At first glance, a climbing rope may seem like the most simple piece of fitness equipment out there. After all, it’s just some material woven together and attached to a hook, right? Not exactly. Climbing ropes come in a variety of sizes, styles, build materials and components that influence their utility.
We’ve done the research and compiled a list of the seven best climbing ropes currently available on the market. Before we get into it, let’s take a good look at what makes a quality climbing rope. This will make it easier to choose the rope that best suits your needs.
Climbing a rope is a demanding exercise that requires serious amounts of skill and strength. With this in mind, we’ve included some beginner exercises later in the article that’ll help you get started.
Choosing the Right Climbing Rope
Below we’ve outlined some of the key factors to consider when choosing a climbing rope to ensure you get something that’s well-suited to your needs and abilities.
Thanks to innovations in synthetic materials and weaving technologies, modern ropes are becoming increasingly thin. As a result, they’ve become much lighter. However, a lower diameter means there’s less sheath to wear down, reducing the rope’s overall durability.
Ropes that measure 1.5 inches in diameter are suitable for most applications. If you want something a little more durable and can handle the difference in grip, 2 inch ropes are also available. Because you’ll solely be using your hands to grip the rope, anything slimmer than 1.5 inches is usually not ideal.
Luckily, every climbing rope included in this list comes standard with a 1.5 inch diameter, with some offering thicker alternatives. If you want to pick up a rope for your children’s playground, thinner and shorter options are available.
Most manufacturers offer their climbing ropes in numerous lengths ranging from 3 feet all the way up to 50 feet. Depending on where you plan to train and how you’ll use the rope, lengths of around 25 feet tend to be the most versatile. Longer ropes are heavier and if you’re not fully utilizing the length, it simply becomes an inconvenience.
Some training facilities have anchors set at certain distances with subsequent drop off points. If you plan to train at such a facility, ensure that your rope is a sufficient length to work with their anchors.
Length and diameter aren’t the only two factors that can influence weight. The density of the weave, usually measured in grams per meter, can make a 1.2″ rope heavier than a 1.5″ rope.
Manila is the most common rope material. It’s fairly soft, not too rigid and while prone to shedding, still fairly durable. However, it isn’t waterproof and is therefore better suited toward indoor use. Synthetic materials such as polydacron are more durable and don’t shed, but at the cost of grip and flexibility.
High quality climbing ropes feature heat-shrinked end caps at one, if not both ends of the rope. They mould the weave together and prevent fraying. If the end caps on your rope start falling off, they can usually be glued back on. This is a better solution to having no end cap as the material is otherwise exposed and can further damage your rope.
Climbing ropes usually feature one of two different systems for anchoring:
- A metal clasp is often nailed through the rope over heat-shrinked material. These provide a secure and stable hold but require a mounting bracket to attach.
- Alternatively, some ropes feature a simple knotted loop that can be tied to most round surfaces. They’re easy to set up and don’t require a mounting bracket to anchor.
Many ropes are backed by warranties that provide additional value. The last thing you want is to see your new rope snap before your eyes and have nothing left to do but buy a new one. Look out for lengthy warranties – it usually means the manufacturer is confident that their rope won’t be breaking any time soon.
Now that you can call yourself a climbing rope expert, it’s time to pick one out.
7 Best Gym Climbing Ropes for Strength & Conditioning
If you’re looking for a simple, solid rope that offers excellent value, Aoneky’s climbing rope is a great option. It’s available in three different materials: polypropylene, manila hemp and cloth. The polypropylene rope doesn’t fray, making it ideal for athletes who need their rope to take a beating. The latter two options are softer and provide better grip – but at the cost of durability.
Lengths start at 10 feet and move all the way up to 30 feet, with 1.18″ and 1.5″ width options for each. The metal clasp is solid and easy to anchor. While the heat-shrinked end caps are a welcome feature, they tend to pop off quite easily on this rope. A simple homemade solution such as super glue should keep them on tight.
The same way metal rusts – manila frays. It’s simply a property of the material. However, just like stainless steel, manila can be treated to become stronger. In this case, the manila that makes up the RopeFit is coated in cordage oil. Unlike cheaper treatments like gasoline, cordage oil is non-toxic, biodegradable and doesn’t carry a heavy odor.
There will be a light smell when you first open it up, but it fades away fairly quickly. Instead of metal clasps, this rope uses a knotted loop that’s easier to anchor thanks to the lack of need for a mounting bracket. It’s put together by hand in the US by certified rope riggers and has an impressive breaking strength of 16,000 lbs.
Rogue’s manila climbing rope is available in lengths ranging from 6′ to 30′ with a standard diameter of 1.5″ across the board. A braided eyelet makes for easy mounting on almost any bar or anchor and the heat-shrinked end caps add some durability to the manila weave.
While some shedding is to be expected, routine care of the rope should keep it together for as long as you need it. Like most Rogue products, this rope is made in the US and has been used in numerous major competitions and events, including the CrossFit Games.
A simple, reliable construction and various length options make this a considerable option for all athletes.
