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Mammut 9.5 Crag Classic Review

This rope is a winner due to its superior handling, durability, and excellent catches
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $200 List | $159.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Durable sheath, supple feel, soft catches, saves some weight over thicker workhorses
Cons:  Middle marker wears out quickly, still heavier than thinner ropes
Manufacturer:   Mammut
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 27, 2020
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78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 11
  • Handling - 35% 8
  • Durability - 25% 8
  • Weight - 20% 6
  • Catch - 20% 9

Our Verdict

The Mammut 9.5 Crag Classic is our favorite climbing rope, and so naturally, the one that we recommend as our Editors' Choice Award Winner. With a diameter of 9.5mm, this rope is thin enough to save you some weight while also improving handling significantly and is still thick and burly enough to afford great durability, a long life, and enough heft that you shouldn't feel nervous using it. We feel 9.5mm ropes are the new workhorses, and this one is the best of the best. It replaces the old Mammut Infinity, which has been our top choice for years now, with similar characteristics but perhaps improved handling. This excellent rope is the consummate all-arounder and should please all sorts of climbers on all types of terrain.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

For 2020, Mammut has redone their entire rope line, ditching all the old names and replacing them with a series of ropes that covers all the bases from skinny to thick, while renaming them using a limited list of adjectives that can make telling the differences between each one both very simple, and also very redundant. To be clear, we tested the 9.5 Crag Classic in a 70m length, which is a non-dry treated rope. Typically we test only the dry treated versions of all ropes, both because the dry treatment has been tested and proven to not only repel water, but also dirt, and add length to a typical rope's life span, but also so that we have continuity when comparing ropes for this review. When we ordered up our test rope, the dry treated version, known as the 9.5 Crag Dry Rope, was not yet available for purchase, and we didn't want to delay our test period. So, the performance of our test rope is likely skewed a bit compared to others since it does not have a dry coating. On the upside, opting to forego dry treatment can save a significant chunk of change, and in our case, the rope still performed awesome, with great durability.

This rope currently comes in 60m, 70m, or 80m lengths, and only comes in a single weave pattern (although bi-patterned options are available if you purchase the dry treatment). Mammut is also producing a 9.8 Crag Classic, which would be a good option for those who want even greater wear resistance, or who are newer to climbing and appreciate the extra friction while belaying that comes with a thicker rope. They also have a 9.5 Alpine Dry rope, which seems to have the exact same attributes as the 9.5 Crag Dry, although only comes in a 60m version. Regardless, we found this rope to look and feel very similar to the old Infinity, and feel that when it comes to handling, it's possible that it's now even better, as our test rope didn't stiffen up over time as many Mammut ropes are known to do.

Performance Comparison


The 9.5 Crag Classic is the updated version of our longtime favorite Infinity Rope. It combines great handling  a long life span  and lower weight to provide what we find to be the ideal package for any type of climbing. Simply put  this is the first rope we would recommend to any of our friends.
The 9.5 Crag Classic is the updated version of our longtime favorite Infinity Rope. It combines great handling, a long life span, and lower weight to provide what we find to be the ideal package for any type of climbing. Simply put, this is the first rope we would recommend to any of our friends.

Handling


When considering handling, it's hard for us not to compare this rope to the way the old Infinity handled. While we aren't exactly comparing apples to apples considering that we tested the Crag Classic instead of the Crag Dry, we have to admit that the way this rope handles may in fact be an improvement over the old Infinity. The rope is slippery and supple in a way that allows it to easily slide through a GriGri or similar belay device when belaying and feels really nice in the hands. Some ropes are very soft and bend with a ton of ease, such as most made by Petzl, although this rope is not quite on that level of softness. At the same time, it is not stiff and inflexible, like some thicker ropes tend to be. Call it right in the middle of the sweet spot.


One thing we noticed is that after four months of rigorous testing that has included at least 200 pitches of use, this rope has not stiffened up like Mammut ropes have a reputation for doing. Over time, many people complain that Mammut ropes become "cord-like" and less flexible, which impacts their performance, especially when belaying. We have not noticed this effect in any way, and the rope remains just as supple and easy to manipulate through the device or into knots as when we first uncoiled it.

The crag classic on top  compared to the thicker 9.8 Boa Pro Dry. We bent these two bights in half and then just laid them on the ground for comparison. Clearly the Classic is a fair bit more supple  which we like for belaying  tying knots  and even for clipping.
The crag classic on top, compared to the thicker 9.8 Boa Pro Dry. We bent these two bights in half and then just laid them on the ground for comparison. Clearly the Classic is a fair bit more supple, which we like for belaying, tying knots, and even for clipping.

Durability


As long as something out of the ordinary doesn't happen and your rope becomes core shot, where there is a tear or rip in the sheath exposing the core fibers of the rope (which demands immediate retirement), a climbing rope should last for more than one year, depending of course on the amount of demands you put upon it. With that in mind, it can be hard for us to make firm conclusions after only four months of testing since the rope isn't worn out. The good news is, the 9.5 Crag Classic is nowhere close to worn out after our testing period, and still seems to be a "young" rope.


Two different sections of the same rope. The bottom is starting to see some wear from rubbing through quickdraws repeatedly  either by taking a lot or by repeated falls. This will cause the rope to fray slightly and become a bit hairier  while also often turning it grey from metal dust. Nobody likes to see this happen to their rope  although it is completely normal if you project sport routes.
Two different sections of the same rope. The bottom is starting to see some wear from rubbing through quickdraws repeatedly, either by taking a lot or by repeated falls. This will cause the rope to fray slightly and become a bit hairier, while also often turning it grey from metal dust. Nobody likes to see this happen to their rope, although it is completely normal if you project sport routes.

