How LONG and THICK should a Climbing Rope be?

Climbinbg rope length diameter

When it comes to the perfect length of your climbing rope, you have basically 3 options.

Standard Climbing Rope60 m197
Long Climbing Rope70-80 m230-262
Gym Climbing Rope30-40 m98-131

Climbing rope length – In Short

  • The standard Climbing Rope Length for Outdoor Rock Climbing is 60 m.
  • For crags with long Routes (35-40 m), you will need longer ropes (70-80 m).
  • For Gym Climbing, a 30-40 m rope is sufficient.
  • A suitable rope diameter for all-around sport climbing is between 9.5-10 mm.
  • My recommendation for beginners is a 60 m rope with a diameter of 10 mm.

How long should a climbing rope be?

For climbing outdoor, the standard length of a climbing rope is 60 m. A 60 m rope is suitable for any climbing route up to 30 m in length and should meet your needs most of the time. Some pitches might be 35-40 m long in certain areas and require a 70- 80 m rope. 

Keep in mind that your rope needs to be double the length of the route or pitch you want to climb. 

  • If you climb up a 30 m route, you will use half the rope to lower down again – therefore, you need a 60 m rope. 
  • If the pitch would be 33 m long, your rope needs to be a minimum of 66 m.   
Climbing rope length
Up & Down -long enough?

It is helpful to know where you want to climb and how long the routes in this certain area are. Usually, you can find this information after a quick google search or in the corresponding guidebook for the specific crag. 

Avoid lowering accidents

Those accidents happen because the rope is too short for the route. When lowering down the rope slips through the belay device and the climber falls unprotected. 

  • ALWAYS tie a knot at the tail end of the climbing rope. 
  • Never climb with a shorter rope than a 60 m (Outdoors), except you know exactly how long all the routes at the crag are. 
Knot climbing rope length
Knot at the end of the rope!! @Petzl

Advantages 60 m climbing ropes

  • A suitable length for most of the climbing routes around the world.
  • Every meter counts – Shorter ropes are cheaper.
  • Less weight to carry around. 
  • Smaller pack size.  
climbing rope length diameter
60 m is standard.

Advantages 70 – 80 m climbing ropes

  • Access to longer climbing routes.
  • You can cut the rope and still have 60 m left.
    In general, it’s the ends of the rope that wear down first –  if you cut a 70 m rope – let’s say 5 m on both ends – you will be left with a perfectly fine 60 m rope. Therefore a longer rope usually comes with a longer lifespan  
Cutting a 70 m rope

Best Climbing rope length for beginner

For most of you, a 60 m rope will be the best option.
The only exception would be: if your “home-crags” do have several longer routes. 

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How long should a Gym Climbing Rope be?

A standard rope for indoor climbing has a length of 30 – 40 m. Because indoor routes tend to be shorter than outdoor routes, no full-length rope is required. Gym ropes are usually shorter and therefore lighter and cheaper than ropes for outdoor use. 

Indoor – Climbing Rope Length: 30-40 m (98-131 feet)

gym climbing rope
Gym climbing

Advantages of a dedicated gym rope

  • Small and light
    Due to the shorter length, the rope will be lighter and smaller to pack. If you use the car to your gym, this might not matter much, but size does matter if you go by bike. 
  • Affordable
    – Shorter also means cheaper. 
    – A dry treatment does make sense for outdoor ropes – for gym ropes, there is no expensive dry treatment necessary. 
  • Spare your outdoor rope
    If your outdoor rope has dry treatment, it would be a shame to wear it down in the gym. In the long run, you save money if you invest in a dedicated gym climbing rope. 
  • Durable
    Climbing ropes can be a little thicker in diameter, which makes them more durable and longer-lasting.

Why a gym rope can be thick and durable
1. Because gyms are usually relatively accessible and (unlike some crags), no long hikes are necessary to get there.
2. There is almost no rope drag. Routes in the gym are usually perfectly straight and not as long as outdoor routes. 

Climbing rope test
Abrasion Test Machine @Edelrid

A good climbing harness is:

  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Durable

We tested 14 climbing harnesses – take a look at the 6 Best Climbing Harnesses.

Best Rock Climbing Harness
Climbing Harness – Top 6

Climbing rope Diameter

How thick should a climbing rope be?

The best diameter for all-around single climbing ropes is between 9.5 and 10 mm. Thicker ropes are more abrasion-resistant and produce more friction, making them easier to handle for beginners. Thinner ropes (diameter 9 mm) are lightweight, create less rope drag, and are better suited for advanced climbers. 

Diameter climbing rope
Different diameters
Allround9.5 – 10 mm
Beginneraround 10 mm
Performance 9.2 – 9.5 mm
Top Rope10 – 10.5 mm
Gymaround 10 mm

Thicker climbing ropes (9.8 – 10.5 mm)


  • Ropes with a thicker diameter produce more friction.
    This can be a good thing – especially for beginners. The extra friction makes them run slower through the belay device and provides a little extra security. In general, they are easier to handle for beginners. 
  • A thicker rope will simply last longer.
    Thicker ropes are also a little bit safer around sharp edges and are more abrasion-resistant than thin ropes.
  • Good for Top rope and gym climbing.


