Climbing ropes are probably the most important gear any rock climber will keep in their arsenal. It’s important that you pick a rope that fits your needs. The right climbing rope is crucial when you’re climbing high off the deck.
If you’re new to buying rope or a seasoned vet with plenty of other ropes, take a minute to think about what you’ll be using the rope for.
We took a look at climbing ropes that are on the market and came up with our list of the best climbing ropes that are available to you. We analyzed the best climbing ropes for a variety of climbing disciplines, so whether you just need an all cragging rope or a specific skinny rope, we got you covered.
Best Climbing Rope
- Best Overall Rock Climbing Rope: Sterling Velocity 9.8mm
- Best Rope for Climbers on a Budget: Mammut Crag We Care Classic 9.5mm
- Best Rope for Redpointing: Edelrid Canary Pro Dry 8.6mm
- Most Durable Climbing Rope: Sterling T-10 10mm XEROS
- Best Ultralight Climbing Rope: Petzl Volta Guide 9mm
- Best Rope for Gym Climbing: Mammut 9.5 Gym Classic Rope
- Best Beginner Climbing Rope: Sterling VR9 9.8mm
- Best Half Ropes: Mammut 8.0 Alpine Dry Rope
- Best Rope for Ice Climbing: Beal Opera Golden Dry 8.5mm
- Best Sustainable Rope: Edelrid Boa Eco
- Best Bi-Pattern Rope: Edelrid Tommy Caldwell DT 9.6mm
Best Overall Rock Climbing Rope: Sterling Velocity 9.8mm
- Great for any style of climbing: top rope, trad, sport, and gym climbing
- Stiff and supple, figure 8 follow dresses perfectly
- Feeds through belay devices and gear extremely well
- Middle mark is tough to see
- Only available as a dry treated rope
The best overall rock climbing rope we’ve tested is the Sterling Velocity 9 9.8mm.
It’s an excellent overall climbing rope first starting out because of its ability to perform well in any style of climbing.
For the overall best climbing rope category, we are looking for a good climbing rope that can be the only rope you need. If you’re going to be a doing a lot of different styles of climbing, than this is a perfect choice.
The Sterling Velocity is a few grams per meter lighter than Mammut ropes of the same diameter, but is actually slightly heavier than the 9.9 Black Diamond rope. It gives a soft catch and thanks to its dry treatment, it will hold up well for ice climbing and any wet alpine missions you’re on.
This rope comes in 10m increment sizes between 40 meters and 80 meters. So it’s perfect for gym climbing or for your mega sport climbing project.
Best Rope For Climbers on a Budget: Mammut Crag We Care Classic 9.5
- Great price
- Sheath is made from recycled nylon
- Lots of stretch for a soft catch
- Lack of options
- Twisty out of the box
The Mammut Crag We Care Classic 9.5 is the best climbing rope for climbers on a budget.
It’s the lowest priced 70m rope but still provides all the bells and whistles that you would want out of your climbing rope.
It weighs 59 grams per meter and comes in 40, 50, 60, 70, or 80 meters. This rope is not available with dry treatment or in a bi-pattern. One of the frustrating things we found with this rope was that the middle mark disappeared quickly after climbing with it. If you’re interested in ice climbing than this is not the best option for you since you can’t get it dry treated.
But if you’re looking for a solid do it all rock rope at a great price, the Mammut Crag We Care Classic is a perfect option for you.
Best Rope for Redpointing: Edelrid Canary Pro Dry 8.6mm
- One of the thinnest and lightest single ropes
- Thicker sheath proportion helps create a durable rope
- Only 51 grams per meter
- Rope stretch will cause you to be way below your high point
- Only available as a 60 or 70 meter
The Edelrid Canary Pro Dry 8.6mm is one of the best climbing ropes on the market.
It’s packed in with a ton of features and thanks to its 8.6mm diameter it only weighs 51 grams per meter. That comes in at around 7 and a half pounds for a 70 meter rope. This rope also has a dry treatment if you want to use it in the alpine or on rainy days.
The rope is triple certified. Meaning that it can be used as a single rope, double, or twin rope. That opens up a wide range of terrain, but we found that it’s best application is for redpointing your hard routes. The rope comes with a black middle mark which will help your belayer gauge distances while lead climbing.
Most Durable Rope: Sterling T-10 10mm XEROS
- Available as bipattern and bicolor
- Comes dry treated with XEROS technology
- Not great for other styles of climbing
The Sterling T-10 XEROS is one of the best workhorse ropes on the market.
It is a beefy climbing rope coming in with a 10mm diameter. This climbing rope was inspired by big wall climbers. So if you’re looking for a rope that will survive multiple gnarly expeditions and big walls, this is a good rope to have in your quiver.
