7 Best Caving Ropes in 2024 | Static Ropes for Speleology

Last Updated on 15/02/2024

what are the best caving ropes

When you are deep underground, and your life is on the line, you only want the best caving rope that you know you can rely on. In this guide, we look at the most trusted caving ropes used by underground explorers and speleologists around the world. We explain the specific reasons that certain ropes are the best for caving and why using others isn’t advised.

What exactly should you be looking for in a caving rope? Ideally, it should be a static rope with dry treatment and enough thickness to make it durable without being too heavy. However, that is a lot to ask for, so you may have to sacrifice the dry treatment when choosing a rope for caving.

Caving Rope Basics

There are a few things that you need to think about with caving ropes that may not be a consideration when choosing climbing rope. If you don’t have much experience with climbing ropes, then try and ask somebody you know who does before you buy. Here are some of the basics you should be aware of, which we do cover in more detail further down the page:

  • Rope Type – There are lots of different types of climbing rope, but not all of it is suitable for caving. Learn about static vs dynamic further down the page.
  • Diameter – When caving rope comes into contact with walls and floors a skinny rope might not be the best choice, thickness adds durability but also weight.
  • Durability – As you may end up dragging the rope along the floor and rubbing against sharp edges, durability is crucial.
  • Weight – Because the rope isn’t always hanging, you should choose a lightweight rope that doesn’t get too heavy.
  • Dry Treatment – Ideally, both the core and sheath should have dry treatment however, this is not common in static ropes in general.

We selected seven caving ropes that we feel tick every box and explain why they are the best ropes for caving and speleology. Below you will find our individual reviews of each rope for caving and why we think they deserve to be listed here. You can also check out our guides to caving helmets and caving headlamps here.

7 Best Caving Ropes

Sterling 7/16in WorkPro Static Rope 11 mm

Sterling 7/16in WorkPro Static Rope - 11mm Red, 61m (200ft)

  • TYPE: Static (Not for dynamic belaying or lead climbing)
  • DIAMETER: 11 mm
  • WEIGHT: 5.6 lbs per 100 feet (25 grams per foot)
  • CERTIFICATION: NFPA 1983: Technical, EN 1891: Type A, ANSI Z133

The Sterling 7/16in WorkPro Static Rope 11 mm is the best caving rope for us due to having used it many times without ever facing any issues that constantly arise with other ropes. It is a chunky 11 mm diameter which is ideal for caving because it is so hardwearing thanks to its polyester sheath and nylon core.

Sterling is one of the industry leaders in technical climbing gear and especially their ropes which they put through rigorous field testing. If you want the reliability of a Sterling Rope but want something even stronger or thinner, you can get the WorkPro Static Rope in a monster 12.5 mm diameter as well as a lighter 10 mm version.

We like the balance of durability, flex, and weight that the medium 11 mm rope provides for caving, as the thicker rope is substantially heavier if it gets wet. Because there is a minimum amount of elongation, you cannot use this for climbing, as a fall would cause serious injury without a dynamic stretch.

VERDICT: The Sterling WorkPro Static Rope is one we know very well and can absolutely recommend for caving where a dynamic rope is not needed. You can get it in a range of colors and lengths to suit your needs; however, we recommend choosing brighter colors and at least 150 feet in length. Have a look around and see what people have to say about this rope, and you will see that this is a rope you can trust.

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Mammut Performance Static Rope 10 mm

Mammut 10.0 Performance Static, White/Red, 50 m, 2010-00771-0255-1050

  • TYPE: Static (Not for dynamic belaying or lead climbing)
  • DIAMETER: 10 mm
  • WEIGHT: 75 grams per meter (22.9 gram per foot)

The Mammut Performance Static Rope 10 mm is our second favorite caving rope because it has better handling than any other static rope on the market. We have tried both the 10 mm and the 11 mm thicknesses and feel absolutely comfortable with the thinner option, so we are glad to carry less weight.

