How to Pick a Climbing Rope


So now that you’ve learned how to choose the best all-around climbing shoes and the best climbing harnesses for beginner climbers, it is time to learn how to pick the best climbing rope for you. Just like climbing shoes, there is a climbing rope intended for nearly every type of climbing.

The type of climbing you are going to be doing is pretty much the biggest determinant of the type of rope you will need. Will you be rappelling, top roping, sport climbing, trad climbing, big wall climbing, mountaineering, or ice climbing?

Once you decide on the type of climbing you will be doing, it is easy to pick the type of rope you will need. Many climbers are happy with a good all-around rope that will work well for a variety of climbing situations.

All-Around Single Climbing Ropes

Climbing ropes with a diameter of 8.9-11mm are considered single ropes and are ideal for all types of climbing including top roping, sport climbing, trad climbing, and rappelling. Choose a rope in the 10-11mm range if you plan on top roping or climbing big walls. A rope in that range will be a bit heavier than a smaller diameter rope, but it will hold up to plenty of use and abuse.

Sport climbers will be happy with a rope in the 9.5-10mm range since the lighter weight makes it easier to pull the rope up to clip a draw. Keep in mind that a lower diameter rope comes with less friction when lowering or rappelling so it may not be an ideal choice for new climbers.

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Ideal Uses: Top roping, sport climbing, big wall climbing, trad climbing, rappelling
Recommended Single Climbing Ropes:

Double/Half Climbing Ropes

Double or half climbing ropes are dynamic ropes with a diameter of 8-9mm. These ropes are great for wandering rock, ice, or mixed climbs since they reduce rope drag and make it so that falls are better equalized. Best attempted by experienced climbers, climbing with a double/half rope requires excellent rope handling skills and technique.

Ideal Uses: Multi-pitch routes, alpine rock climbing, mountaineering, ice climbing
Recommended Double/Half Ropes:

Twin Ropes

Twin Ropes range from 7-8mm and are less bulky than any of the other rope types. Unlike climbing with a double/half rope, you must always clip both strands of a twin rope through each piece of protection so there will be more rope drag with a twin rope than a double/half rope.

Ideal Uses: Ice climbing, alpine rock climbing
Recommended Twin Ropes:

Static Climbing Ropes

All the previous ropes are considered dynamic ropes meaning that they will stretch and absorb force during a fall. On the other hand, static ropes are for climbing situations where you don’t want to rope to stretch like for rappelling, canyoneering, or caving. Static ropes also make great haul ropes and search-and-rescue ropes.

Ideal Uses: Rappelling, canyoneering, big-wall climbing (ascending or load pulling only), search and rescue
Recommended Static Climbing Ropes: