Reviews You Can Rely On

Petzl Volta Review

The perfect light and skinny rope for climbing high above the ground
Petzl Volta
Photo: Petzl
Top Pick Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $250 List | Check Price at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Light, durable, super soft and supple handle
Cons:  Not durable enough for heavy duty sport climbing, a lot of stretch when seconding
Manufacturer:   Petzl
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 29, 2021
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 13
  • Handling - 35% 8
  • Durability - 25% 7
  • Weight - 20% 8
  • Catch - 20% 7

Our Verdict

While most of our top-scoring, dry treated, 9.5mm ropes will work just fine for alpine and especially multi-pitch climbing, we really prefer to use something that is a bit lighter for long days. At 9.2mm thick and weighing a mere 55 g/m, the Petzl Volta is the perfect choice for long days spent high above the ground, which is why we have recognized it as our Top Pick for Alpine and Multi-Pitch Climbing. This rope is light, skinny (but not too skinny), durable, and handles like a dream. It also features an excellent dry treatment that kept it from taking on heaps of heavy water when we dragged it through wet, slushy snow during testing. While Petzl markets this rope as made specifically for elite climbers, we think it will work great for anyone who wants high performance and lightweight on the biggest days. That said, we wouldn't purchase it with working sport routes in mind, and would only bring it to the sport crag on special sending days.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Petzl Volta
This Product
Petzl Volta
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award   Best Buy Award 
Price Check Price at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$159.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$266 List
$288.95 at Backcountry
$219.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
76
78
76
74
73
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Light, durable, super soft and supple handleDurable sheath, supple feel, soft catches, saves some weight over thicker workhorsesDurable, excellent feel and handle, soft catchesGreat handling, durableSoft catches, low impact force rating, durable
Cons Not durable enough for heavy duty sport climbing, a lot of stretch when secondingMiddle marker wears out quickly, still heavier than thinner ropesPriceyHeavy for the diameter, high impact force ratingA little too stretchy for top roping, stiff
Bottom Line The perfect light and skinny rope for climbing high above the groundThis rope is a winner due to its superior handling, durability, and excellent catchesOne of the best ropes you can buy, striking a perfect balance between low weight and durabilityA great rope for advanced sport climbingNot the best handling but excellent overall performance
Rating Categories Petzl Volta Mammut 9.5 Crag Cla... Sterling Helix Maxim Pinnacle Beal Booster III
Handling (35%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
Durability (25%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
Weight (20%)
8.0
6.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
Catch (20%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
8.0
Specs Petzl Volta Mammut 9.5 Crag Cla... Sterling Helix Maxim Pinnacle Beal Booster III
Diameter 9.2 mm 9.5 mm 9.5 mm 9.5 mm 9.7 mm
Weight (g/m) 55 g/m 59 g/m 59 g/m 61 g/m 61 g/m
Lengths Available 50m, 60m, 70m, 80m 60m, 70m, 80m 40m, 50m, 60m, 70m, 80m. DryXP: 60m, 70m, 80m 60m, 70m 60m, 70m
Dry Coating Option Duratec Dry Mammut Dry Treatment DryXP Endura Dry 2x treatment Dry Cover
Middle Mark or Bi-Pattern Option Middle Mark Middle mark Middle Mark and Bi-Color Option Bi-pattern option Middle mark
Certified Use Single, Half and Twin Single Single Single Single
UIAA Fall Rating 6 7 7 7 8
Impact Force 8.6 kN 8.8 kN 8.9 kN 10.3 kN 7.3 kN
Static Elongation % (in use) 7.5 8 7.2 5 9.7
Dynamic Elongation % (first fall) 33 33 31.9 26 38
Sheath Proportion % 42 40 41 36 42
Calculated Weight of Sheath 23 g/m 24 g/m 24 g/m 22 g/m 26 g/m

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Volta is one of Petzl's high-end climbing ropes, designed for use in the alpine as well as for high-end single-pitch climbing. It is available in lengths from as short as 30m for mountaineering and all the way up to 100m for those mega-sport pitches. It comes in a single pattern weave with a pen-marked middle marker, which was fairly durable over a long trip. Like most skinny high-end ropes, we found that this one is excellent for alpine and multi-pitch climbing, but it probably shouldn't be used intensively for working on sport climbs. We used it side-by-side with competing ropes on a long trip to the alpine rock climbing paradise of the Bugaboos in British Columbia and found that it withstood the abuse of the abrasive rock better than the rest. This is likely due to its whopping 42% sheath percentage. The dry treatment fared extremely well as we dragged it through melting wet snow on glaciers in the rain, and the super-soft handle was appreciated by all our testers. In many ways, this rope performs very similar to the popular and well-loved Petzl Arial 9.5mm rope, except that it is a bit thinner and a few grams per meter lighter. If you enjoy the Arial as your everyday rope, we think you will also love the Volta to help you lighten the load on long pitches or strenuous approaches.

