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Sterling Velocity Review

A durable climbing rope that is great for taking a lot of abuse
Sterling Velocity
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $245 List | $154.99 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Light for the diameter, smooth handling
Cons:  Expensive, lower performance than skinnier options
Manufacturer:   Sterling Rope
By Cam McKenzie Ring ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 30, 2021
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 11
  • Handling - 35% 7.0
  • Durability - 25% 8.0
  • Weight - 20% 5.0
  • Catch - 20% 8.0

Our Verdict

The Sterling Velocity is a 9.8mm rope that weighs 62 grams per meter. This puts it on the cusp of our classification categories, making it light for a workhorse rope, but heavy for an all-around rope. As such, it fills only a certain niche. While not a lightweight choice for alpinists aiming to go fast and light, this is a rope that has wide appeal to many other climbers, and it can take a little more abuse than the average rope. What's the difference between it and the competition? The Velocity is a little lighter and slightly more durable, thanks to its dry coating option.

Like the Velocity but looking for a bi-pattern rope?
The Sterling Evolution Velocity Bi-Color has a different pattern on each half of the rope, making finding the middle a whole lot easier. This specialized braiding technique will add $40 to the cost of the rope in a 60m length, but if you climb a lot of multi-routes that require you to rappel down them afterward, it may just be worth the extra money. Most middle markers fade over time, or the rope gets so dirty that you can no longer see them, but the bi-color gives you the added safety of always being able to easily identify the middle.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Sterling Velocity
This Product
Sterling Velocity
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $154.99 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
$160.00 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$250 List
$97.46 at Backcountry
$266 List
$220.47 at Backcountry
$220 List
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Pros Light for the diameter, smooth handlingDurable sheath, supple feel, soft catches, saves some weight over thicker workhorsesLight, durable, super soft and supple handleGreat handling, durableSoft catches, low impact force rating, durable
Cons Expensive, lower performance than skinnier optionsMiddle marker wears out quickly, still heavier than thinner ropesNot durable enough for heavy duty sport climbing, a lot of stretch when secondingHeavy for the diameter, high impact force ratingA little too stretchy for top roping, stiff
Bottom Line A durable climbing rope that is great for taking a lot of abuseThis rope is a winner due to its superior handling, durability, and excellent catchesThe perfect light and skinny rope for climbing high above the groundA great rope for advanced sport climbingNot the best handling but excellent overall performance
Rating Categories Sterling Velocity Mammut 9.5 Crag Cla... Petzl Volta Maxim Pinnacle Beal Booster III
Handling (35%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
Durability (25%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
Weight (20%)
5.0
6.0
8.0
5.0
5.0
Catch (20%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
Specs Sterling Velocity Mammut 9.5 Crag Cla... Petzl Volta Maxim Pinnacle Beal Booster III
Diameter 9.8 mm 9.5 mm 9.2 mm 9.5 mm 9.7 mm
Weight (g/m) 62 g/m 59 g/m 55 g/m 61 g/m 61 g/m
Lengths Available 50m, 60m, 70m, 80m 60m, 70m, 80m 50m, 60m, 70m, 80m 60m, 70m 60m, 70m
Dry Coating Option Dry Coat Mammut Dry Treatment Duratec Dry Endura Dry 2x treatment Dry Cover
Middle Mark or Bi-Pattern Option Bi-Pattern or middle mark Middle mark Middle Mark Bi-pattern option Middle mark
Certified Use Single Single Single, Half and Twin Single Single
UIAA Fall Rating 6 7 6 7 8
Impact Force 8.8 kN 8.8 kN 8.6 kN 10.3 kN 7.3 kN
Static Elongation % (in use) 8.6 8 7.5 5 9.7
Dynamic Elongation % (first fall) 26.4 33 33 26 38
Sheath Proportion % 35 40 42 36 42
Calculated Weight of Sheath 22 g/m 24 g/m 23 g/m 22 g/m 26 g/m

Our Analysis and Test Results

Now Known Simply as the Velocity
When we first tested this rope it was called the Evolution Velocity. Sterling has dropped "Evolution" from the name, but the rope remains the same.

We've given the 9.8mm Sterling Velocity our Top Pick for a Workhorse Rope award. Even though belay devices like the GriGri are supposed to be able to handle up to 10mm ropes, that thickness doesn't usually feed well or smoothly through them in our opinion, and once you've gone "skinny" it's hard to go back. For new climbers, though, 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.

Performance Comparison


The Wards climbing in Ten Sleep on the Sterling Velocity. This 9.8...
The Wards climbing in Ten Sleep on the Sterling Velocity. 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.
Credit: Cam McKenzie Ring

Handling


For a "thicker" rope, the Velocity handles well. It is smooth 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 some of the other thick ropes we've tested over the years, this rope is a dream to handle. However, compared to thinner ropes in general, 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...
This 9.8 mm line handles well and is not too thick for using with a GriGri 2.
Credit: Cam McKenzie Ring

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. Some ropes come already flaked out in a butterfly coil, which is much easier to unwind initially. We didn't dock any points for this, but it is worth mentioning the slight inconvenience of a drum coil.

It pays to take the time to uncoil your rope initially so that it...
It pays to take the time to uncoil your rope initially so that it doesn't kink up permanently.
Credit: Cam McKenzie Ring

Catch


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 a 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. What we can state about this rope after both our testing period (and our personal use of this exact model for three years), is that it won't stretch as much or feel as bouncy as some of the "stretchier" lines in this review. At the same time, it doesn't feel like a noodle when top-roping either. So, if you tend to do a lot of both 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...
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.
Credit: Cam McKenzie Ring

Weight


This rope weighs 62 g/m, and is 9.8mm in diameter. That makes it slightly lighter than the heaviest models we've covered here, but significantly heavier than some of the 9.5 models in this review that weighed in around 58 g/m. The extra grams add up to about a half pound more for a 60m rope.


The diameter of a rope can be misleading, and what most people are actually looking for when they search for 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.

When you're lugging your gear an hour or more up the trail, a few...
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.
Credit: Scott Ring

Durability


This rope impressed during our testing and also during our personal use, and we've given it a thumbs up 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, which can be upwards of 42%. However, it's hard to compare these numbers in ropes of different weights and thicknesses against one another. To get a better idea, we also calculated the weight of the sheath at 22 g/m, which places it near the middle of the pack. Our own 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.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Value


Whether you are shopping for a standard weave or a 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. For those on a tight budget, there are likely better choices that can still offer many years and pitches of use, but at slightly more affordable prices.

Conclusion


After closely comparing all the ropes in our test group, we came away feeling that the Sterling Velocity was the one we were most likely to take out on projecting days or when taking beginner friends climbing. It can perform well for any discipline and could be the trusty choice for a climber who doesn't want or need a quiver of ropes.

Cam McKenzie Ring
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