Edelrid Canyon 9mm static floating rope

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– Tim Vollmer

I was chatting with Brett from Summit Gear about canyoning rope and he mentioned that he had a 60m sample of the new 9mm canyoning rope produced by Edelrid which replaces what was previously a very popular canyoning rope (and one that has served me well). He offered to lend it to me so I could review it over the Easter long-weekend as I was planning a couple canyons.

The new design, which is constructed with a nylon sheath and polypropylene core (which makes it float) has come about because the company is one of many outdoor gear manufacturers who have signed up to the Bluesign standard. The basic concept behind Bluesign is to consider the environment, consumer safety, transparency and productivity in textile manufacturing, with members using chemical components with lower ecological and toxicological impacts to replace old materials. For people whose passions involve exploring the outdoors, it is great to know your gear is being manufactured with these principles in mind.

A coiled 60m length of the new 9mm Edelrid Canyon rope

Technical specifications:

The new 9mm Edelrid Canyon rope is about 10 percent lighter than the old model, coming in at a very light 46 grams per metre. The sheath (the outer part that protects the rope) has been thickened slightly and is made of “hard wearing nylon”. The move to a polypropylene core not only allows the rope to float, it also means there is no longer any shrinkage when wet. The rope is also softer, more malleable and easier to knot and work with.

Unfortunately not all the changes are good. The rope is now distinctly weaker (the manufacturer says the 9mm should only be used double rope and that you need to buy their 11mm rope if you want to have the option of using single rope technique). In fact, even on two strands the maximum load is lower than the old design.

The increased softness and flexibility also has downsides, as the rope now provides much less friction and runs much faster through descenders, even when wet.

The rope also seems to be more sensitive to the heat produced by descenders. The manufacturer specifically states that the rope should be wet before use, which isn’t always possible. Considering the sheath melts at 215°C, and the core at 160°C, you probably don’t want to be doing any really huge, dry descents on this stuff!

The rope is also now much more elastic, with the static elongation increasing to 5 percent. This is a lot for a supposedly static rope. (The old rope was only 4.2%, which is still more than many other brands). The manufacturer actually describes this rope as a “semi-static” rope, which should give an idea of how great the stretch is.

It is also interesting that in the section on lifespan it says that with optimal storage and very occasional use it can last for 10 years, but that if used under “extreme conditions” such as dirty or sandy environments or on rough, sharp rocks, it could need replacing after “only a few weeks of use.”

Considering this stuff retails for about $6 a metre in Australia, which puts it the pricier end of the spectrum, it would want to work bloody well.

The first abseil at Boars Head Rock on the still damp rope

Field testing:

The rope I was reviewing had already done about half-a-dozen canyons with a few local guides, so it was not brand new. Overall it looked in great condition, but was starting to get a little fluffy in a few sections where the sheath had been worn by abrasion.

This stuff felt great to handle. It was soft, smooth, incredibly malleable, easy to knot, a pleasure to work with and I was really looking forward to using it.

The first trial was a rarely visited sandstone canyon off the Kings Tableland. I had no idea what to expect, except that a 45m rope was recommended. Given there is no track, and we were simply aiming for a rough grid reference, we ended up requiring two shortish abseils to get in (the rope was long enough to do it as one, but would have made the pull down difficult). The down-side to this of course was that we were already breaching the manufacturers recommendations by using it dry. It also meant some grit and dirt were getting on it, unlike in a clean wet canyon situation.

The first thing we all noticed was that it was fast, very fast. Most of the group of six were using Hydrobots, and we all had to rig them for higher friction. Those with ATC’s noticed less of an issue. Even when it got wet the rope was quick, and I still used the added friction, which I would very rarely do with a wet rope. Otherwise it was a pleasure to rig up and use, being so soft and easy to work with.

