Determining the best climbing rope for your needs often comes down to where you’re climbing and what type of climbing you’re doing. Many climbers can get away with one or two ropes, while other climbers may gain more ropes over time as they climb in different areas and different styles.

Below, we talk about some different styles of climbing, and give some general outlines of why climbers in the US would prefer a certain type of rope. To find the best rope for your needs we’ll discuss rope diameter, rope length, and other features like dry treatment and middle marks.

Indoor Gym Climbing

A typical indoor oriented climbing rope would be a single rope, 35-40m long, about 9.9mm in diameter with no dry treatment or middle mark. 

Type: Single

Length: Typically 35-40 meters, depending on the height of your gym walls (and other gyms where you might visit). If you’d like to use this rope for outdoor climbing, we suggest a 60 meter rope so it is plenty of rope for outdoor use as well.

Diameter: Since weight is a low concern indoors (since you’re not carrying it far and the walls are shorter), a diameter between 9.7mm and 10mm will be nice. Choose 9.9mm or 10mm if this is your first rope as it will feel more similar in handling to normal gym top ropes that are often 10mm or 10.2mm. Choose 9.8mm or 9.7mm if you would like the rope to feel “faster” when you pay out slack.

Dry Treatment: There is no need to pay extra money for dry treatment for an indoor only rope.

Middle Mark: Unnecessary for indoor climbing as you will not be setting up rappel anchors indoors. Your rope may or may not come with a black middle mark, which is fine. If you want to take this rope outdoors, you’ll absolutely want a middle mark, which can add yourself. You definitely do not need to pay extra money for bicolor or bipattern middle marks, unless you want to use this rope outdoors (in which case a simple black middle mark will work well too).

Click here to check out every rope with these requirements pre-filtered on or here’s a short list of some example options:

Outdoor Sport Climbing

A typical outdoor oriented climbing rope would be a single rope, 60m long, 9.8mm in diameter with no dry treatment and definitely with a middle mark. 

Type: Single

Length: The most standard rope length is 60 meters. Some areas, like Ten Sleep, WY, have a number of routes that require a 70m rope. This is absolutely area dependent. Check your guide book and other resources like Mountain Project.

Diameter: Similar to indoor climbing, a first rope is usually in 9.7-9.9mm area.

Dry Treatment: Dry treatments aren’t a ‘need-to-have’ but they can be nice. Dry treatments help keep your rope cleaner longer, as it repels water and dirt. FWIW, using a rope tarp is absolutely the best way to help your rope last a long time. If you’re looking to save money, a non-dry rope will usually be cheaper.

Middle Mark: You definitely want a middle mark to know your rope will be long enough to lower a climber back down a climb or to make sure you’re rappelling from the center of your rope. It could be a simple black mark or a much more expensive bipattern or bicolor woven rope. You can also add a black mark yourself if your rope does not have one (we list options in our Middle Mark post).

Click here to check out every rope with these requirements pre-filtered on and add filters for middle marking or dry treatments. Or if you’re looking for some quick recommendations, here’s a short list of some example options:

Outdoor Trad Climbing

A typical trad climbing rope would be a single rope, 60 or 70m long, 9.6mm in diameter, maybe with dry treatment and definitely with a middle mark.

Type: Single

Length: Similar to single pitch sport climbing, the standard length here is 60m, with caveats for certain areas like Indian Creek where a 70m or even 80m can be required for super tall cracks and towers. Checking the guide book is an absolute must.

Diameter: Most climbers use the same rope for trad or sport outdoors, though a slightly thinner rope for trad climbs might be easier to clip into odd gear and run easier inside cracks. Something in the 9.5-9.7mm is common

Dry Treatment: Not always necessary, but nice to have. Trad climbing can often mean ropes running inside cracks where they are more likely to encounter dirt and grit. The best thing you can do for any rope outside is to use a tarp, but if you’re in desert areas with fine sand, dry treatment can help keep your rope cleaner longer.

Middle Mark: Middle marks are great for finding the middle of the rope during a rappel. If you trad climb in areas where there are no bolted anchors, you may not always know how far your anchoring point will be from the ground, so a middle mark is handy to know you’ve got the longest length possible when you wrap a tree or boulder to rap and clean the route. Always knot your rope ends!

Click here to check out every rope with these specs pre-filtered on or here’s a short list of some example options:

Multi-pitch Climbing / Alpine Climbing (trad or sport)

Most US climbers will use a single 60m rope with a mid-low 9.x mm diameter. Dry treatment is nice to have an a middle mark is essential for safe rappels.

Type: Single ropes are most common in the US, though climbers may prefer Twin or Half ropes for long meandering routes.

Length: 60m is still the most common, though 70m gives the option for linking more pitches to climb longer routes faster. When multi-pitch climbing, it’s extra important to read the guidebook and other accounts that detail the route, to make sure that your rope is sufficient to get you back down the mountain.

Diameter: 9.6mm – 9.4mm is common for a single rope. If you have this diameter and feel its comfortable (and not too fast), some climbers who seek out alpine climbs with a long approach and want to limit as much weight as possible will choose a small dimeter like 9.2mm – 8.9mm for a single rope. If you only have one rope and it is a 9.8mm rope, no problem. That’ll work fine here, it’ll just be a bit more weight to pack in. If you’re going for a 70m, a smaller diameter’s weight savings will add up even more significantly.

