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BlueWater Ropes Lightning Pro Review

A reasonably priced rope that didn't hold up well during our testing
BlueWater Ropes Lightning Pro
Photo: Blue Water Ropes
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Price:  $222 List | $221.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Affordable, handles well, lightweight for the diameter
Cons:  Sheath damaged easily, catches felt hard for the rating
Manufacturer:   BlueWater Ropes
By Cam McKenzie Ring ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 11, 2017
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56
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Handling - 35% 8
  • Durability - 25% 3
  • Weight - 20% 5
  • Catch - 20% 5

Our Verdict

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

New Colors Available

The pink striped version that we tested is no longer available, but you can find a solid pink version as well as the fluorescent green shown in the photo above.

November 2018

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.

Performance Comparison


We liked the handling and lighter weight of the Lightning Pro, but...
We liked the handling and lighter weight of the Lightning Pro, but weren't that impressed with its durability and catch.
Photo: Cam McKenzie Ring

Handling


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.

Catch


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.

We took some hard falls on this rope, particularly when working a...
We took some hard falls on this rope, particularly when working a sport route. It is stretchy though, which mean you should be careful at the start of a climb.
Photo: Cam McKenzie Ring

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.

Weight


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.

Durability


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.

This rope had significant sheath wear after only 60 pitches, along...
This rope had significant sheath wear after only 60 pitches, along with some "glazing."
Photo: Cam McKenzie Ring

The sharp limestone in Ten Sleep, WY, did a lot of damage to this...
The sharp limestone in Ten Sleep, WY, did a lot of damage to this rope's sheath.
Photo: Cam McKenzie Ring

Value


For a dry treated 60 m length, this rope is about average in price. It is less expensive than some other ropes in this review. Our Best Buy winner, the Beal Booster III, is a little less expensive, and held up much better in our tests.

Conclusion


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