While the rope still looks pretty good, there are some very visible worn sections of sheath

The bright orange colour was nice (it doesn’t just look nice in photos, it makes it a lot easier to spot the rope and make sure it reaches etc), and the fact that the rope floats meant it was easier to retrieve the loose ends and do the pull down. It is also nice not having to worry about it being dropped into a pool and sinking!

I also noticed that the rope stayed very light when wet and it didn’t feel like I had a 60m rope in my pack. I assume this is because the polypropylene core doesn’t absorb any water, unlike many other rope materials.

We only ended up using it for two abseils, but I was quite impressed by it.

On day two we’d been planning to do a longer, harder canyon, but bad weather meant we had to look for a dryer alternative. In the end we decided on a set of abseils at Boars Head (5 drops of up to 45m each on abrasive sandstone) into the Megalong Valley.

For one of the drops we would need two ropes, so it was also a chance to use it side-by-side with another brand.

The rope started off wet (it was still damp from the day before) as we set off down the first 20m drop. I went down as the last of the group of eight, and despite being the first abseil I was already starting to notice a strange build-up of orange fur on my descender. I’m not sure why, but the sheath seemed to be suffering a lot of wear.

Each drop was the same, with everyone noticing a small amount of orange fluff at the end of each drop. The rope was also visibly deteriorating after the longer drops, with the areas that were rubbing against against the rough rock becoming quite puffy.

By the final, big 45m drop I was starting to wonder if the Hydrobots were to blame (I’ve never had this issue with them), so I was curious how the dry Tendon 9mm would respond. At the bottom I only had fluff on one side of the descender, and it was orange!

I have no idea why the wear on this rope seemed to be so severe, but I do wonder whether it is like many European canyoning items that are designed and tested on smooth limestone and granite, which is much more gentle on rope than the harsh sandstone you get in places like Australia and the United States.

My original plan had been to take this rope out again the following weekend, but after this trip I wasn’t keen to do another set of big drops, given the rate of deterioration of the sheath.

The long, final 45m drop using both the Edelrid rope and a 9mm Tendon static rope

Back at home I also decided to weigh it, and see how light it remained when wet. It is a little inaccurate, given I was issuing a washing basket on top of some electronic kitchen scales, but it did give an idea. It was also a little inaccurate because the rope was clearly longer than 60m (several metres longer when used side by side with another 60m rope).

Dry (well air dry, a few days after the trip), it came in at about 52g per metre (based on the assumption it was a 60m rope). Once wet it was only 56g (I only gave it a minute for the excess water to run off). That seemed a pretty extraordinary result; a weight gain of less than 8 percent when wet.

Conclusion:

If you’re an occasional canyoner doing wet canyons with nice, clean drops and not too many abseils, this rope could be really good for you. It is lightweight and very easy to work with, it floats, and it doesn’t get heavy when wet.

However if like me you are a heavy user of your ropes, and take them through canyons with many large drops which are at times dry, I’d probably steer clear. It is interesting to note that ropes designed for more abrasive activities like caving generally have more tightly woven sheaths and are stiffer and more difficult to work with. For sandstone canyons, which are also very abrasive, this is probably worth taking into account, so by sticking with ropes that are harder to knot, coil and generally work with you will probably end up with something longer lasting.

Some very uneven deterioration of the sheath, with wear obviously caused by abrasion

The amount of elasticity in the Edelrid rope is also far too high. On long drops this creates a lot of bounce, and especially where an anchor point is well back from the edge this means a lot of rubbing that will cause serious wear to the rope.

While I almost exclusively abseil on double ropes, I have abseiled on single strands and like the flexibility of being able to do that on my standard canyoning rope. I am certainly not willing to lug about an 11mm rope to do so!

While it is commendable that Edelrid and other companies are moving towards more sustainable and environmentally manufacturing techniques, in this case I think they have failed, instead producing an inferior product which is weaker and poorer wearing than its predecessor. While it is lighter, less absorbant and has a thicker sheath, I don’t think it stacks up, and certainly not at such a high retail price (about 25% more expensive than some similar ropes).

