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The climbing gym can be the perfect place to start rock climbing, to train during the winter, or for any day you don’t have the opportunity to climb outside. 

For many people, bouldering is how they get into climbing, but most go on to try climbing with ropes to expand their climbing experience.

In addition to the shoes and chalk you need for bouldering, you’re also going to need a harness, quickdraws, and further down the line, even your own climbing rope! 

But buying a climbing rope is no easy decision, with hundreds of different models and dozens of brands out there selling ropes online or in stores. 

But don’t worry, this article will help you choose the perfect gym climbing rope for you, no matter what your budget and climbing experience is!

7 Best Gym Rock Climbing Ropes

Now let’s do a quick introduction to the different features of gym climbing ropes we’ll be looking at in this article. 

  • Length: pretty self-explanatory; how long the rope is from one end to the other. This influences what routes you will be able to climb with the rope, as well as the rope’s price and weight.
  • Diameter: how thick your rope is. This influences handling, rope drag, and belaying.
  • Sheath percentage: the rope is, broadly speaking, made up of 2 parts: the core of the rope in the center, surrounded by the sheath. Depending on how much sheath there is, the rope can be more durable, heavier, and more resistant to abrasions, or less so.
  • Treatment: either the core or the sheath or both can have a special kind of treatment added by the manufacturers. These can be to protect the rope from dirt, water, or abrasions on the rock. In general, the more treatments a rope has, the more expensive it gets.
  • Static or Dynamic ropes: dynamic ropes are the ones used for sport and trad climbing as they have some elasticity within the rope to soften your fall, while static ropes are used for hauling, rappelling, or during filming, for example.

We’ll get into more detail about those different characteristics below, but first, here are the 7 best gym climbing ropes of 2022. 

Best Overall Gym Rope

The best overall gym climbing rope in our opinion is the Edelrid Boa Gym 9.8.

The rope is 40 meters long with a 41% sheath percentage, giving it some extra resistance to abrasion and more durability. There is also a 20, 30, or 50 m version of this rope available. 

The sheath is also treated with a special “Thermo Shield” treatment and is made of polyester, giving it even more durability and abrasion resistance while being smooth and easy to handle. 

This treatment makes the outside of the rope more resistant to heat, which is very useful for a rope that gets a lot of use top-roping at the gym and is constantly running through a belay device. The polyester also makes it fray less but is not a good material for outdoor environments

But as a plus, the rope does not need to be uncoiled and is ready to use right away, and it also features a handy middle mark, making it ideal for top-roping or lead climbing at the gym. 

Best Top-Roping Gym Rope

For top-roping, you need a durable rope with a high sheath percentage, and preferably a thicker diameter. 

This is why we chose the Beal Wall Master 10.5 as our top choice for top-roping at the climbing gym.

This is a thick and solid rope that is quite heavy but very resistant to abrasions. As we mentioned above, weight is not a big issue for gym climbing ropes, which is why we like the Wall Master 10.5 for top-roping. 

Now, it has no special dry treatment and no middle mark, making it a very basic rope, but it offers you all you need for a great top roping experience at the gym. With a sheath percentage of 47%, you will definitely get a lot of life out of this piece of gear

With its diameter of 10.5 mm, however, it can be too thick for certain belay devices, so check the small print of your belay device first before you invest in this rope. 

Best Cheap (Budget) Option

For climbers on a budget, we recommend the Petzl Mambo Wall 10.1 rope for indoor climbing. 

This Petzl rope features a grippy surface, which makes it easy to handle, and thanks to its 10.1 mm diameter, it is also quite durable. 

But it has a relatively low sheath percentage of 37% in comparison to the other ropes on this list, so it is a bit less durable but more lightweight and a bit cheaper

So this is a good option for occasional climbers who want to have their own gear but don’t want to break the bank!

Best Lead Climbing Gym Rope

If you are a more advanced climber looking for a gym rope that also works well for leading, we recommend the Mammut Gym Classic 9.5.

This is a more performance-oriented rope with a sheath percentage of 40% to reduce weight. With its diameter of 9.5 mm, it is also thinner than the ropes above, which causes it to pass through the belay devices faster and is great for an experienced belayer and climber on lead. 

Best Beginner Option

The Black Diamond 9.9 is our recommendation for beginners who are looking for a high-quality but affordable rope for the climbing gym.

The rope is ideal for top-roping in the gym, with its 9.9mm, and comes in 35 or 40 meters in length for the gym, and also in 60 or 70 m if you want to use it outdoors. 