This rope is only available in 60 or 70 meters. The rope still feeds well through your belay device. The GriGri can handle ropes up to 11mm and its optimal use is a t 10.5mm. But the more you use it, you may experience some resistance as the rope gets fuzzier.
This rope has a very specific use case, if you’re adventuring on big walls or you need something extremely durable. It could be useful if your local crag is top rope only and the climbing rope faces a lot of abrasion on the rock. But if you’re looking to get into lead climbing than you’d be better suited looking at a different climbing rope.
Best Ultralight Climbing Rope: Petzl Volta Guide 9mm
- Easy to tie knots
- Thin rope but sturdy
- Only available in one color
- Not available as a 70 meter rope
The Petzl Volta comes in as our best ultralight climbing rope.
The Volta is a great rope for mountaineering adventures (glacier travelling, ice and alpine climbing), but at longer lengths it’s a great çlimbing rope for multi pitch climbing or steep single pitch sport climbing. This rope is a great option for ice and alpine climbers.
The Volta is one of the lighter ropes we tested, coming in at 54 g/m. Unfortunately, it is not available as a 70 meter. You will need to buy the 80 meter version which is expensive, coming in at $354.95. This 80 meter rope will weigh about 9 and a half pounds.
Best Rope for Gym Climbing: Mammut 9.5 Gym Classic Rope
- Easy uncoiling out of its packaging
- Clips like butter on steep sport climbs
- Feeds smoothly through both ATCs and GriGris
- Rope middle mark faded fast after a few months of only gym climbing
The best gym climbing rope is the Mammut 9.5 Gym Classic Rope.
Mammut recently rebranded their line of climbing ropes to three distinct categories: crag, gym, and alpine. Mammut has devoted a significant amount of resources to perfecting the gym climbing rope. This model is based on one of the best selling Mammut ropes: the Mammut Infinity.
If you’re thinking that 9.5 seems like to thin of a rope for a gym climbing rope, you’re not alone. But this rope has held up very well. The rope handles very well. It’s easy to tie in with a figure 8 follow through and keep a low profile.
The Mammut 9.5 Gym Classic Rope only weighs 59 g/m. The 50 meter version of this rope would only weight 6.5 pounds. You’ll feel like you’re floating when you climb with this rope.
Best of all, this rope isn’t just limited to being a gym rope. It can go outside just fine to smaller outdoor walls.
Best Beginner Climbing Rope: Sterling VR9 9.8mm
- Comes with Sterling DryCore technology
- Includes middle mark
- Some users reported bad durability
- Not available as bipattern
We picked the Sterling VR9 9.8mm as the best beginner climbing rope because of its versatility and price point.
The 70 meter is only $219.99 and this is a very versatile rope that you can use for years as you progress in you’re climbing career. We really looked for versatile climbing ropes when we reviewed beginner outdoor climbing ropes.
The rope weighs 62 g/m and handles very well thanks to its sheath. This rope belays well and provides a great soft catch. The weight and construction of this rope make it a great first rope for getting into sport climbing and trad climbing. It will also handle top roping as well.
Best Half Ropes: Mammut 8.0 Alpine Dry Rope
- Dry treatment
- Designed for alpine climbing
- Rope is packaged ready to climb, no twists when uncoiling
- Rope management is tricky with all double rope systems
Our favorite skinny rope is the Mammut 8.0 Alpine Dry Rope. It’s a double rope system built for climbing and mountaineering. It’s design is based on the best selling Mammut Phoenix Dry rope.
This is a great rope for multi pitch and alpine climb. If you’re climbing wandering trad routes, then this double certified half and twin rope is perfect for you. It’s dry treated and achieves <1.5% in UIAA water absorption tests.
The 8mm version of this rope is extremely light, only 42 g/m. It has a sheath proportion of 42% and like other dry treated ropes, it handles extremely well when exposed to water.
Best Rope for Ice Climbing: Beal Opera Golden Dry 8.5mm
- Rope core is dry treated with Beal Golden Dry treatment
- Available in multiple lengths (50, 60, 70, 80, and 200 meters)
- Sheath and core are bonded together with Beal unicore
- Some users reported discrepancies in actual weight of rope and what was reported
- Quick to kink and twist at belays
The best ice climbing rope we found was the Beal Opera Golden Dry 8.5mm.
We love it for a few different reasons. First, it the rope’s weight only 48 g/m. It was actually the first single rope on the market to weigh less than 50 g/m. So the Beal Opera 70 meter will weigh less than 7.5 pounds. That’s incredibly light and your back will thank you on your longer approaches.
