Last Updated on: 6th September 2023, 11:00 am
Buying your first climbing rope feels like a big decision — that’s because it is. Different models, lengths, widths, and constructions throws a lot of information into the mix and can make it hard to pick out the best climbing rope for your needs. Add in the fact that ropes are expensive and quite literally your life line while climbing and you’ve got yourself a fairly critical choice that most folks desperately want to get right.
Trust me, I get it. In fact, I was there not too long ago. Experiencing the excitement of finally getting the last piece of equipment on the gear list I needed to go out climbing, but terrified I’d get it wrong. I spent a lot of time researching, chatting with experts, and consulting with friends to try and figure out the best climbing rope brands and products out there. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about ropes and climbed on quite a few of them — and I’m stoked to share what I’ve learned.
So whether you’re buying a rope for the first time or looking to learn a little more about what’s out there, you’ve come to the right place.
Climbing Rope Basics: How to read a product skew
If you’ve done any shopping for ropes, you’ve probably noticed a few things that set them apart from one another. Ropes have classifications like dynamic, numbers like 9.8, and a range of different lengths. This stuff can seem overwhelming, but it’s actually pretty straightforward.
Most brands follow the same structure for listing their ropes online. It might something like this:
Black Diamond 9.8mm Dynamic Climbing Rope
Seems like a lot right? If we break it down into its individual parts, it becomes easier to digest.
Brand Name — Rope Width — Rope Style
A little easier right? All of these parts of pretty simple to understand, so let’s unpack them one by one.
Best climbing rope brands
This one is pretty simple. Like literally any product out there, different companies make ropes. Every listing will start with the brand name and sometimes be followed up by a specfic model (like the Tommy Cadwell or the Boa).
If this is your first time buying, brand name shouldn’t factor in much to finding the best climbing rope for you. Climbers that have owned a couple ropes might start to develop a preference, but early on, it doesn’t matter much. A few notable names in the space you can trust are Black Diamond, Mammut, Edlerid, Sterling, PETZL, and Beal. All have products featured in our best climbing rope wrap up. Focus on finding the right rope, not the best climbing rope brand.
Climbing rope width
The next thing you’ll notice is the width of the climbing rope. Climbing rope widths range between 8.9mm and can go up to 13mm. That’s quite the range, but the good news is, you probably only have to focus on part of that range.
Thickness of rope is totally dependent on what it is used for. Folks on big wall overnight climbs like El Cap in Yosemite will need thick ropes to haul up gear. People on long multi-pitch routes will want thin ropes to minimize weight, though these ropes lifespan will probably be shorter.
I’m guessing most folks reading this are going to be gym climbing or doing mostly single pitch sport and trad outdoors (with multi-pitch routes sprinkled in). If this is the case, the range you want to focus on is:
9.5mm – 9.9mm for outdoor
10mm – 10.4mm for gyms
A thinner rope is better outdoors for maneuverability and weight purposes. In a gym where falls and top roping are common, the durability of a thicker rope extends its life. No matter what width you go with, ropes within this range will work with your other gear like stick clips or quickdraws.
Rope type: Static vs dynamic ropes
There are two styles of ropes out there: static and dynamic. Their names are pretty self explanatory. A static rope doesn’t stretch much while a dynamic rope does. Static ropes are good for things like rope rescue, ascending fixed ropes, hauling up gear — stuff that I’m guessing most of you don’t need a rope for.
What climbers like us need are dynamic ropes. Stretching in a rope makes for softer falls for climbers by absorbing some of the impact. While it makes it harder to jug up, it reduces your risk of getting slammed into the wall.
If you are buying a rope to tie in and climb on, make sure it’s dynamic!
Other rope factors
While these things cover most thing in the product naming, there are a couple other things to watch out for.
Sometimes this will be in a product name, and other times it will be in the description. A dry-treated rope means it is water repellent and doesn’t soak in as much H2O. This is helpful for climbers in climates that might take on occasional thunderstorms or other weather events that deliver rain.
Length is usually something you choose as you’re checking out. The most common lengths are 35, 60, and 70 meters. 35 meters is ONLY OK FOR GYM CLIMBING. Never take a rope that short outdoors and double check to make sure it is long enough for your gym. A 60 or 70 meter rope is required for outside.
A 60 meter rope saves you a little weight, but sometimes won’t be long enough for certain single pitch climbs. Generally a 70 meter rope is good for most single pitch climbs. It’s also often the required length for repelling from multi-pitches. 70 meters will sometimes let you link two pitches of a multi-pitch climb as well. If I were you, I’d buy a 70 meter. It’ll give you more opportunities at crags and give peace of mind.
