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Best Ropes for Camping: A Comprehensive Guide

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Hey campers, we know how overwhelming it can be when picking out the best gear for your next camping trip. There are so many options for everything and most of the online guides are confusing. It’s hard to find a simple answer to simple questions. One question we see a lot is about what about the best rope for camping. To help you out we’re going to tell you exactly which two types of rope we recommend for camping.

Note: Always get reflective rope if it’s available. It’s safer in all situations and works just as well as non-reflective rope. If you can’t, consider getting reflective tape and sticking that to the rope instead. Once it gets dark you will wish you had. Take it from someone who has walked into too many clotheslines, and tripped over too many tent flap tie-outs.

AI generated image of a camper using nylon rope at camp

TLDR; The Two Ropes You Need For Camping

We get it, you have better stuff to do than read a few thousand words when this is what you came for. So here are our suggestions for the two best ropes to bring camping. Bring reflective 550lb paracord for the light jobs like tying down tarps, hanging lanterns, and clotheslines. Then bring about 100 feet of high-quality braided polyester rope for the big jobs like hanging bear canisters and tying things down.

Key Takeaways:

Braided Polyester Rope

A lot of people recommend nylon but we prefer polyester because it stretches less. This is the workhorse rope that you will pull out for the big jobs. If you need to hang a bear canister, tie down a load, or do any of the other heavy-duty jobs around camp. We find the 3/8 size to be the perfect strength and thickness to handle the big jobs, but still be easy to work with. It’s affordable, durable, easy to work with, and very strong.

As a rule of thumb polyester rope stretches about 12-15% before breaking (half as much as nylon). This means that when something is tied down, it will stay put. You don’t want your bear bag slowly lowering to the ground overnight. The downside to polyester is that it doesn’t absorb shock well, so keep that in mind. Our recommendation is below. If you want to geek out you should see this reference on polyester rope strength.

product image from Amazon

FUNSUEI 3/8 Inch x 100 Feet Braid Polyester Rope, Heavy Duty Braided Polyester Rigging Rope for Camping, Climbing, Hanging Swings and Tents, Tree Work, Adventure, 2200 lbs. Loading Capacity

Tent Guyline Cordage

In our experience, we’ve found that tent guyline cord, sometimes called guyline rope, is a must-have for camping and backpacking. This is our go-to choice for securing tarps and tent flaps. Some people recommend paracord for these tasks, but we lean towards guyline cord. Here’s why: it hardly stretches, which means it stays tight and secure, even on windy days. What really sets it apart is how strong it is compared to how much it weighs. The guyline cord we like best weighs just 2.6 ounces for 100 feet and can hold up to 250 pounds! For the cost and benefits we can’t imagine not bringing some along every time we go camping.

product image from Amazon

Onewind Ultralight Tent Guyline Cordage HMWPE Tarp Rope 100ft, Lightweight and Durable Great for Hammock Camping, Backpacking and Camping. Lightweight and flexible hollow braid cord is stronger than paracord and perfect for a wide range of indoor and outdoor uses, including lifting slings, stabilizing slings, towing lines, mooring lines, water applications, winches, stage and theater rigging, and halyards.

Honorable Mention: 550 Pound Paracord

We almost always bring a roll of reflective 550lb paracord when we go camping. Because it stretches so much it isn’t always the most versatile rope. It’s affordable, tough, lightweight, and easy to tie and untie. You will use paracord much more often than the heavier polyester rope. For general use, we recommend the 550lb rated paracord. It’s great for most camping uses like tent guy lines and clotheslines.

We recommend the 550lb weight of paracord for camping. It’s strong enough for tent and tarp guylines, short clotheslines, and most other chores. Of course, heavier paracord is available, at an increased price. Remember that the recommended sustained load of rope is 20% to 30% of its weight rating. This means you shouldn’t be putting more than 110-165 lbs. on the paracord. That may not sound like much, but it’s more than enough for most uses around camp. If you shop on Amazon we have linked our recommendation below.

product image from Amazon

WEREWOLVES Reflective 550&176 lb Paracord - Nylon, Rope Roller,7&3 Strand Utility Parachute Cord for Camping Tent, Outdoor Packaging

The Importance of Having the Right Ropes for Camping

When you go camping, it’s important to have the right ropes. This is not a luxury, but an essential piece of equipment that every camper should have. The quality and selection of your camping ropes will affect your camping experience. It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced outdoors enthusiast or a beginner camper, if you go camping without necessary equipment you are going to eventually regret it.

First, camping ropes are crucial for safety reasons. You will need them to set up clotheslines, hang your hammock, , secure tents, and many other little uses to keep your campsite neat and safe. Choosing the correct rope is important. It can prevent accidents, secure your gear, and keep your campsite stable in bad weather.

