On the face of it Tendon is a fairly recent addition to the UK’s rope brand portfolio; although in truth we have seen ropes from the parent company in the recent past, in the shape of products from Czech rope manufacturer Lanex. Having, a few years back, updated their machines and manufacturing processes – allowing for the production of a higher quality of finished article – Lanex seems to have decided (cleverly) to re-brand their dynamic ropes under the new guise of Tendon, allowing them to take another swipe at the European climbing rope market. Having, on their last assault of the UK rope market, seemingly set their sights on the budget end of the market, Lanex/Tendon, through improved manufacturing capacity and the ability to create more usable, lightweight and super thin cords, now look to have the clout to take on the more established rope brands, whilst still being highly competitive on the price front. So far they appear to have made a good fist of it, with Dave Pickford recently remarking (in a review on UKC.com) of Tendon’s top-end sport offering, the Master 9.2mm: “I am convinced that it is the best superlight single rope I have used to date. It handles perfectly, being extremely supple and very easy to clip with.” High praise indeed!
At the other end of the spectrum I recently put Tendon’s budget offering, the 'Smart' 10mm, to the test on a diet of predominantly single pitch trad and a small amount of sport climbing in the Lake District, here’s what I found. Obviously, when testing an entry-level/budget product you have to set your expectations accordingly, so when using the Tendon Smart I had in mind the likes of the Mammut 'Passion' and 'Tusk'. In fairness to the Smart, which is cheaper than the aforementioned Mammut ropes, after a couple of months of regular use on volcanic tuff, sandstone and granite in the western Lakes, it was stacking up far better than a Passion I had used on similar crags and over roughly the same timescale some years back. In fact the sheath wear on the Smart was less obvious and I’d been abseiling on the Tendon rope far more than I ever had on the Mammut product, which bodes well for good longevity. Due to the complexities in spinning the yarns and the number of bobbins required at the point of production, the main downside with cheaper ropes (from any manufacturer) is usually the handle of the product in use. Whilst I’d love to tell you the Tendon Smart bucked this trend, unfortunately it does have the familiar ungainly feel of most budget ropes and a tendency to kink at inopportune moments. In terms of stats the Smart holds its own well against most similarly priced ropes, even having a lower weight per metre than many of its peers and a similar level of UIAA fall’s held (6).
Overall, this is a great budget rope which wears well and would make a great climbing wall rope, entry-level product or be ideal for those on a tight budget. If you are an accomplished and/or very active climber then I would urge you to consider a higher spec rope; perhaps something like the Tendon 'Master' 9.7mm or 'Ambition' 10mm would be a better bet...