Finding the best rappelling rope can be a challenge. But you came to the right place.
A good rope for rappelling is a static rope, which measures between 9 and 11mm in width. It should ideally be manufactured by a reputable brand, and it should be tested rigorously beforehand to ensure its durability.
Static ropes are at least 8.5mm wide, and anything below that is officially considered a cord. Don’t use a cord while rappelling, as it most likely won’t be strong enough to support your weight, at least not consistently. When it comes to length, the conventional length of a rappelling rope is 200 feet or 60 meters. The longer your descent, the longer your rope needs to be.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to choose a good rappelling rope for your outdoor adventures. While it’s certainly true that other pieces of rappelling gear are just as important, you won’t go very far if your rope starts to deteriorate mid-rappel.
The good news is that most of the rappelling ropes that you find in stores and online are designed to wear out gradually as opposed to snapping right off. Still, some ropes are definitely better than others, particularly if we’re talking about the more expensive brands.
It’s important to find the right balance between price and quality, as you shouldn’t have to skimp on other important pieces of gear such as carabiners, rappel rings, or descent control devices. There are two main types of rappelling rope, namely static ropes, and dynamic ropes. In today’s article, we’re going to cover both types so that you might make an informed decision based on your own needs and preferences.
The following list contains some of the best rappelling rope available on the market right now. If you’re interested in a purchase, just follow the link for each product.
Let’s talk about static ropes.
When it comes to rappelling, static ropes are your go-to solution, as they lack the stretchiness of dynamic ropes, hence they are perfectly suited for descending. Now, apart from recreational rappelling, static ropes can also be used during rescue missions, caving, or performing various tasks at great heights. One thing that all static ropes have in common is that they are braided, which means that they can take up quite a bit of abuse over time while still maintaining their overall durability and reliability.
Each static rope includes a core and a sheath, each with its own vital purpose. The core has its own individual strands, and it takes on the vital role of weight support. As for the sheath, it protects the core while holding all of the strands together. Up next, I’m going to give you some great examples of static ropes that you can use while rappelling.
1. SWAT Heavy Duty Tactical Rappelling Rope by Rothco.
I’m going to assume that you’re looking for the strongest and most dependable rappelling rope out there. The thing is, this product is quite expensive, and some of you might be inclined to choose something a bit more affordable. In that case, just have a look at some of the other ropes on this list. Be warned, though: none of them will match the strength and durability of the SWAT Heavy Duty Tactical.
Appearance-wise, the product comes with a simple-stealth like dark green colorway. This is not a high visibility rope by any stretch, so look for some brighter colored alternatives if visibility is that important to you. Otherwise, this 200-foot rope by Rothco is arguably the strongest and most dependable rappelling rope in the world right now. Of course, it comes with a price tag to match, but from what I heard, it also lasts a very long time, so you won’t need to replace it anytime soon.
This is a heavy-duty product designed to handle extremely hard conditions and applications. The packaged weight is 13.1 pounds, which sounds about right given the rope’s length and diameter of 9mm.
2. Singing Rock R44 NFPA Static Rope.
The R44 NFPA Singing Rock static rope is a fantastic choice if you’re looking for exceptional durability, resistance to wear-and-tear, and as little bounce as possible. This rope comes in different colors and sizes, and depending on these factors, it ranges in price from around $115 to $620. No matter your choice, you won’t be disappointed, especially since this rappelling rope is already famous for its resistance to abrasion.
This is all thanks to a very dense and durable sheath, which will last you many rappelling sessions as long as you don’t abuse the rope too much. This product is ideal for rappelling, hauling, and various other activities, but it’s not so good for climbing or toprope. When it comes to diameter, you should choose the one that suits your needs best, especially taking into account your equipment type.
The thickest version is the most durable, but it’s also the heaviest. Overall, the Singing Rock R44 NFPA static rappelling rope is a very tough rappelling companion, and I’d wholeheartedly recommend it for both beginners and pros.
3. BlueWater Ropes 11.4mm (7/16″) AssaultLine NFPA Static Rope.
This fine offering by BlueWater Ropes is actually classified as a technical rope, and what makes it stand out from other offerings is the fact that it has very low visibility. Therefore, it is ideal for police and military applications where stealth is of utmost concern. The stealth aspect of the rope is generally irrelevant when it comes to regular rappelling endeavors, however.
