At first, you may think a battle rope is a pretty straightforward gym accessory. After all, how different can one gym rope be from another?
It’s not that simple, because they’re not all the same. Before you buy a battle rope, you should have a set criteria and then choose one that meets it. Here we’ll discuss all the properties of CrossFit ropes you need to look out for, to get a high-quality one that will be worth its value.
This is a comprehensive battle rope buying guide written after consulting top experts and insiders in the battle rope industry. We’ll quickly go over the physical structure of battle ropes, their types by material, physical properties, and smart buying tips.
Table of Contents
- 1. Quick Comparison Chart
- 2. Battle Rope Physical Structure
- 3. Battle Rope Types by Material
- 4. Battle Rope Physical Properties
- 5. Buying Tips and Traps to Avoid
- 6. Conclusion
1. Quick Comparison Chart
Interestingly, battle ropes come in a plethora of different materials. This is often the cause of variation in performance between gym ropes of different brands. The comparison chart below highlights how a rope’s contents can affect its properties, so you know the choices to consider and the ones to rule out.
|Durability||Ideal||Good but Spoils in Moisture|
|Grip||Variable, Depending on the Type||Firm Grip|
2. Battle Rope Physical Structure
Among synthetic battle ropes, poly dacron ropes should be your top choice. While poly dacron battle ropes differ in quality from one another, the best ones to go for are the high-quality ones with optimal durability. Among natural battle ropes, the material of choice is often manila due to its favorable properties. We’ll be discussing both the materials further in the next sections.
Battle ropes are protected from falling apart at the ends by some form of thermoplastic substance that prevents them from unwinding. Such substances are also called ‘heat-shrink,’ indicating that they are shrunk by heat tightly over the ends of the ropes. These are also used as the handles since they can be used to grip the rope firmly. Such caps mostly prevent looseness and add to the rope’s durability.
Always make sure that the handle is wide enough, while having a texture that offers excellent grip during use.
2.3 Protective Sleeves
A problem with using manila ropes is that they tend to shed. Synthetic ropes, on the other hand, don’t shed, but they still fray over time. This is because these fitness ropes are meant for rough use, and the anchor point is the most vulnerable when it comes to fraying and shedding.
To solve this problem, many brands now offer ropes that are fully covered by protective sleeves. These can stand up to vigorous exercise, even with multiple uses daily, such as in gyms.
Anchors are essential to keep your rope stable during use. While some ropes come with anchors included, most of them require you to purchase one separately. In such cases, you can also use something heavy to function as an anchor instead of buying one. Battle ropes that come with wall-mounted anchors can be a good choice if you need the complete package with a single purchase.
3. Battle Rope Types by Material
While everyone who needs a battle rope is looking for the most durable options, a critical factor determining the durability is the rope’s material.
There’s a plethora of battle ropes available out there, made from a variety of materials. These include both synthetic and natural kinds, with the most common being poly dacron (synthetic) and manila (natural).
3.1 Synthetic Battle Rope: Poly Dacron
Synthesized from the plastic fibers of dacron and propylene twisted into strands, poly dacron synthetic battle ropes have a strong outer braid due to their dacron component. The polypropylene component provides additional reinforcement while keeping the core lightweight. It reduces both the weight and cost of the ropes.
A significant benefit of poly dacron ropes is their resistance to shedding compared to other weighted rope materials. However, it does tend to fray over time due to abrasion. It’s always important to know the difference between good and bad-quality poly dacron battle ropes. The primary cause of this variation in quality is due to the different ratios of polypropylene and dacron used. Cheap ropes often feel more fibrous and less fluid than higher-quality poly dacron and manila ropes.
An 80% dacron, 20% polypropylene blend, such as in Yanre Fitness battle ropes, is usually ideal for both fluidity and durability. Since battle ropes don’t often have the details of their polypropylene/dacron blend ratios available, the price of a rope can give you an idea about its quality. If the polypropylene is greater than 30% in a polydac rope, it will begin to impart a cheap, fibrous feel. A very stiff rope when brand-new is quite normal for high-quality polydac. You need to use it thoroughly once or twice to get it to loosen up.
3.2 Natural Battle Rope: Manila
Conventional manila ropes are made out of the leaves of the abaca plant. These are the only kind having natural fibers, so they’re absorbent enough to offer a good grip to sweaty hands. Their rough texture further allows you a firm hold during exercise.
