All You Need to Know about Rock Climbing Ropes

If you’re new to rock climbing, you’re surely going to get to the point when you need to get a climbing rope. Unlike regular ropes, these are dynamic and designed to stretch when there is an impact. This is all for the purpose of them being able to absorb the energy generated by falling (if a fall does occur). These ropes are constructed by using a tightly braided sheath (this is the colored part) which serves to protect the load-bearing core. It is important to know that manufacturers test them rigorously before they put them out for sale.

As with most equipment, there’s not only one type of rope and there are certain details (such as the construction method) you need to have in mind when choosing the right kind for you. So without further ado, let’s look at some of the key factors.

rock climbing rope

The Difference Between Dynamic and Static Ropes

As already mentioned, the ropes that should be used for climbing are of special kind are nothing alike the only similarly looking static ones. This is a pivotal thing to know for safety reasons. Dynamic ropes help the climber in cases of a fall and are designed to carry the weight of both the climber and their equipment by stretching and elongating.

Static ropes, on the other hand, do not absorb any forces and using them for climbing can lead to serious injuries. These are designed to be used for the purpose of rappelling, building anchors and hauling loads.

Important Rope Terms You Ought to Know

Diameter
The diameter of modern climbing ropes can range from 8.0mm to 10.5mm. Althogh large diameter ropes are heavier, they are more durable and this makes them the perfect choice for top-roping. Skinnier ropes, on the other hand, are quite lighter and therefore they offer lower impact forces, which in turn renders them more suitable for alpine, hard sport on sights and ice.

Length
You can find a climbing rope with length anywhere from 30 meters up to 80 meters which is quote wide variety. The most often used length for climbing is 60 or 70 meters.

Core
What comprises the core are individual yarns that are bundled together into plies. The rope gets the greatest amount of its strength exactly form this part – the core. It’s also very important for the process of shock absorption.

Sheath
This is the part that attracts the eyes the most – the colorful material. Its main function has nothing to do with aesthetics though as it is designed to protect the core. This is why it is very important for the sheath to be thicker. The thicker it is, the better protection it will be able to provide, thus enabling the rope to last you longer. And apart from protection, the sheath is also responsible for adding a small, but still significant amount to the rope as a whole.

Breaking Strength
The unit with which the breaking strength of the rope is measured is kilonewton. The unit had been formulated based on combining mass, speed and length. As the name itself suggests, it is meant to measure how much force the rock climbing rope can take before it actually breaks.

climbing ropes

The Most Popular Types of Ropes

Single Ropes

These are without a doubt the most popular type of climbing ropes. Some even consider them the best climbing rope variety there is. As the name suggests, the climber uses a single line and clips all the pieces of gear into the rope. Their name is derived due to the way in which they are used – by themselves. For this reason, they are suitable for the following types of activities: ice climbing, trad, top-roping and multipitch. All in all these are well-rounded and versatile ropes.

The single rope system is simple and generally used for straighter routes. The Bluewater Pulse 9.9mm climbing rope is our favorite pick for this climbing with dynamic features meaning the middle of the line is easy to find as the pattern changes. The Pulse 9.9mm also offers excellent balance as it’s neither thin nor thick.

Double Ropes

This type of system utilizes not one, but two climbing ropes. This variety is best suited for multipitch climbing, whether on rock or ice. There are two subcategories that fall into this bigger category and those are twin ropes and half ropes.

Twin Ropes

Are clipped simultaneously piece into piece. This is done for the purpose of protection. The perks that come with this construction are lower static elongation, full length rappels and better protection against sharp edges. A rule of thumb to always follow is that these ropes should not be clipped in any other way other than in a pair – they should never be used independently.

