High Quality Ropes
March 26, 2017 8:10 PM   Subscribe

Who makes the best ropes for household-type things?

I'm looking to gift rope of various sizes and strengths to someone who would appreciate very good quality rope made from natural materials. This is for garden/house-type work, not rock climbing. I need thin and strong (but doesn't have to be super thin or light weight or anything). I'm looking for the best, not the most expensive, though I'm not opposed to paying for quality.
posted by 10ch to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think we are going to need more information to answer your question.

You say natural materials, but do you want cotton, hemp, bamboo, jute?

And what kind of "household activities" are you thinking about? I don't know anyone who uses rope regularly anymore at home, or even much in a garden. Farmers do, of course, but most people I know in a semi-rural area use zip ties, duct tape, and glue much more than rope. Does your friend grow tomatoes? Have chickens? Need to repair sash windows?
posted by epanalepsis at 6:30 AM on March 27, 2017


Paracord is widely known as the duct tape of cordage. 550 paracord is sold in a variety of colors and lengths, and is both highly reusable and fairly inexpensive for what you get.

I also like to have some hemp twine on hand, maybe in a few diameters.

Brand isn't really as important as using the right tool for the task, and paracord can be used for maybe 90% of household needs.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:32 AM on March 27, 2017


Oh I missed the natural bit. Hemp is by far the most versatile natural fiber and strongest per weight. The British Empire was pretty much made from hemp, it's good stuff. So just buy a spool of 1mm twine, and a hundred feet or so of 5mm. Beyond 5-8mm is nice for specific applications but not really generally useful unless you make a lot of rope swings and monkey bridges.

Cotton is decorative but is weak and degrades easily. Manila is just the cheaper shittier version of hemp, not as nice, not as strong. Avoid Sisal like the plague, that stuff is nasty and would be a terrible gift.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:43 AM on March 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Cotton rope usually has a nice soft texture, and so might be useful for indoor purposes - as a handrail or a decorative thing somewhere. To be useful outdoors, rope needs to be fairly resistant to the effects of sunlight and moisture - manila rope is pretty good in this regard, with a better lifespan (5-10 years) than either hemp or sisal.
posted by pipeski at 6:50 AM on March 27, 2017


Natural ropes take a lot of care: they can rot if left wet, and degrade badly in strong sunlight.

In synthetics, black Dacron antenna rope is immensely strong, UV-resistant, is soft and easy to knot. Atwood Micro Cord is a very thin paracord that comes in a variety of weaves and colours. It's pretty and strong.
posted by scruss at 6:59 AM on March 27, 2017


Here's some nice info on various fibres, showing how they make ropes of differing strengths and properties. You'll see that synthetics are vastly stronger, there's no way around that. But 3-ply twisted natural hemp will wear more gracefully than many synthetics. Manila is used more commonly than hemp today, because it's cheaper and does better with rot resistance, but working with it is going to give you splinters at first unless you have very rough hands. Hemp is much smoother and easier to knot, lash, hitch, whip, braid, plait, etc. Hemp is much more resistant to UV degradation than most other natural fibers. In many ways, it is similar to flax. It really depends on what your friend is up to. Many people have not handled real hemp before, and having some is a nice treat. Here's a good source for thicker hemp cordage.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:11 AM on March 27, 2017


If you want the look of natural fibers but the low maintenance of synthetic look at p.o.s.h rope which is a synthetic hemp.
posted by platypus of the universe at 5:05 PM on March 27, 2017


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