In Part One of this series on learning the ropes—pun intended—we took a deeper look at some of the common types of rope that are used in the outdoors, as well as their optimal uses. Today, we’ll continue by exploring a few more types of rope that you can use to your advantage in various outdoor and survival situations.
Parachute cord is full of wonders. Though small in diameter, it’s strong enough to tie down loads of gear during a hike, car trip, or even handle the weight of a person in an emergency. In recent years, P-cord has seen a rise in presence, due to the popularity of parachute cord bracelets. Many of these bracelets don’t use real P-cord, though. Real parachute cord—also known as 550 cord—is required to consist of a braided nylon sheath covering between seven and nine interwoven strands of separate cord. Together, this gives it a minimum breaking strength of 550 pounds, along with nearly a dozen different uses in outdoor scenarios.
In my opinion, it’s smart to keep a good length of guyline cord handy when you hit the trail. You never know when you may need to replace or lengthen a tent or tarp guyline. Some manufacturers even make cord with reflective materials that light up in a flashlight beam, which will help keep you from tripping over a tent guyline. Furthermore, guyline cord is thinner, which makes it great for lanyards or small loops on gear that might accidentally get dropped in the dark, such as flashlights, GPS units, knives, or other valuable tools.
Bungee cord is commonly known as the stretchy line with hooks on either end that holds things down or together, and most outdoor retailers sell it by the foot. It’s smart to keep it in varying diameters and lengths. A short bit of it is perfect for bundling up gear that needs to rolled, such as sleeping bags and pads, or tubular stuff that needs to be bound together, such as canoe paddles.
Sisal and Bailing Twine
Sisal is made of fibers from the leaves of a kind of acacia plant, and it’s strong, durable, easily dyed, inexpensive, and resists deterioration in saltwater. It is, however, very bristly and will take the hide of your hands if you’re not careful, so be sure to wear gloves when you’re handling it for lengths of time. Baling twine is really just a thinner version of sisal that has an incredibly high breaking capacity—around 350 pounds. Like sisal, it’s strong, cheap, and useful to have nearby.
Each type of rope offers great uses in varying outdoor scenarios and hopefully this series has helped illuminate some little known uses among well-known rope varieties. A good outdoorsman should have plenty of each type on hand to access before heading out to the woods. You can find most of them either at a hardware store or an outdoor retailer, so you should have no problem finding some for your own outdoor arsenal.