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Sterling Velocity Xeros 9.8 Review

A workhorse rope that handles great and can survive lots of abuse
sterling velocity xeros 9.8 climbing rope review
We tested the neon green bi-pattern version of the Sterling Velocity Xeros. However, the color difference between the red and black halves is subtle. So subtle, in fact, we don't think it's worth the added cost.
Credit: Jack Cramer
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $245 List
Manufacturer:   Sterling
By Jack Cramer ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 22, 2022
75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 14
  • Handling - 35% 8.0
  • Durability - 25% 9.0
  • Weight - 20% 5.0
  • Catch - 20% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Sterling Velocity Xeros is a 9.8mm rope that weighs 62 grams per meter. This puts it near the upper range of diameters and weight for an all-around rock climbing rope, but on the lighter side for a workhorse rope. As such, it fills a certain niche for those seeking a high-performance yet durable cragging rope. It would be a poor choice for alpinists hoping to go fast and light, but it should have wide appeal to less weight-conscious climbers because it should be able to take more abuse than the average rope. What's the difference between it and other workhorse ropes? Primarily the tight weave of the sheath and the Xeros dry treatment. The tight sheath provides confidence and outstanding handling. Meanwhile, Sterling's unique Xeros dry treatment seemed to maintain its water-resistant for considerably longer than others.
REASONS TO BUY
Tight weave with excellent handling
Exceptional PFOA-free dry treatment
Durable
REASONS TO AVOID
On the heavier side
Expensive
Only available with dry treatment
Editor's Note: This review was updated on December 22nd, 2022, to include information about the new Xeros dry treatment to this flagship Sterling rope.

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Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award  
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Pros Tight weave with excellent handling, exceptional PFOA-free dry treatment, durableDurable sheath, supple feel, soft catches, saves some weight over thicker workhorsesOutstanding handling and catch, great bargain, impressive durability, sheath is made from repurposed yarnSoft catches, low impact force rating, durableNice balance of weight and durability, reasonable price, rated for single, half, or twin usage
Cons On the heavier side, expensive, only available with dry treatmentMiddle marker wears out quickly, still heavier than thinner ropesSlightly heavy, not available with any dry treatments or as a bi-pattern, lighter color stains easilyA little too stretchy for top roping, stiffAverage handling, minimal sheath, not a standout performer in any metric
Bottom Line A workhorse rope that handles great and can survive lots of abuseThis rope is a winner due to its superior handling, durability, and excellent catchesAn environmentally friendly and high-performance rope at an affordable priceNot the best handling but excellent overall performanceA decent but basic climbing rope that does little to stand out from competitors
Rating Categories Sterling Velocity X... Mammut 9.5 Crag Cla... Mammut Crag We Care... Beal Booster III Bluewater Xenon 9.2
Handling (35%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Durability (25%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
Weight (20%)
5.0
6.0
6.0
5.0
7.0
Catch (20%)
7.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Specs Sterling Velocity X... Mammut 9.5 Crag Cla... Mammut Crag We Care... Beal Booster III Bluewater Xenon 9.2
Diameter 9.8 mm 9.5 mm 9.5 mm 9.7 mm 9.2 mm
Weight 62 g/m 59 g/m 59 g/m 61 g/m 56 g/m
Lengths Available 40m, 50m, 60m, 70m 80m 60m, 70m, 80m 60m, 70m, 80m 60m, 70m 60m, 70 m, 80m
Dry Coating Option XEROS Dry Treatment (PFOA-free) Classic, No Dry Treatment Classic, No Dry Treatment Dry Cover Standard, Double-Dry
Middle Mark or Bi-Pattern Option Bi-Pattern or Standard Middle mark Middle mark Middle mark Bi-pattern or Standard
Certified Use Single Single Single Single Single, Half, Twin
UIAA Fall Rating 6 6-7 6-7 8 Single 7, Half 22, Twin 44
Impact Force 8.6 kN 8.8 kN 8.8 kN 7.3 kN Single 8.1 kN, Half 6 kN, Twin 9.3 kN
Static Elongation % (in use) 8.8 8.8 8.8 9.7 Single 4.8%, Half 4.8%, Twin 3.1%
Dynamic Elongation % (first fall) 28.8 33.8 33.8 38 Single 34, Half 30.4, Twin 27.2
Sheath Proportion % 35 40 40 42 33
Calculated Weight of Sheath 22 g/m 24 g/m 24 g/m 26 g/m 18 g/m

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Velocity has been a flagship model in Sterling's lineup for years. The latest iteration adds the Xeros moniker to indicate that every version of this rope now receives Sterling's proprietary Xeros dry treatment.

The 9.8mm Sterling Velocity Xeros earned our Top Pick award as a Workhorse Rope. Even though many experienced climbers prefer their everyday rope to be thinner than 9.8mm, new or budget-conscious climbers should be able to appreciate the potential added value of a thicker line. Thicker ropes are usually more durable, which is especially desirable while new climbers learn to minimize sheath damage from rough edges or poor anchor locations.

