People often have polarizing opinions on gear in general, and ropes in particular. Sometimes, these statements are hyperbole, but I have had many climbers tell me stone-faced that they love some particular rope because it never kinks. Claims like this are flat-out false.
Yes, some ropes kink more than others (due to factors like weave pattern, stiffness, etc.), but mode of use also plays a large role. I say this so that mention of the Duettos kinking doesn’t sound more damning than it should: they will occasionally kink up on you if you use them in a way that tends to tangle ropes (I’m looking at you, Munter hitch). This doesn’t detract from their quality, but I think it’s important to mention for the sake of transparency. If you’re holding out for a rope that will never twist up on you, I’ve got a bridge to sell you once you find it.
The necessary follow-up review I’ve mentioned above will have to include how the Duettos handle on ice. So far, the dry treatment served me well in the one time they were in the rain, but dealing well with a light rain is hardly a test of a rope’s hydrophobia. As far as sliding over ice or heavy snow when climbing on water ice or glaciers, well, I can’t say from the experience of the last couple weeks. That said, their very capable handling over rock suggests that they’d be equally at home on slicker winter surfaces. We’ll see.
My gripes with the ropes are minor: one of the ropes tested was purple, which is dim and difficult to see at night. Especially when climbing with two ropes that need to be distinguished from one another, I think having bright colors is especially valuable. (Fortunately, the Duettos are also available in orange and yellow.)
In a similar vein, some climbers will be put-off by the lack of a middle mark. I have never relied on one, so I personally don’t care that this feature was omitted, but I have partners who are irked by such things.
On the whole, the Sterling Evolution Duetto ropes have performed beautifully; they’ve lived up to their reputation, and I would have to really dig deep to come up with more gripes than the two minor ones listed above. Half ropes are wonderful in general, and these are better than most. Though it seems like a minor point, I thought that it spoke to the rope’s handling that it was so easy to slide clove hitches when adjusting a tie-in, as well as untie knots that had tightened during a fall.
For anyone considering making the jump from singles to halves, these are a solid option—even if you never thought you’d consider switching rope brands again.