I am a complete noob when it comes to ropes and knots. It's high time I start practicing.

Which rope, most preferably easily available and portable, should I use for practice?

Should it be of particular size or material? Or it could be something as simple as a nylon rope( Something that I have with me TBH ) I plan on practicing in my everyday train commute and at home.

Note : I am going to use this rope only for practicing knots.

  • 3
    Buy some 6 or 7mm accessory cord, or prussic cord if you want something a little more supple. Also, get this app.
    – ShemSeger
    Aug 1, 2017 at 17:22
  • 2
    Some knots suit certain kinds of rope more than others. If you can "rescue" fragments of different kinds of rope - different materials, diameter, construction - then it will help you learn how it behaves. Some bends don't work well when used to join ropes of differing diameters, and some do. So "a variety" is probably the best answer. Failing that, a metre or two of 5mm nylon kernmantel would be a good start. Aug 2, 2017 at 15:16
  • Use the sort of material which is used in your specific application. You haven't said whether you're fishing, climbing, or marlining.
    – Beanluc
    Aug 3, 2017 at 21:12

4 Answers 4


3 to 7mm utility cord. It is designed to be tied. If you go to a climbing retailer you can typically buy by the foot.



The existing answer is perfectly fine, I just take a little different angle:

Use any rope-like object that fulfills either of these two conditions:

  • You already have it.

  • It will be useful for whatever you learn the knots for.

And yes, I can read - I am ignoring your note on purpose ;)

  • 4
    Yes, I have used my headphones to that end before...
    – imsodin
    Aug 1, 2017 at 19:20
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    @Paparazzi I think there is a misunderstanding: I say any rope he has already (useful or not) or anything that is useful for the intended activity (sailing, climbing, ...) not learning knots, because in my opinion any rope-like thing is fine to learn knots (on their own, obviously not in a practical setting, but that's what is asked).
    – imsodin
    Aug 1, 2017 at 21:28
  • 1
    @Paparazzi Well but useful can have modifiers, which I introduced in the last comment and you didn't acknowledge. Also my personal definition made up right know for rope-like is: length >> width and flexible and knotable. Really, in context this shouldn't be a problem. And my answer is indeed very basic, but that's the point. I could have also written: Don't overthink it, take whatever you want and get to it. However I sincerely hope my answer doesn't get upvoted to the highest spot.
    – imsodin
    Aug 1, 2017 at 23:45

You need to use rope specific to the knots' purpose. It does no good to practice a fisherman's knot on hemp or climbing rope, when fishing line is expected. You'll never understand the nuances of the knot if you do otherwise. Bends tend to require ropes of different sizes and/or materials.

If you were to practice basic Boy or Girl Scout knots, then yes, any rope you have is a good start: hemp, clothesline, para cord, climbing. But once you start practicing with knots who have specialized purposes, you need to practice with the rope they're intended to be used with.

You didn't specifically mention "splicing", but here, the best rope to practice with is ¼" hemp. Such beginner practice will inevitably require the entire train commute home :-)

  • 1
    @Paparazzi that is obvious. The point is that tying knots on different kinds of ropes is different and it is useful to have some practice on the actual type of rope that will be used in practice. If you only train with nice smooth dynamic rope and then will be given a stiff old dynamic you will see it is much harder. A fishing cord is even more different. Aug 2, 2017 at 18:29
  • @VladimirF The statement is "no good to practice".
    – paparazzo
    Aug 2, 2017 at 18:33
  • I was actually thinking of the double fisherman that I use a lot.
    – paparazzo
    Aug 2, 2017 at 19:14

If you have string or rope around which is handy, start with that. You can go out to buy lines when you are a bit more experienced and know what you want and need in them.

The best string or rope I have ever found to try out knots is shoe and boot laces.
They are easy to tie, relatively easy to untie from almost every knot, hard wearing and nice to handle.
And they come with aglets, helping in feeding through the ends.

For practical knots I usually go for the thickest size mountain boot lace. They are the size that fits my hands, they might be a bit thin for some people.
If you make your own training piece of string, remember to finish off the ends well. Taking a page of the shoe lace book might help, by putting a narrower stiff end on. (Imitating aglets.)

When you know the basic shape of the knots you will need to use in serious situations, like in climbing where your life is going to depend on it, you have to have trained in the rope you are going to use for the purpose. The actual rope is best in that case but shorter ends for just learning have their uses as well.

And when you are going to use laid rope, you should be familiar with how that rope handles. Which is rather different from the way braided rope and string handles.

Each knottyer I know has his/her own 'trained' piece(s) of string with which he/she is trying out new knots, teaching others and doing bits of showy knot work when people are watching.
Each person will tell you why this is the best string. The only thing they have in common is that the user has used it many times, is very familiar with how it behaves and is happy to use it.

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