(3 out of 5)
Black Diamond entered the rope market a few years back and now has small lineup of rock, ice, and gym ropes. With the reputation for making some of the most durable and trusted hard goods in the industry, we were curious to see if Black Diamond ropes lived up to their reputation.
At the time of purchase we were in need of a new gym rope and decided to give the Black Diamond 9.9mm 35-meter rope a try. Up to this point we had tried several gym ropes including Maxim and Petzl and typically use a Sterling Evolution rope outside. For a gym rope, we were looking for something that could take a beating being used roughly 2-3 times per week with a moderate amounts of falls along the way that wasn’t going to break the bank. Our best luck with a gym rope up to this point was with a Maxim Chalk Line rope. It held up nicely over time and was less than $100. This was the bar we were measuring against for the Black Diamond 9.9mm Rope.
Why Buy a Gym Rope?
While you could just use your 60 or 70-meter rope at the gym, there are a few reasons why we’d rather have a dedicated gym rope.
- Hauling around a 70-meter rope at the gym isn’t fun. It’s much easier to manage a 35-meter rope.
- Typically ropes that have been used outside also have a bit of dirt and grime stuck in them, leaving your hands dirty.
- Lastly, constantly using your outdoor rope inside only adds to the wear and tear on the rope. Being that typical 60 or 70-meter ropes cost upwards of $200, it’s nice to save it for the real rock.
We’ve been using the Black Diamond rope for 6-months now in the gym. The performance of the rope is good but the long-term durability has left us cautious to purchase again.
The Black Diamond 9.9mm rope comes in four different sizes: 35m, 40m, 60m, and 70m allowing you to purchase a long gym rope or full-length outdoor climbing rope.
The 9.9mm size is great. It’s not too large or small for all the different belay devices on the market and feeds well through and ATC or Grigri. The 9.9mm sizing isn’t overly bulky or thin, making it coil up into a manageable size when packing up for the day or moving around the gym from climb to climb.
The rope generally has a good feel. It’s not overly stiff out of the bag and feels good in your fingers making clips and is easy to tie knots.
As we’ve already noted, the rope has a nice smooth feel out of the bag. It smoothly feeds through belay devices and has a nice tight knit look and feel you’d expect from a contemporary rope.
While a halfway mark provides little utility gym climbing, it is a great feature for rappelling off different lines outside. The Black Diamond 9.9mm rope uses a large solid black marked band in the middle of the rope. Unlike other ropes that use a small stitch, the black marked middle band is easy to see. It’s no bi-pattern but it’s just as easy to find.
The price for this rope is on par with others in the market and definitely not overpriced. If you aren’t in a hurry to purchase, wait for the annual Black Diamond 25% sale or the seasonal 20% deals from retailers like REI and you can get a new gym rope for under $80, not bad.
The Not So Good
The first few months of using the rope we had nothing but good things to say about the rope. Fast forward to having using the rope for six months and signs of wear are starting to show a bit earlier than other gym ropes we’ve used. Our use wasn’t atypical or over the top. We use it to lead climb and and rope up with it on average twice a week, taking some small falls here and there. The first thing we noticed was the sheath showing some wear by getting a little fuzzy. Typically this type of wear first happens near the ends of ropes due to falls but the wear on our rope was more towards the first third of the rope.
The signs of use on the sheath aren’t overly concerning in general for ropes. Unfortunately, the core of the rope is starting to show signs of fatigue as well making us wonder how much more use we’ll be getting out of the rope. We’ve been good about using ATCs at the gym, which we’ve typically found helps prolong the life of ropes compared to using a Grigri, which for whatever reason seems to wear on our gym ropes a bit more.
For a comparison, the gym rope that we’ve been able to get the most life out of is the Maxim Chalk Line rope.
Seeing the wear on our gym rope is to be expected over time but it’s hard to recommend the Black Diamond 9.9mm rope for anything other than gym climbing. Knowing that ropes endure much more abuse outdoors compared to a gym, we worry that the lifespan of a 60 or 70-meter version of the rope wouldn’t last long.