If you didn’t catch on in November, you may have missed that I love jump ropes. Almost as much as I love shoes. Double unders are a strength of mine carried over from my martial arts days, so when it comes time to play a CrossFit game, I am happy when they show up.
Because of this, I’ve tested a lot of ropes, and compiled a list of the best ones for what you care about. I've tested these so you don't have to waste money trying off-brand imitators.
Stick to these recommendations and you’ll find the right rope. Come to train with me to figure out how to use it.
Also, I have no affiliate interest in these ropes. I just want you to not hate double unders.
The Overall Champ: RPM Session
I was graciously gifted the handles to this rope before the 2017 Open, and I ordered a cable immediately so I could smoke 17.5. This thing is fast, light, and comfortable. The weight of the cable is ideal: heavy enough to turn fast but light and thin enough to minimize fatigue. The handles are simple and no-nonsense cylinders with a solid grip. The bushing turning mechanism is my only complaint: it’s sufficient, not perfect. I like ball bearings and more y-axis on my ropes, and I’d like a slightly longer handle.
Price: $53 (they now make a less expensive plastic version called the Sprint. Haven't tried it, but it seems like it'd be a good $35 option)
The Respectable Choice: RxSmartGear Ropes
These ropes are awesome for the most part. Ball bearing turning mechanism, comfortable handles, and thin/fast cables have helped me get lots of people their first dubs. The handles are a little short and get grimy after a while, but the thickness makes them overall easy to turn and ergonomic.
My number one complaint with this brand is that they continue to recommend thicker ropes to learn double unders. Thicker ropes, in my experience, mean the rope turns too slow for people to whip it around fast enough. Their reasoning makes sense enough (that you’ll feel the turn better with more cable weight), but I’ve yet to transition someone to an “Ultra” (1.8) rope without an improvement. Don’t go heavier than the 1.8 unless you want added conditioning.
The Bare Minimum for Competing: Rogue’s SR mechanisms.
Shout out: I think this is the best technology in speed ropes. A single bearing that gives the rope 90-degrees of range along the y-axis as it turns as smoothly as any other handle along the x-axis. It’s simple, elegant, durable, and makes getting double unders a matter of skill and not technology. The bottom line is that the tech won’t get in the way, and you can go moderately fast.
That being said, there’s something on every Rogue SR rope (that I’ve tried) that I’ve absolutely hated. The Froning cable is stupid light and gets hung up just on air resistance. The Speal handle is too short. The SR-1 flagship feels flimsy and doesn’t turn fast enough for my liking. On almost all these ropes, I prefer a fixed cable to one that allows for the handles to slide up next to each other like these do. I haven’t tried the aluminum handle rope or the SR-2 (which appears to check a lot of boxes for me), but if I’m going to drop another $50+ on a rope, I’m going to go with an RPM, or the EVO (the last rope listed).
The Cheapest: Rogue Plastic Speed Ropes
A $10 Rogue Plastic rope will get you from zero to 100+ double unders. It’s completely acceptable, if crude. If you struggle with jumping rope, however, a higher-quality rope can make learning more fun and more productive.
The Overlooked Learning Tool: Buddy Lee Licorice Ropes
You don’t need a fancy wire rope to improve. Doubles and triples are doable with this toy-like masterpiece, and it’s adjustable and low-stakes if you miss. Getting more than 100 doubles would be pretty taxing on this rope compared to others on this list, however.
I also think this is one of the most overlooked ways to improve your jump rope abilities outside of a double under context. Just skipping rope on this thing will condition you pretty well in a pinch, and you can do some nifty freestyle tricks with it as well.
The Entirely Excessive but Absolutely Awesome: The RX EVO Rope.
I tried this sucker at the 2017 CrossFit Games, thinking it couldn’t possibly be worth the $130 price tag. After trying it, I may fight you about that.
This thing is recklessly fast, with almost everything I look for in a rope: balanced handle weight and (not too heavy or light), thin but heavy rope (they actually offer two styles, one for dubs and one that is stiffer(!) for triples and more), swivel bearing mechanism that is almost imperceptible.
They named it the EVO because they couldn't come up with a dumber acronym than Extreme Velocity Optimized (Yes, that's on the website).
It's, in a word, pretentious. Maybe that's why I like it. It’s so over-the-top that they custom make each one, I’m assuming in the same factory that assembles fighter jet prototypes.
I am not partial to the key-ring-on-a-swivel mechanism, but that’s a minor complaint. I’d deal with it.
Price: $130 and all your street cred.
Based on these descriptions, I hope you can come up with an idea of which rope you should acquire next. If not, give me a holler at firstname.lastname@example.org
I haven't tried Starbii jump ropes, but they look okay. The name is just stupid and they look stupid. Just don't send me links to Amazon knockoffs and expect a kind opinion. I think almost all of them are garbage.
P.S. One important thing I want to mention is that the RPM, RX, and EVO ropes are going to be the ones that hurt the most when you miss. High risk, high reward.