While the specifications for static elongation are not very precise, we can vouch that this rope has very little stretch, which inspires a lot of confidence as you descend into a pitch-black hole underground.

If you are wondering whether Mammut is a reliable brand to trust with your life and you will be happy to know that they are a Swiss outdoor gear company founded in 1862, so they have seen climbing gear evolve for over 150 years! This static rope is designed to be extra durable and abrasion-resistant for caving and canyoneering so that it can have a long service life and doesn’t have to be retired early because of snags.

VERDICT: The Mammut Performance Static Rope is a rope favored by many of our caving buddies who rate it higher than Sterling Rope. We think it is the strongest competitor and so if you want a 10 mm caving rope that is a true workhorse then this is an excellent choice.

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EDELRID Diver 10.1 mm Static Canyoneering Rope

EDELRID Diver 10.1mm Static Canyoneering Rope - Neon Green 40m

  • TYPE: Static (Not for dynamic belaying or lead climbing)
  • DIAMETER: 10.1 mm
  • WEIGHT: 66 grams per meter
  • ELONGATION: 3.7%
  • CERTIFICATION: EN 1891 Type A, Bluesign Certified

The EDELRID Diver 10.1 mm Static is the best caving rope for wet conditions and caves that are partially underwater. There is no treatment on the yarns to help keep them dry, but there is a ThermoSheild treatment that helps prevent absorption alongside the dense sheath fibers that won’t expand when wet.

The way this works is to heat and shrink the fibers and then relax them so that the rope stays smooth and handles well without ever feeling stiff. This is something that makes EDELRID ropes highly desirable and unique among their competitors.

The sheath and core are bonded together with a polyamide kernmantel construction which minimizes slippage or bunching when wet and has minimal elongation. The sheath is as tough as they come which makes it ideal for caving where your rope may get dragged along the ground or rub against sharp rocks. We love the bright colors, which are much easier to see in a cave and keep at least some visibility even after they have been run through the mud.

VERDICT: The ELDERID Diver 10.1 mm Static Rope is a great caving rope for rappelling and safety lines underground. Its bright color and rugged sheath make it well-suited to the high demands of underground tunnels and caverns. Made in Germany to surpass the strictest safety tests and with a solid reputation among climbers, this is one caving rope worth importing.

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BlueWater Assaultline 11.4 mm x 46 m Non-Dry Rope

BlueWater Assaultline 11.4mm (7/16") X 150' OLIVE DRAB

  • TYPE: Static (Not for dynamic belaying or lead climbing)
  • DIAMETER: 11.4 mm
  • WEIGHT: 25 grams per foot
  • ELONGATION: 2.4% at 300 lbf
  • CERTIFICATION: CE EN1891 type A, and UIAA Certified, UL Classified to meet NFPA 1983/2017 edition for Technical Use

The BlueWater Assaultline 11.4 mm x 46 m Non-Dry Rope is one of the most reliable static ropes you can buy in the world. The only reason it doesn’t rank higher is that it is only available in dark brown or black, which isn’t great for dark conditions.

Ideally, your rope should be easily visible, but this one focuses more on the tactical benefits of dark rope. Still, because it is so tough and lasts forever, we felt it still deserves to be ranked just below the EDELRID Diver rope.

The heavy 11.4 mm diameter is perfect for SRT ropework provided you have the hardware to match, and it is the rope we would choose for any big rappels in deep caves. The braided polyester sheath is made from polyester with a kernmantle construction that houses the nylon strand core and is extremely abrasion-resistant. This means very little elongation, and even with 1000 lbs of pressure, the line will only stretch 7.4%, which is very low.

VERDICT: We would have ranked this rope much higher if it weren’t for the lack of bright colors. Black and dark brown isn’t very visible underground, but this is one of the strongest caving ropes out there and one we would trust with our lives. If you need a thick caving rope you know will survive years of use and abuse then this is a safe option to clip on to.

