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How much does time actually effect a rope?


Original Post
Cameron Habib · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0

Bought a rope from online (10.1 Mammut Classic Gym), came still wrapped in original plastic, but was made in 2010. I’ve heard a number of times that ropes have a “10 year life” meaning I have at most 2 left on this one. Is the shelf life for ropes a real thing? Worth returning and buying a newer one? Thanks!

Auden Alsop · · Baltimore, MD · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 5

Well, as far as I've experimented with, as long as ropes are brand new and have been stored properly(not near nylon melting stuff, out of the sun, normal climate and temperature) they are fine to use. Don't make your decision based off of my word entirely, but I have been using my buddies 15 year old but brand new and never used rope, and I have fallen on it many times, although no real bombs. As usual with ropes/nylon/slings, if it isn't entirely confidence inspiring to you, better to replace.

Nathan Doyle · · Sierra Foothills · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 26
Cameron Habib wrote:

Bought a rope from online (10.1 Mammut Classic Gym), came still wrapped in original plastic, but was made in 2010. I’ve heard a number of times that ropes have a “10 year life” meaning I have at most 2 left on this one. Is the shelf life for ropes a real thing? Worth returning and buying a newer one? Thanks!

Personally? I'd return it on principle. Plus, if you end up selling it a year later, when you get a better one gifted to you for example, you'll be stuck selling a 9 year old rope.

I'll let others more knowledgeable than I comment on rope life. 


John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,535

I'm surprised there's any ropes from 2010 left for sale on any reputable online sites. 

Your rope is fine- 2 years is a long time and like as not you'll either retire it or destroy it before then anyway.

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 484

All the testing and studies I've read say that nylon doesn't degrade over time, it degrades with use (in other words, no shelf life). However, some studies have shown ropes to lose their elasticity over time, which isn't great for a dynamic rope. Chances are, if you shoot the retailer an email they'll probably send you a newer rope, so I would go down that avenue before you start using it. 

Alan Emery · · Lebanon, NH · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 251
SRB25 · · Woodside, ca · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 5
Alan Emery wrote:

Blue is nonsense 

Alan Emery · · Lebanon, NH · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 251

SRB25 ... The information is a combination from the BMC and Mammut ... you should call them to let them know.

Dr Strangelove · · Bend, OR · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 30

If I paid full price for a rope and was sent an 8 year old one, id return it on principle. But personally I'd have no problem using it.

Nolan Yahok · · Carbondale, CO · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0
Alan Emery wrote:

Are Mammut/BMC unbiased sources of data with no liabilities?

eli poss · · Durango, Co · Joined May 2014 · Points: 484
Alan Emery wrote:

I'll buy all of it except for the blue one. All the data I've seen shows no significant strength reduction in unused ropes, regardless of age. Elasticity is another story, but I'd still use an unused rope of any age for TRing and possibly sport climbing.  

Alan Emery · · Lebanon, NH · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 251

The OP asked a question and I was just responding with what I found.  I found this, and many other sites that are saying the same thing, as I was asked to do research for a climbing gym for education purposes.  This is what the manufactures say, not me.  Is it just a sales pitch?  Who knows, but consider one thing here.  If someone bought a rope and did not use it for 10 years, why would they be targeting someone who doesn't use a rope?  That doesn't add up.

On the other hand, we are all responible for examining our own gear.  If you feel an unused rope over 10 years old is fine to climb with, go for it.  As Nate said, if you are buying a new rope, make sure it is new. 

Alexander Blum · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 132

It's not a sales pitch, they are just limiting liability by being conservative. Fifteen year long experiments are time consuming and expensive, so they just err on the side of caution.

Jim Titt · · Germany · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 490
Alan Emery wrote:

SRB25 ... The information is a combination from the BMC and Mammut ... you should call them to let them know.

Well I am a member of the BMC Technical Comittee and my opinion is that blue is for sure crap, many of us USE ropes older than that.

The majority of manufacturers give a 10 year shelf life AND a 5-6 year use life, Singing Rock give 10 years use or 12 years from production.

Benjamin Mitchell · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 0

Here's a pull test on a twenty year old rope: http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en/experience-story?cid=qc-lab-old-vs-new-gear-testing


Based on that, it doesn't seem likely that your rope is just going to expire, but it seems a bit dishonest for a site to sell you a rather old rope without indicating that in some way...

Ken Noyce · · Layton, UT · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 2,249
Jim Titt wrote:

Well I am a member of the BMC Technical Comittee and my opinion is that blue is for sure crap, many of us USE ropes older than that.

The majority of manufacturers give a 10 year shelf life AND a 5-6 year use life, Singing Rock give 10 years use or 12 years from production.

Jim is completely correct on this.  Most rope companies say that ropes have a maximum 15 year life span, 10 year shelf plus up to an additional 5 years of use.  You can be very certain that the manufacturers who are using these numbers are being very conservative as well since they don't want any liability for a rope that is too old.  

Robert Hall · · North Conway, NH · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 15,610

I would return a 8 year-old rope I bought and ask for credit towards one no more than 3-4 yrs old, preferably no more than 2.  If I did use the "old" rope, the first thing I would do is to measure it. As nylon ropes age they shrink, some more than others.  In my very limited experience, it seems the smaller the diameter the more the ropes shrink so a 10.1mm shouldn't be too bad, but you really don't want to find out your "60m rope" is now only 57m long while lowering off the anchors of a 30m  sport climb. As others have mentioned, I'd also be concerned as to the degree of the rope's ability to dynamically stop a fall; it might be a bit of a "hard catch" (but it isn't going to break)  

If the rope has spent its 8 years in an un-airconditioned warehouse in, say AZ or Southern CA, I'd be more suspect than if it had been in a basement storage in say, Montana. Loss of elasticity, shrinkage and other such changes are are chemical/physical processes and, as a VERY general rule-of-thumb, the rate of change of such processes doubles every +10degrees Celsius ( +18 F) 

Bottom line is that anyone selling a rope nearing 10 years old should state such on the site, and, I would think, discount the price.   

Alan Emery · · Lebanon, NH · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 251
Jim Titt wrote:

Well I am a member of the BMC Technical Comittee and my opinion is that blue is for sure crap, many of us USE ropes older than that.

The majority of manufacturers give a 10 year shelf life AND a 5-6 year use life, Singing Rock give 10 years use or 12 years from production.

Well, there you go.  As I said, I copied the information from another site which claims the graph was from BMC and Mammut.   Would you be kind enough to provide us with better data?  Since you are part of the BMC Technical Committee, you should speak to the people at weighmyrack.com and inform then they are misrepresenting your organization and should correct their posts.


K. Le Douche · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2008 · Points: 100

If you paid full price I guess you got ripped off, and I'd return it, just on principle.  If you got a good deal on it, use the hell out of it.  Safety wise it's fine.  Maybe it won't stretch as much as it once would have, but with a dynamic belay you probably won't even know the difference; it's not going to break due to age.  

Nick Hatch · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 0
Robert Hall wrote:

As nylon ropes age they shrink, some more than others.

Unused ropes, even? I always thought that was a physical effect of usage. Ie, as a rope is used and gets entropy beat into it, it gets fatter and therefore shorter. 

Double-braid polyester ropes shrink too. 

Alexander Blum · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 132
Nick Hatch wrote:

Unused ropes, even? I always thought that was a physical effect of usage. Ie, as a rope is used and gets entropy beat into it, it gets fatter and therefore shorter. 

Double-braid polyester ropes shrink too. 

Based on the BD link posted above, this is almost certainly the case.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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