Need Rope? Choose Carefully!

We are a society that often depends on rope for work or recreation. There are ropes designed and manufactured for specific applications such as climbing and boating. Many other ropes are made for general applications in camping or for use around the home.

Extra rope is one of the staples I keep in my camping supplies. I have used my extra cords and rope for repairing a rain fly line, putting up an emergency tarp, stringing up a clothesline to dry out clothes, or being prepared to assist others who need it. This happens more than you might imagine.

While camping, we use rope for everything from securing the rain flys on our tents to setting up a tarp. If we’re camping in bear country, using a good rope to hoist our food and supplies into a tall tree in a “bear bag” is very important. If we’re boating, a different type of rope may be selected for strength and years of service.

Ever wondered which type of rope is best for the job you’re doing?
When considering which rope to use there are many factors to consider including application and use, strength and weight holding capacity, long term exposure to sun and/or water, bulk, and weight, frequency of use, elasticity (or not).

Here are a few hints that may help you choose the rope that will work best for you.

First, let’s look at rope construction.
There are also two basic types of rope construction: braided and twisted.
Here are some of the pros and cons of each one:
Braided Rope
Generally more durable
Less stiff and more flexible
Generally stronger than twisted rope of equivalent size
Easier on the hands
Difficult to splice
Less stretch than twisted rope

Twisted Rope
Fairly easy to splice
Generally less expensive
Has more stretch than braided
Has a tendency to kink or bunch up
More stiff and less flexible

Choosing the correct materials and design of rope suddenly becomes important. Here is a brief description of some of the more popular rope construction materials.
Manila rope was once the preferred choice prior to the development of man made synthetic fibers. It holds up well in the sun and is not affected by the temperature of the day. Still in use all around the world.
Cotton fiber ropes are easy on the hands but don’t have the strength of more modern fibers.
Polypropylene fiber ropes float and are excellent general purpose ropes. They are the first choice for many boaters because they float and are resistant to chemicals such as gasoline.
Polyester is also the popular choice of many boaters. It is valued for its strength and resistance to chemicals. Polyester is considered by some to be the best general purpose rope. It’s also one of the more popular choices when a tough heavy duty rope is needed.
Nylon is also resistant to chemicals and has elasticity. It has UV ray resistant qualities and will last longer than natural fibers.

Rope seems like a simple thing that we often take for granted, but if you take a few minutes to consider your needs and applications when choosing your rope or cordage, it will save you time and frustration in the long run.

Happy Camping!

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