It’s a durable and high-quality rope that is not too stretchy, which makes it great for top-roping. It’s also on the heavier side and does not have any additional dry treatment, but that isn’t an issue for indoor climbing. 

Make sure to uncoil the rope correctly before using it for the first time, as (like most ropes) it comes in the factory drum coil. Flaking it out a few times before using it for the first time will also help you to get rid of any kinks and make for smoother handling.

Best Option for Indoor and Outdoor

If you want to get a rope that works for both indoor and outdoor climbing, we recommend the Sterling Evolution VR9. 

It’s available in either 40 m, 60 m, or 70 m, and with a diameter of 9.8 mm, it’s a good in-between solution between thicker gym ropes and thin performance outdoor ropes. 

Thanks to its thinner diameter, it’s also lighter, and with the dry treatment on the core, it’s more resistant to water and dirt and more durable too. 

Note that only the 60 or 70 m rope has a middle marker, while the 40 m version does not! 

The sheath percentage is low with only 35% to make it more lightweight, but it is still durable, and in combination with a stretchy core, this rope is a perfect all-rounder for many different styles of climbing. 

Best Workhorse Rope

If you need a durable and robust rope that can take a beating at the climbing gym on a regular basis while you work on your project, the Mammut Crag Classic 10.2 mm is the best choice for you.

With 60 m, it is “too long” for a pure gym climbing rope, but this also means that you can cut off the ends of the rope several times before it gets too short, and that way, you’ll get more life out of the rope!

It is 10.2 mm thick and has a sheath percentage of 42%, which makes it resistant to abrasions and durable for any style of climbing. 

Rope Length Needed For Indoor Climbing

climbing gym

Gym climbing ropes are usually between 30 to 40 m long, while standard “outdoor” ropes are 60 to 80 m long. 

But Why Are Gym Climbing Ropes Shorter?

Good question.

Gym climbing routes are just usually much shorter than your average outdoor climbing crag route. The quickdraws are also (usually) bolted in a pretty straight line, so there is less rope drag and you’ll need less rope to get to the top. 

The Advantages of a Shorter Rope

We now know short ropes are commonly used in climbing gyms, but they also have several advantages over the longer, outdoor climbing ropes:

  • easier to handle
  • weigh less
  • usually cheaper

Now because gym routes are often 15 to 20 meters, a 40 meter rope may be long enough but keep in mind to check in with your gym for what the average length of their routes is! Here you also have to consider that even if the climbing wall is 15 meters high but has an overhang, this elongates the length of the climbing route. 

Your rope always has to be at least double the length of the route you are climbing, plus about 5 to 10 meters for extra safety. 

Something to note!

When you are lowering your partner after a climb, always make sure to make a stopper knot at the end of the rope. This way, you can stop the rope from slipping through the belay device and prevent your partner from falling to the ground in case you miscalculated and the rope is too short! 


climbing gym


What Diameter for Gym Climbing Ropes?

The diameter of the climbing rope means its thickness, and there are several factors that are influenced by the diameter of the rope. 

A normal sport climbing rope is usually between 9.5 to 10 mm thick. For beginners, a bigger diameter is recommended because of the rope handling and belaying. 

Rope Handling and Belaying

A thinner rope with a diameter between 9 to 9.5mm is smoother and passes faster through your belaying device. If you are an experienced climber and belayer, this is a good thing. 

But here’s the thing: if you’re just starting out and finding your way around all the different knots and belaying techniques, a thicker rope of around 10mm might be better as it creates more friction in the belaying device, giving you some extra help when lowering your partner and when catching your partner’s fall. 

There is also rope drag in climbing, which happens when the quickdraws don’t run in a straight-ish line and the rope goes zig-zagging from one side to the other. 

Here, a thicker rope will create more rope drag, making it harder to clip and demanding more skill from the belayer when leading. But in gym climbing, this is not really a relevant factor because most gym routes run almost straight up the wall, which makes rope drag minimal.

Abrasion Resistance and Durability

The thicker your rope, the more durable and resistant it is to abrasion on the rock, holds, or quickdraws while climbing. So, that leaves you with a rope that lasts you longer! 

However, the negative aspect of a thicker rope is its extra weight! But this is not a big issue for a gym climbing rope as your approach to the gym is probably quite short. 


To reduce abrasion on your rope, whenever possible, rappel after climbing instead of your belayer lowering you down, especially when you are climbing a route that creates a lot of friction for the rope on the way down. 

