by Brad

October 11, 2021

Dry Rope vs. Non-Dry Rope

There reaches a time when you have acquired all the knowledge and the threshold experience you need for climbing. Then all that’s left is for you to get the right gear with the inclusion of a climbing rope. 

Whether you are buying the rope to further your learning or getting the real mountain experience, choosing the right climbing rope, in any case, can be daunting. It’s no lesser worse to beginners than mountaineers switching from mountaineering indoors to outdoor mountaineering. 

It’s a limbo where you have to decide between dry rope vs. non-dry rope. While both are suited for climbing, there are specific settings that require only one type.

Well, in order for you you to tell the suitable rope for your climbing needs, herein is everything that you’ll need to know about the comparison.

Water-Resistant Properties

how to wash climbing rope

Water-resistance is what distinguishes a dry rope from a non-dry rope. Unlike dry ropes, non-dry ropes are made devoid of water-resistant coating. 

However, being water-resistant does not guarantee a watertight character. You have to know that no climbing rope is 100% waterproof. Whether it’s dry or not dry, they will still become damp when they contact moisture. 

On the other hand, the water-repellent characteristic of dry ropes reduces the quantity of moisture the rope absorbs. And that is the main reason behind dry ropes beating non-dry ropes in performance.

Further dry climbing ropes are grouped based on their dry core and dry sheath. For instance, on the one hand, dry sheaths are coated with water-resistant compounds after being weaved. On the other hand, the dry core is coated with water-resistant compounds on both the sheath and the core while weaving.

It is possible to find different types of dry ropes, however. The ropes may be described as ‘single dry’ or ‘double dry. The term “double-dry” means it has been coated with the repellent twice, while “single dry” means it’s only coated with the hydro-resistant chemicals once.

Longevity

A dry rope, of course, is designed to be considerably more resilient under damp weather environments. The reality is that the dry rope’s moisture covering makes it more sturdy in other conditions as well. Thus, despite being costly, dry ropes hold up better to friction while fraying more slowly.

It would be a smart move if you looked for cords with various coatings when choosing dry ropes. Some manufacturers provide ropes with superior coatings, distinctively placed on cords. Cord coatings extend the rope’s lifespan or even allows it to withstand more significant usage.

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As much as these dump-resistant coatings are beneficial, they won’t be much helpful in damp circumstances. However, by reducing the water absorption rate, a dry rope will last for a long time. And that’s unlikely for a non-dry rope which absorbs all the moisture and starts rotting eventually.

It’s also important to remember that a dry rope’s outer coating will weaken as time goes by. Also, when there’s a lot of friction, it’s more likely to wear down faster.  

Your dry rope may not repel water as well as it used to, so it might be best relegated to indoor climbing only. As a common phenomenon, a rope’s core will last longer than its sheath under similar conditions.

This inner layer is also weakened over time, even with the water repellent coating. These coatings last for different amounts of time, depending on the rope’s quality and its manufacturer.

Cost

The price gap between dry and non-dry rope is substantial but not sufficient to make it prohibitively expensive. In reality, the price of both a dry and a non-dry mountaineering rope starts at approximately $20-$30, making it fairly accessible for any beginning climber.

Nonetheless, the price gap can be significant due to the wide range in form and qualities across dry ropes. It, therefore, will depend on length, the volume of coatings, coating varieties, and other factors.

For instance, a rope with a double coating and a dry sheath and core will be costlier than single-coated ones. Variation of the price will also depend on the brand and length. However, dry ropes are somewhat costlier than non-dry ropes, by a few dollars.

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Application

Besides treatment and costs, the key difference between dry vs. non-dry ropes is how they are used. A dry climbing rope is purported for dumpy conditions, whereas a non-dry one is best suited for a dry environment. If you don’t know, how to clean a climbing rope, read our guide.

As such, a dry rope goes hand in hand with climbing settings with excessive moisture quantity. The two most common examples are climbing mountains covered in snow or trekking along with glaciers. They are also well suited when multi-pitching across alpine locations where torrential downpours occur regularly.

