Climbing Rope Question and Answer Page

Question and Answer Page

“Welcome to the most comprehensive climbing rope Q & A resource on the web! Here you’ll find answers to many of the common questions on climbing ropes and how to purchase them.

Still have questions? Please feel free to contact us any time by phone or email — we are here to help you get the climbing rope that you need!”

Question: “Do you have any recommendations as far as choosing a climbing rope length?”

We can do ANY custom length of rope that you might need… For climbing purposes, the traditional rule of thumb for figuring out the ideal length of your climbing rope is to measure from the attachment point to the floor and then add four extra feet. The reasoning behind this recommendation is that having a few feet of slack in the rope will make it much easier for climbers to get onto the rope and will also allow a spotter to stand on the end of rope to prevent it from swinging while in use.

Climbing rope “slack” need not be an exact measurement down to the inch; a rough estimate of an extra 3-4 feet should suffice. All rope lengths are measured in feet, so please round to the closest foot when determining your rope length. This rule of thumb is equally true in choosing length for outdoor or indoor climbing ropes.

For pulling or dragging purposes, 50 or more feet is generally recommended. Please click here for more information on ropes that can be used for pulling and dragging. If you would simply like to attach your rope to a pulley, or hang your rope for exercises such as pullups, laybacks or hanging leg raises, generally 15 feet will suffice. We feature five standard climbing ropes lengths which are applicable in the vast majority of cases. If you need a custom length besides the ones listed, please contact us and we will be more than happy to provide a quote and other important details.

Question: “Will it be ok if want to hang my manila rope outside?”
We do not recommend or condone hanging a manila rope outside unless you plan on taking it down after each use and storing it in a safe place. Neither the climbing rope material nor the hanging mechanism are designed for outside usage. Leaving a manila climbing rope outside will void any and all warranties associated with it. Furthermore, when exposed to rain, condensation or damp climates, manila fiber will rot from the inside out making it unsafe, and will also develop “rope splinters” which are very uncomfortable.

Fortunately we do have synthetic poly-plus ropes specifically designed to handle outdoor usage, that will dramatically enhance your outdoor rope climbing experience. Please click on this link to find more information on poly-plus outdoor climbing ropes.
Question: “How do I hang my climbing rope?”

The I-Beam Clamp in action

The I-Beam clamp in action

Indoor climbing ropes must be hung from structurally safe framework which will exceed any and all loads placed on the rope. Most beam and ceiling frameworks in institutional buildings will meet this criteria, however, please always confirm this with your building plans and/or building engineer. If there is any question about the structural integrity of your climbing rope attachment point, please consult a contractor.

It is advisable to raise your ropes out of the reach or path of other students or activities whenever they are not in use, so please select your training area accordingly. It is also recommended to hang climbing ropes no further than the rope’s length away from the wall. This will allow a pulley installed high on the wall to raise the rope out of the way. Both of these can be accomplished with a rope hoist or lock box.

The L-1 quick link carabiner comes standard with all manila rope orders. We offer several different hardware attachment options: I-Beam Clamp, Wood Beam Clamp and Pipe Clamp, all of which can be found by clicking here.

It is advisable to hang ropes far enough away from the wall so that the wall itself or objects on the wall can not interfere or injure a climber by impairing proper spotting and supervision. You will need to install mats under and around the climbing area and a thick landing mat directly under climbing rope for safety purposes. At no time should manila climbing ropes be left out of doors.

A look at several of our rope climbing attachment hardware options: Pipe clamp hanger, i-beam clamp and wood beam hanger. For more details on each one, please visit this page.

All poly-plus outdoor ropes come with a chain sling attachment to facilitate installation. To hang outdoor climbing ropes please follow similar a protocol, making sure your attachment point can support and exceed any load placed on the rope. The primary attachment hardware for outdoor climbing ropes is a “chain sling.” You can find more information about the chain sling on the Outdoor Climbing Ropes page. Regardless of where or how you choose to hang your ropes, it is advisable to consult a contractor to find the best options and considerations.

