Beal Booster III Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Soft catches, low impact force rating, durable
Cons: A little too stretchy for top roping, stiff
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Beal Booster III 9.7 mm weighs 61 g/m. It has a low impact force rating (7.3 kN) and a high static and dynamic elongation (9.7% and 38 %). This rope is available in Classic, Dry, and the "Golden Dry" finishes (less than 1% water absorption), as well as with a "Unicore" weave, where the sheath and core are bonded together to prevent sheath slippage. We tested the Dry version for this review.
As we mentioned above, we weren't in love with the handling of this line when new. The chart below shows how it compared to the other ropes for handling.
It was very stiff out of the bag, and didn't feed smoothly through our hands when belaying. It did soften up quite a bit by the end of our testing period and clipping felt a lot smoother.
It isn't a particularly kinky rope — some of the lines that we tested seem to kink up if we even look at them the wrong way — though it is possible to put kinks in any line via lowering or top-roping. While it isn't our absolute favorite in the handling department, it still works well.
We like the catch on this line, and it received a high score for this category.
With a 38% dynamic elongation, we expected a soft catch from this rope, and we got it. It felt a little spongy when top roping but not nearly as bad as with a couple of the worst offenders in this department, despite having nearly the same elongation ratings. This just confirmed to us though that you have to take the numbers on the bag with a grain of salt. These ropes are tested in extremely controlled conditions that don't always translate to real-world experience.
Speaking of numbers, this rope does have the lowest impact force rating of any rope in the review, 7.3 kN. This rating comes from a very specific test, whereby an 80 Kg solid mass takes a 1.77 (factor) fall on a fixed point. The maximum force allowed is 12 kN, as this was determined to be the maximum amount of deceleration the human body can withstand. The reality is that a "real" fall with a human (instead of a mass) and a belayer (instead of a fixed point) will never result in those types of forces, but ropes are engineered with worst-case scenarios in mind, which we appreciate!
So, what can we take from this lower number? Assuming that ropes behave similarly in real-world scenarios as they do in drop tests, this rope might have a lower impact force in a real-world fall than a rope like the Maxim Pinnacle, who's max rating was 10.3 kN. This is something to consider if you're traditional climbing and want to minimize the impact on your gear.
This rope weighs 61 g/m, which is on the light side of the spectrum for a 9.7 mm rope. To put it into a "what am I carrying in my pack" perspective, this rope in a 60 m length should weigh about 8 pounds. This makes it slightly heavier than some of the 9.5 models in this review, but the 1/3 of a pound might hardly be noticeable in your pack or while you're climbing. Those looking for a lightweight option for alpine or multi-pitch routes should check out one of the many super-thin cords we have reviewed here, in the 8.9mm to 9.2mm diameter range, as they offer significant weight savings for longer routes.
This rope impressed us most of all with its durability, and it topped our ratings for this category.
After more than a dozen days on this rope and over 70 pitches, we're not seeing too many signs of wear. There's little to no fuzz on the sheath, and we didn't have any noticeable wear spots. The rope does look a little dirty though (the downside to a light-colored rope), and the middle marker is mostly faded and easily mistaken for a dirty section.
This rope has a 42% sheath proportion, and typically, a rope gets retired from too much sheath damage, so, the more sheath, the better. However, this is not the only indication of durability, as some other ropes seemed fine with only 36% sheath proportion. Ultimately, if you know you are hard on your ropes, you can use this number to try and help you decide which one to get, but don't assume that a lower percentage of sheath will automatically be less durable, or vice versa.
This rope retails for a pretty darn low price in the 60 m Dry version (prices vary higher for the Golden Dry treatment and also for 70 m lengths, and lower for the Classic version). Considering that it handles almost as well as far more pricey ropes, we think this line is a great value. Also, it held up well during our testing and promises to be a durable and long-lasting line, increasing its value even more. For these reasons, it is our Best Buy winner.
While we weren't a huge fan of the Booster circa 1995, we do like current version. The Beal Booster III is a solid line that performs well in a variety of climbing styles and environments, except for excessive top-roping. It's durable and not too expensive, and was an easy pick for our Best Buy Award.
— Cam McKenzie Ring