As climbers, we accumulate a ton of old gear — especially climbing ropes. However, just because your old rope isn’t safe for climbing, doesn’t mean you have to throw it away. Here are 12 ways to repurpose old climbing rope and keep it out of the landfill.
A rope rug is a simple and creative way to bring climbing into your home. This video shows you how to turn an old climbing rope into a woven rope rug that would be ideal for your bathroom or front door. All you need is a large wooden board, some nail, your rope, and your pattern. For extra style points, use two different colored old ropes, like this:
Another solid option for a rope rug is this circular version. The circular style gives you more flexibility with size because the pattern is more straightforward. With the multi-colored style of many climbing ropes, the circular pattern adds a beautiful touch to living rooms or bedrooms.
If you’re feeling ambitious, you could try your hand at creating your own climbing rope rug design like this one. There are tons of different patterns out there, so it’s a great opportunity to experiment and try different styles!
If you’re feeling less creative, use your old climbing rope as a clothesline. This is an easy way to give your rope a second life without much effort. String the rope up in your yard, garage or balcony and simply drape clothes over it to dry.
If you want to use clothespins, you may have to remove the rope’s core and just use the sheath. Alternatively, you could search for some monstrous plastic clips big enough to fit around your old climbing rope.
Store your new climbing rope in your old rope with this sweet rope basket pattern. You’ll need your old climbing rope, a rope cutter, a hot glue gun, and a cylinder the size you want your basket to be.
Coil the rope like you did with the rug to create the base of your basket. Hot glue the coil together, then wrap the rope around your cylinder, hot gluing along the way. You can also add different types of handles or tops to customize it.
For even more indoor climbing vibes, make yourself a set of rope coasters or pot holders. This video gives instructions for making your new coasters, but basically, you’re making the base of a climbing rope basket (or a tiny rope rug). If you don’t have a glue gun, you can also sew the mats together or use a lighter to fuse the rope together.
The best thing about a rope dog leash is it will take an endless amount of abuse. Your old climbing rope might not be safe enough to catch your 20 ft whipper, but it can definitely hold your 70-pound German shepherd.
This dog leash is super easy to make, and also makes use of a retired carabiner. First, cut down your old climbing rope to two feet longer than your desired leash length. Then tie a figure-eight on a bite on one end and an overhand on a bite at the other. Clip your carabiner to the figure-eight loop and voila! You now have a dog leash.
For an even more durable dog leash or if you have a thinner rope, you can also use this pattern, which weaves together two pieces of climbing rope.
As we mentioned with the dog leash, the beauty of climbing rope for dogs is that even little puppy teeth will have trouble biting through it. There are many different dog toys you can make out of your rope from super simple to intricate designs.
One common choice is a monkey fist knot. You don’t need much climbing rope for the monkey fist, so you can make a lot of these for your pooch. Use the tail from the knot to make another monkey fist, figure eight, or overhand on a bite as a handle.
For dogs that are extra hard on their toys, you can also make a monkey fist with braided ends like this one.
If your dog is a tennis ball lover, try incorporating one into your design, like these Chews On Belay Dog Toys. For a tutorial on how to create an indestructible chew toy with a tennis ball, check out the poochie person play toy.
Turn your old climbing rope into a beer koozie. Sierra Trading Post made this great how-to video for creating your own rope drink holder. All you need for this project is your rope and a lighter (or something to heat up the rope).
If you have a lot of old ropes piled up in a corner and some extra time, this might be a great project for you to try. For extra inspiration, check out Mark Heffley’s rope designs for functional sculptures.
For groceries or carrying larger items, a macramé rope bag is another fun style. You can try leaving the core in, but it might be easier to get tight knots if you remove it.
You likely already have a chalk bag, but if you’re hankering for a new one, you can use your old ropes to create a bespoke design. For this project, you’ll need to own or borrow a sewing machine.
To make your chalk bag, pull out the core from your ropes then sew sections of the sheath together to create a piece of fabric. Then, you can follow a chalk bag pattern for regular fabric like this one.
You could also try coiling the rope, following the basket tutorial, though we couldn’t find a tutorial for that so you’d have to get creative.
Turn your old climbing rope into a climbing warm-up tool. Instructables has a simple tutorial on how to make your own ultra-durable jump rope. Substitute the braided polyester rope with your climbing rope and you’re all set.
For this project, you need two steel washers, some PVC pipe, and your old climbing rope. Then get ready to break a sweat!
Use your old climbing rope to store the rest of your rock climbing gear. If you have a garage, this project might be for you. Use nails and some wood to create loops of rope that you can clip quickdraws and carabiners to. The more gear you have, the more loops you’ll want.
If you don’t have a garage, you can also use a similar technique on a wall like this.
If you’ve done any of these upcycling projects or have other ways to reuse your old climbing rope, let us know in the comments!
Share this article with other climbers who you think might have some retired climbing rope lying around to help them recycle their rope.