Popular mechanics; Courtesy of Black Diamond
It’s time to buy a climbing rope and you’re starting to feel overwhelmed. Static? Dynamic? What does all this mean? What is measured in millimeters? Does size matter? All these questions and many more are surely going through your mind, but don’t worry. Below, I break down all the factors to consider when choosing a climbing rope and recommend 10 great options to suit every type of climber.
Best Climbing Ropes
The Expert: Between summer stints as a national park ranger and CWI-certified climbing guide, I’ve had the pleasure of bouncing around in some of the mildest climbing areas in the country over the past four winters. During these six-month periods of mock retreat, I incidentally tested all types of climbing systems whipping through the air in sandstone coliseums, gritting my teeth on conservatively protected granite spiers , descending into the daunting depths of limestone cave systems, and much more. .
How to find the right climbing rope for you
Climbing ropes come in a huge range of shapes, types and sizes, all suited to specific settings and conditions. Unfortunately, this makes buying ropes particularly easy to mess up. The good news is that there is some order to the madness, and you can find clarity by considering a string’s type, diameter, and length.
There are two main types of climbing ropes used for navigating vertical terrain. This guide focuses primarily on dynamic ropes, which are designed to stretch as they arrest a climber’s fall in order to absorb the impact as much as possible. Static ropes stretch very little, making them horribly awful for catching drops. Imagine a bungee jump, but the line doesn’t bounce when you fall. However, static lines are very effective for controlled descents (like rappels), hauling, or uplines for work or photography.
The diameter of a rope is an extremely important factor in its durability and largely determines its best use. Thicker climbing ropes can withstand much more dynamic impact than thinner ropes. That said, the thicker your rope, the heavier it will be and at some point it will cease to be compatible with popular belay devices. The Petzl GriGri+ belay device offers the widest range of rope compatibility, working best with diameters ranging from 8.9 to 10.5 millimeters; it’s good to keep this reach (or the reach of your own belay device) in mind when choosing a rope.
I have found 9.5-9.8 millimeter ropes to be a great balance of weight and durability for most climbing settings. Whether you’re working out at the gym, spending a casual day on a cliff, tackling a tough project, or heading out for a day of adventure, 9.5 to 9.8 millimeters can almost surely meet your needs. your needs.
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The length of your usual climbing rope should directly reflect the setting in which you plan to use it. Depending on the climbing you have immediate access to or the project you have planned, you may want a 40-80 meter rope. Your rope should be at least twice the length of the wall you plan to climb, plus an additional 15-30 feet for a reasonable belay. I’ll leave that calculation up to you, but keep in mind that the longer and thicker your rope, the heavier it will be. Balance length and diameter for convenient carrying.
Climbing rope safety
Still refer to a manufacturer’s guidelines when evaluating the life of goods, including climbing ropes, which are responsible for your fatal safety. Strings are designed for a specific amount of low drops. It is important to understand the different types of drops and the number of types of drops your equipment is expected to endure. Be sure to replace your climbing rope when it begins to show signs of severe wear, such as when core fibers begin to show through the outer sheath.
Three safety tips when buying a climbing rope
- Don’t be in a hurry. Take the time to determine exactly which product will best meet your needs.
- Buy it yourself. Such a complex decision regarding specialized equipment should not be left to your friends or family looking to give you a nice gift.
- You don’t need the fanciest! More than likely, the best climbing rope for you will be one of the more basic models available.