With the twin rope technique, there are two ropes just like in the half rope system. However, unlike the half rope system, the twin rope pieces must be clipped on both lines. The main advantage of this scheme is the long rappel and longer lines used by multiple travel partners, and it’s also super sturdy and safe.
Our top pick for the twin rope system is the Beal Rando Glacier climbing rope that features a Golden Dry treatment technology for water resistance capabilities and durability.
There’s no system which is superior to the other, as it all depends on the purpose that you’ll be using your rope. Here are our top six climbing ropes that can be used in different challenges providing safety, speed, versatility, and efficiency. In contrast to twin ropes,

Half Ropes

Are meant to be clipped alternately into each piece. Much like the twin ones, this is also done for the purpose of protection. The perks that come with this construction are reduced impact force, full length rappelling and just like the twin variety, sharp protection regarding sharp edges. They are, however, certain disadvantages that need to be mentioned when speaking of this type and those are higher dynamic elongation and rather difficult rope handling. They are best suited for multipitching in parties of three.

If you are the kind of a person who enjoys sketchy rocks, trad routes or ice climbing, we’d suggest a half rope system. The half rope ensures that you’re securely locked in place and belayed on two lines. Also, you can only clip one strand of the rope to each piece of protection.
Half ropes are pretty skinny with a width of 8mm- 9mm and also stretch a lot reducing the amount of force applied to pieces of protection. Another advantage of using this type of system is the long rappel of having two ropes especially if you’re looking for that marginal protection on icy terrains.
Our pick for the half rope system is the Blue Ox ½” Rope that features a 12 strand polyester construction and ergonomic design for ice-climbing but not for the rock realm or for hanging 1000ft in the air.

Is a Dry Treated Rope a Better Rope?

There are many benefits that come with dry treating ropes. These ropes absorb water a lot less when exposed to it due to wet weather conditions and this makes them weigh less. It also prevents freezing and icing which in turn makes for the rope retaining its dynamic properties.

There are two options when it comes to this process – it can either be done on the sheath alone or on both the sheath and the core. For maximum longevity of the rope, it is better to go with the latter option. This treatment can cost 50 – 75 dollars and although it may seem like a bit of investment initially, it is well worth the money when you consider how much it will protect your rope. Buying a new quality rope costs more than going the extra mile to protect what you already have and what costs the most and is irreplaceable is without a doubt – your safety.

Hopefully, this guide has let you in on all the details you need regarding choosing the right rope for your future adventures.

Our best climbing ropes

There are many types of climbing ropes in the market today and choosing the right one can be overwhelming if you are a novice and don’t have knowledge of this extreme sport. Unlike the regular ropes, climbing ropes are adaptable and versatile against impact protecting the climber.
When appropriately used a climbing rope will keep you safe off the ground. In this review we’ve narrowed down your search to six best climbing ropes you can purchase in 2018. But before we dive in the guide, we can break down the ideal choices and common terms used to differentiate climbing ropes. You’ll find phrases like single, half and twin ropes, rope diameter, rope length, dry treatment, static vs. dynamic, middle mark, UIAA falls, impact force among other terms. This guideline will help you decipher what suits your need.

Why we like it: The Bluewater Pulse 9.9 mm features a 40 carrier sheath braided construction more dynamic than most ropes in its category, for super soft catches and also the best selling single gym climbing that offers excellent grip and consistent handling over time.

Double-Dry Treatment
The Pulse notably features DoubleDry dry treatment that prevents it from absorbing unwanted water on mixed and alpine snakes making it the in-between rope for ice sports. This Bluewater line is easy to clip, holds shape, and comes in two color selections and rated with 7 UIAA falls. It comes with a newer stronger sheath for better durability

Lightweight
Additionally, Bluewater included a lightweight design in the Pulse rope weighing just over 62 grams per meter. There are few options in the market for a 70m rope at this price range and weight range.

Pros

• Striking colors, bright and easy to spot
• Handles well and catches great
• Lightweight
• Soft catches

Cons

• Quite a mess when uncoiling the first time
• Twists fairly easy

Why we like it: This 10mm rope features tough, durable nylon construction with low static elongation making it a dynamic climbing rope for caving, rescue, rock climbing, and aerial work. Aoneky 10.7mm costs under $100 making it an excellent choice for best value and novice climbers.

Firm Grip
Aoneky has included a low static elongation in this single rope model ousting itself as an outdoor rope with comfortable and reliable built-in eyes on each end with a diameter of 10.7mm that allows you to get a nice and firm grip.

