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I am trying to find a roughly 7/64" to 1/8" (~3mm) DIA rope I can easily every day carry.

The rope must be:

  • Strong, working limit 200-300+lbf
  • Light weight
  • Knot compatible
  • Resilient to exposure outside optional
  • Low stretch
  • Low / no creep

What I have looked into:

  • Dyneema

This material is has the highest tensile strength but is too slippery and cuts into itself when knotted. It is should be only spliced.

  • Polypropylene

Not resilient or strong. Mostly comes in a hallow braid that makes it not ideal for knots.

  • Nylon

This material ticks most boxes except strength is somewhat lacking. The 550 paracord I have is rated for 110lbf working load. As I understand. Paracord has a stranded nylon cord core.

  • Vectran

Appears to fit almost all the boxes. It is very susceptible to UV degradation so it must be sheathed. I have also read it very stiff and difficult to knot as a result. I wonder what the minimum bend radius of this material is at smaller diameters that I desire. Vectran's primary benefit appears to be low creep and good heat resistance.

Final use is camping: stringing up shelters, hammocks, occasionally lifting things with a sheave, etc. I want a versatile rope that I can carry outdoors and use when needed.

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  • Do I understand right that you are looking for 'rope' of about 3 mm diameter? Many people call that cord, not rope.
    – Willeke
    Oct 31, 2023 at 11:14
  • Yes, my apologies for not being clear. Oct 31, 2023 at 11:59

1 Answer 1

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Looks at what's supplied for use on boats. Any chandlery will have a range of ropes/cords for different loads.

A safety factor of 5 is normally used for living loads, so to get a 220lb working limit you want a 500kg breaking strength. That's 5mm in this ordinary braided polyester yacht rope.

To go much thinner you do need something exotic, like 3-4mm Dyneema, with its downsides around knotting.

However for most of those uses, you're not going to be anywhere near the maximum working load you specify. The possible exception is for hammocks, when the load is shared between multiple lengths (usually 2 at each end). Given the low risk, assuming you're not high off the ground, you'd still be OK. Lightweight hammock users use 3mm Dyneema, indicating that there's not much better.

Finally utility cord for everyday carrying doesn't have to do all the jobs. Cheap 3mm paracord will do for slinging loads you can lift, as well as for putting up a tarp, and general securing duties. When you carry a hammock, you could carry something more specific for use with that - and in fact you should, as it's better for the tree to put webbing round it with cord fastened to that if necessary.

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    This is a thoughtful response. Thank you for the information. I agree it makes sense to use not try to shoehorn an EDC cord into tasks it really ought not to do. You also made a great point about what hammock users. Thank you Oct 31, 2023 at 12:02

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