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Edelrid Tommy Caldwell Eco Dry ColorTec 9.3 Review

A top-of-the-line climbing rope with the most distinct bi-pattern on the market
Edelrid Tommy Caldwell Eco Dry ColorTec 9.3
Photo: Edelrid
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $340 List | $339.95 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Distinct bi-pattern colors, dense weave inspires confidence, excellent handling when broken in
Cons:  Expensive, slippery at first, not available without dry treatment
Manufacturer:   Edelrid
By Jack Cramer ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 24, 2021
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 13
  • Handling - 35% 9
  • Durability - 25% 6
  • Weight - 20% 7
  • Catch - 20% 7

Our Verdict

A clear middle mark can enhance convenience and safety. Being able to quickly spot the middle of a rope can speed up rappels on multi-pitch routes and noticing your partner has led beyond halfway can prevent a lowering accident at the crag. If these advantages are important to you, look no further than the Edelrid Tommy Caldwell Eco Dry 9.3. This svelte line is built for sending and features the most distinct bi-pattern design that we've ever seen. Our testers love the handling supplied by its especially dense weave. The same weave also demonstrated superior durability compared to many ropes with similar diameters. Take care, however, because this rope can be dangerously slick before it gets broken in. Nevertheless, we think it's the best bi-pattern on the market and worthy of a Top Pick Award.

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Pros Distinct bi-pattern colors, dense weave inspires confidence, excellent handling when broken inDurable sheath, supple feel, soft catches, saves some weight over thicker workhorsesLight, durable, super soft and supple handleEco friendly, nice handle, super light, triple rated, uncoils perfectly from the bagSoft catches, low impact force rating, durable
Cons Expensive, slippery at first, not available without dry treatmentMiddle marker wears out quickly, still heavier than thinner ropesNot durable enough for heavy duty sport climbing, a lot of stretch when secondingExpensive, dry coating wears off sheath quickly, a tad stiffA little too stretchy for top roping, stiff
Bottom Line A top-of-the-line climbing rope with the most distinct bi-pattern on the marketThis rope is a winner due to its superior handling, durability, and excellent catchesThe perfect light and skinny rope for climbing high above the groundOur favorite option among the skinny lines we have tested for an extended sport climbing tripNot the best handling but excellent overall performance
Rating Categories Edelrid Tommy Caldw... Mammut 9.5 Crag Cla... Petzl Volta Edelrid Swift Eco Dry Beal Booster III
Handling (35%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Durability (25%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
9.0
Weight (20%)
7.0
6.0
8.0
10.0
5.0
Catch (20%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Specs Edelrid Tommy Caldw... Mammut 9.5 Crag Cla... Petzl Volta Edelrid Swift Eco Dry Beal Booster III
Diameter 9.3 mm 9.5 mm 9.2 mm 8.9 mm 9.7 mm
Weight (g/m) 57 g/m 59 g/m 55 g/m 52 g/m 61 g/m
Lengths Available 60m, 70m, 80m 60m, 70m, 80m 50m, 60m, 70m, 80m 60m, 70m, 80m 60m, 70m
Dry Coating Option Eco Dry Mammut Dry Treatment Duratec Dry Eco Dry Dry Cover
Middle Mark or Bi-Pattern Option Bi-pattern Middle mark Middle Mark Middle mark Middle mark
Certified Use Single Single Single, Half and Twin Single, Half and Twin Single
UIAA Fall Rating 7 7 6 7 (single), 22 (half/twin) 8
Impact Force 9 kN 8.8 kN 8.6 kN 8.8 (single), 6.7 (half), 10.4 kN (twin) 7.3 kN
Static Elongation % (in use) 7.4 8 7.5 9 (single), 8.6 (half), 5.3 (twin) 9.7
Dynamic Elongation % (first fall) 34 33 33 31 (single), 28 (half), 26 (twin) 38
Sheath Proportion % 39 40 42 34 42
Calculated Weight of Sheath 22 g/m 24 g/m 23 g/m 18 g/m 26 g/m

Our Analysis and Test Results

There is lots to like about the Edelrid Tommy Caldwell Eco Dry 9.3. The "Eco" in the name signifies that its dry treatment does not contain harmful PFCs. It's also lightweight and durable for the diameter with an extremely bright bi-pattern color scheme. Although being able to spot the middle so easily should improve safety, the slickness of this rope when it's new presents a clear danger. During the first couple of days of testing, we noticed some slippage through a Petzl GriGri 2 belay device. The slippage was severe enough that we do not recommend this model for beginners. And even experienced climbers should take extra care to provide an attentive belay while breaking this rope in.

Performance Comparison


The Tommy Caldwell Eco Dry is a 9.3mm rope that's ideal for...
The Tommy Caldwell Eco Dry is a 9.3mm rope that's ideal for experienced climbers searching for a light, everyday rope to push the grades.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Handling


The Tommy Caldwell Eco Dry is spun using the same 2-over-2 weave that's common on climbing ropes. The weave on this rope, however, is unusually tight and dense. That allows the rope to maintain a solid circular shape that spreads wear equally on the sheath and boosts your confidence despite its thin 9.3mm diameter.