Performance Comparison


Ben Hoyt topping out onto the summit of Snowpatch Spire in the...
Ben Hoyt topping out onto the summit of Snowpatch Spire in the Bugaboos after climbing the Fuzzy Pink Arete, using the Petzl Volta, a favorite rope for alpine rock climbing.

Handling


When it comes to easy handling, the Volta ranks up there with the very best. One mountain guide tester said it best after a day of using it in the Bugaboos, "I think this is the softest and most supple climbing rope I've ever used." We couldn't agree more, and point out that a soft and supple rope is not only more comfortable to use as it slides through your hands, but is also easier to manipulate when shoving a bight through a belay device or tying knots. The biggest complaint we hear when people describe the handling of a rope to us is that, "its really stiff, like a cord." The Volta will never be accused of feeling stiff and cord-like, so consider it, or the thicker Arial, if soft handling is your primary concern.


Despite being listed as a 9.2mm diameter, we can't help but notice that this rope is thicker than comparable Mammut ropes of the same diameter, and compared right next to each other, could even be said to be as thick as 9.4mm. It's possible that the thicker dimensions combined with a lighter weight is what enables it to feel so supple and bendable, it simply isn't woven super tight. While it comes feeling very slick from the dry treatment, like most ropes this will wear off over time, and as fibers in the sheath begin to show wear, the feel of the rope becomes a bit rougher against the skin. In our experience, this doesn't affect the flexibleness.

As one tester put it, the Volta is "the single softest and most...
As one tester put it, the Volta is "the single softest and most supple climbing rope I have ever used," and he should know, being a professional mountain guide. Here exchanging thumbs ups and big smalls near the summit of S. Howser Tower on the Beckey-Chouinard.

Durability


For a skinny rope, the Volta is very durable. However, don't let that convince you that this rope can withstand the same level of abuse as a 9.5 or 9.8 workhorse rope, because it can't. While there are a lot of variables that influence durability, the ones that are easiest to predict are thickness, and use. Thinner ropes simply don't last as long as thicker ones, so while we found this rope to be quite a bit more durable than the similar 8.9 — 9.2mm ropes that we tested and compared it directly against, there is no way that it can withstand the abuse that a 9.8mm rope will be able to. How you use the rope also affects durability greatly, and there are many online user review complaints to the tune of: "I took it on one sport climbing trip and now it's trashed." This should be expected of a thin rope such as this one, and while we chose not to trash out our Volta on a single sport trip, we aren't surprised that people have had this experience.

Climbing a wide fists and offwidth pitch high on the...
Climbing a wide fists and offwidth pitch high on the Beckey-Chouinard in the Bugaboos, using the Volta, which survived better than the competition after a week of running over the very course and abrasive alpine granite that this wonderful climbing area is known for.

The Volta has a whopping 42% sheath proportion, which ranks it at the top of the pile. However, since this is a thinner rope, the actual amount of sheath fibers seems to be similar to the 9.5mm Arial, which has a 40% sheath. By our calculations both contain 23 g/m of sheath.

Comparing the relative wear to the sheaths of the Mammut Revelation...
Comparing the relative wear to the sheaths of the Mammut Revelation, orange on top, and the Petzl Volta, grey on the bottom, after a long week of alpine climbing in the Bugaboos. These ropes were shared by two teams who traded each day. The Volta retains more of its shiny dry treatment and shows less sheath fuzzing, while the Revelation feels a bit rougher and has a bit more abrasion to the sheath.

Since the sheath is typically the part of a rope that gets damaged first, one could assume this rope will be able to take more damage than those with less sheath. Indeed, compared to the Mammut Revelation, another 9.2mm rope that we also tested in the Bugaboos, this one looks to be in a lot better shape after the long trip. Used in non-hangdog applications, like in the alpine, this rope should last you for a very long time. We also found that the middle mark lasted a lot longer than on other ropes.