Question: “Can I get a custom manila climbing rope length?”
Absolutely, we will be happy to sell manila climbing ropes “by the foot.” Our fabricator can do any custom length that you need besides the standard lengths that are listed on the website. Keep in mind that climbing ropes that are less than 15 feet in length will be charged at the 15-foot rope price — our ropes are all hand made and most of the cost of the rope goes into labor, which is the same regardless of length. Custom ropes will require additional lead time as well as a custom shipping quote adjusted for the total order weight. If you require a rope in a size other than those listed, please give us a call at 1-800-978-0206 to get the ball rolling.

Question: “Can I purchase the rope attachment clamp separately?”

We get a lot of interest from folks looking to purchase the climbing rope attachment clamp separately. The answer to that is “you sure can.” Please use the order button below:

Please Note: By purchasing this item you are agreeing to take full responsibility for your health and well-being. The rope clamp will already be attached to a 3-foot “short rope” length of manila climbing rope when shipped. Removing the rope clamp from original fittings and/or reattaching the rope clamp to another rope will void all warranties. Reattachment will require special tools. FHS, its representatives and manufacturers will not and cannot be held responsible for anything that occurs as a result of tampering or misuse of this item.

Question: “What are the differences between the outdoor and indoor climbing ropes?”
Indoor climbing Ropes: Our indoor manila climbing ropes are made of 3-strand, pure “Grade A” manila, a natural fiber which is extremely strong and durable. The attachment fitting for the indoor rope consists of a specially designed steel eye fitting making installation to your ceiling attachment simple, safe and secure.

To prevent unraveling, the end of our indoor ropes are first “whipped” with a smaller length of cord and then fitted with a “polyboot.” These manila ropes are the climbing ropes of choice for many schools, sports teams and training programs all over the country and the world as they offer a superior workout experience in a minimum of space.

Our most popular length of indoor manila climbing ropes is 15 feet but we can do any length you need.

Outdoor Climbing Ropes: The biggest difference between the indoor climbing ropes and outdoor climbing ropes has to to with the material they are composed of. In order to better deal with the elements, specifically moisture, our outdoor climbing ropes are composed of “poly-plus” a lightweight quality polyester dacron blend which was selected specifically for its excellent moisture and UV ray resistance. Poly-plus is both lighter and stronger than manila and has a soft feel that is very similar to cotton.

The attachment point for the outdoor ropes has a galvanized metal eye thimble to minimize friction with the rope material and hardware during use. Each outdoor climbing rope comes with a “chain sling” which provides an easy instillation option. The bottom of each outdoor rope is braided to deter unraveling. Outdoor ropes are available in any length with our most popular being 15 feet.
Question: “What can you recommend if I want use a rope for pulling or dragging weights?”

We highly recommend ordering your rope with a slightly different design than the standard climbing ropes. For pulling or dragging, we have a specially designed spliced metal “thimble” instead of the traditional indoor rope attachment clamp.

During use, the galvanized thimble will minimize friction on the rope material itself which will dramatically extend the life of your rope. The thimble also makes for a very easy way to attach the rope to a pulling sled or vehicle, etc. Additionally, “thimbled” ropes can also be hung in the traditional manner for climbing. Please call for pricing and shipping options.

Question: “Can I get knots in my climbing ropes?”
Rope Knot Option #1: Monkey Paw
The “monkey paw” is a woven knot of smaller cord that is spliced into the rope material to provide a larger gripping surface while ascending and a resting spot while descending. Monkey Paws are $10 each.
Rope Knot Option #2: Big Knot
A large knot (or knots) tied directly into rope itself forming platforms for assistance in climbing. ‘Big knots’ are $10 each.
Rope Knot Option #3: Ball Stop
Ball Stops are attached Rubber balls which are bolted into the rope and provide assistance for intermediate climbing rope participants.

Recommended for athletes up to 120 lbs. Ball stops are $18 each.

Yes, you can! We offer three distinct knot options: Monkey Paws, Big Knots and Ball Stops, with each one offering a little something different due to their design and structure. More details on each option are provided at the right.

Due to the custom nature of knot placement, you will have to place your order by phone if you are interested in adding knots to your rope. Please give us a call at 1-800-979-0206 and one of our representatives will be happy to walk you through the process.

