Know the Ropes, Part One

First TanglesWhen it comes to the outdoors and rope, you can never have enough. Furthermore, there are kinds that are great for different purposes, so it’s important to keep lengths of different varieties on hand. Today, we’ll start a series that breaks down some of the types of ropes popular for outdoor use, as well as what they’re best for.

Twisted rope

Also known as laid rope, twisted rope has a spiral look to it, due to the three strands that are twisted together to comprise it. Commonly, you see it in the form of inexpensive yellow polypropylene rope that you can pick up nearly anywhere. It’s known to kink, isn’t easy to knot, and it’s not the strongest rope available, but twisted rope does have its uses. For instance, it’s waterproof and is also one of the few ropes that sink, which is useful in rescue situations. Also, its yellow color is very visible and it tends to be one of the least costly ropes out there.

Braided Ropes

Braided ropes come in different styles and are made by weaving fiber strands together into one thicker strand. Hollow braided ropes consist only of a woven core, while double braided ropes are made of one braided rope inside the other. They have plenty of strength and abrasion resistance, and double braided nylon ropes are a lot easier on your hands and tend to not kink up as badly as twisted ropes.

Climbing Ropes

Modern climbing ropes have an outer “jacket” wrapped around an inner core. That jacket creates abrasion resistance, while the inner core of separate strands provides the strength. Dynamic climbing ropes are designed to stretch slightly when under heavy loads, which comes in handy when falling climbers are halted abruptly. That little bit of stretch helps keep your spine intact, but also makes the rope ideal for jobs that involve lashing things tightly to other things. For instance, 7-8mm climbing rope is great for tying a canoe or kayak to a truck rack.

As is the case with most types of outdoor materials and gear, the closer you look at the different types available, the more you learn about just how involved and specific things really are. Everything has its purpose and rope is no different. It’s smart to have different types on hand, especially if you’re an avid outdoorsman. Be sure to return for Part Two of the series, where we’ll break down even more rope types.