P.S. On a complete aside, doing some research on canyoning ropes made me realise how much older ropes can shrink with age and use (water being the main culprit), which is something that is worth considering if you’re planning to do a drop where the rope only just reaches!

Rating:

  • Durability / toughness — 2/5
  • Usefulness — 3/5
  • Value for money — 2.5/5
  • Overall — 2.5/5

Check out our reviews of some other canyoning gear:

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18 thoughts on “Edelrid Canyon 9mm static floating rope

  1. G’day Tim,
    Congratulations on another thorough and well argued review.

    To clarify some rope stuff: the floating canyon rope that you have tested is not a direct replacement for Edelrid Superstatic DRY 9mm.

    When you refer to your ‘old rope’, I think maybe that you have Superstatic 9mm DRY?

    Edelrid Superstatic DRY has an uncertain future due to Bluesign manufacturing, but they are working on getting the DRY treatments on their static ropes to comply with Bluesign at a reasonable cost. Hopefully in the future this rope will continue to be available in Australia, but currently we only have three rolls of Edelrid Superstatic DRY 9mm left in stock 😉 .

    We also stock Edelrid Superstatic 9mm, which is a very solid rope, but unfortunately does get heavier when wet. However, for general canyoning and abseiling, we find that Edelrid Superstatic (in all diameters) is very durable in sandstone environments. Edelrid Superstatic is strongly favoured by local guiding businesses and TAFE outdoor rec units for its durability.

    The Canyoning rope you tested has been offered by the Edlerid importers as an ‘alternative’ to Superstatic DRY 9mm for our canyoning customers, as the Superstatic DRY 9mm began to sell out. In fact, for a long time we could supply both ropes. We, ie Gavin and myself, felt that the high price of $6.00 per metre, combined with our previous bad experiences with this style of polypropylene core floating rope (very quick wear) has made us reluctant to offer it in store. The importers offered us the sample rope (which you have tested) , and your feedback confirms our sentiments on this particular product.

    Regards
    Brett at Summit Gear

    brett@summitgear.com.au

  2. Very nice review, Tim, thank you.

    One factor you can “measure” on the rope is the number of threads in the sheath. Most static ropes have a coarse sheath made using 16 threads. This looks like it has a finer sheath with maybe 32 threads, which would also mean the sheath is thinner.

    You stated that you thought the rope was long, because it was longer than your other rope. My immediate thought would be that the other rope had shrunk, rather than the Edelrid floater being long. Easy to measure.

    I’ve done some rope-water absorption tests (here: http://www.zionadventures.com/ZBlog/gear-reviews/polyester-vs-nylon-ropes-which-absorb-more-water/ ); if you followed the same method we could compare styles side by side.

    Tom

    • Tom, thanks for that feedback. Good to know info on the threads in the sheath. I’ll definitely look at that closely in future when I’m looking at ropes. A good tell-tale sign of how well they’ll wear!
      As for the rope length, I measured it and you were right. This rope was spot on 60m, so my other rope has shrunk a little with age.
      I fear your water test was a bit more scientific than mine. I basically held it under water in the bath tub until it seemed fully saturated, then gave it a minute to stop dripping. (I figure in a canyon environment, where it gets fully immersed in your pack, it won’t have a chance to dry beyond the point of water running off it). Based on your results, the polypropylene seems to hold less water than nylon or polyester, but given the other problems with this rope that benefit doesn’t really change my view of it. I’ll see if I get time this weekend to repeat the test with the same conditions to get a more accurate result.

    • Hey Tom, this rope looks more like a pro static (more threads) than a super static (less threads). I have used the pro static ropes and they are very slippery, great caving to keep the dirt out but fast. I prefer the super static type ropes myself for group abseiling type of work we run…

  3. We used this rope before, but it’s not a super rope if you use it in areas friction. Moreover, it tends to really inflate with time … But it’s stay light and confortable to use.

