Last updated: August 12, 2021

Our method

4Products analysed

45Hours spent

13Evaluated articles

215User reviews

When climbing, you must be able to rely completely on your climbing rope. Often enough, your life depends on this rope. That's why you should inform yourself carefully before buying a rope.

In this climbing rope test, we explain which different types are available for which climbing sport. Then we show you which quality features a rope should have so that you can climb safely and enjoy your rope for a long time.




Summary

  • When choosing a climbing rope, it is important to know exactly what you need the rope for. A distinction is made between single and double ropes. Single ropes are mainly used for indoor sports, while double ropes offer more protection and mobility outdoors.
  • In order to enjoy your rope for a long time, you have to take good care of it. Dirt and moisture can damage the rope.
  • Despite all care, climbing ropes do not last forever. To ensure that you are always safe, you should never forget to check your ropes for damage.

The Best Climbing Rope: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for climbing ropes

Diameter

Ropes with a high sheath diameter are particularly robust and last a long time, even with regular use. However, before buying, you should first find out which diameter fits which belay devices. If the rope is too thick, you will not be able to thread it at all or it will jam.

In outdoor climbing, the thickness of the rope depends mainly on the planned route and the level of experience.

Experienced climbers like to save a lot of weight on long routes with thinner ropes. However, thin climbing ropes are too sensitive for abseiling.

Thicker ropes are more tear-resistant. However, this also increases the weight and friction during the ascent. Indoor ropes should be fairly thick, around 9.5-10.5 millimetres, and have a high sheath content.

Length

The length of course depends on what you intend to do with the rope. If you are a beginner, climbing gyms will probably be of interest to you first. Find out how high and how long the routes are in your local climbing hall. They are usually 20 to 25 metres high at the most. Ropes with a maximum length of 50 metres are sufficient.

Half and twin ropes have the advantage that you can abseil with the full length of the rope.

These ropes are also available in many different lengths. You have the widest choice of ropes between 30 and 100 metres. But there are also ropes up to 200 metres.

A good standard length is 70 metres. For long alpine tours, longer ropes come into question. However, the weight also plays a big role. The longer the rope, the heavier it is, of course. At 80 to 100 metres, you have a long reach with moderate weight.

Standard falls

Standard falls indicate how many falls a rope can theoretically withstand before it becomes too dangerous. The ropes are tested with a very high load (fall factor 1.75). The load is usually higher than it occurs in realistic situations.

The different types of ropes must have different legally prescribed standard falls. This means that the ropes must withstand a certain number of falls at a certain weight. According to EU regulations, the standard falls are tested with a load of 80 kilograms at a fall depth of 4.8 metres. The rope must withstand at least 5 falls.

Elongation and impact force

Climbing ropes must be stretchable in order to cushion falls. Impact force is the effect of elongation on the maximum force applied to the fall weight during a fall. This measures how hard a fall affects the climber.

A high impact force means that higher forces act on the body.

These ropes do not brake or spring, which is why there is a strong jolt. This can lead to serious injuries, such as whiplash and spinal injuries.

The upper limit for the impact force is 1200 daN (decanewton = 10 Newton) for single and twin ropes and 800 daN for half ropes.

Excessive stretch can also lead to problems. By law, the maximum impact elongation is 40%. A higher elongation leads to the fall not being slowed down quickly enough and puts climbers in danger of hitting rocks, the ground or other obstacles. Static elongation must not exceed 10%.

Sheath proportion and displacement

Climbing ropes have an inner core and an outer sheath that protects the core. The thicker the sheath, the more robust and durable the rope.

Sheath shift refers to damage to the rope. This causes the inner core to slip further and further. Sheath shifting does not increase the risk of tears. The damage can still make the rope unusable. Especially if the bumps in the rope can no longer slide through the belay device.

Ropes are tested for maximum displacement. The core and sheath must not shift by more than 2 centimetres. In the meantime, the core and sheath of most ropes are connected to each other. This reduces or completely prevents displacement.

Decision: What types of climbing ropes are there and which is the right one for you?