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PMI E-Z Bend Sport 11 mm Non-Dry Static Rope

PMI E-Z Bend Sport 11 mm Non-Dry Static Rope

  • TYPE: Static (Not for dynamic belaying or lead climbing)
  • DIAMETER: 11 mm
  • WEIGHT: 80 grams per meter
  • ELONGATION: 1.6% at 300 lbf
  • CERTIFICATION: ANSI Z359.15 (2014), EN 1891 type A, NFPA 1983 (2017)

The PMI E-Z Bend Sport 11 mm Non-Dry Static Rope is a US-made caving rope that has been adopted by search and rescue teams in America and around the world. It is certified for technical use and is compliant with caving requirements across the board. It is thick enough to not be easily damaged when hauling it through caves and pulling around sharp bends when you need some slack.

The EZ Bend nylon sheath incorporated patriotic colors using a 16-carrier pattern which makes the rope incredibly flexible and easy to tie knots with. Soft to the touch but durable to the core, the sheath provides the perfect balance between handling and durability. Caving rope gets treated a lot worse than climbing rope does but do not be surprised if your PMI rope outlasts all your other types of rope in the long run.

VERDICT: The PMI E-Z Blend 11 mm static rope often gets overlooked for some of the cooler and high-end brands but in our opinion, this is better than most of them and will certainly compete with any other rope for caving. There is a reason that emergency services and rescue teams choose this as their go-to static rope, and it isn’t just the price.


Singing Rock R44 10.5 mm Static Rope

Singing Rock R44 10.5mm 150' Red NFPA

  • TYPE: Static (Not for dynamic belaying or lead climbing)
  • DIAMETER: 10.5 mm
  • WEIGHT: 72 grams per meter
  • ELONGATION: 3.2%
  • CERTIFICATION: CE Certified / EN1891 Type A / NFPA 1983:2006 / UIAA Certified

The Singing Rock R44 10.5 mm Static Rope is a great all-around workhorse that is perfect for caving. Bright orange is one of the better colors for caving rope, and the thickness of 10.5 is actually perfect if you can’t decide between a 100 mm and an 11+ mm rope.

It is easy to handle and doesn’t jam up in your hardware as well as being super tough and hardwearing for caving and rescue work. There are one or two negative reviews about this rope, but in our opinion, these are one-offs and don’t represent the strength and value this rope offers.

The Route 44 (R44) rope is the only rope in the world to use Slinging Rocks’ patented technique for using a 44-carrier weaving machine instead of the standard 48-carrier. This makes the rope lighter and improves handling without sacrificing any durability. But they didn’t just remove a few yarns and slap a patent on it. They tested the optimal blend, thickness, and spacing of the weave to ensure peak performance and handling.

VERDICT: Even though it has been a while since we have used a Singing Rock R44 rope, there is a guy at our climbing club who you would think is a salesman, and he won’t shut up about them. We have absolutely nothing bad to say about this rope and don’t believe anything has been changed because they obviously value the technology enough to patent and protect it.

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Black Diamond Equipment 10 mm Static Rope

Black Diamond Equipment - 10.0 Static Rope - Black - 200 m Spool

  • TYPE: Static (Not for dynamic belaying or lead climbing)
  • DIAMETER: 10 mm
  • WEIGHT: 69 grams per meter
  • ELONGATION: 3.4%

The Black Diamond Equipment 10 mm Static Rope is another great option that annoyingly only comes in black. You can get alternative colored Black Diamond rope but not in this diameter, and it is not static. If you can get past the dark color, then this is a fantastic rope that is nice and light, and easy to handle. It has an above-average breaking strength and is designed to be more of a gear hauler than a caving rope. It just happens to work very well for both.

We do like that you can buy it in a massive 200-meter roll which is enough for more than one person and can be used to create safety lines along walls that will last for many years before needing to be replaced. While the 10 mm rope may not be best suited to be left down in a cave, it is the thickest static rope that Black Diamond makes if you like their gear.