  4. Since we’re getting into details, another rope-analysis is to cut say a 5 foot length, then pull the core out and weigh core and sheath. Comparison by weight may not mean as much as comparison by volume – which you get by dividing by the density.

  5. This article is full of miss truths and coman mistakes. Get a rope protector ($20) and use the right rope for your needs. Classic case of going 4wd with a Ferrari!!
    SuperStatic would much better suited for your needs. The Canyon IS NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR 9mm SUPERSTATIC , COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ROPES FOR COMPLETELY DIFFERENT USES.

    • Nathan,
      Firstly, I think you should have disclosed that you work for the Australian distributor of this rope. That isn’t an issue, and certainly doesn’t change the validity of your comments, but I think it is important for people reading your feedback to know.
      Secondly, I’d suggest you have another look at the review, and the trips we tested the rope on. The first day was in a canyon (which is what the rope is billed as being for). The rope struggled on the first two entry abseils, which were both dry. This was not due to rubbing on the rock (not a rope protector issue), rather it seemed to wear very badly through the descenders. Many canyons require abseils on dry rope, especially to enter. If a rope struggles in this situation, it is not ideal for canyoning (unless you recommend people carry two sets of ropes, one for dry and another for wet drops).
      Thirdly, I agree that the superstatic rope is better suited. I have a number of Edelrid Superstatic ropes and they are very good. Unfortunately, they are the old, DRY treated ropes which are not available any more. These ropes have effectively been replaced by the canyon rope.
      Finally, having the right rope for the conditions is exactly why we reviewed this rope… so people who canyon in Australian conditions could have a better idea of whether it suited their needs. They are free to make up their own minds, but this review will hopefully give them a better idea of which conditions they should avoid putting it through. Given the price of rope, it isn’t something you want to kill quickly!
      Thanks again for taking the time to read our review, and I’d be more than happy to talk further about ropes or any other canyoning gear.

  6. 1- No problems disclosing the fact I work for the importer , does change my view in the least , i have used and chosen Edelrid rope a long time before I started working with them and the importer.
    2- it’s recommended that you absiel on it wet , were really surprised that it had a negative effect?? Why would the manufacture recommend it if it was not beneficial?? And why would you use something intentionally incorrectly and then be critical when it does meet your expectations??
    Always follow the instructions of the manufacturer , they there for reason , sometime the reasons are not obvious.
    3- Not all canyons are dry everywhere in the world ( I have done numerous canyons in Europe and almost all involved getting wet first ) , Edelrid have been providing ropes for use around the world for 150yrs and makes ropes for all conditions , this rope needs to be wet before you use it ( holds almost no weight when wet so wet it before you walk in ) , if you cannot do that use another rope , ie SuperStatic 9mm.
    4- The Canyon DOES NOT REPLACE ANYTHING. You are completely incorrect here!! ( i know because i work with them!! ) At least give correct information if you you are going to supply it to the public.
    5- You can still purchase Edelrid SuperStatic which has a dry treated core ( and much more water resistance than any other static on the market ). This rope is proabley much better suited to your dry and abrasive canyon conditions , but this is not the case for everybody , I prefer to use a light and supple rope which the Edelrid Canyon is the best suited. I have no problems wetting my rope before use because it weighs so little extra when wet , and I value the suppleness and handling of the rope. Each to there own here.
    6- The more information the public receives about Edelrid products the better. Edelrid ropes are made in Germany , every metre is hand checked at the factory , and offer the lightest and strongest strengths available in the world for there weight and classes. You get what you pay for. That’s the facts.
    7- Intentionally not following manufactures instructions and then criticizing the product is a disappointing way to review products. If you want to use the product for it’s intended use as stated , then use the instructions and recommendations given. Pretty simple really.

    I hope you continue to review our products in the conditions they were intended for and the uses they were designed for but not against manufactures recommendations.