Our testers think these qualities contributed to how excellent the Eco Dry felt in their hands. Clipping is easy due to the solid build yet it also feels supple while tying knots or loading a belay device. We should warn potential users that it did feel dangerously slippery when brand new. This slipperiness dissipated after 15 pitches but be careful trusting your life to an inexperienced belayer until this rope has been properly broken in.

The 2-over-2 weave on this rope is unusually tight and dense. This...
The 2-over-2 weave on this rope is unusually tight and dense. This ensures that it maintains its great handling and a consistently circular shape (in cross-section).
Photo: Jack Cramer

Durability


There will always be some tradeoff in durability between a thin 9.3mm rope like this one compared to a fatter workhorse rope. Less material and fewer sheath fibers simply cannot withstand as much abuse as something with a heftier construction. Compared to its peers at similar diameters, however, the Tommy Caldwell Eco Dry showed superior durability.


We were thoroughly impressed with how well this rope resisted everyday wear and tear. By our calculations, its 39% sheath proportion equates to 22 grams of sheath per meter. That's more than several competitors with thicker diameters ranging all the way up to 9.8mm. The dense weave of the sheath also seemed to resist damage better than looser sheaths on similarly sized ropes.

With half of the rope pink and the other half blue, it has never...
With half of the rope pink and the other half blue, it has never been easier to spot the middle on a climbing rope.
Photo: Jack Cramer

A slight durability concern we should acknowledge is the propensity for this rope to attract dirt and grime. Its PFC-free Eco Dry treatment seemed to attract more dust than others and this darkened the color of the rope and left our hands sooty. If left unwashed, the particles in grime have the potential to accelerate wear to the fibers. So if your rope gets dirty be sure to wash it. It's also unfortunate that unlike many ropes, this model is not available without a dry treatment.

Weight


At 57 g/m the Tommy Caldwell Eco Dry 9.3, is slightly heavy for its diameter. Still, it's markedly lighter than many mid-9mm and thicker choices. A 70m length equates to 8.8 lbs. This leaves it right in the middle of the road for the single rope category — roughly 12 ounces heavier than the lightest models, but 12 ounces lighter than the heaviest.


Even with the near-average weight, we still think this rope is ideal for high-end sport and trad climbing. Sure, there will be an extra 7 oz hanging off you at the top of a 40m pitch, but the low friction from the dense weave should reduce rope drag enough to cancel out the extra heft. At the same time, the added weight and durability can encourage you to take more whips than you might be willing to on a skinnier cord.

This line really does seem designed for the guy whose name it bears, Tommy Caldwell. He's best known for bold free climbing on El Capitan, most famously for the first ascent of Dawn Wall. This rope seems like it would be perfect for that. Heavy enough to inspire confidence and handle the abuse of a big wall but still lightweight enough for when things get strenuous.

It can be a little disconcerting to tie in to some 9.3mm ropes. This...
It can be a little disconcerting to tie in to some 9.3mm ropes. This was hardly an issue with the Tommy Caldwell Eco Dry because the tight weave of the sheath inspires confidence.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Catch


The Tommy Caldwell Eco Dry is listed with a 9kN impact force rating and 34% dynamic elongation. These stats are remarkably close to the other top-rated ropes in this review. What these ropes all have in common is a catch that's usually solid enough to avoid inducing fear yet bouncy enough to prevent the painful jerkiness of a sharp arrest. Measuring this feeling in the real world is tricky and the softness of a catch can be greatly influenced by several factors including the characteristics of the belayer, the length of rope out, and the location of protection. Still, despite numerous lead falls none of our testers reported experiencing catches that felt unusually hard or soft.


When it's time for a toprope burn, keep in mind that this rope has a UIAA static elongation measured in the lab at 7.4%. That's on the low end for ropes in this review and suggests you will feel a tighter belay when you fall or ask for a rest. In our field testing, this seemed accurate and it was a characteristic that was sincerely appreciated by our testers when they were working routes near their limit. After all, it's far less frustrating to fall and be able to resume the difficult moves without having to climb a long ways to regain your highpoint.

Catches with the Tommy Caldwell Eco Dry 9.3 felt firmer than many...
Catches with the Tommy Caldwell Eco Dry 9.3 felt firmer than many ropes that share the same diameter and on par with some mid-9mm ropes.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Value


This is a premium rope with a premium price. The added expense might seem unnecessary to some climbers, but consider that a lowering or rappelling accident can result in a far more expensive emergency bill. Or worse. We truly believe that this rope's clear middle mark reduces the likelihood of accidents. When we combine the safety benefit with this rope's decent durability and high performance, it seems much more like a bargain.

Our biggest complaint about this rope was its slipperiness when...
Our biggest complaint about this rope was its slipperiness when brand new. Take extreme care until it's thoroughly broken in.
Photo: Jack Cramer

Conclusion


The author needs two hands to count the number of climbers he knows that have been lowered off the end of a rope. Fortunately, none of these accidents ended in tragedy, but many resulted in lower leg injuries and shattered confidence that took months to recover from. In many of these cases, a clear middle mark would have prevented the accident. The Tommy Caldwell Eco Dry 9.3 features the best middle mark we've ever seen and for this reason alone we would highly recommend it. When we add to that its lightweight, considerable durability, and excellent handling, it more than deserves a Top Pick Award.

Jack Cramer

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