The BlueWater Ropes Lightning Pro 9.7 mm is a lightweight for-the-diameter rope that handles well and is easy to clip. While we liked belaying and clipping with this rope, we had some durability concerns, as it was showing the most sheath wear by the end of testing. We also weren't so happy when we took some falls on it. While the on-paper ratings for this rope look like it would provide a soft-catch, we took what felt like the hardest falls on this one. On the flip side, it did feel stretchy when top roping, so it's possible that it just didn't have the same ability to re-stretch after a fall after some of the other ropes in this review. For a rope that gives a soft catch but is not too stretchy as a top rope, check out our Editors' Choice winner, the Mammut Infinity
BlueWater Ropes Lightning Pro Review
Cons: Sheath damaged easily, catches felt hard for the rating.
Manufacturer: BlueWater Ropes
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The BlueWater Ropes Lightning Pro is a 9.7 mm rope that weighs 61 g/m. It has a maximum impact force rating of 7.8 kN, with 8.9% static elongation. This rope is available in both a double dry and standard option.
We really like the way this rope handles. It feels soft and supple out of the bag, and it didn't lose that suppleness even after ten days out and over 60 pitches on it. Some ropes change with wear (start soft and stiffen up, or vice versa), but this rope stayed consistent. Clips are quick and efficient, and it is easy to pass into an ATC or another belay device. We did seem to have an excessive amount of kinking though. While all ropes might kink up due to bad anchor placements, this one seems to do it a bit more than others, so we dropped its handling score down slightly.
We had mixed reports on the catch of this rope. Going solely by the numbers, it should have been one of the best catches around, but instead, we felt jarred by how hard they were. Just to note here that there are many factors going on in the forces created and felt during a fall, and we weren't conducting drop tests off a tower with a dynamometer. However, some things were consistent, including the climber and belayer, and the same typical amount of slack out. With most of the ropes, all of the catches felt "soft" due to good belaying technique. But this one felt anything but soft, and both the climber and belayer felt the jarring effects of falls on this rope. The dynamic elongation is 32.2%, which was around the middle of the pack in our test group and should have resulted in a fairly soft catch. The only thing we can think of is that it doesn't have a good "rebound" rate. Think of an elastic being stretched and not going back to its original shape afterward. Then successive falls will feel harder and harder. Black Diamond has done some interesting testing in this area, but all with one rope. It would be interesting to see that testing done with a variety of ropes from different manufacturers to see if some "rebound" faster than others.
It did feel a little stretchy when top roping though, and if we said "take" with no slack out we'd still sink a bit with this rope.
This rope weighs 61 g/m, which is the same as the 9.5 Maxim Pinnacle, making it lightweight for a 9.7 mm. It's not the lightest rope we tested though, so if you are looking to shave some ounces, check out the Mammut Infinity or Petzl Arial, which weigh 58 g/m. If you're looking to go even lighter, and are an expert climber and belayer, there's always the Sterling Fusion Nano IX or Beal Joker.
We also weren't impressed with the durability of this rope. We tried to use them all in similar conditions and terrain so that we could more or less accurately compare the wear on them after a certain number of pitches. Note that we're comparing sheath damage, which is the way that most ropes get worn out. This rope showed the most wear on the sheath after 60 pitches compared to the other ropes in this review, including one six inch section with significant fraying and lots of little fuzzies and wear throughout. Compared to the Mammut Infinity and Maxim Pinnacle, which look brand new with even more pitches than this on them, this was disappointing.
The BlueWater Ropes Lightning Pro handles well and if you're very particular about the "hand feel" of a rope you're sure to like this one. If you regularly climb in an area with sharp rock though, this might not be the best option.
This rope retails for $183 in the dry treated 60 m length (only $168 for a standard version), which makes it considerably less expensive than many of the other ropes in this review. Our Best Buy winner, the Beal Booster III, is a little more expensive than this line ($210), but held up much better in our tests.
The BlueWater Ropes Lightning Pro has some good things going for it, including great handling and a not-too-heavy g/m weight. However, the poor falls we took on the line and the excessive sheath fuzz dropped it down in our estimation.
— Cam McKenzie Ring