Best Climbing Rope in 2021 (Guide & Reviews)

by Gaby Pilson
Last Updated: August 26, 2021
Close-up on intermediate climber tying her shoelace

With so many different climbing ropes on the market, selecting just one model for your climbing adventures isn’t easy. So, we’ve put together this guide to help you find the ideal rope for your needs.

Up next, we’ll introduce you to the best climbing rope options available and provide you with some top tips for selecting the right model. That way, you can spend less time researching your gear and more time at the crag.

The top 10 climbing rope we recommend for 2021:

Buying guide: What you should look for when buying a climbing rope

The 10 Best Climbing Ropes

Editor’s Pick: Sterling Velocity

Sterling Velocity on white background

Sterling Velocity

Editor’s Pick
Key Features:
  • Dry core treatment
  • 9.8mm diameter for durability
  • Smooth sheath for better handling
Pros
  • Durable yet relatively lightweight
  • Dry treatment allows for use while alpine climbing
  • Bicolor option is helpful for long multi-pitch routes
Cons
  • A bit heavy for high-end sport climbing

An all-around performer on the rock, the Sterling Velocity is a sure bet for rock and alpine adventures, alike. Its 9.8 mm diameter strikes the perfect balance between durability and weight savings while also being easy to handle.

The Velocity is also dry treated, making it an ideal choice for a wide range of trad climbing and alpine applications. As a result, it’s a solid choice for nearly any type of climbing where having a lightweight workhorse rope is a top priority.

Tech Specs

  • Rope Type: Single
  • Diameter: 9.8 mm
  • Weight: 62 g/m
  • Dry treatment: Yes
  • Available in bicolor: Yes
  • UIAA falls: 6
Sterling Velocity on white background
Sterling Velocity
Editor’s Pick

Upgrade Pick: Mammut Infinity

Mammut Infinity on white background
Mammut Infinity
Upgrade Pick
Key Features:
  • Double dry treatment
  • Heat-treated for abrasion-resistance
  • Bluesign-certified materials
Pros
  • Absorbs no more than 1% of its weight in water
  • Black-dye middle marker for ease of use
  • Nice mix of weight savings and versatility
Cons
  • No bicolor options available
  • Pricey

One of the world’s premier trad and sport climbing ropes, the Mammut Infinity is a do-anything option for the ambitious climber. Boasting a 9.5mm diameter and a middle marker, the Infinity is a nice choice for sending hard on sport climbs or crushing laps at the gym.

At the same time, it features a double dry treatment that makes it functional enough for ice climbers. Finally, the Mammut Infinity was crafted with a heat treatment to make it substantially more abrasion-resistant throughout the core and sheath for increased durability in the mountains.

Tech Specs

  • Rope Type: Single
  • Diameter: 9.5 mm
  • Weight: 59 g/m
  • Dry treatment: Yes
  • Available in bicolor: No 
  • UIAA falls: 8–9
Mammut Infinity on white background
Mammut Infinity
Upgrade Pick

Best Value: Black Diamond 9.9

Black Diamond 9.9 on white background
Black Diamond 9.9
Best Value
Key Features:
  • 2x2 weave technology
  • Black dye middle marker
  • Burly 9.9 mm diameter
Pros
  • Available in multiple rope lengths
  • Highly affordable
  • Rugged construction
Cons
  • No dry treatment
  • Fairly heavy

An ideal option for budget-conscious climbers, the Black Diamond 9.9 is your go-to workhorse rope for gym climbing and top rope adventures. Rated for use as a single rope, this 9.9 mm rope uses Black Diamond’s proprietary 2x2 weave construction for increased durability.

Meanwhile, it comes in a variety of rope length options from 35m to 70m, making it a nice choice for nearly all climbers. While the Black Diamond 9.9 might be a bit heavier than most smaller diameter ropes, its affordable price point and long-lasting construction are hard to top.

Tech Specs

  • Rope Type: Single
  • Diameter: 9.9mm
  • Weight: 64 g/m
  • Dry treatment: No
  • Available in bicolor: No
  • UIAA falls: 6
Black Diamond 9.9 on white background
Black Diamond 9.9
Best Value

Best for Sport Climbing: Beal Opera Unicore Dry Cover

Beal Opera Unicore Dry Cover on white background
Beal Opera Unicore Dry Cover
Best for Sport Climbing
Key Features:
  • Single, twin, and half ratings
  • Ultralight design
  • Dry Cover treatment
Pros
  • Dry treated for alpine climbing
  • Supple construction makes for easy clipping
  • Ultralight design is ideal for sport routes
Cons
  • No bi-pattern available
  • Very pricey

The world’s first-ever sub 50g/m rope that’s rated for use as a single rope, the Beal Opera Unicore Dry Cover is a top-of-the-line model for climbers that won’t settle for second best. Thanks to its astonishing low weight, the 8.5 mm Opera is an amazing option when going ultralight is essential.

