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Skinny single Ropes

Mammut Serenity. Marketed as currently the thinnest single rope (actually it isn't; Edelrid Corbie is 8.6mm and weights exactly the same). Source: . Credit: Mammut .
Mammut Serenity. Marketed as currently the thinnest single rope (actually it isn't; Edelrid Corbie is 8.6mm and weights exactly the same). Source: Mammut. Credit: Mammut .

Modern single ropes are getting thinner and thinner. The thinnest single ropes at the market are under 9mm thin, with Mammut SerenityMammutSerenityhttp://static2.mammut.ch/medias/sys_master/8815865757726/8.7_Serenity_lime_green_bild2.eps_Zoom2.jpgOur thinnest and lightest single rope - with the 8.7 Serenity, Mammut is once again proving exactly what is possible in the area of high-end ropes. The 8.7 Serenity is the first choice for ambitious sports climbers when tackling the most difficult climbing routes at the absolute limit. With a high sheath proportion for such a thin rope, the 8.7 Serenity is the longest-lasting rope in its class. As well as meeting the standard for single ropes, the 8.7 Serenity also meets requirements for half and twin ropes, and is therefore suitable for mountaineers looking for a versatile and light rope. Thanks to the COATINGfinish™ treatment, the 8.7 Serenity of course guarantees top performance and outstanding, flexible handling. (8.7mm, 51g/m) being the thinnest as far as I know. These are without the doubt the ones to consider if you prefer to climb alpine or ice with single rope coupled with a separate tag line.

Mammut Serenity, as well as the thinnest singles from Edelrid (Edelrid SwiftEdelridSwifthttp://www.vaude.com/out/pictures/generated/product/1/1024_1319_75/71037_138.jpgOne rope – three certifications. With its 8.9 mm diameter, the Swift is one of the skinniest single ropes on the market. It is a single rope, double rope and twin rope all in one. 8.9mm, 52g/m), Tendon (Tendon Master 8.9TendonMaster 8.9http://cdn1.bigcommerce.com/server800/d4ec7/products/1314/images/3357/527_1__45819.1330746882.1280.1280.jpgAn exceptional rope with a diameter of 8.9 mm, a single, half and twin rope in one. With a low weight, 52 g/m and the Complete Shield finish this is a rope to allow you to push your climbing even further. The double impregnation increases life span and its resistance to moisture, abrasion and penetration of impurities into the rope. The fantastic handling properties of the rope and the minimum friction through running belays make this rope your ally on long sport routes and technical mountain terrain. 8.9mm, 52g/m), Petzl (Petzl VoltaPetzlVoltahttp://www.petzl.com/files/imagecache/product_outdoor_slideshow_zoom/node_media/volta-0_0.jpgMulti-standard, ultra-light 9.2 mm diameter rope for classic mountaineering and elite climbing performance. The VOLTA 9.2 single rope has the light weight necessary for elite users, offering maximum longevity and performance in any conditions, thanks to its Duratec Dry treatment. Certified for all uses: single, half and twin, for multiple uses and maximum versatility according to the terrain. 9.2mm, 55g/m) and Beal (Beal Joker UnicoreBealJoker Unicorehttp://www.bananafingers.co.uk/images/beal_joker.jpgAfter having been the first thin rope on the market to meet the requirements for all three standards for dynamic ropes, JOKER will from now on benefit from the latest UNICORE technology. The JOKER, at one and the same time a single, double, and twin rope, is now UNICORE and will delight the most experienced climbers and alpinists seeking lightness, easy running and security, and at the same time the traditionalistslooking for a multi-purpose rope for ridge climbs, or other classic, mixed or snow routes. 9.1mm, 52g/m) are also rated as half and twin ropes. These are without the doubt the ones to consider if you prefer to climb alpine or ice with single rope coupled with a separate tag line.

That being said I don't really see much value in triple rating, as such ropes are far too heavy for regular use as half ropes. Maybe occasionally for rock routes, if otherwise drag would be a problem. Using such a rope as twin a stupid idea. Light weight is really the only reason to use twins in the first place. Using such a thick ropes as twins would bring no benefit compared to use as single and would make the impact force far higher. Only scenario where such use of such rope system would make any sort on sense to me is if gear is bomb proof and risk of rope cut is very high.

Such skinny ropes obviously hold fewer falls than their beefier sister models. However that is not too important; if taking factor two falls is a routine to you I warmly recommend other activities as safer option. Which pretty much covers any other activity. More importantly, they are also not as durable against wear and tear. Depending on your belay device, it may be more difficult to hold a hard fall.

