Climbing ropes have saved the lives of thousands of climbers. That is no exaggeration. In fact, no other word would describe what a climbing rope is to a climber but “lifeline”. It not only keeps you alive by keeping you connected to something solid, it will also link you to your partner and other climbers.


You cannot just go out and buy the first climbing rope that you lay your eyes on. It should match the intended activity, particularly with respect to its diameter and stretch. There are three main types of ropes.

  • Single Ropes: These ropes are certified for use as a single strand and are the most commonly used, particularly in sport climbing. They have a diameter of 10.1mm to 11mm, except for the skinny single ropes, which could be as thin as 8.9mm. The skinnier ones have the advantage of having less rope drag and also of being lighter in weight. Also, do not expect a lot of friction if the rope is skinny. The type of single rope chosen would also depend on the type of routes that will be climbed.
  • Twin Ropes: Twin ropes include two separate strands ropes used together. The climber’s harness will be tied with both strands and also both will run through the belay device. They are often the ropes of choice by ice climbers and alpine rock climbers where rappelling is expected. They are also the thinnest ropes, having a diameter as low as 7mm.
  • Half Ropes: Just like twin ropes, half ropes, or double ropes, have two strands used together. However, instead of being clipped together, the strands of half ropes are clipped to separate pieces of protection. Typical half ropes are 8mm to 9mm in diameter. Trad rock climbers and mountaineers prefer this type of rope because they would have two ropes to rappel on.


After knowing what type of rope you will use, here are few considerations that should convince you whether or not to buy this or that rope.

  • UIAA Fall Rating: UIAA stands for Union Internationale des Associations d’Alphinisme, a body that has established standard testing procedures to measure rope reactions to falls, rope stiffness and stretch as well as rope stretch under body weight, among other things. Simply put, it measures how many falls the rope can take before it should be retired. The higher the UIAA fall rating of the rope is, the more sturdy and strong it will be and the longer it will serve you.
  • Length of the Rope: One reason why people shy away from longer ropes is the heavier weight they have. Therefore you should make sure you get the right length. Longer ropes are more preferred in sport climbing and top-roping.
  • Construction of the Rope: Check that the sheath of the protective braided cover of the rope is well-made and meant to withstand abrasion and can absorb any amount of shock it is subjected to. Usually, a thicker sheath is more sturdy. Even the sheath wave patterns should be made such that they are durable.


Those are simply the main things you should look for in a rope. Of course, you probably have your own personal preferences. However, always keep in mind that the rope you choose be tailored for the type of climbing you will be doing. If you start from there, you won’t go wrong.


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