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Sterling Nano 8.9 XEROS Climbing Rope Review: A Reliable Cord for All Seasons and Disciplines

Sterling ropes have been a long-standing favorite among climbers. They are solid, durable, and supple, and they just feel good. Just when we thought the best couldn’t get any better, along comes the Sterling Nano 8.9 XEROS.

Sterling Nano 8.9mm XEROS rope(Photo/Christian Black)
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The Sterling XEROS line of ropes truly is a leader in the industry. Typically, ropes are dipped in a chemical bath to apply a topical dry treatment to the sheath. However, Sterling has found a way to incorporate the dry treatment at the filament level. This means every fiber is already dry-treated before being woven into the core or sheath of a rope.

This ensures the entire rope, inside and out, is treated. The result is a rope that will have much longer dry-treatment longevity. Sterling claims XEROS ropes will continue to repel moisture and avoid soaking up water for longer.

This is an important feature considering wet ropes can lose up to 40% of their strength. And the best part? The XEROS treatment doesn’t add anything to the price tag.

In short: The Sterling Nano 8.9mm XEROS ($270) is the perfect lightweight adventure rope to handle anything in the mountains. Whether it be sunny rock climbing or a wet alpine adventure, the XEROS treatment will protect the rope from the elements so you can focus on the important part: climbing.

Sterling Nano 8.9mm XEROS Rope


  • Falls 6 as a single
  • Impact force 8.5 kN as a single
  • Dynamic elongation 33.1% as a single
  • Static Elongation 7% as a single
  • Weight 52 g/m


  • Lightweight
  • Extremely resistant to water
  • Good wear characteristics
  • No cost penalty for XEROS treatment


  • There are more durable 8.9mm ropes
  • Middle marker is hard to see

Sterling Nano 8.9 XEROS Review

Testing the Sterling Nano 8.9 XEROS

This winter, I had the chance to test the Sterling Nano 8.9mm XEROS on a trip to Europe and back home in the states. The Sterling Nano 8.9mm XEROS is UIAA triple-rated as a single, twin, and half rope. But I chose to abuse it while sport climbing first. And I opted for the 80 m, my favorite length of rope for long sport pitches.

Rock Climbing

The author sport climbing in Spain with the Sterling Nano 8.9 Xeros rope.
Sport climbing in Spain; (photo/Christian Black)

Such a small-diameter rope isn’t meant as a workhorse projecting rope. But I wanted to know how the Nano XEROS would hold up to taking repeated whips.

When sport climb projecting, it’s fairly common to wear down one point in the rope a couple of meters away from the ends. This is due to the repeated falling and loading of the last clipped quickdraw. I decided to use the Nano XEROS on some project routes in Chulilla, Spain, and take note of the wear characteristics over time.

Sheath wear near the tie-in point on the Sterling Nano 8.9 XEROS climbing rope
Sheath wear on the Sterling Nano 8.9 XEROS after working sport routes; (photo/Christian Black)

The 3-week trip entailed around 50 pitches of climbing on the Nano XEROS. Not just climbing, but also lots of falling. Toward the end of the trip, it was noticeable that the rope was beginning to wear and fuzz more heavily near the end. However, I never noticed any flat spots in the core, only wear on the sheath. It was a bit more difficult to untie figure-eight knots after projecting sessions. So I eventually switched to a re-threaded bowline to make untying the super skinny cord easier.

During the last week of the trip, we headed to Riglos, Spain, where we climbed the 9-pitch overhanging sport route Fiesta de los Biceps. Fiesta climbs over 800 feet of ever-steepening conglomerate slopers and jugs. The route is surrounded by a truly majestic view of the Spanish countryside.

Multipitch rock climbing on the Sterling Nano 8.9 XEROS rope
(Photo/Christian Black)

The Nano XEROS 8.9 was the perfect rope for the outing. My partner and I linked pitches occasionally, connecting up to 70 m of terrain at one time.

The Nano XEROS 8.9 was so light that I barely noticed any rope weight, even at the end of the pitches. Pulling up the rope to clip was pleasantly easy. And while descending with it on my back, it didn’t at all feel like I was carrying a full 80m single rope.

Ice Climbing

Ice climbing on the Sterling Nano 8.9 XEROS rope
Ice climbing in Idaho; (photo/Christian Black)

Arriving back home to the states after the Europe trip, it was time to switch into winter climbing mode. This is the setting where I was most excited to see how the Sterling Nano 8.9 XEROS performed. I used it on some local ice climbs in Provo, Utah, and some small areas in western Idaho.

Ice on the sheath of a climbing rope
Ice on the surface of the Sterling Nano 8.9 XEROS; (photo/Christian Black)

When climbing ice, I’m always paying attention to how the rope-feel changes as it gets dragged through the snow, dripped on with water, or refreezes throughout the day. On a couple of occasions, we had the XEROS set up on a long 40m pitch as a top rope. The rope near the top was getting quite wet as it sat along a dripping part of the climb. When it reached the belay device, the entire rope was coated in a thin sheet of ice.

Although it made the rope slippery to handle when belaying, it still fed and lowered smoothly through my ATC-style device. The rope also maintained its normal level of stretch and never changed elongation characteristics.

My suspicions were confirmed when I coiled the rope up to head out for the day. It felt just as light as usual, meaning it didn’t soak up any water into the interior of the rope.

Durability and Feel

As triple-rated ropes have become smaller and smaller in diameter over the years, there’s a fair bit of competition in the 8.9mm range. I’ve used other 8.9mm ropes, such as the Edelrid Swift Protect Pro Dry 8.9 or the Black Diamond 8.9mm Dry Climbing Rope. And I felt that the Nano 8.9 XEROS falls solidly in the middle of the road in elasticity and durability.

While the Black Diamond 8.9 felt incredibly light and supple, it lacked durability. The Edelrid Swift Protect 8.9 felt super robust and durable. But it was on the heavier and thicker side of 8.9 and a bit stiff.

The author coiling the Sterling Nano 8.9 XEROS climbing rope
(Photo/Christian Black)

The Nano XEROS finds a nice balance between low weight, durability, and suppleness. Its sheath is woven very tightly, which lent itself to more abrasion resistance. I also found the level of stretch to be quite pleasant. Not so much that l felt like I was on a bungee cord, but not so little that falls were rough.

Oddly, my only complaint was the black middle mark of the Nano XEROS (in the blue color) was incredibly difficult to see. Despite this, of all of the ropes in this range I’ve tried, the Nano 8.9 XEROS was my favorite.

Value and Best Uses

A climbing rope used with a Petzl GRIGRI
(Photo/Christian Black)

The Sterling Nano XEROS probably had around 70 pitches climbed on it by the end of the testing period. Aside from the small area of wear from the repeated sport climb whips, the XEROS seemed to have tons of life left. I loved the way it handled, it didn’t tend to pigtail, and it was oh-so-light. Regarding value, the Sterling Nano 8.9 XEROS comes in at an MSRP of $270 for a standard 70 m.

For comparison, that’s $10 less than the Black Diamond 8.9 Dry Rope and $90 less than the Edelrid Swift Protect Dry 8.9. For a more dedicated sport climbing rope from Sterling, I would try out the Aero 9.2 XEROS. I recommend the IonR 9.4 XEROS for an all-around adventure rope.

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Sterling Nano 8.9 XEROS: Conclusion

Sterling Nano 8.9 Xeros ready for use.
(Photo/Christian Black)

Sterling has once again found a way to improve its revered line of ropes, and with no cost penalty. It’s a no-brainer that the XEROS line should be at the top of your list when considering a new rope.

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