Furthermore, thanks to its dry treatment, this rope is just as functional for sport applications as it is in an alpine environment. Plus, since it’s rated for use as either a single, twin, or half line, the Opera is one of the most versatile ropes on the market.

Tech Specs

  • Rope Type: Single, half, and twin
  • Diameter: 8.5 mm
  • Weight: 48 g/m
  • Dry treatment: Yes
  • Available in bicolor: No
  • UIAA falls: 5
Beal Opera Unicore Dry Cover on white background
Beal Opera Unicore Dry Cover
Best for Sport Climbing

Best for Multi-Pitch: BlueWater Ropes Lightning Pro

BlueWater Ropes Lightning Pro on white background
BlueWater Ropes Lightning Pro
Best for Multi-Pitch
Key Features:
  • Double dry treatment
  • Bi-pattern coloring
  • Low-bulk construction
Pros
  • Impressive UIAA safety ratings
  • Dry treated for use in the mountains
  • Easy-to-identify bi-pattern for quick rope handling
Cons
  • A bit too bulky for most sport climbers

When weight savings are key but you can’t compromise on durability, the BlueWater Ropes Lightning Pro might be what you need. As one of the most rugged single ropes available, this model has an impressive UIAA Fall Rating of 8 and a rugged 9.7 mm diameter for use while multi-pitch climbing.

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At the same time, it still has a respectable 61 g/m weight, which is suitable for high-octane ice climbing. If that wasn’t enough, the Lightning Pro is available as a dry rope and as a bi-pattern rope, so it’s versatile enough to use wherever your adventures take you.

Tech Specs

  • Rope Type: Single
  • Diameter: 9.7 mm
  • Weight: 61 g/m
  • Dry treatment: Yes
  • Available in bicolor: Yes 
  • UIAA falls: 8
BlueWater Ropes Lightning Pro on white background
BlueWater Ropes Lightning Pro
Best for Multi-Pitch

Best for the Frequent Climber: Sterling Marathon Pro Dry

Sterling Marathon Pro Dry on white background
Sterling Marathon Pro Dry
Best for the Frequent Climber
Key Features:
  • DryCoat dry treatment for weather-resistance
  • Burly build for high-abrasion environments
  • Middle mark and bi-patterning available
Pros
  • Designed to withstand frequent falls
  • Multiple lengths available
  • Relatively low weight for a 10.1 mm model
Cons
  • Thicker diameter doesn’t always feed well through a belay device
  • Too bulky for multi-pitch adventures

An unstoppable workhorse for top rope and gym climbing, the Sterling Marathon Pro Dry is an extra-rugged option for when durability is a chief concern. Crafted specifically with the frequent rock climber in mind, this rope is designed to provide long-lasting protection throughout years of climbing fun.

The Marathon Pro is available both with a dry treatment and as a bi-pattern rope so it’s a great option for top roping and cragging in any weather conditions. Although it’s a bit too heavy for more remote adventures, if you need the best climbing rope for regular falls the Marathon might be what you’re looking for.

Tech Specs

  • Rope Type: Single
  • Diameter: 10.1 mm
  • Weight: 63 g/m
  • Dry treatment: Yes
  • Available in bicolor: Yes
  • UIAA falls: 6
Sterling Marathon Pro Dry on white background
Sterling Marathon Pro Dry
Best for the Frequent Climber

Best for Cragging: Beal Booster III

Beal Booster III on white background
Beal Booster III
Best for Cragging
Key Features:
  • Dry Cover treatment
  • Unicore technology
  • ThermoFluid infrared treatment
Pros
  • Core and sheath are stabilized to provide better handling
  • Hydrophobic dry treatment is great for inclement wet weather
  • High UIAA falls rating for increased durability
Cons
  • Can be a bit too stretchy for top-rope climbing

Providing the perfect blend of packability, durability, and easy handling, the Beal Booster III is a popular choice among trad climbers. This 9.7 mm model features a hydrophobic Dry Cover treatment for use in wintery conditions, as well as an impressive UIAA falls rating of 8 which is ideal for regular climbers.