As one might expect, we've noticed a bit of fraying and sheath glazing, which is where the sheath burns a little bit from friction and can become stiffer or turn grey or black, a common occurrence when one sport climbs a lot and the rope runs though quickdraws as you pull up after falling or to work a particular sequence. The suppleness of the rope remains despite this amount of wear. Looking at the sheath proportion %, shown in the chart above, can also be a good indicator of how long a rope is likely to last. This one's sheath is woven in the common 2x2 pattern, and has a 40% sheath proportion, which is on the high end for ropes we've tested, although also in line with some of our other favorite ropes. Having a larger percentage of fibers in the sheath should mean that the sheath is capable of handling more wear.

You can see that the double black middle marker is a bit challenging to see highlighted against the blue rope. We found that this middle marker wears off relatively quickly  so if you do a lot of rappelling  be sure to reapply!
You can see that the double black middle marker is a bit challenging to see highlighted against the blue rope. We found that this middle marker wears off relatively quickly, so if you do a lot of rappelling, be sure to reapply!

Weight


This rope weighs in at 59g/m, which if extrapolated out into a 70m cord, means that it would weight around 9.1 lbs. While thicker ropes, such as those with 9.8 mm diameter or thicker, naturally have a higher weight (up to 63 g/m in this review), the weight of this cord is still on the higher side, despite having what some may consider to be a thin diameter.


As you can tell, the weight of this rope precludes it from being considered a "sendy" skinny rope, some of which weigh as little as 52g/m. That said, it will save you some weight over choosing a thicker rope, and isn't so heavy that we would rule it out for multi-pitch climbing. In fact, we consider it an ideal and nearly perfect multi-pitch rope.

If weight is your number one concern  then we recommend choosing a 9.2mm or even thinner rope  especially for long sport routes or alpine climbing. However  we do notice and appreciate the weight savings of choosing a 9.5 versus a thicker rope  and by no means is this rope too thick for multi-pitch adventures  like we are having here with Johnny on the Ophir Wall.
If weight is your number one concern, then we recommend choosing a 9.2mm or even thinner rope, especially for long sport routes or alpine climbing. However, we do notice and appreciate the weight savings of choosing a 9.5 versus a thicker rope, and by no means is this rope too thick for multi-pitch adventures, like we are having here with Johnny on the Ophir Wall.

Catch


This is one of our favorite ropes to fall on, offering a nice soft landing (provided the belay is good), without too much sag and bounce. Measuring and assessing for catch is a really subjective criteria, and one that cannot necessarily be quantified accurately. However, having taken hundreds of falls (usually while projecting sport routes, but we aren't above taking big whips on trad gear) on many different ropes, we can say that this one is indeed one of the better choices you can make.


The stats on this rope have changed slightly from the old Infinity, so despite the fact that it looks and feels nearly identical, clearly some changes to the construction have taken place. It has a dynamic elongation percentage of 33% and a fall force rating of 8.8kN, which taken by themselves might not mean very much, but which we find interesting to compare among other ropes. Interestingly, these figures are nearly identical to those of the Petzl Arial, another 9.5mm rope that also feels amazing to fall on. Oddly, according to the static elongation percentages, the Arial should stretch less than the Crag Classic, but we have found the exact opposite to be true. The Crag Classic doesn't stretch too much when one sits down or falls while top-roping, making it a good choice for those climbers who don't feel as comfortable on the sharp end, as well.

It's hard to quantify what a catch feels like  but the best way we found is to take repeated falls on steep sport routes where there is little danger of injury by doing so. The catch offered by the Crag Classic is one of the best in our experience  as we are about to test once again at the Zoo  in central Oregon.
It's hard to quantify what a catch feels like, but the best way we found is to take repeated falls on steep sport routes where there is little danger of injury by doing so. The catch offered by the Crag Classic is one of the best in our experience, as we are about to test once again at the Zoo, in central Oregon.

Value


The price of this rope will depend on the length you choose to buy, but also whether you choose to buy the dry treatment or go with the classic version, as we did. It is our belief and experience that the extra cost for dry treatment is usually worth it in terms of longevity, although our classic, non-dry version has held up so well that it may be worth it to simply save some money and buy the cheaper version. Either way, these aren't the least expensive ropes you can find, but are not unreasonably expensive either. Since they last a long time and are also among the very best performers, we think that they present excellent value, and the Crag Classic in particular could be a very good choice for those on a tight budget.

No matter what style of climbing you like to do  the Crag Classic is an excellent choice  providing excellent value. It handles great  is durable  and weighs less than a thicker workhorse  although you may be surprised that we don't call it a workhorse considering its performance. Here putting it to use on multi-pitch granite cracks!
No matter what style of climbing you like to do, the Crag Classic is an excellent choice, providing excellent value. It handles great, is durable, and weighs less than a thicker workhorse, although you may be surprised that we don't call it a workhorse considering its performance. Here putting it to use on multi-pitch granite cracks!

Conclusion


The Mammut 9.5 Crag Classic wins our Editors' Choice award as the best overall climbing rope because it combines longevity with great handling, and also offers a nearly perfect catch, whether leading or top-roping. 9.5mm ropes work perfectly for nearly any type of climbing, and are the diameter we recommend for those who simply want one rope that can do it all, and don't want to worry about having an entire quiver of cords. If this sounds like you, then we highly recommend the 9.5 Crag Classic or Crag Dry, as they are a great value and some of the best climbing ropes you can buy.

Following a classic corner at the Ophir Wall in Colorado while climbing on the do-everything-well 9.5 Crag Classic.
Following a classic corner at the Ophir Wall in Colorado while climbing on the do-everything-well 9.5 Crag Classic.

Andy Wellman