Are Dry Treated Ropes More Durable?
Blue and durable dry treated climbing rope.

If you’re a beginner climber, you might’ve overheard some experienced colleagues talking about the so-called dry-treated climbing ropes. The whole situation probably left you wondering: okay, what does it mean to dry-treat a climbing rope, is it a DIY process or what? Needless to say, that’s exactly what we’ll discuss in today’s article, with an emphasis on the question: are dry-treated ropes more durable?

Now, besides answering whether dry-treated ropes are more durable, we’ll show you some methods you can utilize to prolong the lifespan of your climbing rope(s). Here, at Go Extreme Sports, we’re dedicated to giving thorough, in-depth answers to all of your questions. Without further ado, let’s see what’s in store for today!

You’ll want to know that dry-treated climbing ropes are actually more durable than their non-dry counterparts. They offer better abrasion resistance, which is something that will greatly enhance the life expectancy of your climbing rope. Additionally, it also will prevent your climbing rope from becoming all fuzzy as time goes by. 

Do you know what won’t make your climbing rope more durable? Reading just the preview! Therefore, keep on scrolling.

What is a dry-treated climbing rope?

Before we delve deeper into the pits of this article (not exactly the best choice of words, we know), we’ll first answer the question: what is a dry-treated climbing rope? Also, we’ll show you whether climbing ropes come dry-treated or we’re talking about a process you can do in a DIY manner.

Here’s the thing: once your climbing rope absorbs water, it’ll get drastically heavier. Also, it will have less power to battle the forces generated in a fall. However, it will once again be good as new once it dries out. Additionally, if a dampened rope gets in touch with cold weather and the water inside it freezes, it will become totally inoperable. That’s where dry-treated climbing ropes come into action!

To prevent such a scenario from happening, climbing rope manufacturers produce ropes that come with dry treatment that greatly decreases water absorption. That being said, one can imagine that dry-treated ropes are more expensive than their non-dry-treated counterparts (which are also expensive, and here’s why that’s so). A dry-treated rope is every ice climber’s or mountaineer’s favorite. That shouldn’t surprise anyone since they’re quite used to encountering water in this or that form.

Lastly, dry ropes possess a dry core or a dry sheath, or, well, both. The kind of dry rope that has both a dry core and a dry sheath is the one that offers the best levels of moisture protection.

Bonus tip: if you’re wondering whether one can use a climbing rope for canyoneering, click right here.

Can you dry-treat a climbing rope by yourself?

Okay, so now we know that dry-treated ropes leave the rope factory in such a manner. However, you might wonder: is it possible to dry-treat a climbing tope DIY-style?

You’ll be happy to know that there’s a little something called Rope Proof. It’s a product that will make your synthetic rope less prone to absorb water. In other words: it will make it more water repellent (not completely waterproof or something, of course). Keep in mind that the process we’ll show you below can be done with both new and used synthetic non-dry ropes. So, shall we begin?

First of all, you’ll have to make sure that your climbing rope is clean as possible. Then, find a bucket and mix one bottle of Rope Proof (1l per 50 meters of rope) and 10 bottles of hand-hot water inside it. Afterward, you’ll need to put your climbing rope inside, fully submerged, and add some more hot water if it ain’t covered. Leave it like that to soak for two hours, stirring things up every 15 minutes or so.

Once that two-hour period’s over, place your trusty rope inside an old pillow case and put it inside the washer. You’ll want to set the washing machine to a synthetic cycle at 30° and let it run full cycle including rinses. DO NOT use any detergent. Lastly, you’ll need to allow your climbing rope to air dry totally in a well-ventilated area, out of the path of direct sunlight before you continue to store or use it.

Now that we’ve covered this little guide, let’s consider the main question of this text: are dry-treated ropes more durable?

An orange dry treated rope.

Are dry treated ropes more durable?

