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Petzl Volta Review

The perfect light and skinny rope for climbing high above the ground
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $250 List | $249.95 at Amazon
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  ⋅  Sep 19, 2019
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76
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 16
  • 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 those 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, mushy snow during testing. While Petzl markets this rope as made specifically for elite climbers, we think it will work great for anyone who wants to increase performance on the longest days, with few, if any downsides. 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.

The Petzl Volta and eight other high-performance ropes are evaluated in The Best Rock Climbing Rope Review.


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This Product
Petzl Volta
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award Top Pick Award 
Price $249.95 at Amazon
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$259.95 at Backcountry$243.95 at Backcountry
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$254.00 at REI
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$249.95 at Backcountry
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Light, durable, super soft and supple handleSkinny for its diameter, durable, great catch, smooth handlingDurable, excellent feel and handle, soft catchesGreat handling, durableEco friendly, nice handle, super light, triple rated, uncoils perfectly from the bag
Cons Not durable enough for heavy duty sport climbing, a lot of stretch when secondingSlightly stiff, middle mark wears off quicklyPriceyHeavy for the diameter, high impact force ratingExpensive, dry coating wears off sheath quickly, a tad stiff
Bottom Line The perfect light and skinny rope for climbing high above the groundThe top-performing do-everything rope that is also a crowd favoriteOne of the best ropes you can buy, striking a perfect balance between low weight and durability.A great rope for advanced sport climbing.The best choice among the skinny lines we have tested for an extended sport climbing trip.
Rating Categories Petzl Volta Mammut Infinity Sterling Evolution Helix Maxim Pinnacle Edelrid Swift Eco Dry
Handling (35%)
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
Durability (25%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
6
Weight (20%)
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
5
10
0
10
Catch (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
7
Specs Petzl Volta Mammut Infinity Sterling Evolution... Maxim Pinnacle Edelrid Swift Eco...
Diameter 9.2 mm 9.5 mm 9.5 mm 9.5 mm 8.9 mm
Weight (g/m) 55 g/m 59 g/m 59 g/m 61 g/m 52 g/m
Certified Use Single, Half and Twin Single Single Single Single, Half and Twin
UIAA Fall Rating 6 8-9 7 7 7 (single), 22 (half/twin)
Impact Force 8.6 kN 8.4 kN 8.9 kN 10.3 kN 8.8 (single), 6.7 (half), 10.4 kN (twin)
Static Elongation % (in use) 7.5 6.5 7.2 5 9 (single), 8.6 (half), 5.3 (twin)
Dynamic Elongation % (first fall) 33 30 31.9 26 31 (single), 28 (half), 26 (twin)
Sheath Proportion % 42 40 41 36 34
Dry Coating Option Duratec Dry Mammut's Dry Treatment DryXP Endura Dry 2x treatment Eco Dry
Middle Mark or Bi-Pattern Option Middle Mark Bi-Pattern or Middle Mark Middle Mark and Bi-Color Option Bi-pattern option Middle mark
Lengths Available 50m, 60m, 70m, 80m 50m, 60m, 70m, 80m 40m, 50m, 60m, 70m, 80m. DryXP: 60m, 70m, 80m 60m, 70m 60m, 70m, 80m

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Volta is Petzl's highest-end climbing rope, 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, all the way up to 100m for those mega-sport pitches in Europe. 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 should not 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, likely due to is 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 found on all Petzl ropes is second to none. 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 and long approaches.

Performance Comparison


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.
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 when 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 possibly 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 suppleness though.

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.
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 affect 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 one single sport trip, we aren't surprised that people have had this experience.


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.
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.

As you can see, 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 number of sheath fibers is likely the same as the 9.5mm Arial, which has a mere 40% sheath proportion (still high). Since the sheath is typically what becomes damaged, one could assume this rope will be able to take more damage than ones 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 as well.

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.
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.

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  the Mammut Infinity (blue) and Revelation (orange)  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.
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, the Mammut Infinity (blue) and Revelation (orange), 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 cord would push 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 pretty easily by opting for one of the 52 g/m 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 moves feel.

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.
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 really only has practical use as a single rope. There are much thinner and lighter half and twin ropes available for similar prices, and when carrying two ropes, 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 countless 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 if you weight it while seconding or top-roping. This can be frustrating or even a bit frightening, depending on the situation or the experience level of the second 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 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.
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 will run you $250 for a 60m at retail price, and $280 for a 70m. This is no small chunk of change, but is still right around average for a high end, dry treated climbing rope. In general, thinner ropes are a bit more expensive, and of course 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 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, providing 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 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.
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 works to protect the sheath and the core, and served us great on rainy days and wet glaciers in the Bugaboos. Its most remarkable feature is its incredible handle; you will be hard pressed to ever find a rope as soft and as 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 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.
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