Roughly divided, there are two types of ropes: static ropes and dynamic ropes. Static ropes are used for mountain rescues, for example. The name comes from the elasticity of the ropes. Static ropes have a negligible stretch. This means that only dynamic ropes are suitable for climbing. This is because static ropes do not provide any cushioning for falls, which can cause serious injuries. As a rule, climbing ropes have an elongation of 8%.

In the following section, only ropes for climbing are presented.

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Single rope The single rope is uncomplicated and suitable for beginners. It is mainly used in climbing parks and halls It can only be half climbed.
Half rope Securing with half ropes minimises friction on the sheath. They distribute the weight during a fall. Double ropes mean double the effort in maintenance.
Twin rope Double protection in case of falls For beginners, multiple ropes could make it confusing to climb and clean up.

In principle, the following types of ropes have no advantages or disadvantages, but are primarily designed for different areas of use. We show you here which ropes are used for what.

Single rope

Single rope

Single ropes are particularly suitable for beginners. They are particularly easy to handle and are mainly used in climbing gyms and climbing parks. Their diameter ranges from about 8.9 to 11 millimetres with a weight of about 50 – 80 grams per metre.

They must withstand at least 5 standard falls with a high drop weight of 80 kilograms.

Advantages
  • easy handling
  • many applications
Disadvantages
  • only half rope length climbable
Half rope

Half rope

Half ropes are used in double ropes. Each rope can be attached to different belays. This reduces the impact of a fall because the weight is evenly distributed. It also reduces friction acting on the sheath, which increases the longevity of the rope. They are usually somewhat narrower than single ropes with 8 to 9 millimetres.

The double ropes create redundancy. The standard falls are tested with 55 instead of 80 kilograms, as the climber’s weight does not only affect one rope.

They can be applied to many climbing sports, for example alpine climbing and three-rope shank

Advantages
  • reduced friction due to dual belay
  • full length usable
  • can belay two belayers
Disadvantages
  • requires belay devices where ropes can be retrieved separately
  • greater safety in lead than in lead
Twin rope

Twin rope

Twin ropes must also be used in double strand. Individually, they are significantly thinner and lighter than single ropes. A twin rope is about 7.5 to 8 millimetres thick and weighs only about 40 to 45 grams per metre.

Unlike the half-rope, however, both ropes have to go into a belay. The twin ropes lead to redundancy. The weight is distributed on both ropes during the fall. Two ropes also protect against sharp rock edges. If one rope stretches and breaks during the fall over this edge, the second rope secures the climber. During the test, the ropes in the double strand must withstand a load of 80 kilograms over 12 falls.

Twin ropes are particularly popular for alpine and ice climbing.

Advantages
  • full length usable
  • extremely high safety
  • lighter than half ropes
Disadvantages
  • difficult handling for beginners

Guidebook: Frequently asked questions about climbing ropes answered in detail

In this short guide, we answer all the frequently asked questions about buying and caring for a climbing rope. You'll find out how to store your rope and when it's time to buy a new one.

Which rope is right for which climbing sport?

Single ropes are mostly used in climbing gyms and climbing parks. They are therefore rarely impregnated by the manufacturer and are therefore not too slippery. This is especially important for inexperienced climbers.

Kletterseile-1

There are now more and more ropes that have been certified for all three types of rope. These all-rounders have many advantages, but are still a bit too difficult for most beginners.
(Image source: Pexels.com / Min An)

For alpine and ice tours, there is a choice between half ropes and climbing ropes. With half ropes, you can belay another climber with each rope. With the twin rope, you can belay only one other person. Both types offer optimal mobility, as you can climb the full length of the rope.

Type climbing sports
Single rope climbing gyms, climbing park, short outdoor ascents
Half rope alpine climbing, ice and glacier climbing
Twin rope alpine climbing, ice and glacier climbing

What do climbing ropes cost?

As already mentioned, the choice of rope should be made according to the type of climbing. For climbing ropes, the price depends on the length. There are big price differences depending on the manufacturer. Good quality ropes can be very expensive. However, one should bear in mind that when climbing, one's life depends on this investment.