Meanwhile, Beal crafted the Booster III using their proprietary ThermoFluid infrared treatment and Unicore technology. These two systems help to stabilize the sheath and core of the rope to make it easier to handle while also reducing rope drag on the rock.

Tech Specs

  • Rope Type: Single
  • Diameter: 9.7 mm
  • Weight: 61 g/m
  • Dry treatment: Yes
  • Available in bicolor: Yes
  • UIAA falls: 8
Beal Booster III on white background
Beal Booster III
Best for Cragging

Best for Versatility: Sterling Nano IX

Sterling Nano IX on white background
Sterling Nano IX
Best for Versatility
Key Features:
  • Bi-pattern design
  • UIAA-certified water-repellent
  • Triple-certified as single, twin, and half ropes
Pros
  • Excellent rope handling, despite its thin diameter
  • Ultralight design
  • Available in a range of different rope lengths
Cons
  • Durability concerns with a thinner rope
  • Thin diameter isn’t recommended for new climbers

Whether you want a single, twin, or half rope, the Sterling Nano IX is one model that can do it all. Taking its place among the best climbing ropes available, the Nano IX is a popular choice among climbers looking to push grades.

Made in a slew of lengths from 30 to 80 m, this model works well as a set of twin ropes for ultralight ice climbing or as half ropes on wandering trade routes. Plus, it’s available in bi-pattern for enhanced rope handling and with UIAA-certified water-repellent for use in any environment.

Tech Specs

  • Rope Type: Single, twin, and half
  • Diameter: 9.0 mm
  • Weight: 52 g/m
  • Dry treatment: Yes
  • Available in bicolor: Yes
  • UIAA falls: 6
Sterling Nano IX on white background
Sterling Nano IX
Best for Versatility

Best for Trad Climbing: Edelrid Tommy Caldwell Pro Duotec

Edelrid Tommy Caldwell Pro Duotec on white background
Edelrid Tommy Caldwell Pro Duotec
Best for Trad Climbing
Key Features:
  • 3D lap coil packing system
  • ProDry treatment
  • Bi-pattern design
  • Thermo Shield technology
Pros
  • Extra durable construction for abrasion-resistance
  • Ideal diameter for use while cragging or as a gym rope
  • Dry-treated with a UIAA-certified water-repellent
Cons
  • Limited colors and sizes available

Designed by one of the best all-around climbers in the world, the Edelrid Tommy Caldwell Pro Duotec is one of the top single ropes for rock climbing out there today. Crafted with DuoTec bi-pattern technology to permanently mark the middle of the rope and a ProDry treatment, this climbing rope is perfect for use in nearly any environment.

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It’s made with bluesign-approved fabrics for eco-friendliness and it has Thermo Shield technology for increased durability. Oh, and it also comes lap-coiled using Edelrid’s proprietary 3D system to prevent kinks and tangling in your latest addition to your climbing gear collection.

Tech Specs

  • Rope Type: Single
  • Diameter: 9.6 mm
  • Weight: 61 g/m
  • Dry treatment: Yes
  • Available in bicolor: Yes 
  • UIAA falls: 9
Edelrid Tommy Caldwell Pro Duotec on white background
Edelrid Tommy Caldwell Pro Duotec
Best for Trad Climbing

Best for Alpine Environments: Petzl Volta

Petzl Volta on white background
Petzl Volta
Best for Alpine Environments
Key Features:
  • EverFlex and UltraSonic stabilization treatment
  • Duratec dry rope technology
  • ClimbReady coiling pattern
  • Triple-certified for any climbing context
Pros
  • Very light for a 9.1 mm model
  • Dry treated for wet conditions
  • Supple feel for easy rope handling
Cons
  • Too stretchy for top-roping
  • No bicolor available

One of Petzl’s most versatile climbing ropes, the Volta is a multi-purpose option for people who spend a lot of time in the vertical world. This 9.2 mm model is triple-rated for use as a single, twin, and half rope and it boasts a Duratec dry treatment for use in rock, mixed, and icy environments.

It’s also made with Petzl’s EverFlex and UltraSonic finishes, which help stabilize the individual strands in the rope for increased durability. Finally, it comes with a ClimbReady coil, which means it’s ready to use straight out of the packaging without the risk of kinking up your new rope.