When placing your order, you will need to provide:

1.) the type of knot you would like
2.) how many knots you would like
3.) the specific location of each knot

Monkey Paws and Big Knots are available with both indoor manila and outdoor poly-plus ropes. Including knots will not shorten the stated length of your chosen rope. So for example, a 15 foot rope with four added big knots will be 15 feet in length after the knots are placed.

Another option for the rope end is a “turks head knot” (a large know which finishes the rope) as a substitute for the usual polyboot (in the case of the manila rope,) or braided-back (in the case of the poly-plus rope) finish. Please be sure to mention this if you would like this option. Please note: turk knots can only go at the end of the rope.

Question: “How is your manila climbing rope different than the manila rope that I can find much cheaper at the hardware store?”
The most important difference is the quality of the Manila used in the ropes. This is measured by something called a Becker Value scale which takes into account the color, consistency and overall performance of the manila during use.

The reason that the manila you see in the hardware store and elsewhere is so much cheaper is that it is much lower in quality. This is also why you tend to get rope splinters if you decide to go that route. Ouch. The Becker Value listed on the cheap stuff is 36 – good for towing tugboats and such, but bad for climbing. On the other hand, our manila ropes feature a Becker Value of 40, the absolute highest quality available. You simply cannot do any better. Also, another important distinction is the attachment hardware. The majority of the list “price” of our climbing ropes is due to the proper installation of the rope clamp attachment hardware which has to be done by a trained professional. This steel clamp is attached to the rope with a hydraulic press, drilled, tapped and welded into place for the best value in terms of functionality as well as safety.

Question: “What are the different diameters of rope that you have available?”
We have two standard diameters for our climbing ropes: the traditional 1½-inch diameter and 2-inch which is popular with the military and law enforcement. We would strongly recommend starting with the 1½-inch diameter climbing rope unless you fully understand how difficult the 2-inch climbing rope is.
Question: “How much padding should be under the rope?”
Safety should always be a priority and a good rule of thumb to use is to have six inches of padding for every ten feet of climbing height. Obviously the more padding the better as you want to observe the proper training precautions at all times. You may refer to the following illustration to get a better idea of what an ideal setup for indoor climbing might look like but please check with your local officials for any and all official setup and safety guidelines.
Question: “Can I use ropes for any other exercises besides climbing?”

Despite their simplicity, ropes are an extremely versatile training tool and climbing is only one of the many ways to use them for physical fitness. Rope training can be divided into four distinct areas:

1. Climbing – pretty self explanatory

2. Static work – usually performed when an attachment point is too low to allow for climbing, these are exercises such as pullups, “laybacks” and hanging leg raises

3. Dynamic work – exercises performed by hooking the rope to an apparatus such as an overhead pulley

4. Pulling and dragging – performed by attaching the rope to a movable weight, usually a sled or vehicle

We hope to have a full rope training course which will cover each area in much greater detail ready shortly.

Question: “Do climbing ropes require any maintenance?”
Climbing ropes are very durable and will stand up to rugged use. How long your ropes will last before replacement is necessary depends on a variety of factors such as the frequency and duration of use, the number of athletes who climb it on a regular basis, whether shoes are worn by climbers, etc.. Some programs use one or two ropes, others use four or more. Due to frequent use, high traffic on a single rope may necessitate sooner replacement. Also, upper grade level and team use will facilitate wear, particularly on the bottom half of the rope.

Rope knots placed on the rope for climbing assistance will facilitate wear due to increased friction points while climbing. Please note: manila ropes can be susceptible to mildew and “dry rot” in humid environments. Please inspect periodically and replace if defective. Never allow ropes to rub against other objects. Climbing ropes are relatively inexpensive and other than avoiding these conditions, one should expect to replace climbing ropes periodically under heavy use. Hardware and rope inspection should take place before and after each use.
Question: “Can I get a rope shorter than 15 feet or longer than 24 feet?”

Brooks Kubik, training with
ropes in his garage gym
Yes, we can do any length of rope that you are looking for — keep in mind there are many different ways to train with a rope aside climbing. Brooks Kubik, for example, trains in his garage gym (which does not have very high ceilings) and ordered two 8-foot ropes for the purpose of performing various pullups and abdominal work.