These three ropes were purchased at the same time and used roughly...
These three ropes were purchased at the same time and used roughly the same amount, both at the crag and in the alpine. As you can see, the durability of the middle marker is seriously in question for two of the ropes, both made by Mammut, while the middle marker remains nicely intact on the Petzl Volta (grey). This is a solid argument for why paying the extra money for a bi-patterned or duodess rope can be worth it, especially if you commonly alpine or multi-pitch climb and often need to rappel.

Weight


The Volta weighs 55 g/m, which means that it is among the lightest ropes in our review, and the weight savings over a fatter rope, even a 9.5mm one, is significant.


According to our math, a 70m Volta would tip the scale at 8.49lbs, over half a pound lighter than your average 9.5mm cord for the same length. However, you could save another half a pound by opting for one of the lightest 8.9 or 9.0mm ropes instead. Of course, another way to save weight is to simply carry a shorter rope, such as a 60m instead of a 70. When linking long, rope stretching pitches in the mountains, don't underestimate the weight of a rope, as the whole thing will be hanging from your harness, and combined with potential rope drag, can make a large difference in how hard the climbing feels.

Mike Donaldson starting up the first pitch on the Minaret in the...
Mike Donaldson starting up the first pitch on the Minaret in the Bugaboos, an alpine situation where saving weight can be a huge factor. Weighing a mere 55 g/m, the Volta is a great choice for shaving off precious pounds.

While the Volta is rated as a single, half, and twin line, we think it only has a practical use as a single rope. There are much thinner and lighter half or twin ropes available for similar prices, and when opting for a two rope system, you really want to emphasize weight as a critical attribute.

Catch


The Volta is a springy and stretchy rope that provides an excellent catch when taking lead falls. Its 8.6kN fall force and 33% dynamic elongation figures are right in line with our favorite thicker ropes that we often take sport falls on at the crag.


That said, the 7.5% static elongation figure means that you should expect this cord to stretch a fair bit when you fall while top-roping. This can be frustrating or even a bit frightening, depending on the situation and fearfulness of the climber. Stretch like this is unavoidable in a climbing rope though, a necessary downside of using a dynamic rope. This one won't stretch nearly as far as the bungee cord-esque ropes in the review that are in the 9% range for this statistic.

The final pitch of Fuzzy Pink Arete on the west face of Snowpatch...
The final pitch of Fuzzy Pink Arete on the west face of Snowpatch Spire, Bugaboos. No falls were taken on the Volta on this climb, but our testing reveals it to offer great soft catches, although also a fair amount of stretch when top-roping or seconding.

Value


This rope is right around an average price for a high-end, dry-treated climbing rope. In general, thinner ropes are a bit more expensive, and dry treatment also adds to the expense. As we have mentioned before, the value you get out of this rope will likely be dependent on how you use it. Thrash it at the sport cliff and you will probably feel ripped off — do yourself a favor and just buy a 9.5 or thicker instead. Use it sparingly while sport climbing and take care to avoid potential core-shotting situations in the alpine, and there is no reason this rope won't last for many great adventures and provide an excellent value. Since we feel it is worthy of our Top Pick award, we clearly think it's worth spending the money on.

While it costs a fair amount, the Volta presents good value compared...
While it costs a fair amount, the Volta presents good value compared to other thin alpine specific climbing ropes due to the solid durability both of its dry treatment, and the sheath itself. Here climbing finger cracks high on the Beckey-Chouinard, Bugaboos.

Conclusion


The Petzl Volta is a high-end, skinny single rope designed for use while alpine climbing. Its Duratec dry treatment helps protect the sheath and the core, and this served us great on rainy days and wet glaciers. Its most remarkable feature is its incredible handling. You will be hard-pressed to find a rope as soft, supple, and easy to manipulate. If you are looking to shave some weight for routes on large peaks or with large approaches, but want one that passes the durability test, we highly recommend the Volta.

The last pitch of Voyage of the Cow Dog at Smith Rock follows a cool...
The last pitch of Voyage of the Cow Dog at Smith Rock follows a cool steep panel up one of the most exposed ridgelines in the park. The Volta is one of our favorite ropes for multi-pitch excursions such as this one.

Andy Wellman

Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.

GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.

Learn More