VERDICT: Overall, the Black Diamond 10 mm Static rope is not a rope we would buy specifically for caving because it is only available in black but if we already had one for climbing, we would be more than happy to use it and save buying a new caving rope.

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descending into a cave on static rope

What Kind of Rope Is Used for Caving?

Considering what we have just shared about the different types of caving rope, it is safe to assume that the type of rope you should be using is a static or semi-static single rope as your main source of protection. This will provide the best durability and reliability when exploring cave networks underground. You can use all types of rope so long as they have correct ratings and you are comfortable with their capabilities.

Different Types of Caving Ropes

There are two main styles of climbing rope to choose from, and then within those two styles of rope, you have three types of caving rope. You can usually identify these by the small end cap, which should have a circled number. The end cap will also tell you other details, such as the length and safety ratings as well as other important specifications. Here are the different types of rope you can use for caving and speleology:

Dynamic Caving Rope

Dynamic ropes have stretchy qualities that help absorb shocks in both the fibers themselves and the way they are weaved together. So when you fall, you aren’t jolted into having whiplash or slammed into the wall. Instead, you get some give and stretch in the rope, which cushions any fall by springing you back up when you reach the limit. Dynamic ropes are used for climbing for this reason and are perfectly suitable for caving.

Static Caving Rope

Static ropes have very little stretch and so are used for things like abseiling, hauling gear, rescue work, and as a safety rope along walls. While static ropes don’t get used much in rock climbing, which mainly involves ascending a wall, they get used to caving fairly often. The reason for this is that you don’t always want a rope that is going to stretch in enclosed places, as this can make falls even more dangerous.

Having a static rope means you are also at less risk of damaging the rope on sharp rocks when stretched out.

Single Rope

Single ropes are used on their own for things like top-roping, big-wall climbing, tree surgery, sport climbing, and trad climbing. The single rope technique (SRT) is used by cavers to descend on a single length of rope as opposed to a double rope system which uses two separate ropes. Single ropes for caving should be thought of like a ladder, so you need a static or semi-static rope that doesn’t have much stretch. Using descenders, rope wrenches, and other rope tools, you are able to move up and down a single rope safely and freely.

Half Rope

Half ropes are most often used for ice climbing, free climbing, and general mountaineering and are used in a slightly different way than the SRT above. Half ropes must be passed through alternate carabiners and are capable of being used with another climber and taking the impact of a fall with some stretch. Most cavers who have been climbing for over ten years will most likely have learned to use a half rope, so it is not to be discounted. Half ropes run parallel to one another in a double rope system and reduce friction when done correctly.

Twin Ropes

Twin ropes don’t get used very often for speleology (the exploration of caves) and are most commonly used for long alpine routes up tall mountain summits. They can absorb falls well and rely on passing both ropes through each carabiner for safety. You can use a twin rope in parallel with somebody else or as part of a safety chain if in a group; however, for caving, this isn’t really relevant.

How to Tell if a Caving Rope is Dynamic or Static

The easiest way to tell if your caving rope is static or dynamic is to check the label on the tips of each end. If these have been removed, then the next easiest way for an experienced climber to tell the difference is to physically test the rope for flex. If it flexes more than around 5% in your hands, then you can assume it is dynamic and will stretch a lot more with your full body weight.

The final and perhaps most foolproof way to check is to cut the rope open and check the core. A dynamic rope will typically have a solid woven core, while a static rope will have multiple woven cores alongside each other and wrapped in the sheath.

static caving ropes

What to Look for in a Caving Rope

If you have read this far, you are already aware of some of the features that make a caving rope one of the best in its class. Here are some more considerations when buying new or replacing old caving rope:


The weight of your caving rope is mostly determined by the diameter and the length of the rope, which increases the longer and wider the rope is. If you are exploring uncharted caves, then you won’t know how much rope you might need, so it is better to have too much than not enough. If you know the caves you are descending into then you should only take what rope you need to avoid carrying extra weight.


