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Bluewater Xenon 9.2 Review

A decent but basic climbing rope that does little to stand out from competitors
bluewater xenon 9.2 climbing rope review
Credit: Jack Cramer
Price:  $240 List
Manufacturer:   BlueWater
By Jack Cramer ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 22, 2022
72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 14
  • Handling - 35% 7.0
  • Durability - 25% 7.0
  • Weight - 20% 7.0
  • Catch - 20% 8.0

Our Verdict

The Xenon is Bluewater's 9.2mm offering in their line of single ropes named after the noble gases. That's a nice diameter for a high-performance climbing rope but it's also skinny enough that you should expect to sacrifice some durability. In our tests, the Xenon offered superior handling and respectable weight savings compared to several thicker models. However, it failed to distinguish itself from other ropes near the same diameter in terms of performance. The Xenon is also priced the same or higher than some of its closest competitors. Because it doesn't offer any obvious advantages, we can't recommend this rope at full MSRP. However, it could become a decent value if you can find it on sale.
REASONS TO BUY
Nice balance of weight and durability
Reasonable price
Rated for single
Half
Or twin usage
REASONS TO AVOID
Average handling
Minimal sheath
Not a standout performer in any metric
Editor's Note: This review was updated on December 22nd, 2022, to include our latest testing results and thoughts on this rope's performance.

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bluewater xenon 9.2 climbing rope review
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Nice balance of weight and durability, reasonable price, rated for single, half, or twin usageDurable sheath, supple feel, soft catches, saves some weight over thicker workhorsesOutstanding handling and catch, great bargain, impressive durability, sheath is made from repurposed yarnTight weave with excellent handling, exceptional PFOA-free dry treatment, durableSoft catches, low impact force rating, durable
Cons Average handling, minimal sheath, not a standout performer in any metricMiddle marker wears out quickly, still heavier than thinner ropesSlightly heavy, not available with any dry treatments or as a bi-pattern, lighter color stains easilyOn the heavier side, expensive, only available with dry treatmentA little too stretchy for top roping, stiff
Bottom Line A decent but basic climbing rope that does little to stand out from competitorsThis rope is a winner due to its superior handling, durability, and excellent catchesAn environmentally friendly and high-performance rope at an affordable priceA workhorse rope that handles great and can survive lots of abuseNot the best handling but excellent overall performance
Rating Categories Bluewater Xenon 9.2 Mammut 9.5 Crag Cla... Mammut Crag We Care... Sterling Velocity X... Beal Booster III
Handling (35%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Durability (25%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
9.0
Weight (20%)
7.0
6.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
Catch (20%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
Specs Bluewater Xenon 9.2 Mammut 9.5 Crag Cla... Mammut Crag We Care... Sterling Velocity X... Beal Booster III
Diameter 9.2 mm 9.5 mm 9.5 mm 9.8 mm 9.7 mm
Weight 56 g/m 59 g/m 59 g/m 62 g/m 61 g/m
Lengths Available 60m, 70 m, 80m 60m, 70m, 80m 60m, 70m, 80m 40m, 50m, 60m, 70m 80m 60m, 70m
Dry Coating Option Standard, Double-Dry Classic, No Dry Treatment Classic, No Dry Treatment XEROS Dry Treatment (PFOA-free) Dry Cover
Middle Mark or Bi-Pattern Option Bi-pattern or Standard Middle mark Middle mark Bi-Pattern or Standard Middle mark
Certified Use Single, Half, Twin Single Single Single Single
UIAA Fall Rating Single 7, Half 22, Twin 44 6-7 6-7 6 8
Impact Force Single 8.1 kN, Half 6 kN, Twin 9.3 kN 8.8 kN 8.8 kN 8.6 kN 7.3 kN
Static Elongation % (in use) Single 4.8%, Half 4.8%, Twin 3.1% 8.8 8.8 8.8 9.7
Dynamic Elongation % (first fall) Single 34, Half 30.4, Twin 27.2 33.8 33.8 28.8 38
Sheath Proportion % 33 40 40 35 42
Calculated Weight of Sheath 18 g/m 24 g/m 24 g/m 22 g/m 26 g/m

Our Analysis and Test Results

Bluewater offers the Xenon 9.2 in 60m, 70m, and 80m lengths. Each length is available as standard or double-dry treated, and each length is also offered with a single or bi-pattern color configuration. For this review, we tested a 70m double-dry-treated model with the green/black single-pattern color.