Another simple and highly affordable entry in the list comes from Valor Fitness with the 25′ Sisal Rope. A heat-shrinked end cap seals together the manila weave at one end. At the other end, you’ll find a knotted loop for quick and easy anchoring of the rope. More heat-shrinked material can be found where the loop begins for additional durability.
The 300lb maximum load capacity is sufficient to handle as much pressure as you can put onto it. Regarding length and width, there’s only one option – 25′ and 1.5″ respectively. These dimensions are ideal for most applications. The manila material makes for a coarse but comfortable grip that isn’t too hard or slippery, ensuring that you have a tight hold when it matters.
On one hand, the nylon weave that makes up this rope offers greater durability and less shedding than manila. However, the slippery texture makes it more suited towards indoor use. Clapping some chalk onto your hands should help you get a better grip. Durability is further enhanced by the heat-shrinked end caps, which can be found on both ends of the rope.
A metal clasp is included for quick anchoring, with two screws keeping it securely attached to the rope. When it comes to sizing, your options are virtually endless. Not only does the list of lengths range from 3ft to 50ft, but custom sizing requests are also available. Fitness Solutions makes these in the US and offers 1.5″ and 2″ width options depending on your chosen length.
The Power Guidance Climbing Rope is about as simple and effective as it gets. Heat-shrinked end caps to prevent fraying, a spliced knotted loop for easy anchoring and a soft, durable manila weave that makes climbing it a breeze. Length options start at 15 feet moving all the way up to 50 feet. A 1.5″ diameter is standard across the board.
The manila weave is coated to prevent fraying and the subsequent smell fades away within a couple of sessions. Like most manila ropes, they’re better suited towards indoor use as they’re prone to damage when exposed to moisture. If your rope gets wet, be sure to dry it out before using it again.
If you’re looking for a more durable alternative to manila, polydacron weaves are your best bet. This rope is made of such a material and as a result, it experiences virtually no shedding. While stronger, it’s also fairly soft. The only downside is that it’ll take some time to break in as polydacron is more slippery and less flexible out of the box.
A solid metal eye hook is attached to the rope for safe and secure anchoring. Length options start at 3′ and slowly go up to 30′ with a standard diameter of 1.5 inches for each. The heat shrink end caps are sealed tightly on each end for added durability.
Like most ropes in this list, buying them through Amazon makes Prime members eligible for free shipping, adding some additional value to your purchase. They’re also backed by Amazon’s customer service, ensuring that you get what you pay for.
Exercises to Build Rope Climbing Ability
Anyone who’s gripped a climbing rope and tried to make their way up knows that it’s far from easy. It requires a combination of upper body strength, stamina and focus. Prepare yourself by building an exercise routine that will put your body up to the task. Here are three simple workouts to get you started.
This exercise builds on upper body and back strength, as well as working on difficult points in your rope climb. Since you need a machine to perform this, you’ll either need a home gym or lat pulldown machine, or pay your local commercial gym a visit. Work with sets of 6-10 reps, using as much weight as you reasonably can. This better replicates the feeling of pulling your body weight like you would on a rope. This is a true beginner’s exercise – once you’ve made some progress and built some initial strength, move onto pullups.
Seated to Standing Climb:
Hang your rope from a sufficient length above and grip onto it from a seated position. Then, slowly make your way up until your legs are fully extended. Aim to be able to ascend without the assistance of your legs. Once in standing position, lower yourself back down to seated.
All you need to get started is a pull-up bar. Standing beneath the bar, ump from the floor, or use a plyo box or other platform, and use your momentum to get your chin above the bar: This is your starting position. With your chin above the bar, slowly lower yourself back down to the ground. If this exercise isn’t challenging for you, use a dip belt to add weights between your legs for additional resistance. This exercise builds on your pulling strength and greatly improves your grip.
There are certain physical attributes that can give you an advantage in rope climbing.
Strong lats and overall upper body strength is key. However, that’s not to say you should skip leg day. Being able to launch yourself up and effectively use your legs to ascend is important. Ropes are also tough on the hands and beginners may want to pick up a pair of gloves when getting started, especially if you don’t want calluses.
If you happen to be taller, consider yourself lucky. Not only do you start higher up, but each pull takes you further. If you tend to knock your head on door frames, perhaps a sporting career in rope climbing may be up your alley.
Well, there you have it: The best gym climbing ropes for strength and conditioning workouts.
There’s a reason why climbing ropes have been a staple component in various fitness disciplines, along with law enforcement and military programs for longer than most workout equipment has existed.
Ascending a rope at maximum speed provides a workout like no other. Your entire torso, arms and even your legs are worked in ways that other equipment cannot replicate. Consistent practise has physical and mental benefits that any athlete will appreciate.
They’re are also extremely affordable and easy to set up in almost any location. Clearly, there’s no reason not to incorporate a climbing rope into your workout routine.
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As always, best of luck with your home workouts. Remember: When it comes to our health and fitness, we can make the effort or make excuses, but we can’t make both.
THFF (The Home Fit Freak)