What is important, though, is that it is a very reliable static rope that offers the same renowned quality of the BWII+ series. The BlueWater AssaultLine NFPA static rope boasts a double twist cabled polyester sheath and a double twist cabled nylon core, which ensures a 3 sigma tensile strength rating of 7,935 lbf. Ideal for rappelling and adequate as a gym type lead rope, this product is relatively bulky and heavy, so make sure to take this into account before you make the purchase. If you ask me, a bit of extra weight is a small price to pay for unrivaled durability.
4. MudFog UIAA Certified Nylon Kernmantle Static Rope 11mm.
Yet another impressive rappelling rope is the MudFog UIAA Certified Nylon Kernmantle static rope, which comes in various thickness and length options. I decided to focus on the thicker 11mm variant, as that’s been the most reliable in my experience, but the overall length is all up to you, as it depends on your personal requirements. There are three different colors to choose from as well, namely black, orange, and red. The red and orange versions look quite similar if you ask me, but that’s just nitpicking at this point.
Moving on to the important parts, the rope has received official certification from the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation. It is relatively lightweight for its size, and it has great water absorption capabilities, which makes it ideal for waterfall rappelling. Apart from abseiling, this rope is also sturdy enough for caving, boating, heavy hauling, and rescues. Some people choose to include this rope in their emergency kits, which is not a bad idea at all.
5. BSWL Escape Safety Rope made out of Kevlar.
I decided to include this particular rappelling and cave climbing rope because it features a rather unusual yet impressive material composition. This thing is nearly indestructible, as it was created using one of the toughest materials in the world: kevlar. So, using a kevlar rope for rappelling? Is it actually advisable? Is it worth it? And is it safe?
Basically, I’m just going to say YES to all of the above questions. It just doesn’t get any better than this. An 8mm or 10.5mm static rope made using a Kevlar high-temperature resistant material, which makes it ideal for anything ranging from rescue operations to recreational rappelling and climbing. The inner core of the rope is also made out of Kevlar, which gives it a very high strength tension while keeping the weight relatively low.
Apart from rappelling, you can use the BSWL Escape Safety Rope for aerial work, expansion, rescue, speed drop, caving, and engineering applications.
The rope comes with 2 O-shaped steel locks and a storage bag, which is always a nice addition. In terms of sheer strength, this rope can handle 22KN or about 2500 kg of pulling force.
6. HUYYA Outdoor Rock Climbing Rope.
HUYYA is a respected brand in the outdoor gear world, and I trust their products enough to recommend them. I decided to feature this HUYYA outdoor rock climbing rope because it offers a nice balance between thickness, reliability, and portability. It’s a static climbing rope that works very well with rappelling, parachuting, tree climbing, and rescue operations.
It measures in at 9mm in thickness, and it was created using Polyester, one of the most durable materials in the outdoor gear space. It comes in a single red colorway that looks nice but also provides much-needed visibility assuming you’re not going for a stealthy approach to rappelling. The rope is lightweight but is easy to knot, it’s easy to carry around as it folds up nicely.
It is one of the more expensive rappelling ropes out there, but it comes in various sizes ranging from 10m or 33ft to 100m or 328ft. Depending on your sizing choice, you might end up spending somewhere between $100 or $750.
7. Tendon Canyon Dry Rope – UIAA/CE Certified – 9mm.
The Tendon Canyon dry is a reliable and lightweight polyamide static rope designed for a wide array of operations such as climbing, rappelling, caving, and canyoneering. It boasts a highly visible light orange and white colorway, and I always do prefer to have a highly visible rope on me as opposed to a more subtle one.
Colors aside, the Tendon is completely CE (certified) and meets the strict requirements of the UIAA (International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation). Tendon has always put a lot of work into designing their ropes and making sure that they never give in under pressure, which is probably why this is the most reliable rope brand I know, right up there with PETZL and Black Diamond.
The Tendon Canyon dry rope comes with a Complete Shield finish, which is a progressive Tendon nanotechnology process that uses small particles of Teflon Eco. These particles are applied directly to the rope sheath in order to form a nearly impermeable layer. This way, the rope lasts longer because less dirt and particles are able to get through overtime. The minimum tenacity with knots for this rope is 18.4 kN or approximately 4136 pound-force.
8. Sunzor Rock Climbing Rope | 10mm Static Rope.
The ropes that I’ve presented so far are fantastic, but I have to admit that they are a bit on the expensive side. While I would never recommend going for a cheap rope purely from a safety perspective, I have to admit that the Sunzor rock climbing rope offers great value for money, as it only costs $70 at a length of 164 feet. The shorter variants are even cheaper, mind you.
