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In a survival situation, rope is your best friend. As you’ll see later, it can be used for a wide range of things. Still, most people aren’t familiar with the types of rope that exist. By learning what they are, you’ll be able to buy rope that better suits your needs. In this article, we’re going to talk about the 9 most common rope types that you’ll encounter. We’ll discuss their benefits, drawbacks, and how they can be used in a survival situation.
Types of Rope
#1: Twisted Rope
Also referred to as “Laid Rope”, twisted rope has a spiral look to it. It’s made up of three strands that are continuously twisted together. It’s not considered to be the strongest design for rope, but it’s also not the weakest. If you’re going to buy twisted rope (or any rope for that matter), make sure that it’s yellow. That way, it’s high visibility will ensure that you don’t lose it. Note, these types of rope can be difficult to knot. This is something to think about when shopping.
#2: Braided Ropes
As their names imply, braided ropes are made by “braiding” together different fiber strands. Hollow braided ropes are those that are made up of only a single woven core. Braided ropes are durable and offer tons of abrasion resistance. Another benefit to these rope types is that they’re resistant to chemicals. Specifically, at room temperature, braided ropes will do a good job at resisting acids.
#3: Climbing Ropes
These rope types are designed for- you guessed it- climbing. They’re made with a “Kernmantle Design” (basically, this means that they’re super-tough). The type of rope illustrated above in the “Braided Rope” image is what climbing ropes look like (more or less, and depending on the size). And rightfully so considering that people’s lives are on the line. Climbing ropes are exceptionally resistant to abrasion. They are designed to stretch slightly when lifting heavier loads. Why is this important? Well, if a climber abruptly halts, the slight stretch in the rope will help prevent a spine injury. Here’s how to buy types of rope like this one:
#4: Parachute Cord
If you’ve ever been skydiving, you can thank parachute cord for making it to the ground safely. But did you know that you can use it for things other than skydiving? I’ve used these rope types for everything from building shelters to tying up my hammock. Remember- these ropes are designed to keep people from falling to their deaths. That alone should give you confidence in their strength and durability. Note, a common naming alternative for this rope is “paracord”.
#5: Guyline Cord
When building your bug out bag, always try to have some guyline cord stashed away. These types of rope can be used to make lanyards for items like flashlights, multi-tools, etc. Guyline rope is also great for building a survival shelter. Keep in mind that it’s not the strongest rope out there. For this reason, it’s not recommended for rappelling from a cliff or for holding up a hammock. I found 20 meters of guyline cord on Amazon for about $7, which is a good deal.
#6: Bungee Cord
Walk into any camping or outdoor goods store and you’re virtually guaranteed to see these rope types in there. Bungee cord is known for its “stretchy” characteristics. Personally, I like to use it for whenever I need to bundle up my gear. Bungee cords will typically have small hooks at each end that can be used to latch on to something. They’re lightweight, cheap, and can be used to perform dozens of survival hacks. Here’s a video showing how you can use them:
#7: Sisal Rope
This rope is made from a natural fiber called “Sisal” (hence the name). When comparing different types of rope, know that sisal rope is strong and resists saltwater deterioration. But there’s a drawback: sisal rope tends to be very “bristly”. If you’re not careful, it can cut your hands. Like most twisted ropes, sisal rope is very inexpensive. You can buy enough to wrap a pickup truck for around $20.
#8: Baling Twine
Baling twine is a synthetic twine that’s relatively small in diameter. It has a breaking strength of about 350-pounds. More often than not, you’ll see these rope types being used to tie up hay bales. This cheap cordage is something you should always have with you. You can even use it to hold tomatoes up off the ground. The biggest benefit is its affordability. On Amazon, you can buy 20,000 feet for about $50, which is an amazing deal.
#9: Tow Strap
Most people don’t really consider this a “rope”, but I figured that I’d share it with you anyways. Tow straps can pull thousands of pounds- usually upwards of 20,000- or 30,000-pounds. So if you’re going to be hauling vehicles or boats, you’ll definitely want to invest in these rope types. You can usually buy a 20-foot tow strap with 20,000-pounds of strength for about $20. Due to how cheap it is, I highly recommend investing in one (you never know when you’ll need it).
