Mammut 9.5 Crag Classic Review
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
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Andy Wellman