You can see Brooks (and his ropes) in action in his “Ropes and Rings” training DVD. Please keep in mind that, as per our manufacturer’s guidelines, any rope that is shorter than 15 feet will still be charged at the 15-foot price.
Question: “Can you tell me how to hang a climbing rope in a tree in my back yard?”
Since every situation involves many different variables, we are not able to provide any specific suggestions for hanging climbing ropes in trees. If you choose to do so, please seek the advice of a contractor and observe all safely precautions for yourself (as well as for the tree.)
Question: “Is it possible to get a climbing rope that is thicker than 2 inches in diameter?”
Of all the climbing rope options and styles that we offer, this is one of the few that we will not be able to fulfill for you. A 1½-inch diameter rope is generally challenging enough by itself to climb and the 2-inch thick ropes are not easy to climb even for trained professionals. A rope that is thicker than two inches will not be necessary and/or will be too difficult to use for training purposes, hence the reason we do not offer them.
Question: “I live in an apartment and have no place to hang a climbing rope, is there anything I can do to still get the benefits of rope climbing?”
The biggest challenge for most people who want to climb ropes is that they simply have no place to hang a climbing rope. While it is not the perfect substitute, we do offer this alternative.
Question: “How far apart should I get knots put in the rope?”
The number and location of knots are purely a personal preference. The more knots that a rope has, the easier it will be to climb. Our recommendation as far as knots is to place them no closer than 18 inches apart. We generally advise placing the first knot approximately three feet from the floor and the last knot approximately five feet from the top of the rope. Due to this custom nature, your order will need to be taken manually by phone so please give us a call at 1-800-978-0206. When placing your order, our operator will walk you step-by-step through knot placement and other important details.
Question: “How much rope should be on the floor?”
For safety and ease of spotting by your spotter, we recommend leaving 3-4 feet of rope slack on the floor. Please add this to your total rope length when deciding what length rope to order.
Question: “How are the lengths of the climbing ropes measured?”
This is a very common question. The climbing rope lengths listed represent the measurement extending from the top of the steel clamp (not including the attachment carabiner) to the very bottom of the rubber polyboot. This represents the actual footage of rope used in the construction of the climbing rope. Keep in mind that rope length may change slightly over time with heavy use.
Question: “Can you tell me about hanging two or more climbing ropes side by side?”

One climbing rope is certainly more than sufficient to provide a great workout, but having an additional rope (or ropes) available can provide benefits well beyond “traditional” climbing. Two ropes hung a few feet apart affords a climber many new training options.

For example, with two ropes, it is easier for a climber to perform hanging leg raises and other abdominal exercises. Also, climbing two ropes simultaneously (i.e. one rope in each hand) is a unique and very effective method of building climbing strength. It is also often written that performing chinups on two climbing ropes is superior to a straight bar since the neutral hand placement and the maneuverability of each rope itself allows the body to move in a more natural manner. Many turn of the century gyms often featured a row of climbing ropes for precisely this reason.

The image on the right, taken from a training course written in 1913, shows another unique exercise that can be done with two climbing ropes. So, an additional climbing rope may be something to consider if you are looking for a new climbing challenge.

A closer look at an outdoor climbing rope thimble – you can swing away on this rope since all the friction will be on the steel and not the rope fiber.
Question: “Can I use climbing ropes for swinging?”
Our “standard” indoor manila climbing ropes are not designed or warrantied for swinging. If you want to do any swinging, your rope should have a “thimble” so that any friction created through swinging is directed towards the steel fitting and not on the rope fiber itself. Thimbles are available for manila and poly-plus ropes. Please contact us to find out more options.
Question: “What is the expected turn around time for rope orders?”
All of our ropes are crafted one at a time by hand and are made to order, so there is an expected (albeit brief, all things considered) turnaround time on all rope orders. We place your order with our rope manufacturer immediately after we receive it from our online shopping cart, and estimate a turnaround time of 7-10 business days.

Highly specialized rope orders, such as those involving woven knots or unconventional lengths, etc., may take slightly longer to produce. Our rope manufacturer is very reliable about completing orders in a timely fashion, which is one of the reasons we proudly work with them. The other main reason? They simply make the best climbing ropes available.