Dry treated
The rope also features wear-resistance, mold resistance, and a waterproof design an excellent choice for ice pitches. The cord features precision weaving and clear lines with a high-strength pull with 1000kg maximum load-bearing capacity.

Pros

• Extremely lightweight
• Excellent overall value
• Durable
• Waterproof

Cons

• Stiff out of the box

Why we like it: The 1/2” By 200, Arborist Rigging rope with a reduced impact force construction and full-length rappelling is best for sharp protection on sharp edges excellent for tree rigging.

Sturdy Durable Construction
The 200 feet half rope features a sturdy 2 in 1 double tightly braided polyester construction with 7000-pound tensile strength making it an excellent static climbing rope for bearing load. This Arborist rigging rope does not stretch when carrying a load and doesn’t absorb force in a fall scenario making it efficient for hauling loads up, ascending a rope, building anchors or when lowering an injured climber.

Abrasion Resistant Design
Besides, this rope features an abrasion resistance design and is available in two colors an excellent choice for half ropes under $200.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Sturdy
  • Durable
  • Strong
Cons

  • Stretches very little
  • Cannot absorb the impact of a falling climber

Why we like it: If you’re looking for a strong tree climbing gear under $200, then we’d suggest you go for Blue Ox Rope. This ½” rope features a 12 strand polyester construction with about 8000 pounds tensile strength making it the best climbing rope for the money in its category.

High Visibility
Unlike many dark colored ropes, the Blue Ox half rope features a high visibility design with a safety blue/orange color for easy locating excelling at alpine, ice climbing, and working lines.

Very Low Stretch
The Blue ox has excellent handling attributes such as a low stretch with an 80kg weight hanging from it. The rope can be tied very quickly and easily and maintains good knot retention reducing the overall strength of the line.

Pros

  • Hold knot well
  • Strong
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Wears fast

Why we like it: If you’re looking a rope that you’ll use for technical descents with short rope work, then we’d recommend the Beal Rando Dry cover rope for rappels, crevasse rescues, and glacier travels.

Lightweight Design
Rando has a certification for twin rope use. This 30mm rope can be paired with a partner’s line that features the same characteristics for longer rappels. It can also be used as a single 30mm rope and work well on its own. Also, Rando is a skinny rope with a diameter of 8mm featuring a lightweight design for lower impact forces.

Dry Cover, Dry Treatment
If you’re planning to use this rope for ice sports such as skiing, then we’d highly recommend the Rando rope as it features a dry treatment that makes it water resistant for better durability. Beal included a mark for every twelve meters for comfortable space out multiple tie-ins.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Can be paired up with another rope
  • Water resistant
Cons

  • Stiff out of the box

Why we like it: This is another twin rope climbing gear from the Beal line that features a dynamic elongation of 36% perfect for high-level walking and glacier crossing.

Golden Dry Treatment Technology
The Rando Glacier climbing rope notably features a Golden Dry treatment technology that gives you astonishing water resistance capabilities to help you cross safely on snowfields and steep passages.

Lightweight
If you want to lose that extra weight on your backpack, with an outstanding climbing rope by the foot, this 8mm twin Beal will be an excellent pick for you. The line is one of the skinniest in the market hitting the sweet spot between performance, durability, lightweight, and supple feel.

Pros

  • Quick and easy tie-ins
  • Excellent water impermeability
  • Durable
    Lightweight
Cons

  • More difficult to belay

Bottom line
Whether you’re a new or seasoned climber, the procedure of purchasing a climbing rope can be very confusing. There are many climbing rope types, and every rope has its impact force listed on the packaging.

Ropes with lower impact forces are an excellent choice for sports climbers who routinely fall on lead while higher impact force ropes are best for top roping since they are less stretchy.

It’s advisable that you change your rope once it starts to wear out since tensile strengths decrease with each use. Also, heat, abrasion, ultraviolet exposure, knots, and kinks further reduce rope strength with 50%. Changing your rope after

While a good line ought to give you versatility, speed, safety, and efficiency features, you need to keep in mind that every climb presents different challenges. Most importantly, if you’re looking for a bargain buy, then a quality gear will be an essential factor to consider for better extra safety. Always use the proper type for the job at hand.

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