What is the Best Rope for Camping and Outdoor Use?

The list of useful items to bring camping is a long one. Some people go out and bring everything but the kitchen sink, sometimes even getting known for the heavy pack that they carry. While there are a lot of items that can help, they’re not all necessary.

One item that I consider to be near the top of the list of what to bring is camping rope. The uses are plenty and you’ll only ever find more reasons to have it along. It’s one of those tools that when you don’t have it, you’ll find that you need it incredibly often.

There are a lot of different ropes out there so we’re going to discuss the best rope for camping, how much rope to bring camping, and all of the benefits of being prepared with it.

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rope knot tie static cord camping outdoor

How is Rope Useful When Camping?

Even taking a quick minute to think about it, one can see how widely used rope is when you’re out camping. Rope is used for tarp set ups, tent guy lines, drying lines, to hang your food in a bear hang, creating traps or snares in a survival situation, for safety and rescue, and so much more.

I can go on about the utility of rope when you’re out on the trail, but the moment you get out there, you’ll find out for yourself. I have gone through plenty of last-minute rope belts and adjustments to my backpack that I couldn’t have done if I hadn’t brought rope along with me.

With rope, your craftiness level will double or even triple. There are so many new fixes you can make to gear on the fly and will have a better time problem solving than you would without it.

What Type or Rope is the Strongest?

The range for how much weight rope can hold is huge. Heavy duty climbing rope withstands forces of up to 12 kilo-Newtons, which means it holds over 2,600 pounds. More commonly found in the camping realm is paracord, or P550.

  • Paracord is made up of seven (some claim fourteen) strands of braided nylon found inside a protective nylon sheath
  • This can typically hold up to 550 pounds

There are, of course, ropes rated for lower weights. I don’t recommend these as you want something that can move your bodyweight and more in case of an emergency. Paracord is the most commonly carried rope and is debatably the best.

Rope Knots to Master

Which Ropes are UV Resistant?

Not all ropes are made to be left out in the sun for long periods of time. It’s important to know what kind of rope you should be bringing out on those long camping trips that will get a lot of sunlight so you get the right level of protection.

Most ropes for camping are made of nylon or polyester. These have excellent UV ratings, which makes them a great choice.

Pro-tip: Steer clear of cotton, polypropylene, and jute ropes. They’ll become damaged in the sun and leave potential weaknesses.

Tarp Set Up

What Type of Rope Will Not Stretch?

Naturally, most ropes will stretch at least a little bit, but some are designed to stretch more than others. “Dynamic” ropes, which are most often used for sport climbing, are made to stretch and absorb any impact of weight falling on them.

For camping, it’s more important to find a rope that doesn’t have much stretch in it. Ropes that don’t stretch are categorized as “static” ropes. These won’t stretch much when put under pressure, which makes them great for most camping uses.

You don’t want a rope that slowly stretches overnight and therefore lowers your tarp until it’s draped across your face.

Twisted ropes also tend to stretch a bit more than braided ropes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not the better option for outdoor use.

Is Braided or Twisted Rope Better?

Braiding and twisting rope fibres are two of the main methods of making rope. These two methods have different impacts on the characteristics of the rope, which makes one better than the other for outdoor use.

Braided ropes are stronger than twisted ropes, they are also more flexible, and are much smoother to the touch. Twisted ropes stretch a bit more, are much less expensive, and are easier to splice.

Looking at these characteristics side by side, both ropes will work for outdoor use. I recommend twisted ropes however, because of the lower price and ability to splice when you need more rope in a survival situation.

Braided ropes also can pick up a lot of small dirt particles which then work towards slowly cutting the rope up from the inside out.

Hanging Food While Camping

How Much Rope Do You Need For Camping?

Okay, so it’s obvious that rope should be packed for the next big trip. But, how much rope is necessary to bring? 100 feet? 10 feet? 500?

Here we can help you figure out how much you’ll need depending on what you plan to use it for.

Rope for Tarps

I recommend using paracord for tarp set up. The thinner diameter means tighter knots and easy use. You’ll need to bring about 10 feet for every tie-off point, so overall I pack about 75 feet just in case.

Rope for Hanging Bear Bag / Food Barrel

For bear hangs, it’s often a good idea to have just under 100 feet of rope along with you. If that’s too much for you, make sure to have at least 75 to get the food high off the ground. A solid nylon rope is best for this purpose.

Rope for Drying Clothes

There isn’t a “right” rope for a drying line. I use paracord because it’s what I have the most of. For a drying line, you’ll want about 10-15 feet to reach between some trees and make it around the trunks as well.

Rope for Tent Guy Lines

Guy lines rarely need to be much longer than five feet. For each corner, you may need about a total of 20 feet of rope for this.

What’s important to keep in mind is that these are what people most often trip over. Reflective paracord is a great solution to a long standing issue with most campers.


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