Caving ropes need to be more durable than most climbing ropes as they are dragged along the floor, rubbed against sharp walls, and pressed against rugged edges far more often. The easiest way to beef up the durability of your caving rope is to swap it for something thicker. The thicker the rope the more strands of thread inside which in turn means more strength and durability. Small frays mean less on a thick rope than they do on a thin rope, is all we are saying.


While many cavers choose to wear gloves to protect their hands from rope burns and the sharp rocks you can find inside some caves, many climbers do not, so the softness of the rope can be important to some. A softer rope is easier to work with and, for the most part, more desirable than a stiff rope. If your caving rope has become stiff after getting dirty or if it’s brand new, then you can soften it with some fabric softener so long as you give it a thorough rinse out after.


Elongation or stretch is something you only see in dynamic and semi-static ropes and should be avoided in a rope for caving. The stretch is used by climbers to break falls and reduce the impact if you do fall but it can become more of a liability in a cave. If a rope stretches between 6% – 10% of its total length, then it is considered to be a semi-static rope. Anything above 10% would be considered dynamic, and anything below 6% would be fully static.


The way a caving rope handle is related to things like the diameter of the rope, its softness, how well it catches, and what happens to it if it gets wet. Everyone has their own personal favorite type of rope, so it takes a bit of experience testing different ropes to fully understand the type of handling you prefer.

Ropes always feel better once you have broken them in so if you have a new rope with poorer than anticipated handling, then just give it some time, and the handling should improve.

Dry Treatment

Dry treatment of both the core and sheath of the rope is crucial for caving as most caves around the world will have pools of water if not trickles of water, running down every wall. If your rope is not dry-treated and gets wet, the weight can more than double, which is no fun and actually not very safe. Yes, it may cost a little extra, but if you’re passionate about caving, then you really should get the very best caving ropes.


It is often important to know where the middle of your rope is, even when you can’t see the top. Many ropes will feature a bi-color or bi-pattern, which switches at the center point so that you can estimate how much length you have left. Bi-color rope uses different colors on each half of the rope, whereas a bi-pattern rope uses the same color strands but switches the weave pattern. Bi-color ropes can become dirty and fade over time, whereas you will always be able to spot the center of a pattern rope.

ropes for caving

What Diameter Rope is Best for Caving?

Many cavers will use ropes as thin as 8.9 mm. However, we would consider this too thin for any kind of long-term use underground. Instead, we like a 9.8 mm to 11 mm rope for peace of mind which does weigh more, but it lasts longer and doesn’t have as much elongation. Of course, you need to consider the hardware you already have and make sure it fits your ropes, but other than that, you can use most rope diameters. Just be prepared to have to replace it fairly often if using a skinnier rope.

Which Rope Is Best for Rappelling in Caves?

The best type of rope for repelling and abseiling in caves is a single static rope that doesn’t have much stretch and is between 10 mm to 11 mm thick. So long as it is thick enough to support your weight easily and doesn’t have much or any flex, then you should be good. We have found that polyester rope works well for cave rappelling because it has less stretch than nylon but is just as durable.

Does Caving Rope Float?

Caving and climbing rope made from either polyester or nylon does not float. Even if they have a dry treatment on the core and sheet, they will sink in water and will not sit on top of the surface. Most caves have at least some water either pooled on the floor or trickled down the walls, so you should expect your ropes to get wet. This is why a dry treatment on the fibers of the rope is so important to keep the saturation and weight down.

Is Caving Rope Different From Climbing Rope?

Caving rope is typically static or semi-static, which means it doesn’t have much stretch. Whereas climbing rope is more commonly dynamic, which means it has stretch and will absorb the shock of a fall in a much more forgiving way. SO caving rope is just a specific type of climbing rope that doesn’t stretch very much or have much elongation as it is often known.


We hope you found this guide to the best-caving rope useful and have learned one or two things along the way.

Best Caving Rope

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This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

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