Performance Comparison


bluewater xenon 9.2 climbing rope review - at 9.2mm the bluewater xenon is lighter and skinnier than an...
At 9.2mm the Bluewater Xenon is lighter and skinnier than an ordinary all-around climbing rope.
Credit: Jack Cramer

Handling


The sheath on the Bluewater Xenon 9.2 features the normal 2-over-2 weave that's common on most climbing ropes and preferred by most of our testers. This sheath felt slightly softer and looser than our favorite ropes. The overall rope, however, still felt supple while tying knots or belaying. The double-try treatment left this model a little slippery at first so be careful until it's properly broken in. After that, it offered slightly better handling than an average rope.

bluewater xenon 9.2 climbing rope review - our testers noticed the sheath on the bluewater xenon 9.2 felt a...
Our testers noticed the sheath on the Bluewater Xenon 9.2 felt a little looser and softer than their favorite ropes at the diameter.
Credit: Jack Cramer

Durability


A 9.2mm rope is on the skinnier side for an all-around rope for most cragging applications. At this diameter, you benefit from lower weight and nicer handling at the expense of potentially reduced durability. Its sheath proportion of 33% equates to it containing 18 grams of sheath per meter. That's on the low end for a rope with its thickness. A few thinner ropes we tested actually contain more sheath per meter.

bluewater xenon 9.2 climbing rope review - the weight of the rope is most noticeable on approaches and when...
The weight of the rope is most noticeable on approaches and when making a desperate clip at the top of long pitch, but it also has an effect on the ease of coiling.
Credit: Jack Cramer

Weight


The primary advantage of a skinnier rope like the Bluewater Xenon 9.2 is weight savings. It tips the scales at a respectable 56 g/m. Most climbers will be able to notice the difference between this and thicker workhorse ropes which generally weigh around 62 g/m. For a 70m rope, that would equate to nearly a pound of weight savings. For shorter routes or at convenient crags, that might not mean much. But it's a welcomed savings on long approaches or at the top of rope-stretching pitches.

bluewater xenon 9.2 climbing rope review - although the 9.2mm bluewater xenon is rated for single, half, or...
Although the 9.2mm Bluewater Xenon is rated for single, half, or twin usage, its diameter would be rather thick for regular use in a two-rope system.
Credit: Jack Cramer

Catch


The Bluewater Xenon 9.2 is part of the new generation of ropes that are UIAA rated for usage as a single, half, or twin rope. We only tested it in a single rope system but our testers reported soft, pleasant catches during small lead falls. They also noted solid top-roping performance with limited stretchiness. On paper, this makes sense too. This rope's impact force and elongation specifications lie within the "sweet spot" range that seems to supply the best performance in our real-world testing.

bluewater xenon 9.2 climbing rope review - our testers believe the bluewater xenon 9.2 is a decent climbing...
Our testers believe the Bluewater Xenon 9.2 is a decent climbing rope, but they identified few performance advantages over its closest competitors.
Credit: Jack Cramer

Should You Buy the Trango Agility 9.1


The rock climbing rope market is a crowded field and we realize cost is a huge consideration for most shoppers. The Bluewater Xenon 9.2 retails at a modest price premium compared to the most affordable ropes. In testing, we didn't identify much in the way of performance to justify the added expense. This is decent rope but it only becomes a great value if you can find it on sale.

bluewater xenon 9.2 climbing rope review - the bluewater xenon 9.2 is sold in a factory drum coil so you'll...
The Bluewater Xenon 9.2 is sold in a factory drum coil so you'll have to carefully uncoil it to avoid tangles and twists.
Credit: Jack Cramer

What Other Rock Climbing Ropes Should You Consider


If you're searching for the best deal, we think the Mammut Crag We Care Classic 9.5 provides a better bargain at full MSRP. That rope, however, is a little thicker and heavier than the Bluewater Xenon 9.2. Near the same diameter, the Edelrid Tommy Caldwell Eco Dry 9.3 and Petzl Volta both seem to offer better performance if you're willing to pay more.

Jack Cramer
 
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