To be able to do this, you need to know how to use an ATC or other rappelling device to safely get yourself to the ground.

The Differences Between Outdoor and Indoor Climbing Ropes

Here’s a quick overview of the main differences between these 2 types of ropes: 

Indoor Gym Climbing Rope Outdoor Climbing Rope
Average length 40 – 50 m 60 – 80 m
Durability vs weight Durability is more important Weight and durability are equally important
Sheath Percentage High (40% or more) Lower to reduce weight
Diameter 9.5 – 10 mm for more durability Can range from 9 to 10 mm
Dry (or other) treatment Usually no dry treatment Often dry-treated

So what exactly is a gym climbing rope? A gym climbing rope is typically:

  • cheaper
  • shorter
  • more durable
  • heavier

When compared to an outdoor climbing rope. 

rope view on rocks

Now, these differences are due to the fact that a rope for outdoor climbing needs to be lighter and easier to carry on a long approach, as well as durable.

Rope drag is an issue when climbing outside, especially on trad routes, so outdoor ropes need to be resistant but also lightweight. This is why they often feature a special kind of treatment, have less sheath percentage, and are more expensive than indoor ropes. 

In fact, indoor ropes have a 5–10% higher sheath percentage than outdoor ropes to make them more durable, and as a result, heavier, but the weight does not matter for an indoor gym rope. 

Outdoor ropes often also have an expensive extra dry treatment, which keeps the rope from absorbing water and protecting it from dirt and dust. This treatment can either be applied to the sheath, core, or both, of the rope. 

Outdoor climbing ropes also need to be longer because outdoor trad or sports routes are usually longer than gym climbing routes. 

Can You Also Use Gym Climbing Ropes for Outdoor Climbing?

rock climber

The short answer is yes, but there are some caveats. 

Because gym climbing ropes are generally shorter than outdoor ropes, make sure your rope is long enough for the route you are planning to climb! 

As we described above, the rope needs to be more than double the length of your climb so you can safely descend again after the climb. If you’re planning on trad climbing or climbing a route where the quickdraws are far apart horizontally, add some extra meters to compensate for that. 

Now, there’s also a difference in how you care for the rope. As most gym-specific climbing ropes don’t have any extra treatment to protect them from water and dirt, make sure to use a rope tarp, be careful not to step on it, and keep it out of the rain while climbing outside.

However, there are some forms of climbing where you will need a more specific and robust rope than your average gym climbing rope. This includes ice or alpine climbing, climbing on multi-pitches, and climbing in very exposed terrain or extreme climate. This is where you will need to use twin or half ropes to have added security while climbing, which requires more advanced techniques and gear in general.

Why Have a Gym Rope?

There are a lot of advantages to having a dedicated gym rope, and in the long run, it might even be cheaper to invest in 2 different ropes! But let’s explain from the top. 

Gym ropes get used a lot, but often they last longer because they are used indoors in a dry and warm environment, where there is less rope drag, friction, and no dirt that will come in between the fibers of the rope and cause damage from within. 

Because outdoor ropes tend to be thinner and lighter, they tend to not last as long at the gym as a more solid and robust rope, so a special gym rope will prevent you from having to use the expensive outdoor rope in the gym.

Fact is, gym ropes are often shorter and cheaper, so they can be a smaller investment you could make when you’re just starting out or just want a dedicated rope for training at the gym. This way, you also won’t use your “good, expensive outdoor rope” for gym training, making it last longer when you do go climb outside!

Gym ropes are usually a maximum of 50 meters long, which makes them easier to carry and handle as you won’t have 40 meters of unused rope lying on the ground of the climbing gym by a 15 meter top rope route! 

More Reading On Ropes

This is just the tip of the iceberg. For more on climbing ropes make sure to check out the following articles:

Different Types Of Climbing Ropes

There are a lot of different types of climbing ropes out there. Twin ropes, double ropes, dry, non-dry… the list goes on. Don’t worry we got you covered.

How To Store a Climbing Rope

Your rope literally is what keeps you from falling to your death. It sounds serious, but it’s true. Shouldn’t you learn how to store a climbing rope property? Proper rope care can add years of life to the rope, and more importantly, keep you safe fall after fall!

Best Rope Bags For Climbing Ropes

As with storing your rope, having a rock climbing rope bag can also protect your rope from damage and keep it clean. If you plan on heading outside you’ll defiantly need to check this article out.

Published by Mirjam Boss

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