I've purchased my first climbing rope and am wondering how it should be stored when not in use. I have a rope bag which I assume is a good home for the rope; should it be kept tightly coiled inside the bag; loosely flaked, or stored entirely differently?

4 Answers 4


In a bag at the back of your closet will be fine. Your rope is made of nylon, which does not like the following:

  • acids
  • strong alkalis
  • halogens (chlorine, flourine etc. and their compounds)
  • bleaches and strong soaps
  • light (UV in particular)
  • high temperatures (for example over 50°C, such as in a hot car)
  • dirt (sand is especially bad)
  • cats
  • rodents
  • sharp things

Nylon will not care too much about the following (but will be happier without them)

  • gasoline
  • common oils
  • other stable plastic-like products
  • water (see note about salt water)
  • sub-zero temperatures
  • mold, mildew, other organic products. They may live with the nylon, but cannot live off the nylon.

Nylon is perfectly happy in a clean, dry, dark place.

Salt water doesn't damage nylon. Salt inside your rope (after the water dries) is millions of tiny knives going to work on the fibers with every movement. If you are near the ocean and it gets wet, keep it wet. Seriously - put it in a cooler and add more ocean water. When you get home, rinse repeatedly in fresh water including an overnight soak. If the rinse water still tastes salty, do it again.

Sub-zero, dry nylon is fine. Frozen, wet nylon tends to break. Frozen, wet ropes that are warmed up and dried out will be fine.

  • 3
    Welcome to outdoors.sx! Please clarify that you mean 50C, not 50F :). Also, I believe it is more correct to say that "the strength of frozen wet nylon is lower" than "frozen, wet nylon tends to break".
    – Felix
    Jun 3, 2014 at 13:45
  • 4
    The whole world is metric, with the exception if Liberia, Burma, and the US. People in those countries can learn to convert. And I don't think anyone will consider 50F to be a "high" temperature. Maybe an Eskimo.
    – paul
    Jun 10, 2014 at 2:09
  • Ice crystals lock the rope's fibers together and do not allow forces to balance themselves out. Some fibers therefore break, and that's how your rope is permanently weakened.
    – paul
    Jun 10, 2014 at 2:34

Completely personal preference. The only thing to do are keep it out of the sun (check), dry (check... I hope), and away from corrosives and other sharp things (definitely check).

I usually store it in the rope bag in whatever shape it was last used. Generally, that's flaked out (make sure to tie the ends to the bag). Sometimes, that's coiled (if I was multipitch climbing).


I would also not hang your rope on one single cord, because this causes damages on this part. This is a problem specially if you have it over a sharp edge or a small hanger, where diameter gets really small.

It's better to have in like you described stored in a dark dry rope bag in a shelf.


There is no care-protocol or anything as such. Just ensure that:

  1. It is neatly packed. Using a rope bag is a good practice, but not mandatory though. Its more for convenience I believe. If you dont have a rope bag, either get one, or you can try using a Tire-tube to keep it. The intention is to benefit the properties of Rubber as a great protective element.
  2. Obviously don't store it in sunlight or where it could be subjected to abnormal temperature, like by a heater, or may be in your store room where people usually store stuff like bleaching compounds or may be in a Garage-like place where the grease would damage it. Keep it off the ground. Yeah, damp air does play a part.
  3. You must not wash it in a machine simply by putting it in, shut the door off and spin it like you are washing regular laundry. You can wash your rope in a "top-loading" machine. If thats not an option then, You should try to keep it clean, may be sponging it once in a while. Occasionally one should wash them, but not in laundry, use proper rope-wash. I hand-wash my rope in my bathtub.
  • 2
    Disagree with #3; I was my rope all the time, often in the washing machine.
    – Felix
    Jun 3, 2014 at 13:43
  • @Felix: Then with all due respect to you, I will suggest you to reconsider giving a thought before doing that again!
    – WedaPashi
    Jun 3, 2014 at 13:54
  • Then we shall agree to disagree. Good thing we don't store each others' ropes :)
    – Felix
    Jun 3, 2014 at 15:23
  • 4
    Here are three links that recommend washing ropes in washing machines (including one from Sterling, who makes ropes): sterlingrope.com/faq rei.com/learn/expert-advice/rope-care.html ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=202
    – Felix
    Jun 3, 2014 at 15:37
  • 3
    It is perfectly fine to wash a rope.
    – user2766
    Jun 3, 2014 at 21:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.