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?
In a bag at the back of your closet will be fine. Your rope is made of nylon, which does not like the following:
- 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)
- sharp things
Nylon will not care too much about the following (but will be happier without them)
- 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.
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).
There is no care-protocol or anything as such. Just ensure that:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.