The Alpinist Mountain Standards reviews apply Alpinist's tradition of excellence and authenticity to gear reviews by providing unbiased, candid feedback and anecdotal commentary to equipment tested (hard) in the field. Our panel is comprised of climbers who use the gear every day as part of their work and play. Only the gear they would actually buy themselves, at retail price, qualifies for the Alpinist Mountain Standards award. The five-star rating system is as follows:
One Star = Piece of junk.
Two Stars = Has one or more significant flaws, with some redeeming qualities.
Three Stars = Average. This solid piece of gear is middle-of-the-road on the current market.
Four Stars = Better than most comparable gear on the market. It has one or two drawbacks, but still 90% positive.
Five Stars = Is there such thing as perfection? An Alpinist Mountain Standards award-winner.
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Petzl Nomad 9.8mm Rope: The Workhorse
Posted on: December 12, 2007
Size: 9.8mm x 60m
Weight: 63 g/m
Color: Green or red
Petzl has a long history of developing quality and innovative products, and their new line of ropes is no exception. Aside from the bright green color, the Nomad immediately caught my attention out of the bag with a manufactured "ready for action" butterfly coil that required no painstaking uncoiling or restacking. Sweet! I hadn't even tied in yet and the rope already won points with me.
Upon checking out the handling characteristics and sheath construction I thought it felt a bit stiff. That said, with the combination of the noticeably thick sheath construction (36 percent strength by weight) and the Duratec dry treatment, the Nomad looked like it would hold up well to wet or icy conditions, sharp edges and general abuse.
And that it did. I rigorously tested this rope on long rock routes in the Tetons, alpine routes in the Cascades, splitter cracks at Indian Creek and my home town sport crag, but the rope just kept on giving. Approaching forty days of heavy use, the sheath is barely starting to show signs of fuzz. The Duratec dry treatment is holding up well and actually kept the rope pretty dry while I dragged it around on glaciers and late season ice routes in the North Cascades this fall. I'm loath to take whippers, but felt it was part of the job to do a complete review, so off I went. It wasn't so bad after all, and my belayer and I were both impressed with the catch and quick rebound of the Nomad.
Aside from the nice hand of the Nomad, one of my favorite things about this cord is the fact that Petzl distinctly marked the middle and ends of the rope. The markers are not going to fade significantly with time, and although the sizable black middle marking is stiff going through a belay device for the first several pitches, it softens up nicely over time. Despite its softening, the middle mark still feels stiff enough to alert you to when the rope's mid-point is passing through your belay device. The end marks are 6 meters from the end and are differentiated from the middle by three distinct smaller black marks announcing the end is near.
After a lot of use, the green has faded somewhat to produce a softer look, which is a tad less obnoxious and is starting to grow on me. With the amount of use I've gotten out of the rope, I'm super impressed with the Nomad's durability and lack of visible wear. Although it's a little heavier than I'd choose for most long alpine routes, if you are looking for an all-around workhorse of a rope, the Nomad is an excellent choice.
Pros: Durable sheath; soft catches; great dry treatment; middle and ends well-marked; versatile for cragging or alpine climbing.
Cons: A tad heavier than desired for alpine climbing applications; middle marker is stiff at first, but softens over time.