Second, Beal’s unicore technology makes the rope stronger by making the core and the sheath of the rope integral. If the sheath of the rope is cut, there will be no sheath slippage thanks to the Unicore technology.
Last the rope is triple certified as a single, half and twin. It’s able to perform a multitude of functions without sacrificing durability or performance.
Best Sustainable Rope: Edelrid Boa Eco
- Every sheath has a unique color and pattern
- Rope stretches for a soft catch
- Excellent for indoor climbing
- Low environmental impact
- Sheath causes a lot of friction on hands when lowering
- Soft catch can be jarring to newer lead climbers
- No 50 meter length available
The Edelrid Boa Eco is a part of a growing trend where dynamic ropes are being built with recycled material.
At first this seems a bit concerning. I want to make sure that every piece of climbing equipment I trust is strong and I can trust it. These sustainable ropes are utilizing nylon from the factory and incorporating it to a part of the sheath.
My favorite use of this rope is for indoor gym climbing. One of our big complaints was that it did not come in a 50 meter length. The 50 meter rope that would still be light and small enough to pack in a gym bag. And also give you more length to chop the rope over time. The only diameter available is 9.8mm.
Best Bi-Pattern Rope: Edelrid Tommy Caldwell DT 9.6
- High sheath proportion for durability
- Dry treated
- Developed with Mr. El Cap himself – Tommy Caldwell
- Quickly find the middle with the bi-pattern design
- Can feel slick on an ATC
- Climbers have reported discrepancies with how Edelrid weighs their ropes
Rock climbers love the Edelrid Tommy Caldwell DT 9.6. Just check out this one review from a climber.
If you’re looking for a durable rope for big walls, hauling gear, or just something durable, the Edelrid Tommy Caldwell DT 9.6 is a great choice. It is a dry treated rope so it can easily withstand any rain or snow that El Capitan can throw at you.
The rope diameter is only 9.6mm, but is durable like the thicker ropes in the past. Climbing rope technology has evolved and we’re now at the point where 9.8 is considered a thicker rope. I remember I bought a 10.1 mm rope because I wanted something durable when I first started climbing.
I love the green color of this rope, it’s easy to see while you’re climbing and it really pops in your photos. The bi-pattern design is very helpful when you’re rappelling as you can quickly find the middle. You won’t have to worry about the middle mark wearing thanks to the different designs in the sheath.
How to Choose a Climbing Rope
Here are a few questions to keep in mind when you’re purchasing your climbing rope:
- What style of climbing will you be doing?
- How tall are the walls you’re climbing
- Will you be rappelling?
- How long is the approach to your climbs?
- Do you expect to get rained or snowed on?
If you’re totally unsure, you can’t go wrong with a 70 meter 9.8mm diameter climbing rope.
That is long enough for most climbing areas and durable enough to survive a decent amount of climbing. Modern dynamic ropes are very strong and light.
Once you have your first climbing rope, you’ll get more experience on what you like and don’t like. Climbing is a very social sport. You’ll meet other beginner climbers while out at the crag and you can see what gear they have and get new insight on to what you like and don’t like about climbing gear. It’s totally common to talk favorite gear when you’re outdoor climbing.
Types of Climbing Ropes
The most common rope seen is the single rope. A single rope is exactly what the name implies: just one rope is needed for the protection system. A downside of the single rope system is that a second rope must be trailed to make a long rappel doable.
A twin rope is a dual rope system. Both ropes must be clipped into every piece of protection (never separate the twins!) Twin ropes are thinner and are lighter, and can be tied together for long rappels.
One downside of twin ropes is that you need a tube-style device for belaying. Since the climber is tied into two ropes, your belay device must be able to handle two thin ropes at once.
Half ropes are similar to a twin rope, but the rope can be clipped into alternating pieces of protection to reduce rope drag. Half ropes work best for wandering routes. By clipping the ropes into alternating pieces of protection, we can eliminate rope drag.
Just like twin ropes, the downside is that you must use the tube-style belay device. I personally prefer to belay and be belayed with assisted braking device for some extra peace of mind.
Dynamic Climbing Rope
Modern rock climbing ropes are also called dynamic rope because the rope stretches in the event of a fall.
That stretch helps the belayer give soft catches and also puts less force on the falling climber and the gear in the system. If you look at the tech specs for a rope, you’ll see this referred to as dynamic elongation. Dynamic elongation is just a fancy way of seeing how much the rope will stretch during an 80kg fall.
Experienced climbers are used to this stretch, but it can be jarring to beginners who are top roping for the first time. When I’m top roping on a stretchy rope, I like to weight the rope before I start climbing to get some of the stretch out. This prevents the climber falling as much in the event of a fall.