Furthermore, camping ropes are multifunctional tools that you can use for various tasks. From hanging food to keep it safe from bears, creating clotheslines for drying wet clothes, or tying down tarps and tent flaps there is almost an unlimited number of reasons to carry it. Having the right kinds of rope gives you confidence to handle any camping challenge.

When choosing ropes for camping, it’s important to think about strength, durability, UV resistance, and stretch. By choosing ropes that meet these criteria, you can ensure that your camping experience is not only safe but also enjoyable. Investing in good camping ropes is a smart choice. They will improve your outdoor experiences and make you feel more secure on your trips.

AI generated image of a camper relaxing on a rope hammock

Synthetic vs. Natural Ropes for Camping

When it comes to selecting the best ropes for camping, it’s important to consider between synthetic or natural material. We prefer synthetic materials like nylon and polyester over natural for several reasons.

For us the biggest benefits of synthetics is their resistance to the elements. Ropes made from synthetic material withstand UV rays, moisture, and extreme temperatures better than natural ones. We find the convenience and durability of synthetic materials more suitable for campers like us who have enough to do without stressing out about their ropes rotting in the garage when it gets humid.

We prefer to have as little equipment maintenance as possible after camping and synthetic ropes are easier to maintain than natural. All you need is some dish soap and water when they need to be cleaned. They don’t need special treatments or conditioning in the way that natural ropes do. After cleaning they can be hung up to dry and they wont mildew or rot.

Overall, when considering everything above, synthetic ropes are our top choice for camping. We think they are perfect because they can resist the elements, are durable, and require low maintenance. Whether you’re setting up tents, securing tarps, or tying up a boat, synthetic ropes will work great.

Synthetic Rope Options: Nylon Vs Polyester Vs Polypropylene Rope

There are a lot of synthetic materials that are used to make rope. Nylon, polyester, and polypropylene are three of the most common materials and all three are appropriate for camping. Each has it’s own strengths and weaknesses so let’s go over each one briefly.

Do You Recommend Any Natural Ropes For The Campsite?

In our experience there aren’t any natural ropes that we would recommend for casual or beginner campers. This is mostly because of the tendency of natural fibers to mildew, or even rot if they aren’t maintained. They are also more difficult to clean and maintain than synthetic fibers. If you are set on using a natural fiber and don’t mind the maintenance there are a few we recommend that you research.

Sisal fiber and manila are two of the best-known and most available materials for natural rope. Cotton and Jute are another two that work well for camping. Of those four we think manila and cotton could be a good choice. We recommend doing more research before picking a natural fiber rope because all of the natural materials have their own particular quarks. For example manila can shrink as much as 25% when it gets wet. Something you will want to keep in mind when it starts raining.

As we said, do more research before making a choice. Covering all the different natural options would double the size of this article and we believe that synthetics materials make the best ropes for camping. If there is enough interest we will be happy to try out more options and then write about the natural options.

AI generated image of campers using rope while camping

Braided vs. Twisted

When shopping you will see several different manufacturing processes mentioned. The most common are twisted or several different styles of braiding. Each construction method offers its own set of advantages and considerations. Understanding the tradeoffs is important but if you want our advice get braided unless price is an issue.

The Advantages of Braided Ropes

Braided ropes are about 10% stronger than twisted and are one of the best ropes for camping because of their strength, flexibility, and durability. The braiding process involves intertwining multiple strands together, creating a structure that can handle heavy loads and withstand harsh outdoor conditions. There are several different braiding patterns but for general use we don’t have any preference. They all produce ropes that are strong and smooth which is what we want. The smooth texture from being braided also allows for easier handling and knot tying, making them a popular choice for campers.

There is also enhanced performance and longevity compared to twisted. They are less prone to abrasion and fraying, ensuring a longer lifespan for your camping gear. Whether you need it for securing tents, hanging bear bags, or setting up tarps, braided will provide more reliability and strength over twisted.

That is why we recommend getting braided. The construction method is more complicated and as a result the rope is a bit more expensive. If price is a concern then go ahead and save the money on twisted. For most things you will be doing around camp you probably won’t notice the difference.

The Considerations of Getting Twisted

The most important distinction for most of us is that twisted rope tends to be less expensive. They are constructed by twisting individual strands together, resulting in a stiffer rope with more stretch and a coarser texture. They aren’t as strong and wear out faster than braided but they are still suitable for most camping tasks. If all you are doing is hanging clotheslines and tying down tarps it’s perfectly fine to save some money on a twisted rope.

The choice between braided and twisted really depends on your individual needs, budget, and preferences. Both types have their advantages, so assess your camping needs before making a decision. Choosing the best ropes for camping is important for safety and enjoyment. You can pick a strong braided rope or a slightly weaker but more affordable twisted one. As long as you understand their strengths and weaknesses both will do fine.

