongations are more efficient and are better at hauling gear and top roping.
- Dynamic Elongation – how much the rope stretches during the first tested UIAA fall. All single ropes cannot stretch longer than 40% of their total length to meet the standard. Ropes with lower dynamic elongation are typically safer (climbers will not fall as far) but will have higher impact forces and be rougher on the climber and their gear.
- Impact Force – how much force the climber and their gear experience during the first tested UIAA fall. Ropes with lower impact forces will catch climbers more softly and will be easier on their gear. Low impact force ropes are better suited for sport climbing than top roping due to their increased stretch.
Ropes with greater elongation (lower impact forces) will be best suited for sport climbing and overhanging routes with little danger of falling on a ledge. Lower elongation (higher impact forces) will be better suited for top roping.
My Recommended Rope For Top Roping
The Edelrid Boa Eco 9.8mm Rope is the perfect rope for top roping at your local crag.
It is the definition of getting bang for your buck. The rope is incredibly durable and very affordably priced. I have not found a rope that will last as long as the Boa Eco for a similar price. All of the other extremely durable ropes make the Boa Eco look dirt cheap.
While its weight of 62 grams per meter is slightly on the heavy side, this should not be too much of an issue for top roping. Besides hauling it into and out of the crag, you will not need to keep taking it up with you on the wall.
Because rope weight does not matter as much in top roping, you can get a thicker, more durable rope without stressing about it. This is also ideal as you will likely be taking a lot of falls on it and putting its durability to the test.
The Boa Eco 9.8 is UIAA certified and performs well in all of the UIAA safety standard categories.
- Fall Rating : 7
- Impact Force : 8.8kN
- Static Elongation : 9.3%
- Dynamic Elongation : 32%
Durability and strength are the two main factors you want to maximize when selecting a top roping rope. The Boa Eco 9.8 does this for a fraction of the price of similarly performing ropes.
My Recommended Rope For Sport Climbing
The Mammut 9.5 Crag Classic in my opinion is definitely the rope of choice for sport climbing at your local crag. It is easy to handle, UIAA certified, durable, and incredibly affordable.
The 9.5 Crag Classic has a diameter of 9.5mm and weighs in at 59 grams per meter. This is pretty ideal for sport climbing. Unlike top roping, you will need to be hauling your rope up the wall with you and clipping every go. This means that you will want your rope to be easy to handle and relatively light weight.
While 59 g/m is not the lightest rope out there, it is much lighter than opting for thicker ropes more suited for top roping or gym climbing. Unless you have an incredibly long hike or scramble into the crag, the Crag Classic’s weight should not be a huge issue.
While lighter ropes that perform as well as the Crag Classic exist, they are much more expensive. This will typically not be worth the extra money unless you plan to be hauling your rope with you all over the place.
The 9.5 Crag Classic is surprisingly durable for its moderate thickness and lack of dry treatment. It is UIAA certified and performs well in all of the UIAA safety standard categories.
- Fall Rating : 6-7
- Impact Force : 8.8kN
- Static Elongation : 8%
- Dynamic Elongation : 33%
The rope provides climbers with great catches (which agrees with its moderately high static and dynamic elongation values). In addition to having a great catch, the rope is quite strong boasting a fall rating between 6 and 7.
In addition to its high quality construction, the rope has a middle mark on it so you can easily keep track of where you are at on the rope.
If you are looking for a rope to take with you day cragging, you will love the Mammut 9.5 Crag Classic.