DMM Zone ReviewMarch 20, 2017
- Good handling
- Good durability
- Middle mark hard to find
- Shows & takes on dirt easily
- Less versatile
The DMM Zone is a 9.8 mm single rope that excels at single pitch sport and trad climbing thanks to its favorable handling and good durability. The lack of a dry treated option and a middle mark that quickly became hard to spot limits the rope in its appeal.
The DMM Zone was popular with testers for its favorable handling, offering a soft feel that provided smooth belaying and a secure catch. DMM credits the handling to the ThermoControl treatment and while it handled slightly stiffer than ropes like the Sterling Evolution, it was softer in feel than the Maxim Glider. That slightly stiffer feel made it a little harder to tie some small knots but the knots held well. The handling of the Zone made it popular with testers when clipping bolts on sport routes but also when zig-zagging through gear placements on trad climbs.
Resistance to Dirt
The Zone came out of the package in a popular and vibrant color scheme made of blue, red, orange and white yarns. That great color soon got dirty and the rope quickly lost its luster. Compared to other ropes tested in this group, the Zone was average in its resistance to dirt. That dirtiness made the middle mark difficult to find after several days of climbing.
The Zone’s durability was one aspect of the rope that stood out. During field testing, the Zone held up after repeated use on a wide range of rock types and in both single and multipitch testing. After over 25 days of use, the Zone’s sheath was still in good shape and the favorable handling characteristics were maintained. In our in-house testing the Zone fared slightly better than some of the other ropes tested, falling only behind the Maxim Glider. During abrasion testing the Zone’s sheath showed fuzziness, as to be expected, but to a lesser extent than some of the other ropes tested. The Zone also performed well in the sharp edge test as the rope’s sheath showed some abuse but didn’t reveal the core.
The Zone features a black middle mark to aid in finding the halfway point on the rope. While better than nothing, the middle mark was harder to find than many other middle marks used and became hard to find as the rope was used. Besides the middle mark, the Zone lacks features you see offered on many ropes, such as dry treatment or bi-patterns.
The Zone is most at home while cragging. The favorable handling and soft feel of the rope made it popular with testers when clipping bolts on a sport climb or tackling splitters in Indian Creek. The lack of a dry treated option on the Zone causes it to lose appeal for ice and alpine climbers and while serviceable for multipitch adventures, many testers had a hard time finding the middle mark and preferred other ropes for those longer forays.
Schneiter is an AMGA-certified guide, founder of Glenwood Climbing Guides, and very quick on his draws.