Regarding quality, Sunzor claims that all of their products are made out of 20 whole core rope. The rope is made out of 100% Premium Polyester Material, which enables a load-bearing capacity of 4945lbs. Since it’s a static rope, this product is well-suited for rappelling, but it can also take on other roles such as a fire escape rope, or a tree swing rope.
9. X-Ben Outdoor Climbing Rope (Rappelling, Caving, Tree Climbing).
While also on the affordable side, this is also one of the most versatile ropes out there. It’s a classic static multi-purpose rope, which means that it has a myriad of applications such as hiking, climbing, rappelling, fire escape, camping, or caving. It’s also the best-selling climbing rope on Amazon right now, which means that it offers a great mix of durability and strength at a relatively low price.
I haven’t tried out this rope myself yet, but the reviews that I’ve seen so far are very positive. Given the affordable price tag and the max static tensile force of 3,300 lbs, it’s hard not to recommend this rope for rappelling, but I’d really just use it as a backup rope or a practice rope. Available colorways are blue, orange, and black. You can get this rope in various sizes ranging from 32 feet all the way up to 500 feet.
Can you rappel using dynamic ropes?
The main difference between static and dynamic ropes is that dynamic ones have a certain flex to them – a stretch, a give, a degree of elasticity. While this makes them ideal for climbing, they’re definitely not as well-suited for rappelling, and I’m about to explain exactly why.
During a fall, a dynamic rope will absorb part of the energy of a complete stop, thus protecting the climber. The fall becomes much more bearable, as the rope causes less tension on the body. When subjected to a high-impact force, dynamic ropes can stretch anywhere between 26 to 36 percent, while bodyweight usually causes them to stretch between 7 to 11 percent. Static ropes don’t stretch much at all, by comparison.
For climbing, a dynamic rope is more comfortable to use, it’s safer, and it’s more reliable. For rappelling, not so much. During a rappel, the user must have complete control of the descending process, which is why a static rope is always the better choice. That being said, it’s not impossible to rappel using a dynamic rope. Generally, I’d only recommend this course of action if you’re highly experienced, and you can cope with a bit of bounce on the descent. Bouncing too much during a rappel can cause some wear on your anchors, however, so keep that in mind.
10. The PETZL Contact 9.8mm Climbing Rope.
If you still want to perform a rappel using a dynamic rope, though, you should probably use a highly reliable and proven product such as the PETZL Contact 9.8mm climbing rope. This product comes in a beautiful Turquoise color, and it measures in at 196 feet or 60 meters. It comes with its own ClimbReady coil, and it is incredibly durable thanks to an UltraSonic finish, which involves bonding the core and sheath together at the rope ends.
Moreover, the core strands are stabilized by an EverFlex thermal treatment, which enhances grip and handling. While many of these terms might sound like they come straight out of a marketing campaign, you’d be hard-pressed to find a climber or a rappeler for that matter, who wasn’t satisfied with a PETZL rope.
Some advice on choosing and maintaining your rappelling rope.
Your rope is the main thing keeping you safe during a climb or a rappel, so make sure to choose it carefully and maintain it properly. Depending on your budget and experience, you might want to go for a more affordable option or a more expensive one, but in my experience, ropes created by reputable manufacturers rarely disappoint.
It’s also important to know when to dispose of your rope and but a brand new one, even if you haven’t been using it for too long. For example, if your rope has come in contact with any chemicals, you should replace it immediately. Furthermore, if the sheath has worn out and the core is exposed, you shouldn’t use that rope anymore. A frayed and worn-out sheath is also a big no-no, and if the rope has become stiff, it’s probably on its last legs.
If your rope has been through some hard falls or heavy loads, it’s also probably a good idea to let it retire.
If you need a rope protector, consider the Petzl Protec.
It’s no secret that these ropes can go through a lot during their lifetimes. If you invested in an expensive rope and you’d like to use it for a long time, it’s never a bad idea to use a rope protector such as the Petz Protec. For a little under $25, you’ll get a flexible rope protection device that prevents abrasion. Thanks to its velcro closure and clip, the protector can be installed in no time at all, and it will give you some much-needed peace of mind.
It’s a simple product, but a highly effective one. It’s relatively affordable, and it does its job well without getting in the way.
Finding the right rappelling rope is no walk in the park, but fortunately, there are plenty of variants out there to choose from. At the end of the day, a good rope needs to be solid and dependable, and the ones that I presented today definitely tick these two very important boxes. I should also note that some of these products sell out or become unavailable after a while, which is why I constantly come back to this article and I update it with fresh offerings and new information.
If you have any suggestions or other products you’d like to recommend, feel free to get in touch. Until then, stay safe and take in the view!