Tech Specs

  • Rope Type: Single, twin, and half
  • Diameter: 9.2 mm
  • Weight: 55 g/m
  • Dry treatment: Yes
  • Available in bicolor: No
  • UIAA falls: 6
Petzl Volta on white background
Petzl Volta
Best for Alpine Environments

FAQs

How Do I Take Care Of My Climbing Rope?

Taking care of a climbing rope is all about cleaning it and storing it properly. After every few climbing trips, or whenever your rope is visibly soiled, you should take the time to clean it with water and a rope brush. However, if you don’t have a dedicated rope cleaner on hand, do not use soap! In these situations, simply rinse your rope with cold water.

As far as storage goes, always store your climbing rope in a cool, dry location that’s out of direct sunlight. Coil your rope properly before storing it, unless you’re placing it in a bag designed specifically for use with climbing ropes.

When Should I Retire My Climbing Rope Anyway?

Climbing ropes should be retired whenever they show any signs of damage to the core or serious damage to the sheath. Additionally, a rope should be retired immediately after taking a huge fall (usually more than 30ft/9m)

However, we can’t give you a hard-and-fast rule about when to retire your rope. While most ropes will need to be retired within 1 to 5 years of purchase, damage and excessive wear and tear need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. When in doubt, play it safe and invest in a new rope!

How to Choose the Best Climbing Rope

Climbing ropes are tricky pieces of gear to shop for because so much technology is packed into each model. To help you out, we’ve created this quick guide to choosing the best climbing rope for all your projects. Here’s what you need to know:

Static vs. Dynamic

There are two primary categories of ropes out there: static and dynamic. These two rope types are very different, so it’s imperative that you choose the right model.

If you’re shopping for a rope for lead or top-rope climbing, you’re almost certainly looking for a dynamic model. These ropes are designed to stretch (about 10 to 40% dynamic elongation) when you fall, providing plentiful shock-absorption.

Alternatively, static ropes offer only a slight amount of stretch (less than about 10% dynamic elongation), so they are not appropriate for leading or toproping.

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As a result, all the models in our review are dynamic ropes as these are the most versatile options available.

Types of Climbing Ropes

There are a number of different types of climbing ropes out there, each of which is designed to be used for different kinds of climbing. As a result, selecting the appropriate rope type is of the utmost importance.

These are the 3 main types of climbing ropes to consider as you shop:

Single

Single ropes are the most popular type. These ropes are designed to be used on their own as your sole method of anchoring to your protection. As a result, they’re the simplest choice for the majority of climbers.

The advantage of single ropes is their simplicity. When using these ropes, you don’t have to worry about alternating clips or clipping two ropes into one piece of gear, as you would with twin or double models.

However, using single ropes means that you’re limited to shorter rappels of no longer than half the total length of your rope. For example, a 60 m (200 ft) rope can’t be used for rappelling a distance of more than 30 m (100 ft) without an intermediate belay station. So, they’re less ideal for use in certain climbing areas that have longer rappels on the descent.

Twin

Twin ropes are, as the name suggests, supposed to be used in tandem. So, if you want to climb with twin ropes, you’ll tie into two models of the same diameter and clip both into each piece of gear on your route.

The main benefit of this system is that twin ropes are quite lightweight, so you and your partner can both carry one on the approach. They also allow you to do longer rappels (you can rappel the entire length of your line), which is ideal in some environments.

But, twin ropes are more expensive to buy and they can be a pain to clip if you’re not used to them.

Double/Half

The final type of rope you might come across is the double or half rope. Half ropes are designed to be used in tandem, like their twin counterparts, but you should never clip them both to the same piece of gear.

Instead, you’ll clip each rope to different pieces of gear. This might sound complicated, but it’s great when you have a wandering route.

For example, if you have one blue and one red rope on a wandering climb, you can use the blue line to clip into all the gear on the left side of the route. Alternatively, the red line can be clipped into gear on the right side of the route.

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Doing so greatly reduces drag, but takes some skill to do right. It’s also worth noting that half ropes allow you to do a full rope-length rappel, just like their twin counterparts, but they’re generally a bit heavier and bulkier.

Length

Modern climbing ropes come in a slew of different lengths, each of which is designed for a specific use.

Back in the day, 60 m ropes were the norm. Now, as routes get longer, 70 m lines are becoming the most common choice. However, you can also find 80 m lines for very long sport climbs and 30 to 50 m lines for top-roping and alpine climbing.

