Petzl Arial Review
Cons: Not very durable, expensive
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Petzl Arial is a 9.5 mm rope that weighs 58 g/m. It comes in one color option (Petzl orange!) and has an 8.8 kN impact force rating. And it comes double stacked! Most ropes arrive still in a spool configuration, which is a hassle to unwind and can add tons of kinks to your rope that are difficult to remove. Petzl solves that problem for you, and we have to say that we didn't notice too many kinks when using it.
It feels a little stiff and slippery when brand new, but quickly softens up a bit and is one of our favorite ropes for quick clipping and belaying. In fact, we like the way this rope handles just as much as our Editors' Choice winner. This rope is 9.5 mm in diameter, and may not be appropriate for newer climbers. Skinnier ropes can be more challenging to hold on to when arresting a fall when using a standard ATC style belay device, so if you haven't had much experience climbing you'll be better off sticking with a 9.8 - 9.9 mm rope at first.
We took some whippers on the rope, and felt like we got a soft catch every time. We also didn't feel like the catches got significantly harder when working a route and falling repeatedly at the same spot. Some ropes felt really hard after the first fall, but this one didn't seem to lose too much stretch. It also feels fine when top roping, although seems to stretch a bit more than most ropes, which can be slightly frustrating for avid top-ropers who want to be able to sit down and take a break, but not lose all their hard won progress in the process.
This rope is relatively light for its diameter. It weighs 58 g/m, which is 5 grams less than some of the 9.8 mm ropes in this review. What does that add up to though? We did the math for you, and for a 60 or 70m rope that's the difference of a little under 1 pound. If your approaches are short and your pitches even shorter, you might not notice the difference, but over longer hikes and pitches, those ounces add up. For those who are really looking to save every bit of weight that they can, we encourage you to check out the skinny sending lines featured in this review, some of which weigh as little as 52 g/m.
We've tried to test all of the different ropes an equal amount, keeping a rope log and noting the number of falls we took, and if there was any particular rough edges that they encountered. The Arial did get a couple more days than some of the ropes in side-by-side testing, because after a while we couldn't get our testers to keep climbing on some of the ropes with poorer handling. Everyone likes this rope, but after roughly the same number of pitches as the the Mammut and Edelrid ropes we compared it directly against, it looks worse than those two. There is extensive sheath fuzzing and also some areas where it looks like the sheath has glazed a little.
The retail price of this rope is up there with many of the other higher priced ropes that we've tested. It only comes with the dry treatment, so there isn't really an option to forego this for a lower price tag. Since it is relatively expensive and seemingly not as durable as other similar 9.5mm ropes that we've also tested, we wouldn't call it an excellent value.
There was a lot to like about the Petzl Arial, and if it had withstood the abuses of our climbing a little bit better, it could have been an award winner. As it stands, this is still a great option.
— Cam McKenzie Ring