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A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Right Rock Climbing Rope

A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Right Rock Climbing Rope

Are you ready to take your rock climbing adventures to a whole new level? If so, it’s time for you to find the perfect rock climbing rope. Not only does this device keep you safe while scaling walls, but it can also play a key role in helping you accomplish challenging goals.

Unfortunately, choosing the right climbing rope may seem intimidating – there are so many options! Don’t worry because we’re here to help with all of your questions! In this comprehensive guide about how to choose the right rock climbing rope, we’ll go over the benefits and drawbacks of each type and talk about where they should be used to give climbers like yourself an informed decision-making process.

So come along as we embark on an exciting exploration into the world of rock climbing ropes that will make sure your next adventure is nothing short of legendary!

This post includes affiliate links but rest assured that we only recommend items we would use ourselves. And if you choose to make a purchase, we receive a small commission. No sponsorships, just the truth about our favorite finds.

What Kind of Rock Climbing Rope Do You Need?

So, you’re ready for your first climbing adventure, and you’re wondering: what kind of rope do you need? Well, let me tell you, there are tons of options!

The first one you need is a climbing rope – don’t try scaling that rock face without it! The climbing rope diameter is important too – the thinner the rope, the lighter it is, but the thicker it is, the stronger it is.

Now, if you’re climbing in wet conditions, you’ll definitely want to go for a dry-treated rope that repels water. Trust me, you don’t want to be grappling with a soggy rope while suspended in mid-air.

There are plenty of other pieces of gear you need besides your rock climbing rope. If you’re not sure what else you need, check out our article on the items you need to start rock climbing today!

Climbing rope being organzied by a climber around the neck

Dynamic vs. Static Rope

No matter what your experience level, it’s important to know the difference between a dynamic rock climbing rope and a static rock climbing rope.

Dynamic ropes are designed to stretch under tension, making them perfect for sport climbing and other high-impact activities. An article from the Journal Impact Factor discusses how dynamic ropes are used to dissipate the energy of a falling climber and transmit the least impact force to the body to stop the fall. The dynamic elongation of the rope as a climber falls helps cushion the fall.

On the other hand, static ropes are primarily used for hauling gear during trad climbing, alpine climbing, and mountaineering expeditions. They’re great for creating rope systems or pulley systems for gear.

It’s also worth noting that while dynamic rock climbing ropes may wear down faster than their static counterparts, their lifespan is still pretty impressive- typically lasting about three to five years. So when choosing a climbing rope, make sure you know what kind of activities you’ll be undertaking and choose accordingly. Remember, a dynamic rock climbing rope will keep you safe on intense climbs and help prevent injuries, making it the ideal choice for any serious climber.

Climber attempting to clip the rop onto the next piece of protection

Dry vs Non Dry Rope

Rock Climbing ropes come in two different forms – dry and non-dry. They are basically exactly how they sound. Dry treatment ropes stay dry in wet conditions, and non-dry ropes do not! Easy enough, right?

A dry rope has been treated with a water-resistant coating on the sheath, making it ideal for wet and icy conditions. Dry ropes come in two variations – dry treated and dry core – with dry core being more expensive but offering better longevity for frequent climbers.

On the other hand, a non-dry rope is not coated and can absorb water, making it heavier and more prone to freezing in wet or cold weather.

So, when should you use a dry rope?

If you’re tackling a wet or ice-covered route, a dry rope is a must-have. But if it’s a dry summer day and you’re climbing on solid rock, a non-dry rope will get the job done. And don’t forget the price difference, with dry ropes typically costing more.

If you’re trekking through Alaska or the Pacific Northwest, a dry rope is worth the investment. But for those sunny days in the Rockies or the desert, a non-dry rope will suffice.

There Are Different Ropes For Different Styles Of Climbing

Ropes come in all shapes and sizes, just like us humans! And just like us, you have to use the right rope for the right activity.

Top roping calls for a nice thick rope that can withstand all the jerks and pulls that come with your climb.

For ice climbing, it’s all about the dry-treated ropes, as they don’t absorb water and are easier to handle when frozen solid.

When sport climbing, you need a rope that’s flexible enough to go around all the funky twists and turns of the route. Choose a dynamic rope for this style of climbing. Depending on where you plan to climb, you may or may not need a dry-treated rope.

For alpine climbing, opt for a lighter, slightly thinner rope so you can breeze through rather than dragging your feet like a sack of potatoes.

And last but not least, trad climbing calls for a good old-fashioned, dynamic rope that can sustain those unpredictable falls. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so have fun and choose your ropes wisely!

You can take a more detailed look at the difference between sport climbing and trad climbing here!

Choose The Right Length Of Climbing Rope

A climbing rope tangled up together.

Let’s chat about the different lengths of ropes out there and what style of climbing they’re best suited for! First up, we have the 40m rope. This little guy is perfect for gym climbing and shorter outdoor routes. It’s also super lightweight (around 5-6 pounds on average), making it a great option for folks who like to travel light.

If you’re looking to tackle longer routes or do some sport climbing, the 60m rope is a solid choice. It can handle routes up to around 100 feet high and weighs around 9-10 pounds.

If you’re a trad climber or just like to go really, really high, check out the 70m rope. This bad boy can handle routes over 100 feet but the weight is a little higher, around 11-12 pounds.

Different climbing areas will have different route heights as well. When I first started climbing in Pennsylvania, I only needed a 40m rope for most outdoor climbs, but when I moved to Colorado, I quickly realized I need a 70m rope for almost every route. Take into consideration the height of the routes you plan to climb most frequently and purchase a rope based on that.

