Before the invention of the Gri-Gri or light-weight harnesses, the climbing rope reigned supreme. This multipurpose tool was your harness, your belay device, and of course your rope, keeping you safe and off the ground. Thankfully, these days we can hang in our comfy harnesses and let our ropes just be ropes in their auto-locking belay devices. Over the past few decades the outdoor industry has grown a ton, resulting in better and better ropes and more and more to choose from. In today’s review, we’re featuring the Petzl Arial 9.5mm rope, which we’re totally digging, especially for sport climbing. I’m going to apply our usual review categories (Fit, Form, Function, Finances), which is a little funny for a rope review, but let’s give it a shot…
Fit: The Arial measures in at a slim 9.5mm making it a great “fit” for a variety of climbing situations, including rock, ice, and snow. I definitely recommend it for sport climbing, but if you’re going to be top roping a ton or if you’re really new to sport climbing you’ll probably want something a bit thicker. This rope also fits perfectly into a Gri-Gri 2, never getting stuck or feeling like it’s gliding through with a little too much ease. At just 9.5mm the Arial is pretty lightweight, yet still substantial enough to make you feel like you’re not hanging from a string.
Form: You can choose from a flashy orange color that really pops out against the rock or a blackish-brown that blends in so that in photos it almost looks like you’re soloing. There’s a middle mark, which is super useful on extra long routes. You can find it in 60, 70, and 80 meter lengths, giving you great options for whatever style of climbing you’re into. It’s also dry treated, making it more resistant to water and dirt.
Function: Sure, part of getting a soft catch has to do with your belayer’s skills, but the rope matters immensely, and this baby is great for soft, plush catches. Ropes can get stiff over time causing a harsher catch but this one has held up its elasticity and flexibility. The Arial features something called the “UltraSonic Finish” which bonds the core and sheath together and supposedly “gives greater durability and avoids frayed ends”. However, I did not find this rope to last longer than others I’ve owned. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t wear out quicker than others, but it definitely showed wear after several months of aggressive and frequent outdoor sport climbing.
Finances: The 60 meter sells for $230 and can be found a bit cheaper at various retailers. This seems like a fair price to pay for a reliable and well-made rope. After all, it is keeping you alive when you’re hanging a hundred feet up.
Crush Status: Life saver. I really love this rope and will be buying another.
Have you tried the Petzl Arial? Let us know what you think!