  7. Hi Tim,

    I have the very same rope and agree with everything in your review. I noticed the rope fraying on our first outing. It’s now at a point where I don’t feel safe using it and I need to upgrade. Any recommendations? What are you currently using?

    • Good to see my experiences line up with yours (although not good that you have an expensive rope that you feel unsafe using!)
      Most of my ropes are the old Edelrid Superstatic (I bought some of the last DRY version they made). While not cheap, the 9mm Superstatic is a good rope that seems to last well. I’ve tried some of the cheaper Tendon ropes. I was reasonably happy with my first one, but then it blew out strangely. I’m about to test another Tendon rope. I’m actually planning to try a few different ones over the next year. The rope Imlay Canyon Gear produce looks pretty cool. Like the Tendon one I’m about to test, the Imlay ropes have a thicker sheath, so should wear better (most canyon ropes are about 40% sheath, these are both closer to 50%).

  8. Hi Tim , Edelrid has a new 9.5mm Power Static semi static rope. This should be to your liking and of similar characteristics to your much loved Dry 9mm Super Static. Below is Edelrid’s summary ….
    POWERSTATIC II
    “The static ropes in the Powerstatic series have particularly good hand ling and excellent knotability. They are designed to run easily through abseil, belay and rescue devices, which makes them suitable for a wide range of uses. This is made possible by a new innovative sheath, which has a special braided core. The result is a performance rope with low elongation values, high static strength and reliable abrasion-resistance. The tracer thread on the sheath indicates rope diameter for immediate and reliable identification. Available with certified terminations.”

    I look forward to sending you a test length soon , to try it yourself , in the field , where it counts.

  9. Hi Tim 🙂 This is new product for 2013 , so information is limited until I get a sample length but here is what I know so far..

    How much stretch does this rope actually have? Less than Edelrid Super Static is the most practical answer , actual data will come with test sample.

    What proportion of the rope is sheath? Again the actual data will come with sample , around 40% to 45%. Also the diameter of rope will have a far greater effect on durability the sheath %.

    It should be noted that this rope has AMAZING knot strength retention losing very small amounts of strength when knotted , this is a sign of excellent engineered rope!! Most ropes lose significant amounts when tied in Figure of 8 , this rope loses very little.

    But all these figures mean nothing!! It is it’s performance in real life that we are interested in , Looking forward to you trying in the real world , and seeing what 150yrs of rope making in Germany can produce. Every metre is still hand checked at the factory in Germany 🙂

  10. Wow, great review there tim, you’ve put the rope through situations that most Australians would encounter, I think as aussies we are more suited to allrounders haha.my mate was raving on about this rope and talked me into getting some, I picked up 80m, didn’t realise it was double rope only, should have checked the barrel as I wasn’t given any manufactures instructions. I’ll make sure to use it wet in the future, Canberra has mostly granite so I’m hoping now I’ve moved down here it won’t be too abrasive on the rope. Your review was most informative, guess I should have waited for this new 9.5mm, looking forward to your review.
    Josh

    • Yes, I’m looking forward to checking out this new rope.
      I’m also taking another floating rope through its paces at the moment. It is 10mm, which is thicker than I normally use, but it seems to stay lighter because it doesn’t absorb as much water. So far it has been much more resilient to the abrasion of sandstone. I’ve been really busy lately, but I’m hoping to get a few of these reviews up shortly.

  11. Hi Tim,

    Have you used the Tendon Salamander Canyon rope with some kind of floating PPV core? It seams these poly cores are not very strong or heat resistant and we have a guy over 120kg in our group. This rope is available by the meter from climbing anchors for a very reasonable price.

    Alternatively I’m thinking of getting some 10mm Sterling superstatic (nylon) or HTP (polyester) Bogley outdoors sells the superstatic.

    The Edelrid super safety is also available but I’m not liking the white sheath if the core is also white/light. Contrast is important to easily spot core exposure and sheath damage, especially in a dark canyon. Finding a good rope best suited for canyoning sold by the meter is very difficult in Australia.

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