Dry Treatment: This is a nice to have, but not a need to have. Nice means that on long routes, where you won’t bring your rope tarp with you up the wall, you’ll be able to rely on the dry treatment to help keep your rope clean. It’ll also be nice if you happen upon a storm in the backcountry or run across some unmelted snow on the route. Dry treatments also add a bit of “slickness” which can help with meandering routes, more easily running over sharp areas, and it can add a nice slip when you pull your ropes after a rappel to help them not get caught. Just watch out for this slickness while belaying, as the rope will run through the device faster (and even more so the skinnier the rope).

Middle Mark: Absolutely want to have this for safe rappels. If your rope doesn’t have it, you’ll want to draw one in (see options).

Click here to check out the ropes with these specs pre-filtered on or here’s a short list of some example options:


To cross glaciers, many mountaineers will choose a thin rope that is 30 – 50 meters long. It should have dry treatment but it does not need a middle mark. 

Type: Most mountaineers use a multi-rated rope here. So a triple-rated single / twin / half rope or a double-rated twin / half rope. Some climbers will carry another twin / half for the option for long rappels. You can use a single rope that you already own, it’ll just be heavier.

Length: Length depends on how many partners you’ll most often be climbing with. Mountaineers usually choose to have 15-20 meters of rope between each person.

Diameter: Typically ropes here are in the 7.5mm – 8.5mm range. You’ll want to check that your belay device is rated to work with ropes this small.

Dry Treatment: Absolutely. This is worth the money.

Personal aside: Alison has used non-dry ropes for mountaineering (not by choice, it’s what the class provided), and those wet ropes got sooo heavy and wet and terrible to handle. It is an avoidable burden.

Middle Mark: It never hurts to have a middle mark, but most mountaineering doesn’t require one, unless your objective takes a lot of rappelling to get down and you’re only using one single rope.

Click here to see all the pre-filtered rope models matching these criteria. And here are a few example options:

Ice / Mixed Climbing

To ice climb, most climbers will choose a thin dual-rated twin/half rope that is 50-60m and definitely has dry treatment.

Type: Most ice climbers will prefer ropes that are double-rated as twin / half ropes. Climbing with two ropes adds a safety margin when the rope is surrounded by pointy ice tools and crampons.

Length: The most common lengths are 50m and 60m. It depends on the area where you’re climbing. Ice crags are typically less than 50m tall, and when you combine your ropes on rappel, you can get down safely.

Diameter: The diameter ranges widely here. Most ice ropes are between 7.5mm – 8.5mm, though some folks keep a thicker rope around for cragging at places with lots of top roping.

Dry Treatment: You absolutely want a fully dry treated rope for ice climbing. UIAA Dry certification ensures both the core and sheath are dry treated (WeighMyRack has a filter for both UIAA Certified Dry ropes and for ropes that have treated the sheath and core).

Middle Mark: Most half/twin ropes do not come with a middle mark.

Click here to see pre filtered ropes for these criteria or you can see a few options below:

Big Wall Climbing

Climbing Big Walls requires multiple ropes: one for leading and one for hauling. For leading, most aid climbers prefer a burly 60m or 70m at least 10.2mm up to 11mm. Dry treatment helps the rope slip over edges, and mid marks are handy but not necessary. Some climbers use dynamic lines for hauling and will double up on those beefy lines. Others use a Static rope to haul which should not be used to climb.

Type: Single rated ropes are the name of the game and the more robust the better. Big Wall climbing involves leading, falling, temporary hauling, pendulums, jugging, and anchoring all with the same rope. Most climbers will choose a rope with a high sheath proportion (a stat we capture on WeighMyRack!) to maximize durability. Ropes with a bonded sheath (like UNICORE) are highly recommended as they are still usable without the sheath slipping even with a core shot.

Length: 60m is common in most in areas like Yosemite or Zion as they allow for long 200ft pitches. Weight is usually less of an issue unless you have a long approach, so a 70m will give you options for even longer leads and hauls.

Diameter: As beefy as you are comfortable hiking in, especially if you are hauling with it. 10.5 is the standard (though some light/fast NIAD climbers like something closer to 9.9) but 11 and up aren’t uncommon. Again, test your belay device works with these beefy ropes.

Dry Treatment: Dry treatments on ropes not only help dirt and water ingress, they also make the surface of the rope a bit more slippery, which helps the rope move more easily over rock. This is especially nice when jugging or hauling over edges. Many multi-day trips also involve waiting out weather windows or dodging afternoon showers, so having a rope that doesn’t soak up water is a definite plus.

Middle Mark: Middle marks can be handy to tell that you’re only halfway to the end of your rope (so keep leading!). They otherwise can be useful if the route you’re climbing requires rappels, or if you’re needing to bail mid route.

Check out these example options or head to this link to see every rope on WeighMyRack filtered with these criteria.


The best rope depends on where you want it to excel, where you’ll be climbing, how much you’ll be climbing of a particular style, and your experience. In the guide above we give general standards that you can mix and match or use as a general starting point. Ropes are impossible to test out at most stores, so the best way to try out a particular rope is to try out your friends rope to see how you like its characteristics and handling.