Rope has been one of the handiest tools known
to mankind. Traditionally, rope was made
from tough, stringy plant fibers, but today
most ropes are made from synthetic products
that are far stronger. The number of rope
choices, however, has made selecting the
right one for the job somewhat confusing.
Use our guide to help you pick the right
Rope is made three different
- Braided rope is made by braiding the fibers
together to create a strong, kink resistant
rope that is slow to unravel. Braided rope
is either hollow or solid. Hollow braid strands
can be spliced together; solid braid cannot.
Braided rope is not good for holding knots.
- Three strand rope is made by twisting the
fibers in one direction into strands, then
twisting them around each other in the opposite
direction. This method produces a rope that
resists abrasion, holds knots well, and is
easy to splice. It is likely to kink, untwist,
and stretch and the ends will also unravel.
- Composite ropes are made by weaving a hollow
braid around a separate core of fibers. The
core can be braided, twisted or laid out
straight. The outer layer of these ropes
protects the core from damage due to sun
and abrasion. Composite ropes are extremely
strong, and they can be spliced. However,
it can be difficult to detect weaknesses
in the covered core.
Ropes are made from both natural
fibers. These fibers will determine
strength, durability, flexibility,
much it will stretch.
- Sisal is a natural fiber that is inexpensive,
resists sun rot, and holds knots well. Its
limited strength makes it good for light
- Hemp is also a natural fiber that is heavy
and stiff. It is strong and does not stretch,
but it can shrink and mildew. Hemp is good
for all round heavy use.
- Polypropylene rope is inexpensive. It is
lightweight, does not stretch, and can float.
It will sun rot, and too much friction can
cause it to deteriorate. It is often used
for recreational marine activities such as
- Nylon is strong and shock absorbent. It is
not good for making knots and loses strength
when it gets wet. It will stretch under a
- Polyester is strong and resists stretching,
sun rot, and abrasion. It does not absorb
shocks well. It is particularly good for
tying down loads.
There are also a variety of specialty fibers
that are lightweight, strong, and do not
stretch, but they usually cost
more and can
sun rot and abrade. They are
a good choice
for highly specific jobs such
and salt water boating.