The specific length that you choose is a personal choice based on where you climb. However, getting a longer model does mean more weight in your pack and more money spent out of your wallet.

So, we recommend consulting with some local climbers in your area to see what they recommend. Most folks, though, will find that 60 or 70 m is right for them.

Weight

Climbing rope weights are always given in terms of grams per meter as this provides us with an easy way to compare models of different sizes.

As a general rule, anything in the 60 to 65 g/m realm is okay for single ropes, but getting closer to 60 g/m is ideal if you want to cut weight. For very difficult sport routes or alpine adventures, sub-60 g/m models might be better, but these are expensive and much less durable than their heavier counterparts.

Diameter

The diameter of a climbing rope has a direct impact on how it performs on the rock. 

Thicker diameters (more than 9.5 mm) are much more durable and are good for all-around climbing. But, they’re usually quite heavy.

Meanwhile, very thin diameters (under about 8.5 mm) are reserved for twin and half ropes. While you can find some sub-9 mm single models out there, these are difficult to belay with, so they’re best for experienced climbers.

Dry Treatment

Many ropes come with a “dry treatment,” which means that they are designed to absorb minimal moisture in wet environments. Doing so stops the rope from getting laden down with water, which can affect its strength.

This is important if you climb in rainy locales or if you’re ice climbing, but isn’t very relevant if you’re a gym climber. Therefore, if you think you’ll go ice climbing, dry treatment is a must. Otherwise, it’s just a bonus.

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Middle Marks & Bi-Patterns

Knowing where the middle of your rope is is incredibly important while rappelling off of a route. If your ropes are uneven while rappelling you could inadvertently rappel off the end of your rope, which can cause serious injury or death.

Therefore, most rope manufacturers will mark the middle of their ropes either with a black middle mark or a bi-pattern coloring.

Middle marks are common on budget-friendly ropes because they’re cheaper to produce. But, they can wear off and fade over time. 

Bi-color or pattern ropes, however, are the gold standard because each half of the line has a different color that’s dyed into the thread strands. As a result, you can always figure out where the middle mark is, even if your rope is toward the end of its lifespan.

UIAA Falls Rating

Any quality piece of climbing gear (including ropes) is certified by the UIAA, who conducts extensive safety testing.

Ropes are tested using something called a “fall rating,” which is a measure of how many times they can stop a fall with an 80 kg (176 lb) weight. If you really want to nerd out on how this stuff works, you can check out the UIAA’s dynamic ropes testing information

However, the bottom line here is that any rope that’s UIAA-certified is safe for use while climbing. 

While external damage to your rope can limit its effectiveness, the total fall rating on a given model doesn’t affect its quality either way. Although a fall rating above 8 is great, this shouldn’t be the only thing you consider when shopping.

Impact Force Rating

Like the falls rating, an impact force rating is another measurement used by the UIAA to test and certify climbing ropes. 

Essentially, this test tries to measure how much force is applied to the climber (that’s you!) during a fall. The UIAA tests for impact force rating in the same way that they test for falls—they drop an 80 kg (176 lb) weight and measure the total force transmitted from the rope to the weight itself.

Climbing ropes are required to transmit no more than 12 kN (kilonewtons) of force onto a climber during a fall as measured during this test. But, you’ll see that most ropes have an impact force rating of 8 kN or less.

In real life, however, the only thing that’s important is that your rope passed the UIAA testing (if you bought a certified rope, you know that it did). 

While people will tell you that they can “feel” a difference between ropes with different impact force ratings, this really isn’t likely. There are many factors that affect how much force you actually feel during a fall, like rope slippage through a belay device.

So, long story short? Don’t worry too much about the impact force. If it passed the UIAA test, then a rope is good for use in the vertical world.

The Verdict

Buying the best climbing rope isn’t always easy, but we hope that your guide helped you find the right model for your adventures. 

Overall, the Sterling Velocity won our award as the best climbing rope available. We particularly like that the Velocity blends durability, packability, and versatility into one package, which makes it a nice choice for the majority of trad, ice, sport, and gym climbers.

Ultimately, the important thing is that you find the right climbing ropes for sending your project. By this point, you have the knowledge and information you need to make the best decision for your needs. See you at the crag!

Gaby Pilson
I am a mountaineering and climbing guide, as well as a professional outdoor educator. I split my time between working in the polar regions as an expedition guide, working as a climbing instructor, and pursuing my other passions of traveling, writing, and drinking copious amounts of coffee.
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