Sometimes when you are climbing you need to return down and haul gear and provisions back up, or ascend previously-placed fixed lines, when mountaineering or spelunking (caving) for example. This can be applied to sections that are too steep, angled, slick, or otherwise too dangerous to navigate. The best ascender allows you to ascend fixed lines easily and quickly. 

A rock-climbing ascender attaches to your rope and features a toothed cam, which locks the device into place. Climbers can then use the handle to easily ascend their rope. But if you are new to rope ascenders, it can be challenging to choose exactly what you need. Our list of quality products will guide you in the right direction and give you the best tips for finding and using a top-rated climbing ascender.

How To Choose An Ascender – Buying Guide


Left and Right

The best ascender will be designed for use with your right or left side, whether it is hand or foot. Most ascenders are not sold in pairs and instead will be sold for a specific side. The side that the ascender is designed for should be indicated in the product information. For the best climbing experience, you should buy an ascender for each side – left and right. 

Ease of Sliding

One of the most important considerations is how easily the ascender can be slid up the rope as you climb. The best climbing ascender will have a smooth operation, which means that it effortlessly slides up your rope. 

The reason that you consider how easily the device slides on the rope is because it can affect your efficiency and level of energy. With a design that smoothly slides, you will have to use less energy to operate the device so that you can climb for longer. 


For the most part, the weight of your rock climbing ascender is not important because the majority of designs weigh just a few ounces, with little variation. But you may notice the weight difference between designs when you begin to clip them to your climbing harness. A top-rated climbing ascender shouldn’t hinder your performance and the weight should be extremely manageable.  

Ease of Use

Whether you’re learning or know how to use ascenders already, you want a design that is easy to operate. You shouldn’t have to struggle to attach your ascender to your setup or remove it from the rope. The best climbing ascender will have features that allow you to quickly attach or detach the device from your rope, while still keeping it secure. 

Ascender reviews can be a great resource that will help you determine how easy it is to use a specific design. Reviewers may also give tips or hints on how best to use the ascender and in what climbing situations it is most suitable. 

Hand vs Arm vs Waist

Ascenders come in a lot of different designs. Besides the hand ascender, some models are used with your foot or waist. As suggested by the name, these ascenders are used with different parts of your body. To properly ascend a rope, you need at least two points of contact. You move one up, weigh it, and then move up the other. So, you’ll need at least one point at two different body positions (i.e. you won’t get far with two-foot ascenders). While you can choose which design you want, you must understand how to operate each type of ascender.



Q: What Is A Rope Ascender?


A rope ascender is a mechanical device that is used to assist a climber when ascending during a climb. The device is directly attached to your climbing rope and features a cam with teeth to grip your rope. As the weight of your body is placed onto the ascender, the cam locks into place and allows you to weigh it, while you raise another ascender higher, in this manner pulling yourself up the rope. The cam should release and easily slide upwards when need be so that you can repeat the action. Ascenders can also be used for fall protection or within a hauling system.

Q: How Do You Use A Rope Ascender?


With carabiners, knots, and a second ascender. Safety is important to prevent injury and ascenders are meant to be used with additional gear and knowledge like carabiners and climbing knots. This will guarantee that even if your ascender were to fail, you will not fall from your rope. If you are having trouble installing or using your ascender, you should check a user’s manual or instructions.

Q: Do Ascenders Damage Rope?


No. With normal use, a top-rated climbing ascender should not damage your rope. Even though the teeth are aggressive in appearance, they should not cause any damage to your rope, other than the general degradation that any climbing rope goes through overtime. With that in mind, the generally thicker static rope is designed better to handle ascenders (and you won’t find it much fun ascending a dynamic rope, anyways). It is important to understand when to retire climbing rope so that you aren’t attempting to use an ascender on a weak line.

Q: How Do You Climb Trees With Ascenders?


An ascender for tree climbing is another option in the world of climbing. Many arborists will use an ascender to assist in their climb and ensure their safety while they are up in the trees. Ascenders can be used in trees with a pulley system and will make it easier to manage your ropes. The ascender should be easily attached to your setup, but you should look for a tree-specific design or seek professional help if you are unsure how to properly use an ascender when in the trees.

Q: How Do You Set Up Ascenders?


The best ascender can be easily attached to your rope to allow you to begin your climb with minimal setup. However, you should always ensure that your setup includes carabiners and a harness for safety. The proper setup of your ascender will ultimately depend on your type of climbing, so there is not one specific setup for climbers.

Globo Surf Overview

Rock climbing is hard work, even when ascending. That said, rope ascenders are designed to not only help you conserve energy, but also keep you safe while you climb. With a top-rated ascender, you can ascend fixed lines with ease, whether you’re on the slopes of K2, deep in a sinkhole, or up high on El Cap.

More Climb Reviews:

Do you own one of the ascenders that made it onto our list? Let us know which ascender your favorite is in the comments section below.

Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!