Three Sterling Ropes Win Outdoor Gear Lab Awards

Originally Published by Outdoor Gear Lab Sep 18th 2015
Climbing Gear

Outdoor Gear Lab has awarded Sterling’s Fusion Nano IX and Marathon Pro the 2015 “Top Pick” award as well as the Evolution Velocity the 2015 “Best Buy” award. To get the full review and comparison to all ropes tested, please visit


Best Buy

The Evolution Velocity, at 9.8 mm and 62 grams per meter, is a lighter workhorse rope. Or, you could think of it as a heavy all-around rope. It sits on the cusp of our classification categories and therefore fills a certain niche. While not the lightweight choice of alpinists aiming to go fast and light, this is a rope that has wide overall appeal to many climbers, and it can take a little more abuse than the average rope. The closest competitor to the Evolution Velocity is the New England Alex Honnold Signature Glider, but there was never really any question as to which of these would take home the Best Buy award. Though the AH Glider is indeed less expensive, but it is heavier, thicker, and much less pleasant to handle. The Evolution Velocity wins.

"The Sterling Evolution Velocity won our Best Buy award because it is a lighter workhorse rope for its diameter and it is also durable, inexpensive and is smooth to handle. We think it's great for all-around climbing because it can take a bit more abuse than the average rope."
Valentine Cullen, Marketing Manager at Outdoor Gear Lab 


top pick

During testing, our Nano IX was asked to perform in each of climbing's many disciplines; from frozen first ascents in Alaska's Ruth Gorge to brutal top roping sessions in the Utah desert, with sport whippers and multi-pitch crack systems in between. It was even used by the author for a personal best redpoint that he still won't shut up about. Through these trials we were able to appreciate its exceptionally low weight and smooth handling, which became the primary reasons why it won our Top Pick award for best alpine/sending rope. It's not cheap, however, and the reduction in weight does seem to diminish durability. But we still like the Nano IX for anyone who considers low weight the most important criterion.

"Throughout our testing process, our gear review editors became increasingly appreciative of the exceptionally low weight and smooth handling of the Fusion Nano IX, which became the main reason why it won our Top Pick award for best alpine/sending rope."
Valentine Cullen, Marketing Manager at Outdoor Gear Lab 


top pick

Our testers usually reached for the Marathon Pro before a day of hard climbing that was not too far from the road. "Hard climbing" because this 10.1 mm rope was the most durable reviewed, and "not too far from the road" because its 63 g/m weight could be a burden to carry. After 30 pitches up the El Capitan route The Shield, our Marathon Pro looked far better than either one of our haggard testers. This feat, combined with a surprisingly pleasant catch, helped it to win our Top Pick award for best workhorse rope. Anyone looking for a lifeline with outstanding durability at a fair price would do well to consider this rope.

"With an extra thick sheath that increases durability, the Marathon Pro is great for a day of hard climbing. We recommend it for big wall/aid uses, guiding, general climbing and chose it as the winner of our Top Pick award for best workhorse rope."
Valentine Cullen, Marketing Manager at Outdoor Gear Lab