Overview: Best climbing ropes
Let’s start with a couple disclaimers about this list. First off, every rope on here is totally safe. While they will all have slightly different life spans, none of them should make you concerned about whether or not they are ok to climb on.
Every rope on here is also a dynamic rope. They are designed to stretch upon falling, and reduce the impact from the fall on the climber. The list reflects the opinions and experiences of our authors. We hope it’s helpful as you look search for the best climbing rope for your style and use case.
|Rope Model||Best For||Features||Link|
|EDELRID Eco Boa 9.8mm||Beginners||Lightweight and durable, manageable for beginners, versatile for gym and outdoor climbing, eco-friendly construction||View Here|
|Sterling Ropes Velocity 9.8 XEROS||Red-pointing||Robust construction, high-quality materials, lightweight, easy handling with belayer, ideal for falls and top-roping on challenging routes||View Here|
|PETZL Mambo 10.1mm||Gym Climbing||Thicker rope for gym use, low impact force for shorter falls, reliable catching characteristics, suitable for both gym and crag climbing||View Here|
|Black Diamond 9.9mm||Budget||Affordable option, suitable for training sessions and outdoor climbing, good handling characteristics, variety of lengths available||View Here|
|Beal Opera 8.5mm||Multi-pitch||Incredibly lightweight, excellent handling and manipulation, compact packing for long approaches, ideal for multi-pitch climbs||View Here|
|Mammut 9.5 Crag We Care Dry Rope||Dry Rope||Dry treated technology for water resistance, lightweight and durable, excellent handling, sustainable construction||View Here|
Best Climbing Rope for Beginners • EDELRID Eco Boa 9.8mm Dynamic Climbing Rope
If you’re looking to get a rope for the first time, look no further than the Edelrid Eco Boa 9.8mm. This rope holds a special place in my heart because it was the first climbing rope I every owned. Ans when I retired that rope, I bought a second one because it was so damn good. But my personal bias aside, there are quite a few other reasons I believe this is the best climbing rope for beginners.
Let’s start with diameter and handling. The 9.8mm width of this rope strikes a balance between being lightweight and durable, making it manageable for beginners. Thinner ropes can be challenging to handle for novice climbers, while thicker ropes tend to be heavier and more cumbersome. The 9.8mm offers a good compromise, allowing beginners to handle it comfortably while still providing a lot of strength for top-roping or taking falls while you are mastering your climbing skills.
Like all ropes on our list, it is dynamic (meaning it has stretch to absorb impacts from falls). The versatility of this rope means whether you are climbing at the gym or the crag, this rope can handle the demands of your environment.
Edelrid is a big name is climbing. They are known for making high quality gear you can literally trust with your life. What’s great about about this rope is it’s not only perfectly constructed, but done so in an eco friendly manner. It’s made of left over yarns from other rope construction, meaning buying this rope takes a small step in protecting the places us climbers love so much. With a stylish design and clearly marked midpoint, this rope has everything you beginner climbers need to take the next step in their journey.
Best Rope for Red-pointing • Sterling Ropes Velocity 9.8 XEROS
If you’re at the point of your climbing journey where you find yourself red-pointing most times you’re outdoor, this is the route for you. Projecting a route means two things: you’re probably going to top rope some moves, and you’re likely going to take some falls.
While any of these ropes are perfectly safe to top-rope or fall on, the Velocity 9.8mm XEROS is designed to do endure this type of use while maintaining longevity. Its robust construction and high-quality materials allow climbers to rely on the rope throughout their red-pointing process without worrying about premature wear or degradation.
It does all of that while still remaining lightweight. Its 9.8mm length makes it easier to pull rope and make tough clips on your project. It also makes for easy handling with your belayer allowing them to effortlessly move rope through a GriGri and avoid short-roping you in crucial moments.
Overall, the Sterling Ropes Velocity 9.8 XEROS, gives climbers a lightweight, durable, and high-performing rope that enhances their red-pointing experience. Its characteristics are tailored to the demands of any project, providing you with the confidence and reliability you need to tackle challenging routes and achieve your send.
Best Gym Rope • PETZL Mambo 10.1mm
The PETZL Mambo 10.1mm Climbing Rope is the only rope on this list that goes into double digits with its width. If you have to haul a rope this big to and around the crag, it’s going to get pretty exhausting. That said, it makes for the perfect climbing gym rope. Here’s why.
In a gym setting, where you may be pushing yourself and taking more falls, a thicker rope like the Mambo will give you more life. Since you normally only need a 30 or 40m for the gym, the extra thickness shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but will extend the amount of time you can climb on your rope.
