We've given the 9.8 mm Sterling Evolution Velocity our Top Pick for a Workhorse Rope award. The fact that we are now calling a 9.8 mm line a "workhorse" model does make us chuckle a little, mainly since we started climbing in the days when anything under 10 mm was seen as dental floss and not trustworthy. Now though, with the updates in rope technology (and belay devices), we wouldn't climb with anything but (unless we were doing an aid route up El Cap, but that's a whole other ballgame). Even though belay devices like the GriGri 2 are supposed to be able to handle up to 10.3 mm ropes, that thickness does not feed well or smoothly through them in our opinion, and once you've gone "skinny" it's hard to go back. If you're a brand new climber, there is still some benefit to a thicker rope — they are easier to hold on to when arresting a fall, and they'll last longer, especially as you learn about minimizing sheath damage from rough edges or poor belaying stances.
The Wards climbing in Ten Sleep on our Top Pick for a Workhorse Rope. This 9.8 mm is a great all-around rope, and is an excellent choice for those that want a durable rope for a variety of styles.
For a "thicker" rope, the Evolution Velocity handles well. It is smooth and not cumbersome, and clips easily.
The sheath is tightly woven, and this allows it to slide through belay devices and over rough rock surfaces with ease. When compared to the Edelweiss Curve Unicore Supereverdry, this rope is a dream to handle. The Edelweiss line is much too stiff and does not run through belay devices smoothly. However, compared to the Maxim Pinnacle, this line feels a little more cumbersome to feed out slack quickly or clip lighting fast.
This 9.8 mm line handles well and is not too thick for using with a GriGri 2.
As a minor side note, this rope comes factory drum coiled, which, if not uncoiled properly from the outset, can become a major nightmare to untangle. And if improperly flaked, the rope can be extra kinky for the first couple of days. Other ropes, such as the Mammut Infinity and Petzl Arial, come already flaked out in a butterfly coil, which is much easier to unwind initially. We didn't dock ropes any points for this, but it is worth mentioning the slight inconvenience of a factory coil.
It pays to take the time to uncoil your rope initially so that it doesn't kink up permanently.
This rope is rated to an 8.8 kN impact force, with 8.6% static elongation and 26.4% dynamic elongation. We liked the combination of soft-enough catch but not too spongy for top roping feel, and gave this rope an 8/10 for catch.
Rating the catch of a rope is one of the most subjective endeavors we've taken on, as there are so many factors that determine how "soft" a fall is beyond the stats of the rope itself. And, in the field we experienced very hard falls on the BlueWater Ropes Lightning Pro, which by the specs alone should have been very soft. What we can state about this rope after both our testing period (and our personal use of this exact model for the last three years), is that it won't stretch as much or feel as bouncy as some of the "stretchier" lines in this review, like the Beal Booster III or Trango Lotus, but it won't feel like a noodle when top-roping either. So, if you tend to do a lot of leading and top roping, this rope is a great choice.
Not a good place to fall! But when you do fall on the first bolt, a line with a shorter elongation, like this one, might prevent you from hitting the ground, or your belayer's head.
This rope weighs 62 g/m, and is 9.8 mm in diameter. That makes it slightly lighter than the Black Diamond 9.9mm (64 g/m), but significantly heavier than some of the 9.5 models in this review that were only 58 g/m, like the Petzl Arial and the Mammut Infinity. The extra grams add up to about a half a pound more weight over the length of a 60 m rope.
As we discuss in our Buying Advice article, the diameter of a rope can be misleading, and what people are actually looking for when they search out a small diameter rope is something that is lightweight. Not all ropes of the same diameter are created equal, so we recommend looking more closely at the weight of a rope instead of the diameter. For example, the Maxim Pinnacle is a 9.5 mm rope but weighs 61 g/m, almost the same as this one. Overall, we think the Evolution Velocity is lightweight for a rope in its size class, making it more pleasurable to carry than some of the 10.3 and up workhorse ropes that begin to be a burden to lug around.
When you're lugging your gear an hour or more up the trail, a few less ounces is always welcome. This rope is light for the diameter, and won't weigh you down too much.
If you're thinking of lightening up a lot more, and have the necessary belay skills, then Sterling's Fusion Nano IX will save you another 10 g/m. However, this 9.0 mm is more challenging to handle and belay with, and is only suitable for expert climbers.
This rope impressed during our testing and also during our personal use, and we've given it an 8/10 for durability.
This rope has a tightly woven sheath that makes up 35% of the weight of the rope. This is actually a low number compared to some of the other ropes in this review, like the 42% seen on the Mammut Infinity. However, it's hard to compare these numbers in ropes of different weights and thicknesses against one another, as thicker ropes tend to last longer regardless of sheath percentage. Our user experience tells us that this rope is quite durable, runs smoothly over rough rock, and resists abrasion adequately. The thicker diameter lends life to this rope, and it can take a fair amount of hard use before needing to be retired.
This rope is holding up well. After 70 pitches there is only minimal sheath fuzz, and it didn't get as dirty as some of the other ropes - though it could still use a bath!
This rope held up well on rough limestone, and is a great line for heavy use.
At around $230 for a standard 60 meter and $270 for a 60-meter bi-pattern, this rope rings in as one of the more expensive lines in our review. Considering its durability and versatility, it is a great line for those looking for a workhorse rope or who don't want to buy multiple lines. We did slightly prefer the $210 Beal Booster III, our Best Buy winner, so if you're looking to save a bit check out that rope instead.
After closely comparing all ten ropes in our test group, we came away feeling that the Sterling Evolution Velocity
was the one we were most likely to take out on projecting days or when friends who don't really climb come visiting. It will perform well for any climbing discipline and could be the trusty choice for a climber who doesn't want or need a quiver of ropes.