Should I Add Aramid to My Rack?

Mountain Mail Order takes a closer look at Edelrid Aramid slings and their pros and cons.

Slings have long been an essential component of the rock climber’s arsenal, but which is the best sling to use for which purpose? Dyneema slings are arguably the most popular thanks to their affordability, strength, durability and lightweightness; however, there are a few applications for which Edelrid aramid cord slings are better suited.

What Is Aramid, Anyway?

Short for aromatic polyamide, aramid refers to a class of particularly abrasion-resistant, heat-resistant and exceptionally strong fibres. An aramid sling can withstand around 23kN of force… which is A LOT. Thanks to these properties, aramid is often used for aeronautical, aerospace, firefighting and military applications. Fun fact, kevlar (the material used to make bulletproof vests) is a form of aramid. 

Recent times have seen more and more aramid slings appear on the market, but how do these compare with dyneema or nylon slings?

Aramid Pros & Cons

There are two main factors to consider here:

  1. The chemical composition of the sling
  2. The feel of and practicality of the sling in a particular application

As aforementioned, aramid is renowned for its superb heat-resistance; its melting point sits around 500ºC (and it actually ‘decomposes’ at this temperature opposed to melting), compared to dyneema and nylon which have melting points of about 150ºC and 250ºC respectively. This means that aramid is far superior to dyneema and nylon when used in friction-based applications. An example of this is the use of a prusik for back-up during rappelling; it would be wise to steer clear of nylon and dyneema for this, as their melting points could possibly be reached as the material slides down the rope. An aramid sling, however, will stay strong and steadfast; plus, a sling acts as a readymade prusik, so you don’t have to worry about correctly tying a double fisherman’s with a length of accessory cord.

60cm prusiks: Edelrid Aramid, Dyneema & Accessory Cord

Find out more about prusiks as rappel back-up here.

The stiffness of the aramid cord is great for reachy protection.

Given aramid’s high abrasion-resistance, an aramid sling is ideal for threading through or looping around rock in trad climbing and mountaineering. These slings are also much stiffer than those made of dyneema and nylon, which can help to simplify placement when threading or looping, especially for features that are just out of reach (none of that limp-noodle nonsense you find with conventional slings). However, this stiffness means aramid slings are not ideal for creating alpine draws (two carabiners connected with a sling) or extending draws. Plus, aramid slings are heavier than dyneema – an important factor for many mountaineers.

A limp-noodle accessory cord vs an Edelrid Aramid sling
The Wrap-Up

In summary, aramid slings are hella strong and incredibly durable against both heat and abrasion. However, they are on the heavier side and their stiffness can be a pro or a con depending on circumstances. They are excellent for prusiks and placing difficult protection, but they don’t tick all the sling boxes. We recommend adding few aramid slings of different lengths to your rack, alongside your dyneemas.

Shop Edelrid Aramid Cord Slings

Bonus tip: Choose aramid for an extra-durable gear sling.