If you’re taking repeated falls while lead climbing, tie in to the other end of the rope between each climb to give the other end a break.
Static Climbing Rope
Static ropes are ropes that won’t stretch when under load. We say static rope because it refers to the amount the rope will stretch. We’ve already talked a lot about dynamic ropes, which are ropes that are built to stretch under load.
When you are rigging top ropes, static ropes are best because there is no stretch in the rope. This helps keep your anchor in the same exact spot regardless if the rope is weighted or not. Static ropes can be a thicker rope than the dynamic climbing ropes you see on the market.
Climbing Rope Length
All climbing ropes will come in a different length.
This is always measured in meters. In order to purchase the correct length, you need to take into consideration the height of the walls you’ll be climbing. Guidebooks and websites like mountain project will list the height of the climbs as well as have feedback from climbers on the best rope length to have for the climb.
Rock Climbing Rope Diameter
The diameter of the rope measures how thick the rope is.
Different climbing objectives warrant thick ropes vs skinnier ropes. It all depends what your needs are. One thing to keep in mind is that belay devices are designed to support different diameter ropes. It is possible for the device to not function with a skinnier rope and with a thick rope. Consult the manual for your device or the manufacturer if you have questions.
Do I Need a Bi-Pattern Rope for Climbing?
On a rope with a bi-pattern design, the two halves of the rope will have a different design.
The rope has a consistent color scheme throughout, but the patterns will be altered. When the halfway point is reached during manufacturing, the manufacturer alters the sewing machine bobbins to create a new design.
A bi-pattern rope is not a necessity, but it is nice to have. Ropes will come with a middle mark. This usually looks like someone took a black marker and drew on the middle of the rope or sheath. When you first get the rope, these are easy to find and identify. But the more you use your rope and the dirtier it gets, the middle mark will become hard to find.
What’s The Difference Between a Half Rope and Twin Rope
There’s a lot of confusion surrounding half ropes vs twin ropes.
To the naked eye, they do have one major thing in common. Both of these systems involve two ropes. You have to tie into both ropes while you’re climbing and your belayer will need to use a tube style device since they belay you on both ropes. These systems will have lighter ropes with thinner diameters which make them perfect for alpine climbing.
The major difference between half ropes and twin ropes is that when using twin ropes both ropes must be clipped into both pieces of protection. Half ropes can be clipped individually (alternating between pieces of protection or keeping the rope to right or left side.)
What Are Skinny Ropes?
Skinny ropes are climbing ropes that have a very small diameter.
Back in the day, it was common for single ropes to to be 10mm or even 11mm. But as time went on and rope technology advanced, ropes started getting smaller and smaller. Eventually skinny ropes, like the Beal Opera, are only 8.5mm and still certified as a single rope. Thinner doesn’t always mean better and you should evaluate your climbing objectives when purchasing a new rope, regardless if it’s a skinny rope or not.
What is Climbing Rope Made Of?
Modern climbing ropes are made of nylon and polyamide materials that are both incredibly strong and durable.
These nylon ropes have been a huge technological innovation for the sport. The modern climbing rope is also known as a kernmantel rope. There are two parts to this kind of rope: the core and the sheath.
What Is The Difference Between Sheath and Core
The core of the rope provides the tensile strength for the rope while the sheath is made of nylon and provides abrasion resistance.
The core and sheath provides our ropes with the ability to safely catch and hold a fall and make it durable against the elements. The core is a series of tightly braided nylon strands that are twisted together. This double helix-like design gives our rope strength.
The rope will rub against and over rock at one point during its lifespan, which is where our sheath comes in handy. And the sheath protects its core. When we look at a rope and see the color and pattern stitching, we are looking at the sheath.
How To Take Care Of Your Rope
Buy a separate rope bag and keep your rope stored in it when you are not using it.
Keep your rope away from prolonged UV light exposure. Don’t throw your rope in the trunk of your car by itself, keep it in its rope bag to protect it from the elements. When you’re single pitch climbing, carry the rope to the crag in the rope bag.
Most rope bags come with a built in tarp that you can unfold and place the rope on. This keeps dirt and mud from getting on the rope and extends its lifespan.
Your rope will eventually get dirty and when it does you can simply soak it in a bathtub. Some companies make specific rope soap products, but I have always done a simple water soak and then hanging it to dry.
Frequently Asked Questions
The best rope for climbing is a single dynamic rope like the Sterling Velocity
Alex Honnold is sponsored by Black Diamond and uses Black Diamond ropes.
Our favorite all around climbing rope is the Sterling Velocity.
The best budget climbing rope is the Mammut Crag We Care Classic.