Type Price
Single rope 70 to 200 euros
Half rope 120 to 200 euros
Twin rope 120 to 200 euros

How long can I use a climbing rope?

For your own safety, you should replace your ropes after you have used up the standard falls or after ten years at the latest. If you use your rope more often, you should replace it more frequently. Here is a small overview for orientation.

Kletterseile-2

Even with good care, ropes age. That's why you should stop using unused ropes for climbing after ten years at the latest.
(Image source: Unspalsh.com / Patrick Hodskins)

However, the actual lifespan depends on the condition of the rope. This includes, for example, how often it has had to absorb falls and the frequency of cranes.

Frequency of use lifespan
Daily less than a year
Weekly about a year
Several times a month two to three years
Once a month about five years
Once or twice a year about 7-8 years

A rope also becomes unusable due to external damage. You should discard it when:

  • it has come into contact with chemicals, especially acids.
  • there is a lot of sheath slippage.
  • the sheath is badly worn.
  • the sheath is damaged, for example by cuts or friction.

How do I care for my climbing ropes?

Climbing ropes are not cheap. That's why you should take good care of them and wash them regularly if necessary.

Kletterseile-3

Your safety comes first! After each use, you should check your rope carefully and store it properly.
(Image source: Unsplash / Chris Taljaard)

We explain here what you need to keep in mind when caring for your rope.

  • Check for damage: Before using your rope for the first time and after every subsequent use, especially if you have fallen, you should check it carefully for damage. If there are visible cracks or damage to the sheath, you should discard the rope immediately. The rope has also reached the end of its life if the rope can be kinked and/or the sheath is badly roughened. If the damage is only present at the ends, you can also shorten the rope.
  • Washing: It is important to always keep the rope clean. Dirt makes it harder to handle, for example by making it harder to slide through carabiners. When washing, be especially careful with the rope and only use low temperatures. You can wash it in the washing machine without a spin cycle using mild detergent. Alternatively, it can be hand washed in a bathtub.
  • Storage: To preserve the quality of the rope for as long as possible, it should be stored in a dry and dark place. The storage place should also not be too cold or too hot. You should not store the rope in your car all year round.

Do I need to impregnate my climbing rope?

Impregnation protects the rope from moisture and fine dust and dirt. This makes the rope last longer. However, impregnation makes the rope smoother and therefore more slippery, which could be dangerous, especially with new ropes.

Whether it makes sense to treat the rope depends mainly on its intended use.

If you only climb indoors, it is not absolutely necessary. Wetness is not a big concern for outdoor rock climbing either. But the rope is particularly exposed to dust and sand here. Heavy soiling makes handling more difficult and therefore reduces the durability of the rope.

If the rope is likely to come into contact with ice or rain (for example, when alpine climbing), waterproofing is definitely very important.

Can I modify climbing ropes? Joining, shortening, dyeing.

  • Shortening: Especially if you often use climbing ropes for abseiling, the ends of the ropes quickly become worn and roughened. Then you should cut off the damaged ends. You can have this done in specialist shops or at home. Professional shortening is done with a hot cutter so that the core and sheath are fused together again. Beginners should rather invest some money and have the rope shortened so that nothing can go wrong. You can also take the opportunity to have the condition of the rope checked.
  • Dyeing: It is not advisable to dye climbing ropes that are still being used for climbing. However, if you have already sorted out the rope and want to recycle it, you can of course dye it.

How do I un-crane my climbing rope?

Craning is the term used to describe twists that occur, among other things, when the rope is used incorrectly. The rope twists around its longitudinal axis. It is imperative that these crangels are unravelled. Crangels can get caught in belay devices and karabiners. Furthermore, it can happen that the half-mast knot does not tighten properly in the event of a fall and the rope cannot be braked.

To uncrane a rope, you can double it and let it unhook.

Alternatively, you can remove the crane by hand by grasping the rope with both hands.

Hold the rope with one hand while the other hand pulls the rope straight. Continue this until you reach the end of the rope. You may have to repeat this process two or three times depending on how tangled the rope is.

Image source: Trischberger/ 123rf.com

Reviews