The PETZL Mambo climbing rope is designed to have a low impact force, meaning it absorbs less energy during falls. In a gym setting, where falls are typically shorter due to the shorter routes, a low impact force helps minimize the stress on the climber’s body and the climbing gear. The rope’s construction ensures reliable catching characteristics, providing a smooth catch for climbers and instilling confidence during gym climbing sessions.
While this rope thrives in the gym, it can also hold its own at the crag. You will have to deal with the extra weight, but it’s more than capable of going outdoors and giving you a great day at the crag. Petzl is one of the most reliable names in climbing, and this rope holds up the reputation. You can view it here or through the link below.
Best Value Rope • Black Diamond 9.9mm Climbing Rope
Most budget items tend to imply some sort of sacrifice of reliability. As far as climbing gear goes, you can trust any mission critical item to be up to the highest safety standards. Budget just implies that it’s construction and features aren’t up to the level of some of the other ropes, and therefor it’s lifespan might not be as long.
With that said the Black Diamond 9.9mm climbing rope is a stellar rope for climbers on a budget. It’s capable of all climbing pursuits from training sessions in the gym to days outside at the crag. It comes in a variety of lengths and features a midway mark.
While slightly thicker than some other ropes, the 9.9mm diameter of this rope offers good handling characteristics. It is easy to manipulate and clip into quickdraws, providing climbers with a comfortable and user-friendly experience.
By choosing the Black Diamond 9.9mm Climbing Rope, climbers can enjoy an affordable rope option without compromising on basic functionality and durability. It is a solid choice for those who are mindful of their budget and seeking a reliable rope for their climbing activities. At $199 for a 60m, it’s a great buy for any climber. You can view it here or through the link below
Best Multi-pitch rope • Beal Opera 8.5mm Rope
For those looking to take on long climbs up big (or relatively big) walls, the Beal Opera 8.5mm is the best climbing rope for you. At 8.5mm, it is incredibly lightweight and perfect for those multi-pitch missions. The lightweight nature of the rope helps minimize fatigue and allows you to move more efficiently and comfortably during your multi-pitch climbs.
The 8.5mm diameter also allows for excellent handling and easy manipulation. This thin diameter facilitates smooth belaying and feeding through gear placements, making it easier for climbers to manage the rope while leading or following on multi-pitch routes. The rope’s supple feel and smooth handling characteristics enhance the overall climbing experience during lengthy climbs.
As any climber knowns, multi-pitches can often involve long, heinous approaches you have to carry your rope through. The Beal Opera’s thin diameter allows it to be compactly packed and easily stowed away in a backpack without taking up excessive space or adding unnecessary weight. This feature contributes to the convenience and practicality of using the BEAL Opera for multi-pitch climbing. You can view it here or through the link below.
Best Sport Climbing Rope • Mammut 9.5 Crag We Care Dry Rope
If you find yourself sport climbing outdoors often, the Mammut 9.5 Crag We Care Dry Rope is worth a look. It’s equipped with dry treated technology that involves applying a water-resistant coating to the rope’s fibers, protecting them from moisture, dirt, and other contaminants. The dry treatment significantly reduces water absorption, which helps prevent the rope from becoming heavy and icy during wet conditions. It also enhances the rope’s durability making it a top pick for best sport climbing rope on the market.
Despite its durability, the Mammut 9.5 Crag We Care rope offers excellent handling characteristics. It has a relatively thin diameter of 9.5mm, making it lightweight and easy to manuever. The Mammut 9.5 Crag We Care rope is part of Mammut’s sustainability initiative. It is manufactured using sustainable production methods and incorporates recycled materials in its construction. By choosing this rope, climbers contribute to environmentally friendly practices and support the conservation of natural resources.
With its dry treated technology, versatility, durability, excellent handling, and eco-friendly construction, the Mammut 9.5 Crag We Care Dry Rope stands out as the best climbing rope choice for climbers looking for a reliable and water-resistant rope for their climbing adventures. You can view it here or through the link below.
Wrap-up: Best climbing ropes
We’ve covered some top-notch products from the best climbing rope brands out there, suited for every type of climber. Whether you’re a beginner, a budget-savvy climber, a gym rat, a redpointing addict, or a multi-pitch fanatic, there’s a rope that’s got your back. If you’re looking for a fun, creative way to retire your old rope, check out our how to make a rope rug article.
We hope whatever rope you choose helps you send with style. Grab your gear, tie in, and let these ropes take you to new heights. Happy climbing!