While manila ropes may feel great when used outdoors, they shed with each use, and are also about 10 to 25% costlier than poly dacron. If you’re conscious about using organic products, go for manila ropes – these are made from fibers of the hemp plant. However, be prepared to clean up after every use or go outdoors to use them instead.
One potential problem with manila is also its natural rotting process, although it may take some years to start showing.
It’s best kept away from moisture and rain since that is the main cause of spoiling.
4. Battle Rope Physical Properties
Weighted ropes are commonly available in the following sizes:
- 1.5 inches x 30/40/50 ft
- 2 inches x 30/40/50 ft
The larger the rope, the greater its weight, and the higher is the intensity of the workout it offers. We recommend 30ft ropes for beginners, while 50ft is the best size for commercial gym use.
The length and thickness of a rope affect its performance, so we have discussed them separately below.
There are many different lengths of battle rope available, being as short as 10ft to even 100ft. If you’re into martial arts or are looking to enhance speed and agility, a shorter rope will be a better option. For fluidity, go for longer ropes. A 50ft length appears to be the most popular, although 40ft and 30ft options are also not far behind.
Battle ropes are folded in half then tied to an anchor point. Therefore, you’ll need a space at least half the length of your exercise rope to work out.
The length of a rope has a significant effect on its fluidity, with shorter ones being harder to control due to slapping and catching. This happens because the undulations are interrupted by the anchor point at a short distance. Longer ropes ensure fluid movement and make for a workout you’ll be able to enjoy.
If you’re still confused about the length at any point, getting a 50ft rope is your best bet.
Battle ropes come in 1.5-inch, 2-inch, or 2.5-inch thickness. We always recommend 1. 5-inch thick ropes for all kinds of people, no matter their gender or fitness level. It’s the most common thickness of battle rope available and is the best for new users as well.
2-inch ropes are 33% heavier than 1.5-inch ones. Instead of the conditioning workout that regular battle ropes offer, these offer more of a strength workout. If you’re up for the challenge, having already mastered the use of a CrossFit rope of regular thickness, only then go for a 2-inch rope.
In case you’re a powerlifter with large hands, you can try out 2.5-inch ropes. However, even strong individuals can’t go far with these, with the majority getting tired in just 30 seconds of use.
While heavy ropes are meant for quick, more intense sessions, a lightweight rope is usually the best when it comes to cardio, aerobics, and endurance training.
Depending on the size of a battle rope, its weight varies. Below are the size and corresponding weight of gym ropes.
- 1.5 inches x 30 ft — 12 pounds
- 1.5 inches x 40 ft — 18 pounds
- 1.5 inches x 50 ft — 24 pounds
For 2-inch ropes, the weight goes up by almost 35%. When choosing a rope, you shouldn’t select one that is not challenging. You need some extra resistance since your body will gain strength over time and soon get used to such a battle rope in a month or two.
While battle ropes can’t be expected to stay in excellent condition with years of use, they should still be able to resist wear to some degree. Generally, non-synthetic materials resist moisture and are more durable as compared to synthetic ones. A waterproof battle rope with anti-fraying features is the best in terms of durability.
You should also check for any shrink caps on the rope edges; their presence indicates further durability.
5. Buying Tips and Traps to Avoid
- 1. Space:
Always make sure about the free space you have before deciding on the length of the rope you’ll buy.
- 2. Handle material:
Cheap battle ropes are often a cause to suspect low-quality materials. Sometimes, these ropes haven’t been heat shrunk correctly at the ends or use cheap substances. This increases the likelihood of the rope handles stretching or ripping, causing it to unwind. It is, therefore, essential to check the material applied over the handles.
- 3. Durability:
If your rope is waterproof or has anti-fraying features, count that as a major plus. Fraying and damage by moisture are the two main factors that can reduce the life of your rope.
- 4. Slip resistance:
Slip-resistant ropes make it unnecessary to wear gloves while working out with them. It’s a useful feature, so always consider this a plus.
- 5. Texture:
Make sure that the handle is of a nice length and texture so you can hold it comfortably. Heat-shrunk caps are a bonus since they keep things tight and increase durability.
Now that you know all the detail about battle ropes, you can go ahead and confidently make a decision about the kind you should get. While the number of brands and differences in properties may seem too much, you can use this guide as a checklist to hunt down some great fitness ropes.
In case you still have any queries, feel free to ask us in the ‘comments’ section, and we’ll get back to you.
Related reading: top 10 gym equipment brands in China
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