30 Survival Uses For Rope
So, you might be wondering exactly why you need to invest in these types of rope. Well, below we’ve put together a handy list of the many ways you can use rope in a survival situation. By no means is this list comprehensive. I simply wanted to give you an idea of just how important having rope can be. The 30 survival uses include:
- Rappelling: What if you find yourself stuck on a steep hill or cliff? A strong rope will let you safely rappel and find help.
- Build a Shelter: A good shelter will help protect you from the elements as well as give you a big psychological boost.
- Build a Raft: What if you need to cross a body of water? By having rope, it will be easier to build a raft so that you can cross.
- Carrying Stuff: Nearly all types of rope can be used to carry gear and supplies. This is great for freeing up your hands.
- Trip Wire: In the wild, it’s never a bad idea to make a trip wire that will alert you of predators like wolves or bears.
- Clothing Line: You don’t want to be soaked in the wild (it can cause hypothermia). Use rope to hang up your clothes to dry.
- Food: The biggest mistake people make in the wild is not hanging up their food above the ground away from predators.
- Tourniquet: Most types of rope can be used as a tourniquet. Use them to stop bleeding until you get to a doctor.
- Fishing Line: Obviously, thicker ropes won’t work for this. The smaller the diameter, the better (so the fish won’t see it).
- Fishing Net: Similarly, you can use certain rope types to make a fishing net. Here’s a video on how to do it.
- Snare Trap: Believe it or not, building a snare trap is fairly easy (even a beginner can do it). Here’s a video showing how.
- Bola: What the heck is a bola? It’s basically a special type of weapon that can be used to catch large birds or other animals.
- Fire Starting: The bow drill method is an effective and reliable way to make a fire in the wild. But you’ll need rope in order to do it.
- Pulley System: Stronger rope types can be used to build a pulley system, which is designed to move around heavy objects.
- Tying Down Stuff: Pretty straightforward- use rope to tie things down (your shelter, rafts, etc.). Particularly useful in stronger winds.
- Makeshift Belt: While most people resort to using a shoelace, I much prefer to use a rope as a makeshift belt when I lose mine.
- Shoe Laces: Ropes with small diameters can be used to replace broken shoelaces. Pretty handy when you’re lost in the wild.
- Zipper Pull: There’s nothing more annoying than a zipper that’s lost its pull. Fortunately, you can make one using rope.
- Leash: If you lose your pet’s leash you can make a temporary one out of rope. Cheap and gets the job done.
- Ladder: If you need to make it up a rock face or large tree, certain types of rope can be used to build a makeshift ladder.
- Restraint: It might sound far fetched, but what if you’re attacked by another person and need to restrain them? You can use rope.
- Hammock: Hammocks aren’t just for comfort. In a survival situation, they will protect you from ground bugs and/or snakes.
- Arm Sling: What if you injure your arm in the wild? With no hospital in sight, you’ll need to build your own sling.
- Splint: A splint is different than a sling- it’s designed to secure broken bones in place so that they can heal.
- Repair: When if you’ve ripped a hole in your jeans or shelter, you can use rope to make a quick and easy repair.
- Snow Shoes: Certain types of rope can be used to make snow shoes. This is useful for when the snow is exceptionally “mushy”.
- Grip: Over time, things like survival knives or machetes lose their grip. But you can use rope to replace the grip.
- Signaling: A common rescue signaling technique is hanging a brightly colored piece of cloth from a high point (like a tree).
- Pull Someone: If someone is stuck somewhere, you can use rope to pull them out. Just make sure the rope is strong enough!
- Dental Floss: I know it sounds weird, but if you unravel a rope into fine threads, it can be used as makeshift dental floss.
There you have it- 30 awesome ways to use rope in a survival situation. Again, this list isn’t comprehensive (I’m sure you can think of many that aren’t on this list). I simply wanted to show you that value of owning some solid types of rope. If there’s something on this list we forget, let us know by leaving a comment below!
Types of Rope – Bottom Line
I hope that this article has given you a better idea of the different types of rope that are out there. As you can see, some are better-suited for different things than others. Always have rope in your bug out bag! As far as the top tools for wilderness survival, rope is definitely in the top-10 list. It’s that useful. And since it’s so cheap, you can stock up on quite a bit of it without worrying about breaking the bank. Thanks for reading!