Contrary, non-dry ropes are intended for use in dry locations, such as indoor climbing gyms. They are also used for short trips on dry paths, wherein you can simply pack your gear and leave as it begins to rain. 

Should your designated climbing settings be this way, then you have to use a non-dry rope and save cash to acquire superior mountaineering shoes, helmets, and other gear. 

Static and Dynamic Elongation

If you are bamboozled by the term static and dynamic elongation, here is what you need to know. Dynamic elongation refers to the additional length a rope gains when it takes its first UIAA fall.

On the other hand, static elongation refers to the length the rope can stretch when loaded y 80kgs of weight. Here are the differences between static and dynamic ropes.

Both measures are related to stretch, and a lower value does not always imply that the climbing rope is somewhat more dependable. A small to moderate amount of stretching can smooth outfalls while reducing the stress on climbing gear, your body, and the belayer. 

Their retention capabilities remain almost intact since a dry rope will repel moisture when subjected to damp conditions. However, non-dry ropes will soak water and get stiffer. They will either stretch less or even more, which is quite hazardous in either case.

Static vs Dynamic Rope for Rappelling

Rope Weight

When you are contemplating between buying a non-dry rope or a dry climbing rope of the same weight, going for a dry-treated rope would be best since it has better strength retention. 

In the long run, a rope that has been dry-treated and has sheath protection will always remain intact with both weight and flexibility regardless of the brand.

Moreover, the rope mass is significant since it indicates the rope’s core structure. This does not imply that the “dry treatment” adds extra pounds to these unique ropes. It only makes them more dynamic, versatile, and strong. Learn more bout the dry-treated climbing ropes in a separate article.

Dry Rope vs. Non-Dry Rope FAQ

Is there any distinction between dry vs. non-dry ropes?

The fundamental distinction between dry and wet ropes is the treatment done on a dry rope. The compound coatings allow it to repel water. 

In contrast, non-dry ropes have no capabilities to resist water absorption. Despite the water-repellant manner in which dry ropes are made, they may get wet, but not as much as a non-dry rope would. 

When should I use a dry rope?

Your climbing activities will determine whether you use a dry or a wet rope. If you climb on glaciers or multi-pitched traditional climbing paths in rainy regions, you’ll require a dry rope. But the same does not apply if you’re primarily climbing indoors.

Is it worth investing in non-wet ropes?

When it comes to non-wet ropes vs. wet ropes, a dry climbing rope is costlier. However, regardless of their advantages, if you’re primarily bouldering or doing your climbing indoors, a dry rope won’t be necessary. 

Bear in mind that dry ropes’ abilities to repel wears off when the coating starts to deteriorate and become less useful outdoors. As such, you need to relegate them to indoor use. 

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What does dry-coated climbing rope mean? 

Climbing ropes that have been dry-treated offer water-repellent characteristics. They are coated with a fluoropolymer to prevent water absorption or, by minimum, reduce it. 

Dry climbing ropes treated come in either dry sheath or dry core varieties. However, more types may be offered to hinge on the supplier.

Is damp rope more durable?

A damp rope isn’t any more durable than a dried rope. In instances of high tension, like falling, moisture or dampness in the rope’s strands might make it more vulnerable to breakages. 

If this occurs, you should consider putting your climbing rope away to prevent falls.

Final Thoughts on Dry Ropes vs. Non-Dry Ropes

Since there are certain features in every climbing route that require a specific climbing rope, buying a rope calls for lots of thought and attention. The rope you choose must have features that are in line with the climbing routes. 

Remember, both dry and non-dry ropes have their purposes in the mountaineering world, so the decision between the two is based on your climbing region and the sort of climbing that you will be engaging the rope. In case you need more information about ropes, read how to cut climbing ropes the right way!

While you’re out searching for a climbing rope, keep the above points in mind. Having these considerations in mind will ensure you avoid any blunder and overcome common problems when choosing a climbing rope that meets your requirements.

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About the author 

Brad

Brad is a professional climber in the discipline of traditional climbing. He often jokes that he can get a book to read during the long climbs. Of course, it always goes well with a good cup of coffee. Drinking coffee is his safer hobby.

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