Performance Comparison


sterling velocity xeros 9.8 climbing rope review - the sterling velocity xeros is a solid all-arounder with a unique...
The Sterling Velocity XEROS is a solid all-arounder with a unique dry-treatment for enhanced water and abrasion-resistance.
Credit: Jack Cramer

Handling


For a "thicker" rope, the Velocity handles particularly well. The tightly woven sheath feels smooth and clips easily 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, especially when feeding slack through a belay device to trying to clip a small carabiner.

sterling velocity xeros 9.8 climbing rope review - the sterling velocity xeros handles exceptionally well for a thicker...
The Sterling Velocity XEROS handles exceptionally well for a thicker climbing rope. Our testers particularly liked the feel of the tight 2-over-2 weave on the sheath.
Credit: Jack Cramer

As a side note, this rope comes factory drum coiled. If you aren't carefully uncoiling it from the outset, it can quickly become a nightmare to untangle. And if improperly flaked, the rope can be extra kinky for the first couple of days. Some other ropes come with 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.

sterling velocity xeros 9.8 climbing rope review - at 9.8mm, the sterling velocity xeros is probably too thick for...
At 9.8mm, the Sterling Velocity XEROS is probably too thick for serious sport projects, but it's a reliable choice for more casual sport or trad climbing.
Credit: Jack Cramer

Catch


This rope is rated to an 8.6 kN impact force, with 8.8% static elongation and 28.8% dynamic elongation. We liked the combination that it provided of a soft-enough catch that still didn't feel too spongy for top roping. We 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 doesn'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.

sterling velocity xeros 9.8 climbing rope review - the sterling velocity xeros weighs a hefty 62 grams per meter. that...
The Sterling Velocity XEROS weighs a hefty 62 grams per meter. That shouldn't be a problem at most crags. but most folks would prefer something lighter for alpine or backcountry climbing.
Credit: Jack Cramer

Weight


With its 9.8mm diameter, this rope weighs in at 62 g/m. That makes it slightly lighter than the heaviest models we've covered here, but significantly heavier than some of the thinner all-around models in this review that weigh in at around 58 g/m. The difference between this beefier line and one of those adds up to a little more than a half pound for a 60m rope.


The diameter of a rope can be misleading because manufacturers sometimes measure diameter in different ways. What most people are actually seeking when they're looking for a small-diameter rope is something that is lightweight. Not all ropes of the same diameter are created equal, so we recommend focusing more on the weight of a rope rather than the listed diameter.

sterling velocity xeros 9.8 climbing rope review - with a thick 9.8mm diameter, tight sheath, and excellent dry...
With a thick 9.8mm diameter, tight sheath, and excellent dry treatment, the Sterling Velocity XEROS was one of the most durable climbing ropes we tested.
Credit: Jack Cramer

Durability


This rope impressed us during our durability testing and also during our personal use. That shouldn't be surprising for one of the thicker ropes in the review. Its tightly woven sheath makes up 35% of the rope by weight. Percentage-wise this is actually on the lower end compared to some of the other ropes in this review, which can be upwards of 42%.


However, it's a mistake to compare the sheath percentage between ropes of different weights and thicknesses. 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 further suggests that this rope is quite durable, but how do we reconcile this durability with its modest amount of sheath? Well, the tight weave seems to enhance durability to some degree, but the bigger contributor might be the Xeros dry treatment. Sterling applies this PFOA-free treatment to the individual filaments before they're spun into yarns and eventually woven into rope. Most other companies apply their dry treatments after the whole rope is made. We noticed that this Xeros treatment seemed to maintain its water resistance much longer while also reducing the abrasion it experienced on rough rock. Perhaps that's why this rope withstood so much hard use during our tests.

sterling velocity xeros 9.8 climbing rope review - in our tests, sterling's unique xeros dry treatment held up better...
In our tests, Sterling's unique XEROS dry treatment held up better than the dry treatments on many other climbing ropes.
Credit: Jack Cramer

Should You Buy the Sterling Velocity Xeros


There is a big difference in price between the different color options for the Sterling Velocity Xeros 9.8. The basic single-tone version is priced a little higher than a budget rope while a premium bi-pattern version increases the cost considerably. We tested the neon green bi-pattern version and were disappointed to find that the difference between the red and black complimentary pattern on either half of the rope was subtle and hard to spot. Although we usually recommend purchasing a bi-pattern rope due to the added convenience and safety, we don't think it's worth it with the Velocity Xeros.

We think the standard color version, in contrast, presents a decent value. It may cost a little more than a bargain rope, but its durability and handling are noticeably superior. We think that makes this rope a great choice for beginner climbers or experienced folks that want a high-performance workhorse.

sterling velocity xeros 9.8 climbing rope review - the sterling velocity xeros is a premium rope with a premium price...
The Sterling Velocity XEROS is a premium rope with a premium price. We think the added cost is justified for the standard color options, but less acceptable for the bi-pattern versions.
Credit: Jack Cramer

What Other Rock Climbing Ropes Should You Consider


After comparing all the ropes in our test group, we came away feeling that the Sterling Velocity Xeros was the one we were most likely to grab 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. The Beal Booster III is a more affordable choice with a similar diameter, but it didn't seem to handle quite as well. Folks seeking a good value in a thinner, lighter-weight rope could consider the Mammut Crag We Care Classic.

Jack Cramer
 
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