Slightly thicker breed of ropes between 9.2-9.5mm are somewhat heavier (generally around 53-58g/m) and promise to offer a bit more durability. Such ropes include the likes of Sterling Rope Fusion NanoSterling RopeFusion Nanohttp://www.sterlingrope.com/aimg/x3_d86691c20389d607db4903c030864afa.jpgThe Nano may be the most versatile rope in Sterling's line up. It's both the largest diameter half and skinniest single rope that we offer. Duel certified, the Nano is the top choice rope of many of our athletes for alpine climbs, extended expeditions and long routes where rope drag would be an issue. (9.2mm, 53g/m), Tendon Master 9.1TendonMaster 9.1http://www.bananafingers.co.uk/images/Tendon_Master_92.jpgThe Tendon Master range is top-dog in the Tendon collection. These extremely light ropes, which have a small diameter and low weight are intended for daily use on artificial climbing walls, for the toughest sports climbing and for extreme ascents in the mountains. (9.1mm, 56g/m) and Tendon Master 9.4TendonMaster 9.4http://www.klettern.de/sixcms/media.php/6/KL_Seil-Test_09-10_Tendon.jpgAn excellent single rope with low weight, great technical parameters and SBS construction of the sheat, which makes the rope not only more resistant to abrasion, but also soft and easy to manipulate. The best choice for both hard and sport climbing. (9.4mm, 58g/m).

Comparison of the numbers of the different diameter ropes in the same product family reveals some interesting points

  • Tendon Master 8.9TendonMaster 8.9http://cdn1.bigcommerce.com/server800/d4ec7/products/1314/images/3357/527_1__45819.1330746882.1280.1280.jpgAn exceptional rope with a diameter of 8.9 mm, a single, half and twin rope in one. With a low weight, 52 g/m and the Complete Shield finish this is a rope to allow you to push your climbing even further. The double impregnation increases life span and its resistance to moisture, abrasion and penetration of impurities into the rope. The fantastic handling properties of the rope and the minimum friction through running belays make this rope your ally on long sport routes and technical mountain terrain. 8.9mm, 52g/m, uiaa falls 5, 8.7kN, Static elongation (%) 6.9, Dynamic elongation (%) 33, Knotability 0.8)
  • Tendon Master 9.1TendonMaster 9.1http://www.bananafingers.co.uk/images/Tendon_Master_92.jpgThe Tendon Master range is top-dog in the Tendon collection. These extremely light ropes, which have a small diameter and low weight are intended for daily use on artificial climbing walls, for the toughest sports climbing and for extreme ascents in the mountains. (9.1mm, 56g/m, uiaa falls 5, 9kN, Static elongation (%) 6.4, Dynamic elongation (%) 29, Knotability 0.8)
  • Tendon Master 9.4TendonMaster 9.4http://www.klettern.de/sixcms/media.php/6/KL_Seil-Test_09-10_Tendon.jpgAn excellent single rope with low weight, great technical parameters and SBS construction of the sheat, which makes the rope not only more resistant to abrasion, but also soft and easy to manipulate. The best choice for both hard and sport climbing. (9.4mm, 58g/m, uiaa falls 7, 7kN, Static elongation (%) 6.2, Dynamic elongation (%) 37, Knotability 0.9)
  • Tendon Master 9.7TendonMaster 9.7http://www.bananafingers.co.uk/images/tendon_master.jpgA top-class single rope with low weight and our SBS sheath construction that combines both increased resistance to abrasion, and great handling qualities. If you care about maximum performance, you have just found the right rope. (9.7mm, 61g/m, uiaa falls 9, 7kN, Static elongation (%) 6.3, Dynamic elongation (%) 36, Knotability 0.9)

First off, 9.1mm version is obviously heavier than 8.9mm version. And by a greater margin than could be expected from the diameter difference. It also has higher impact force, no doubt due to lower elongation numbers. Both are rated to same number of falls. Based on numbers alone, I see no reason why anyone would go with 9.1mm version. 9.4mm and 9.7mm versions in turn are of course heavier, but perhaps not by as large a margin as I would imagine. Both of them have lower static elongation (which is to expected) but higher dynamic elongation resulting in significantly lower impact forces than their 8.9mm sibling. However, there's no difference between 9.4mm and 9.7mm versions. Therefore, numbers would suggest that between Tendon models, my choice would fall between 8.9 and 9.4 versions. Obviously numbers don't tell anything about how durable the ropes are or how comfortable they are to handle. BTW, Tendon Master 9.1mm and now discontinued 9.2mm (might still be available) are entirely different ropes, as the latter had very low impact force (6,8kN) and was not rated according to all three standards.

