Sterling Evolution Helix 9.5 Review
- Great handling
- Good resistance to dirt
- Good durability
- Less versatile in standard version
The Sterling Evolution Helix is an effective rope for trad and sport climbing with great handling characteristics for knot tying and belaying. Good durability and resistance to dirt make the Helix a long lasting rope for climbers. The Helix is available with a number of options, such as dry treatment and bicolor.
The Sterling Helix was one of the most popular ropes tested in this group of midsize ropes. Testers regularly commented on the soft, supple feel that took knots with ease, moved easily through a belay device, and caught falls with security. That popular handling held up despite the dozens of days of use and abuse the rope received, maintaining a good feel throughout the time.
Resistance to Dirt
The Helix held up remarkably well to dirt during testing and received the highest mark in this group of ropes. The rope was put through a variety of terrain during testing and was run through plenty of dirt and sand and while it lost some of its initial brightness, before and after pictures show that the bright colors of the rope stayed intact more than any other rope tested.
During both in-house and field tests the Helix received high scores for its durability. During in-house testing, the Helix showed fuzz on the sheath during abrasion testing and the core was mostly exposed during the sharp edge test. During field testing the sheath held up well and looks better than any of the other ropes in this group. Taken together, the Helix scored close behind the top ropes in this category.
Sterling’s Evolution line of ropes have been featured by the company for over twenty years and the Helix is what they describe as their skinny workhorse. The Evolution Helix lacks fancy names for features but includes Sterling’s sheath and bantam weight core construction that is intended to allow the rope’s fine handling characteristics hold up over time, which proved to be the case during our testing. The Helix we tested lacked a middle mark but now the Helix is sold with a black middle mark to aid in finding the middle of the rope for rappels. In addition to a wide range of lengths, the Helix is also available in dry treated and bicolor patterns, offering ways for climbers to fine tune their rope to their desires.
The Helix is available in a number of iterations and hence, its versatility can be adjusted according to which dry treatment or bicolor patterns you choose to pay for. The standard 60 meter version we tested was a capable, durable and well handling rope for sport and trad climbing single pitch routes and that’s where testers found it most suitable. At $212.95 for the tested version of this rope, it’s in the neighborhood of other ropes tested in this group. A bicolor, dry treated version of a 60 meter Helix will set you back $310.10 and offer greater versatility for ice and alpine climbing and multi-pitch objectives while also leaving your wallet a little lighter.
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 of 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 with a 50 pound weighted bag.
For more reviews beyond this 2017 test, check out our Best Workhorse Ropes of 2017, Best Crag Packs of 2017, along with our other rope tests, climbing shoe tests, as well as other related climbing gear reviews.
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: 40, 50, 60, 70 and 80 meter lengths
- Colors Available: Bicolor blue, bicolor orchid, neon green, orange and yellow
- UIAA Falls: 7
- Impact Force (kN): 8.9 kN
- Working/Static Elongation (%): 7.2
- Dynamic Elongation (%): 31.9
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