AI generated image of a camper tying ropes together at camp

Determining the Amount of Rope Needed for Camping

When preparing for a camping trip, it’s important to determine the amount of rope you’ll need to ensure you have enough for various tasks. The amount will depend on the activities you plan to undertake as well as what unexpected uses you encounter while camping. In general it is always better to have extra rather than not enough. We bring 100’ of nylon rope, a bunch of random paracord that we already used, and a roll of new paracord. We don’t really track how much paracord to bring because we have more than enough.

Do You Know The Best Knots for Tarps, Guylines, Etc?

My father was an Eagle Scout who served in the U.S. Navy so my whole childhood was a crash course in knots and ropework. If you didn’t have that opportunity you will want to learn at least a few basic knots. We have a guide on the 5 knots that we have found most useful on our camping trips.We also recommend picking up a book to learn the necessary knots. I haven’t read it but the book The Little Book of Incredibly Useful Knots is considered a great guide by many people we trust. I would recommend grabbing a copy before you go camping.

product image from Amazon

The Useful Knots Book: How to Tie the 25+ Most Practical Rope Knots (Escape, Evasion, and Survival) The Useful Knots Book is a no-nonsense knot guide on how to tie the 25+ most practical rope knots. It comes with easy to follow instructions, pictures, and tips on when to best use each knot.

Camping Ropes & Knots

Before You Go …

Now that you know everything there is to know about picking the best ropes for camping I would like to suggest checking out our beginners camping guide. This very thorough guide will fill you in everything you might want to know about going camping for the first time with your family.

FAQ

Q: Why is having the right rope important for camping?

A: The right rope is essential for various tasks such as setting up tarps, securing tents, hanging bear bags, and more. It can enhance your overall camping experience and solve problems in the outdoors.

Q: What are the best ropes for camping?

A: The two most popular types of ropes for camping are paracord and polyester. Paracord is lightweight and durable, while polyester rope is strong and resistant to stretching.

Q: Are camping ropes resistant to UV rays?

A: Yes, most camping ropes are made of nylon or polyester, which have excellent UV ratings and are suitable for outdoor use. It's advisable to avoid cotton, jute, or polypropylene materials, as they are not as durable and are damaged by exposure to the sun.

Q: Do camping ropes stretch?

A: While most have some degree of stretch, it's important to choose ones with minimal stretch for camping purposes. "Static" ropes, which do not stretch significantly under pressure, are ideal for most camping uses.

Q: What is the difference between braided and twisted ropes?

A: Braided ropes are stronger, more flexible, more expensive, and have a smoother texture compared to twisted. They are recommended for outdoor use as they offer better performance and longevity.

Q: How much rope do I need for camping?

A: The amount of rope you will need for camping depends on the specific tasks you plan to accomplish. It's recommended to bring approximately 10 feet of reflective paracord for every tie-off point for tarp setups, around 100 feet of braided rope for hanging bear bags, 10-15 feet of paracord for drying clothes, and 20 feet of paracord for tent guy lines.

Q: What are the recommended camping ropes?

A: Based on our research and experience, we recommend two highly-rated camping ropes: a reflective 550lb paracord for tent guy lines and clotheslines, and a 3/8-inch braided polyester rope for heavy-duty tasks like hanging bear bags.

Q: Are synthetic or natural ropes better for camping?

A: Synthetic ropes like nylon and polyester are recommended for camping due to their resistance to the elements, better performance characteristics, and ease of maintenance. Natural materials tend to mildew and rot if not properly cared for, making them less suitable for camping.

Q: What should I know about knot tying and rope maintenance for camping?

A: It's advisable to learn basic knot tying techniques and proper rope maintenance for both longevity and safety. A reliable knot-tying guide or book can be a valuable resource for learning and practicing different knots.

Q: What are the best ropes for camping in bad weather?

A: Both polyester and nylon perform well in bad weather as they are easy to use, strong, and water resistant.

Q: Are braided ropes stronger than twisted?

A: Braided is about 10 percent stronger than a twisted ropes of the same material and size.

Q: What is the difference between static and dynamic rope?

A: The terms static and dynamic refer to the amount that a rope will stretch under load. Dynamic one have more stretch and are used for activities like rock climbing to absorb impact better. Static ones have minimal stretch and are better for securing loads or rappelling.

Q: What is the strongest type of rope?

A: The strongest rope is made from HMPE/Dyneema and is stronger than steel but still light enough to float.

Q: Which is stronger, nylon or polypropylene rope?

A: Polypropylene rope is stronger than nylon of the same thickness.

Q: What is the difference between a solid braid and a diamond braid rope?

A: A solid braid rope is made by braiding the fibers together in a continuous spiral pattern with no spaces between the strands. A diamond braid rope is made by braiding the fibers in a diamond pattern, creating spaces between the strands. The diamond braid rope is more flexible and more shock-absorbent than a solid braid rope.

Q: What is the worst kind of rope for camping?

A: Polyethylene is hands-down the worst rope material for any use. It doesn't hold knots and it kinks after being put under strain. We recommend avoiding it if at all possible.

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