Or, as I did, just buy a rope of all three lengths and be prepared for anything!

Climbing Ropes Come In Different Diameters

Let’s talk rope diameter! So, you’ve got your single ropes, twin ropes, and dynamic ropes – all with varying thicknesses. But how do you know which one to choose? Well, it all comes down to personal preference and the type of climb you’re tackling.

Thin-diameter ropes are lightweight and easy to handle, making them perfect for those long multi-pitch routes. Plus, they give you more rope length per kilogram. On the downside, thin ropes are more susceptible to wear and tear, and they may not hold up as well under stress.

Thick ropes, on the other hand, are more durable and can handle a heavier load, making them ideal for top-roping or high-intensity climbs. Of course, they’re also heavier and bulkier to carry around.

So, where’s the middle ground? It’s important to note that belay devices have maximum diameter limits, so be sure to check before purchasing your gear. Ultimately, the diameter of the rope will affect its strength, with thicker ropes boasting a higher kN rating.

What Should You Look For In A Rock Climbing Rope?

When it comes to rock climbing ropes, safety is the name of the game. Climbing ropes are put through a series of tests to ensure they can withstand the force of a falling climber.

In both America and Europe, ropes are safety rated based on their ability to absorb the energy of a fall and their ability to withstand multiple falls. And while it may seem counterintuitive, climbers actually want a rope with some stretch!

Elongation, or the ability of a rope to stretch under tension, is what makes dynamic climbing ropes so great. Climbers should also pay attention to the length, diameter, and treatment of their rope. And if you’re planning to climb in wet conditions, you’ll want to invest in a dry-treated rope.

Some of the major brands of rock climbing rope include Edelweiss, Petzl, and Mammut. So, the next time you’re gearing up for a climb, make sure you choose a modern climbing rope that’s been safety tested and will keep you securely attached to the rock.

We know we’ve been using some rock-climbing terms in this article. If you’re not sure what some of them mean, check out our article on rock climbing terms and definitions. You’ll be talking like a dirtbag in no time!

How To Inspect Your Rock Climbing Rope After Use

Before you hit the crag, make sure to inspect your rope. Nobody wants to take a fall because of a worn-out rope. It’s also ideal to check your rope after each climbing session to ensure nothing has changed about your rope.

First off, start by looking for any visible damage such as cuts, frays, or discoloration. If your rope is showing signs of wear and tear, it may be time to retire it. The average lifespan of a climbing rope is about two to four years depending on usage and proper storage.

But don’t worry, choosing a climbing rope is exciting! It’s like picking out the perfect outfit for a first date. Take the time to research and find a rope that fits your needs and style. Remember, always prioritize safety when inspecting your rope, and have fun climbing!

If you’re ready to hit the great outdoors, you can read about the best climbing areas for beginners at New River Gorge here! It’s a very popular climbing spot near the east coast that is packed with routes to keep you busy all season!

How To Properly Store Your Climbing Rope

Ready to store your rock climbing rope? Don’t just toss it in a pile in the corner of your closet (we see you, climbing shoes). To keep your rope in top condition and avoid any accidents on your next climb, follow these tips.

Start by cleaning your rope thoroughly with warm water and mild detergent (never bleach, fabric softener, or other harsh chemicals!).

Hang it up to dry before coiling it neatly. Avoid making a tight knot or coiling it in a similar fashion to how it came in the packaging. You want the coils loose and a bit messy.

It’s not as pretty as the beautiful way your rope came in the packaging, but if you tie the rope too tight for storage, the rope can develop kinks. So, keep it loose, and you and your rope should be fine!

A climbing rope wrapped up together nice and neat.

Which Climbing Rope Should You Buy?

Now that you have all the information you need on the different types of rock climbing ropes, it’s time to make a decision!

Let’s go over a few of the best rock climbing ropes out there in detail so you can make the most informed decision possible.

Brand NameLengths AvailableDiameter(s)Dry TreatmentPrice
Tommy Caldwell Eco Dry ColorTec Climbing Rope60m, 70m, 80m9.3mmDry$309 – $390
Black Diamond 9.940m, 60m, 70m9.9mmNon-Dry$100-160
Crag Classic Rope 60m, 70m, 80m9.5mmNone$170 – $230
Petzl Volta 9.250m, 60m, 70m, 80m, 100m9.2mmDuratec$230 – $395
Edelweiss Curve 9.860m9.8mmEverdry Pro$210

Once you decide on a climbing rope and it arrives neatly packaged on your doorstep, get to know your rope. Take it out, flake it, and check each end and the middle mark.

Being able to identify the middle mark and ends of your rope quickly are extremely important while rock climbing. Remember to always tie a stopper knot at one end of your climbing rope, especially when rapping!

If you’re not sure how to tie a backup knot or any knot for that matter, check out our article on 5 Basic Knots Every Climber Should Know.

That’s All, Folks!

Deciding which climbing rope to purchase is a huge decision, so we understand how intimidating it can be. There is so much to consider when selecting the right climbing rope – dynamic versus static, dry versus non-dry, length, diameter, and more.

Fortunately, the best rope for you should depend on your individual needs and style of climbing. Start with our tips above and build from there to find the perfect fit for your next wall climb.

You’ll want to make sure that it’s safe by inspecting it regularly after each use. Whether you are into top roping, ice climbing, trad climbing, sport climbing, or alpine climbing – throw on your harness and get ready to conquer whatever adventure you choose to take on!

Need help getting geared up? Don’t forget to check out our rock climbing blog full of advice and gear recommendations for all levels of climbers alike – happy cruising!


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