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Trango Agility 9.8 Review: The Rope Most Climbers Need Most of the Time

Trango Agility 9.8(Photo/Seiji Ishii)
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The Trango Agility 9.8 is rated to 13 falls, making it a workhorse go-to rope for everyday crag or gym climbing.

Trango released the Agility 9.8 in May 2020, and we’ve been testing it as an everyday local sport crag rope for the last 6 months.

The outstanding fall rating doesn’t come at the cost of weight (the verified weight of my 40m test sample was 6 pounds, 4 ounces), impact force, price, or any other performance metric.

It’s not the sexy, skinny, uberlight rope of redpoint dreams. But it’s the rope most of us need most of the time.

Trango Agility 9.8 climbing rope

The Agility 9.8 specifications read like many other 9.8mm single dynamic climbing ropes:

Trango Agility 9.8 Specs

But, again, the 13-fall rating is substantially different from most ropes in the category, some having published ratings as low as five falls.

In short: It’s not the sexiest or most cutting-edge rope on the market, but its fall rating and reliability make it a great rope for multi-month projects and everyday climbing.

Trango Ability 9.8 Review

Trango Agility 9.8 middle marker

Trango increased the number of core strands in the Agility 9.8 to produce the higher fall rating without drastically affecting other attributes. Packing more energy-absorbing material into the rope logically enhances the work capacity, but does that improve durability or lifespan in the real world?

There isn’t a direct relationship between fall rating and durability, but ropes with higher fall ratings can tolerate more general abuse, according to Trango staffers.

Feel and Durability

The Trango Agility 9.8 didn’t feel or handle much differently than the other 9.8mm single dynamic ropes in my collection.

If I paid close attention when I tied in, the rope felt on the dense side when pinching it, but not so much that it stood out. It knotted up easily and compactly as any high-quality climbing rope does.

Since it’s not dry treated, the rope didn’t have any associated waxiness or stickiness in the sheath. The sheath itself performed notably well. Its 1 x 1 weave and smooth texture facilitated pliability and a seamless belay, but it was also rugged enough to handle plenty of abrasion.

My local limestone sport crag has short, powerful climbs with bolts close together. This scenario subjects my “working” ropes to the harshest loading — repeated short leader falls, with a short total length in use. I’ve put flat spots in smaller-diameter “redpoint ropes” within a month if I use them as working ropes at this cliff.

The Trango Agility 9.8 handled these short falls without complaint and never lost its round profile even when loaded in the same one-foot section repeatedly between two climbers. And it felt like other ropes of the same diameter, both as the leader taking the fall and as the belayer.

After 6 months of constant use as the “everyday” cord, the only signs of wear on my 40m sample were dirt and some sheath fuzziness, most likely from lowering over bulges with sharp water runnels. This type of sheath abrasion is typical to me, and it happens on every single rope I’ve tested.

Conclusions: The Rope Most Sport Climbers Need Most of the Time

Trango Agility 9.8 - climbing

It’s easy to get caught up at the bleeding edge of the gear. Ropes get skinnier and lighter, promising the marginal advantages necessary to redpoint projects at the limits of ability and fitness.

But when does that happen? Much of the time, we’re not operating at our absolute limits. And often, we’re just out to have a good time with our friends.

When you’re experiencing that excited yet nervous feeling of the impending redpoint of your long-standing project, then yes, a cutting edge, sub-9mm redpoint rope can deliver physical and mental advantages.

But for most of us, most of the time, the Trango Agility 9.8 is an intelligent choice, keeping the wear and tear off the hero cord to save it for when it may provide the necessary marginal gains to clip the final anchors.

It may not be a sexy status symbol, but the Trango Agility 9.8 “working class” rope serves the majority well most of the time. And it makes for an ideal gym lead rope.

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