Maxim Airliner 9.1
- Great durability
- Good resistance to dirt
- Stiff handling
- Prone to twists and kinks
The Maxim Airliner is a 9.1mm dynamic climbing rope that is dual certified for use as a single and half rope. With an effective Endura Dry double dry treatment, the Airliner was resistant to dirt and provided great durability for a skinny rope, making it a fine option for ice and trad climbing. Stiff handling and kinking during use were the biggest drawbacks of the Airliner, making it less appealing for sport and multi-pitch use.
The Maxim Airliner offered the stiffest handling and fared the poorest in terms of overall handling in this group of ropes tested. Straight out of the package the Airliner felt stiffer than other ropes and with time it got stiffer rather than softening up. Hence, it was harder to tie knots in and more difficult when feeding through a belay device. The Airliner was prone to kinking and becoming twisted, causing some frustration on longer routes as those twists would build up in the rope and could only be removed by untying.
Resistance to Dirt
The Airliner did a good job staying clean and proved reasonably resistant to dirt and scored just under the top scoring rope in this group. The Endura Dry 2x dry treatment did a good job keeping the rope clean and even after the rope was put through repeated use and abuse in rock and ice climbing, when many dry treated ropes suffer in the dirt department, the Airliner did well. The bright yellow and red color of the rope was diminished some, as is to be expected, but it looks better than many of the ropes we tested.
The Airliner shared the honor of most durable rope tested in this group with the Metolius Monster. For a skinny rope, the Airliner proved to be surprisingly durable despite tough field testing that involved dozens of days on rock and ice. After field testing, the rope’s sheath showed sign of wear in the form of fuzz on the sheath, but during in house testing the rope fared better than the Sterling Fusion Nano and BlueWater Icon. During the abrasion test, the sheath showed some fuzz on the sheath but it was less than the Sterling and BlueWater and during the sharp edge test, the core just started to show, faring similar to the Metolius Monster.
All Airliner ropes feature Maxim’s Endrua Dry 2X treatment of the core and sheath. The Airliner performed admirably on ice climbing days, doing a decent job keeping moisture out of the rope and preventing it from freezing or icing up, although it didn’t seem to perform as well as some of the other dry treated ropes. The Airliner is certified as a single and half rope, offering climbers the ability to use it in a double rope situation. One feature missing on the Airliner is a middle mark. Although available in a bicolor pattern, single color ropes lack any type of middle mark, making it more difficult to find the halfway point as many testers desired.
Testers felt most at home using the Airliner on ice climbing days and rock climbing with sharp, abrasive rock due to its great durability. For ice climbing, the effective Endura Dry treatment worked well but the stiff handling and kinking made it less appealing for testers in alpine environments or multi-pitch rock climbing where those kinks and twists made handling difficult. That stiff handling caused it to lose appeal for many sport climbers although climbers looking for a skinny rope that can handle abuse may appreciate the Airliner. Additionally, a lack of a middle mark caused the rope to lose some value for multi-pitch climbers due to the difficulty in finding the halfway point of the rope on rappels.
How We Tested It
The ropes in this test were used for a minimum of 25 climbing days each while sport and trad climbing, both single and multi-pitch, in Western Colorado on limestone, granite, quartzite, and a variety of sandstones. They were also used on objectives farther afield such as the Utah desert, Zion National Park, and more. They were also used for single and multi-pitch ice climbing. In addition to field testing, a 2 meter section of new rope was used for comparison if its resistance to dirt and durability. That section of rope was also put through an isolated durability test with a sharp edge and an abrasive edge and a 50 pound weighted haul bag.
For more reviews beyond this 2017 test, check out our Best Climbing Ropes of 2017 (9.3-9.5mm), Best Workhorse Ropes of 2017 (9.7-9.9mm), along with our Crag Pack tests, Climbing Harness tests, as well as other related climbing gear tests.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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- Lengths Available: 60, 70 and 80 meter lengths
- Colors Available: Afterburner, Jet Stream, and Dark Star
- UIAA Falls: 5
- Impact Force (kN): 9.8 kN
- Working/Static Elongation (%): 6.4
- Dynamic Elongation (%): 28
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