The most important and also heaviest part of rappelling gear is the rope. Getting the right rope will not only ensure a safe descent, but it will also help make the experience more enjoyable. I wasn’t always sure what rope would be best for rappelling so I did some research and wanted to share what I learned with you below.
The best rope for rappelling is a lightweight static rope that is 8-11mm in diameter. For rappelling through waterfalls or other wet environments, make sure it is a dry rope, which has a special coating on it for keeping the core of the rope dry. In addition, consider the belay device that you plan on using to ensure that the rope diameter is compatible.
You can rappel on a semi-static or dynamic rope, but that is dependent on the activity you’re doing. Semi-static and dynamic rope is for climbing. If you are only rappelling, then it’s ideal to stick with a static rope. Additionally, you can rappel on a smaller diameter rope, depending on your belay device, however, there are safety concerns, and rappelling on a smaller diameter rope will require significant experience.
Now that we have the basic outline of what to look for in your rappelling rope, let’s talk about the rope available on the market and what I recommend for your next rappelling adventure. Plus, we’re going to talk about what to consider when selecting rope for your rappelling adventure so you can make an informed decision.
My Top 3 Picks For Rappelling Rope
EdelweissCanyon EverDry Static Rope
- Length: 30 Meters
- Diameter: 9.1
- Dry Coating: Yes – EverDry
- Weight per Meter: 49 grams
The biggest pro for me on this rope is that it is a dry rope, meaning that it has a special coating that is ideal for any type of environment without needing to worry about the core of the rope staying dry.
The diameter of this rope is big enough that you won’t have a problem controlling the speed of their descent but it is thin enough to keep the rope light.
It is long enough to rappel most canyoneering routes and you still have the ability to do a single strand rappel, if needed for longer rappels as long as it is under 150 feet.
The color should be a pro because the bright colors make it easier to see if the rope reaches the ground and it is easier to find you if a rescue attempt is needed. However, I don’t like how it looks…
BlueWaterCanyon Canyoneering Rope
- Length: 65-200 Meters
- Diameter: 9.2
- Dry Coating: No
- Weight per Meter: 61 grams
I love the feel of this rope when I’m rappelling. At a 9.2mm diameter, this rope can be used with most rappelling devices and is ideal for easy handling.
It is on the lighter end of rappelling rope at only 61 grams per meter.
Though this rope has a sheath coating to prevent wear and tear from rocks, it doesn’t have a dry coating on it. This means that it isn’t ideal for cave rappelling, waterfall rappelling, or even rappels that have water at the bottom of the route.
SterlingGym ReVO 9.8mm Climbing Rope
- Length: 40 Meters
- Diameter: 9.8
- Dry Coating: No
- Weight per Meter: 61 grams
The slightly larger diameter makes decent speed easy to control.
The rope is a little bit shorter, which in this case is a good thing because most routes aren’t over 40 meters so you don’t have to carry as much weight as you would with a longer rope
This rope has a slight stretch to it so when you go over sharp edges, there may be slight rubbing of the rope.
This rope doesn’t have a dry coating on it. This means that it isn’t ideal for cave rappelling, waterfall rappelling, or even rappels that have water at the bottom of the route.
Dry Vs Non-Dry Rope
The difference between a dry rope and the non-dry rope is a coating on the rope that prevents water from getting to the core of the rope. Water can damage the core of your rope and make the rope unsafe to climb or rappel on, which is why it’s important to consider if you need water-resistant coating on it.
A common confusion with dry vs non-dry rope is which rope actually has the water-resistant coating on it. Dry rope is the type of rope that has a water-resistant coating on it. The way I recommend thinking about it so that you don’t get confused or forget is that dry means that the core will remain dry. Non-dry means that it doesn’t have the coating on it and the core may get wet if you put it through the water.
With that in mind, you may consider getting a dry rope just to be safe. This is a common decision for people rappelling because they want the option of rappelling down water. However, there is a price difference. Dry rope is typically more expensive than non-dry rope because it has that special coating on it. For that reason, you may consider the environment that you plan on rappelling in to see if it is a necessary cost or if you can get away with saving money.
The Environment of Your Climb or Rappell
The environment you are rappelling down may change the rope type that you should get. For example, if you are rappelling a hundred meters down a desert canyon, your rope will be different than if you are rappelling down a waterfall. For this reason, I’ve included the most common types of rappelling environments below with a short description of the different types of rope needed for those environments:
- Cave and Waterfall Rappelling: When you are rappelling into a cave or through a waterfall, your rope doesn’t need to stretch so a static rope is ideal. The rope also needs to be water-resistant so that the rope doesn’t get damaged and unsafe to rappel on.
- Dry canyons or desert rappelling: If you are rappelling down a dry canyon or in any dry or desert environment, then you will need a rope that doesn’t stretch so a static rope is ideal. In addition, the rope won’t be running through water so you don’t need to pay extra money for a water-resistant rope.
Static Vs Semi-Static Vs Dynamic Rope
The difference between static, semi-static, and dynamic rope is the amount of stretch or elongation of the rope. Additionally, the static rope is typically less expensive, followed by semi-static, and then the dynamic rope is typically the most expensive type of rope. The activity you are doing will dictate the type of rope you will need. For example, if you are climbing and falling, you will want the rope to stretch slightly to help cushion the fall.
When it comes to rappelling, the rope needs to remain tight so the descent is as smooth and easy as possible both for the person rappelling and for the gear being used. In addition, stretching of the rope can increase the amount of rubbing the rope does over rock edges. This rubbing can wear the rope down faster. Because everything needs to be as tight as possible, you don’t want any give or stretching of the rope, which is why static rope is ideal for rappelling.
The semi-static rope has some stretch in the rope but it is still the strongest when it is tight. Because there is some stretch, it isn’t ideal for rappelling. However, some stretches will make the impact of falling on a slightly loose rope a little bit more comfortable for a climber. Because of this, the semi-static rope is ideal for top-rope climbing. Top-rope climbing has an anchor at the top of a route so the belayer and climber are able to keep the rope tighter than with sport or trad climbing.
Dynamic rope is ideal for sport and trad climbing as falls may include a lot of loose rope and a longer fall. The dynamic rope will cushion the fall slightly and will make the fall more comfortable for climbers. The dynamic rope stretches a lot so it isn’t ideal for rappelling as there will be some give that can make it harder for the rappelled to control long descents.
The Best Rope Length For Rappelling
Ropes typically range from 30-100 meters long. When rappelling on a double line or with a belayer at the bottom, the rope length will need to be double the length of the rappel. Rappels vary widely in length but the average length is 30 meters so typical rope recommendations are 30 or 60 meters. Resources such as guide books and online forums can provide details for the length of rope needed for established rappel routes.
► Rappelling On a Single Line vs Double Line
How Much Does Rope Weigh
Before you purchase the longest rope you can afford, consider the weight associated with each meter of rope. The longer the rope, the heavier it is, which is an important detail when considering that you have to hike from rappel to rappel with the rope on your back.
The average weight of climbing and rappelling rope is between 55-65 grams/meter. This means that a 100-meter rope could be 5500 – 6500 grams, which is 12.12 – 14.33 lbs compared to 3.6 – 4.2 lbs for a 30-meter rope.
In addition to the weight of your rope, you must also consider the weight of everything else in your pack as to not overweight yourself or make the rappelling experience too exhausting with how much you have to carry.