If you were to ask expert climbers what they think about this issue/question/however-you-wanna-call-it, you’d get a unanimous answer: that’s right, dry-treated ropes actually last longer. Not only are they more durable than non-dry climbing ropes, but they also enhance the lifespan of other parts of your gear since they allow you to take a greater number of falls. Additionally, they offer better abrasion resistance, which is, without any doubt, something that will increase the life expectancy of your climbing rope. Also, that will prevent your climbing rope from getting all fuzzy as time passes.

To simply answer the question in the title of this text: dry-treated ARE more durable than their non-dry counterparts. As we’ve mentioned in the beginning, we’ll show you some tips on how to prolong the lifespan of your trusty climbing rope. You’ll find them right below!

How to prolong the lifespan of your climbing rope?

Without further ado, let’s see what you can do to make sure your climbing rope reaches its full life expectancy (potential). Needless to say, this will save you plenty of money you otherwise spend on buying newer and newer climbing ropes.

#1 Flake your climbing rope

Here’s our suggestion: you’ll want to flake your climbing rope each time you finish climbing as that will prevent the forming of any knots or kinks in the rope. If the belayer needs to handle kinds of knots all of the time in the middle of the belay, that’s not a good thing, as you’re able to guess.

#2 Wash your climbing rope

Even if you’re the most pedantic type when it comes to taking care of your climbing equipment, it will eventually get dirty. Your climbing rope’s no exception. When it becomes dirty, it will also become stiff and slightly inoperable. Not to mention the fact that a dirty climbing rope will also wear out other parts of your gear such as your belay device or carabiners.

#3 Cut the damaged end of your climbing rope

As you’re probably aware, climbing ropes tend to get damaged at the ends. In order to increase the lifespan of your trusty climbing rope, you’ll have to do away with the faulty section by cutting it. Pay close attention to how much you will need to cut out.

Also, make sure that, once you’ve cut the rope, you calculate the remaining length of the rope and tape a label on both ends that will signal exactly how lengthy it is. You’d be surprised to find out how many climbing accidents happened because a certain climber forgot that the climbing rope had been cut.

#4 Keep your rope off the abrasive surface

If you’re climbing outdoors, just make sure that your climbing rope’s always off the abrasive ground. You don’t want your rope dragging across the ground, so always flake it onto your rope bag and belay next to it, to avoid making a mess and hurting your rope.

If you’re curious about how one breaks in a climbing rope, we’ve published an article about the subject.

How long do climbing ropes usually last?

So we’ve talked a lot about your climbing rope’s lifespan but still haven’t mentioned the item’s average life expectancy. Of course, how long will your rope survive will have to depend on the number of times you’ll be using it. In other words: the more you use it, the less will it last you. Almost all rope manufacturers suggest you should retire your rope after 10 years, even if you haven’t used it once. Here’s a little chart we’ve made:

  • You’re using your climbing rope almost on a daily basis. Suggested retirement time: less than 1 year. 
  • You’re using your climbing rope once every week. Suggested retirement time: 1 year. 
  • You’re using your climbing rope a couple of times a month. Suggested retirement time: about 3 years. 
  • You’re using your climbing rope once a month. Suggested retirement time: about 5 years. 
  • You’re using your climbing rope almost never, twice a year. Suggested retirement time: about 7 years. 
  • You’ve never used your climbing rope. Suggested retirement time: 10 years. 

Keep in mind that this whole 10-year rule for unused ropes is more of a legal than a scientific standpoint. That’s because there are actually no tests for textile aging; it’s like the best before date on certain types of food. However, we’d suggest you refrain from using your 10-year-old unused climbing rope. Once the life of your rope has passed, here’s what you can do with it.

The bottom line

Okay, so that’s about all there’s to say about what makes dry-treated ropes more durable and what can wear them out (and other related info). Hopefully, you’ve had a fun read and learned some new, as always. Now you’re well aware that if you’re on the lookout for a durable climbing rope – you should always opt for a dry-treated one.

For more tips on climbing, climbing gear, and climbing-related activities, feel free to visit this page.

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