Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Gear Guy

Thick or Thin Rope?

What’s the smallest diameter rope I can use for sport climbing?

Lock Icon

Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great perks.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

All-Access
Intro Offer
$3.99 / month*

  • A $500 value with 25+ benefits including:
  • Access to all member-only content on all 17 publications in the Outside network like Rock and Ice, Climbing, Outside, Backpacker, Trail Runner and more
  • Annual subscription to Climbing magazine.
  • Annual gear guides for climbing, camping, skiing, cycling, and more
  • Gaia GPS Premium with hundreds of maps and global trail recommendations, a $39.99 value
  • Outside Learn, our new online education hub loaded with more than 2,000 videos across 450 lessons including 6 Weeks to Stronger Fingers and Strength Training for Injury Prevention
  • Premium access to Outside TV and 1,000+ hours of exclusive shows
  • Annual subscription to Outside magazine
Join Outside+

*Outside memberships are billed annually. Print subscriptions available to U.S. residents only. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

“What’s the smallest diameter rope I can use for sport climbing?”

 

Most rope manufacturers offer a 9mm single rope and even a model that dips down to 8.9 or 8.7mm. These smaller ropes are lighter and slither through carabiners with little friction, suiting them for times when you need to minimize weight and rope drag. Naturally, there are trade-offs. Thin ropes aren’t as durable, can cut more easily and are more difficult to grip and belay with. A skinny rope also might not be compatible with your rap/belay device.

I like to use a 10mm(ish) cord for projecting and wall climbing. When it is time to send or onsight, I switch to a thinner rope. Realistically, a thinner rope mostly gives you a psychological edge, with the weight savings really noticed when the rope is in your pack.


This Gear Guy question appeared in Rock and Ice issue 248 (February 2018).


Got a question? Email: rockandicegearguy@gmail.com


Also Read

Gear Guy: Problematic Harness

Gear Guy: Rest That Rope

Gear Guy: Money for Dry Rope?