We make every effort to get your rope order to you in the quickest manner possible. Please note that there is a 7-10 business day expected lead time to all rope orders. Business days do not include weekends or major holidays. So, for example, a rope ordered on the “1st” according to the above calendar should be expected to arrive on or before the 12th (at the very latest). Please allow at least three additional days for west coast orders. “Expected shipping times” as posted include the time to create the rope as well as the time in transit — please plan accordingly.

Exceptionally large orders or international orders may also require additional lead time and we will be in contact if that is the case.
Question: “Do you accept purchase orders?”
You bet we do! We proudly accept purchase orders from schools, military bases and other government institutions. Please give us a quick call and we will be happy to walk you through the process. Additionally, there is no tax on orders for government institutions or orders shipped outside the state of Michigan.

Question: “Do you carry tug-of-war ropes?”
Yes we do, we absolutely carry tug of war ropes in both 1½-inch and 2-inch diameters. Please let us know what length you might be interested in and whether you require anchor loops on either end.
Question: “Do you offer cargo nets?”

Cargo nets are very popular for military bases, adventure races and obstacle courses and we can definitely do any type of cargo net that you might be looking for. Cargo nets are available for indoor and outdoor use based on the type of material they are composed of.

Please let us know your a) choice of material, b) preferred diameter of material and c) mesh size. Additionally, cargo nets often require custom dimensions based on your course. Please contact us with the specifics of your course and your preferences, and we will let you know how to proceed.

Question: “Can I get rope for decorative purposes?”

You would be VERY surprised at how often someone contacts us looking for ropes to use for various decorative purposes: garden walkways, docks, handrails, tree houses etc. We’ve even had set directors contact us looking for rope to use for props in plays and productions.

You bet we can sell rope by the foot. There are several material options to choose from. Decorative ropes generally do not come with any fittings but we can discuss your options once you contact us and describe the details of your project. Drop us a line and let us know what you need and we’ll be happy to help any way we can.

Question: “What is the weight capacity of your climbing ropes?”
The tensile (breaking) strength of the material used for our climbing ropes is as follows: 1.5-inch Diameter Manila: 16650 lbs., 2-inch Diameter Manila: 27900 lbs., 1.5-inch Diameter Polyplus: 31300 and 2-inch Diameter polyplus 46000 lbs. Safe working load is understood to be 20% of the tensile strength of any rope in good condition. The attachment clamp on the indoor ropes is rated to 6000 lbs. and the L-1 Link is rated to 3300 lbs.
Question: “Can I get an “indoor” style rope made out of poly-plus material?”
Yes, that is an option that we can provide. Contact us for specifics.
Question: “Do you offer battling ropes?”
Battling ropes have taken the training world by storm and you can often see athletes using them in top college programs or on television. We offer battling ropes in standard 50-foot and 100-foot lengths and in 1½-inch and 2-inch diameters. As far as material, we can do battling ropes in manila or poly-plus (which is more expensive, but less likely to shed.)
Question: “Do you ship your ropes internationally?”
We sure do! We have shipped our climbing ropes to dozens of countries all over the world. The shipping costs depend on total order weight and are calculated differently for every country, so please contact us with a list of what you would like to order and your shipping address and we will be happy to give you a quote. Another option for international rope orders is to APO/FPO locations – you bet we proudly ship our ropes to the men and women of our military throughout the world. There are a few things to keep in mind with APO/FPO order. Again, please contact us and we will be happy to fill you in on everything you need to know to complete your order.
Question:“Do you have an option where I can raise a rope or ropes out of the way when not in use?”
Yes we do! If you need to limit access to your ropes when not in use, we offer a rope hoist system. The Rope Hoist system consists of a cleat that is attached to your wall, a pulley, a small sandbag, and a 60-foot length of cord with a fastener on it. The cord attaches to the end of your climbing rope and pulls it up and out of the way to limit access or create room for other activities. The Rope Hoist system is capable of raising 70 pounds and can also be used to raise cargo nets (depending on size). Due to variability is materials and setup, anchoring mechanisms, i.e. screws are not included, please consult a contractor in order to determine the bet attachment option for your situation. N.B. If you need additional security to limit access, we also have a lock box (not shown).
Question:“What is the purpose of the sandbag in the rope hoist setup?”
In some installations, the wall pulley assembly may be installed very high on the wall and out of reach. The sandbag provides additional weight for lowering the attachment clip when the product is not in use.