Next, comparing 8.9mm version to competing models reveals that Edelrid Swift has virtually the same impact force than Master 8.9mm while Beal Joker has significantly lower (7.9-8.2kN) while Petzl and Mammut fall in between. Basically my takeaway from this little number excercise is that in order to pass the tests, real skinny single ropes need to be made harder than their beefier siblings. Skinny versions are marketed primarily for sport climbing and based on the impact force, there appears to be a solid reason for that. Due to their higher impact forces they may not be the best options for trad climbing far above sketchy (read: hilariously shitty) gear.

Too bad that the brands using changing pattern in mid-rope (at least Mammut for ages and more recently Edelrid) don't seem to do so in their thinnest singles. Mammut RevelationMammutRevelationhttp://static2.mammut.ch/medias/sys_master/8815866675230/9.2_Revelation_Duodess_lemon_bild2.eps_Zoom2.jpgExtremely light, top class single rope for sport climbers in extremely tough situations. Thanks to its small diameter, and therefore low weight, the 9.2 Revelation offers outstanding handling for climbing and belaying. Thanks to the superDRY™ treatment, the 9.2 Revelation is resistant to dirt and water. This top level rope also meets the standards for single, half and twin ropes, making the 9.2 Revelation an all-round rope for alpine activities on rock, ice and snow. (9.2mm, 57g/m, 8.7kN) and Sterling Rope Fusion Ion2Sterling RopeFusion Ion2http://www.sterlingrope.com/dimg/dddc72ca6bdb8a9a22631fe40b2c81c5.jpgThe Ion2 is the largest diameter rope in the fusion range. It's unique design is manufactured by first twisting multiple colored fibers into a single sheath-strand and then braiding the sheath to create the speckled pattern. It's diameter is a great size for intermediate climbers looking to match a lightweight rope with performance while knowing that the diameter isn't TOO thin for a beginner belayer. (9.4mm, 57g/m, 8.1kN) are the only thin(nish) ropes available as such a version that I have come across to. Come to think of it, I would love for such versions of half ropes to be available. I often use just a single half rope in my home crag (tied to both ends of course) to avoid carrying two ropes as single 60m rope halved in this way is still plenty long. It would also make evaluating the amount of rope left much easier, which is a great help when climbing full pitches. To take it a bit further, my ideal rope would have changing pattern in mid-length and 10m before both ends. Obviously, no such ropes exist. Some have a black marker in mid-length, but it is nowhere near as good a solution as changing pattern, as they are not as easy to notice, particularly when the rope is well worn.

Klettern 4/2014 has tested skinny singles that are new or revamped for 2014. Edelrid Eagle LightEdelridEagle Lighthttp://www.vaude.com/out/pictures/generated/product/1/1024_1319_75/71213_053.jpgThe next generation of Edelrid's Eagle single rope. Its thinner diameter means that it's lighter, more compact and provides better handling. By using state-of-the-art yarns, Edelrid can reduce the diameter without compromising the technical standards., Mammut FinesseMammutFinessehttp://static2.mammut.ch/medias/sys_master/8815868772382.image/9.3_Finesse_blau_neongreen_bild2.eps_Zoom2.image.jpgThe 9.3 Finesse is an absolute high-end rope featuring the innovative Double Twist technology. An innovative and unique braiding process allows four parallel threads instead of the usual two to be used in the sheath construction. The result is an extremely fine rope surface and unparalleled flexibility in handling. The Double Twist technology also creates unique and striking rope designs. Of course a rope of this caliber is also equipped with the high-quality COATINGfinish™ treatment, to ensure lasting protection from dirt and water. Meets the standards of single, half and twin ropes., Cousin-Trestec Tepee III and Petzl ArialPetzlArialhttp://www.petzl.com/files/imagecache/product_outdoor_slideshow_image/node_media/arial-0_0.jpgWith a 9.5 mm diameter, the ARIAL 9.5 single rope is designed for experienced climbers, offering maximum longevity and performance in any conditions, thanks to its Duratec Dry treatment. receive recommendation. Unfortunately the test misses several of the models that I find interesting. Also Climb Magazine (May/2014) has tested some ropes. The article can be downloaded from their website for free from Archive section (requires registration though).

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