  • Weight
    Heavy ropes have a disadvantage, both in the rope bag on the hike to the crag and moving up the wall. Of course, the climber hast to pull up every extra weight. 
  • Rope drag
    A thicker rope produces more rope drag between protection – Especially if the protection points are not aligned straight.   

Many climbers start out with a thicker rope, and as they improve their climbing and belaying skills, go on to buy thinner ropes. 

Thinner ropes (9 – 9.5 mm)


  • Lightweight
    Easier to carry around and also easier to move up the wall. If you choose to get a longer rope (70-80 m), a thinner rope makes quite a difference in weight.  
  • Less rope drag more performance
    Thinner ropes produce less rope drag which makes them a good choice for the performance-oriented climber. 


  • Less durable
    Naturally, a thinner rope will be less durable. 
  • Can feel slippery
    Thin ropes do run faster through belay devices. It needs a good amount of practice to master save belaying with these ropes. This is also the main reason why I do not recommend thin ropes for beginners. 

For sport climbing (lead climbing), I personally would not go under 9.4 mm. This rope will be lightweight while still durable and comfortable friction. 

Best climbing rope for beginner

What should my first climbing rope be?
The best climbing rope for a beginner is a single rope with a length of 60 m and a diameter of 10 mm. Additional dry treatment is optional – it will make your rope last longer and cost around $ 50 extra.  

Top 4 Indoor Climbing Ropes

For the Gym Climbing Rope Review, we tested the most popular indoor climbing ropes. Take a look at the 4 best ropes. 

Best gym climbing rope
Top 4 Gym Ropes

Different types of climbing ropes

Climbing Rope Types

Single rope
The Diameter of single ropes varies from 9 – 10.5 mm.
You can use a single rope on its own – you need only one single rope to climb.
It is commonly used for sport climbing, lead climbing, top-rope climbing, and trad climbing. 

Single Rope

Half rope
The diameter of half ropes varies from 7.1 – 9 mm.
Half ropes (or double rope) are designed to be used in a pair. They are commonly used for advanced climbing like multi-pitch climbing, trad climbing, and alpine climbing.
Half ropes reduce rope drag, allow for a longer rappel and provide a safety backup in case one rope gets damaged. 

Climbing Half rope
Half Rope

Twin rope
Diameter: around 7 mm
Suitable only for experts and extreme climbing adventures. Twin ropes are even thinner and lighter than half ropes and may only be used in double-strand. They are used for intense rock, mixed, or ice climbing

Twin rope climbing
Twin Rope

How long will a climbing rope last?

On average, a climbing rope with regular use lasts about 3-5 years.
If the climbing rope is never in use, it has a shelf life (with optimal storage) of 10 years. Depending on the frequency and intensity of use, the lifespan may be reduced to 1 year or less. 

Please inspect your climbing rope regularly for possible damages. 

Frequency of useApproximate Lifespan 
Dailyless than a year
Frequently – several times a weekapprox. 1-2 years
Regularly – several times a monthapprox. 3 years
Occasionally – once a monthapprox. 5 years
Rarely – once a yearapprox. 7 years
Never10 years

Climbing rope Dry Treatment – is it worth it?

  • If your climbing rope is exposed to dirt and moisture, a special treatment is useful. This will significantly extend the life of your rope.
  • If you are mostly climbing in the gym though, I would save some money and go without dry treatment. 

There are 3 levels of refinement to climbing ropes. 

  • Normal: No dry treatment. 
    Ideal for the gym as neither dirt nor sharp edges are a factor. 
  • Protect: Dry treatment – sheath. 
    If the rope frequently runs over sharp edges, the life of the rope is considerably reduced. An impregnated sheath helps against dirt and moisture and increases the abrasion resistance many times over. Ideal for outdoor climbing.
  • Dry: Dry treatment – sheath and core.
    Ideal for alpine terrain – a must for ice climbing. The rope stays dry and does not freeze so quickly, even in extreme conditions. 

What does the dry treatment do? 

Advantage: it protects against water and dirt, increasing the lifespan of the rope. 
More abrasion resistant: the signs of wear due to abrasion are less with a “Dry” climbing rope, making the rope much more durable. 
Disadvantage: Price – the dry treatment costs around $ 50 extra. 

climbing rope dry treatment
Dry treatment – climbing ropes

How much does a climbing rope weigh?

A 60 m climbing rope (single rope) with a diameter of 9.5 mm weighs approx. 3.7 kg. 
A 70 m climbing rope (single rope) with a diameter of 9.5 mm weighs approx. 4.3 kg.
A 60 m half rope with a diameter of 8.5 mm weighs approx. 2.9 kg.

The exact weight depends on the length, diameter, and construction of the respective climbing rope. 

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How many falls can a climbing rope take?

Each UIAA approved climbing rope must withstand at least 5 standardized falls (fall rating of 5).
Each rope has a particular “fall rating”; this indicates how robust the rope is constructed. The higher the number, the more robust and durable the rope – usually also thicker.

However, the number of the fall rating has nothing to do with how often you can actually fall into your climbing rope. The UIAA certification tests are extremely severe and not representative of the real world. The test routinely produces forces on the rope well above what can be expected in the real world.

You can fall into the climbing rope much more often than 5 times, and you don’t have to replace your rope after 5 falls.

If you avoid sharp edges and other objective hazards – your rope may hold dozens if not hundreds of falls in its lifetime.

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