As a climber, your rope is the one piece of gear that you don’t back up, so it better be a good one, right? I’ve climbed on many different ropes over the years, but my favorites above all are the New England Glider series. Specifically, I’ve become a fan of the company’s 70m 9.9mm bi-patterned model. Here’s what makes this rope stand out above the rest.
What makes all of the Gliders so smooth is the “1 over 1” sheath design. Not only does it feel great in your hand but it also has noticeably less drag than other ropes. The first time I climbed on it I literally double-checked at least three or four times mid-route to make sure I was still tied in. It was so light I could hardly feel it.
You can rest easy and climb on no matter what the forecast, because this rope is “double dry treated.” Both the sheath and the core are waterproofed, giving double the protection—which has come in handy for those afternoon thunderstorms the Southeast is known for.
A lightweight combination
It seems as though 70 meters m is the new 60, and I’ve never been sorry to have the extra length. I’ve pitches together without fear of running out of rope, which sometimes means the difference between sending and bailing. And because it’s only a 9.9mm, it doesn’t feel any heavier in my pack than a 10.2mm, 60m.
No more desperate searching for the middle of your rope in those last fleeting moments of sunlight! The bi-pattern feature makes setting up your end of day rappels a breeze.
I’ve had great success using this rope with a wide variety of belay devices. I found that even though 9.9mm was not recommended for use with the original Grigri, this particular rope still had plenty of bite to auto-lock (just our experience, your mileage may vary!), which means it works equally well for projecting sport routes as it does long days of plugging gear. As a side note, the new Grigri 2 now includes 9.9mm ropes in their recommended range of diameters.
Only 5 Percent Static Elongation
This is what sold my hubby on this rope. As a bigger dude, he is not a fan of super-stretchy ropes that force him to redo crux sequences over and over while working routes. Less static elongation means less ground is lost on second, top-roping falls. The rope still provides for a nice soft catch for leader falls, though.
You’d think that such a thin rope wouldn’t last as long as its thicker, 10mm counterpart, but ours was used for almost 2.5 years before the sheath showed any signs of wear and tear.
Hits: I’d wholeheartedly recommend this rope to anyone. If you’re in the market for a new cord (or even if you’re not—every climber worth their chalk knows you can never have too much gear!) check out the New England Glider series.
Misses: My only complaint is hardly worth mentioning, but here it is: I wish that the 9.9 bi-patterned ropes came in brighter colors. This isn’t a purely cosmetic gripe, either. The dark, muted colors make the rope blend in a little too well with the rock to the point that it can, at times, be hard to see. Other offereings from New England are available in brighter colors.
Company Web site: NEropes.com
Buy it: REI; $240
To read more gear reviews, helpful tips and how-to’s for taking your family into the great outdoors, check out Erica's blog, Cragmama.com, an online resource for adventurous families and families-to-be.