In my ongoing effort to cut tent weight we have replaced stakes, changed ground pads, and we're looking at replacing the guylines (no really, it's amazing how much cordage weighs!).

At what diameter is there a serious concern of the guyline damaging the tent by cutting through the attaching points? It seems like all tents have basically the same loop material for attaching, so I don't think this would vary much per tent.

For the purposes of this, assume I'm careful and don't mind dodging impossible-to-see guylines.

5 Answers 5


To answer the original question: At no point is the cord so small that you need to seriously worry about it cutting through the attachment points. Unless you pulling it through at high speed under pressure.

Under normal use conditions there is not enough friction at these points to cut through (even if high winds) and simply being small won't make it blast through.

If you are concerned, wrap a bit of duct-tape around the attachment point, and watch for wear.

Caveat: The issue I have found, is I have not come across a super-thin cordage that does not have a significant amount of stretch. Nothing I've tried can keep my tarp tent as taut as parachute (or 550) cord.


I haven't found anything on this looking around, so I'll approach it from a different perspective - why not slide a small piece of thicker material round the thin guyline as a sleeve? You could then keep this sleeve on each guyline, and go as thin as you want to without worrying about it cutting through the attaching point. I would imagine that the tension on the guy line would hold it in place well if it was a snug enough fit.

  • That should work yeah. Not sure how it will hold up in high wind, but I'm willing to find out! I'll just make a multi-layer tyvek sleeve. I have spare tyvek and it will definitely resist the cordage. Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 15:49

I use 1 mm dacron cordage from Oware. I use a tarp with loops (not grommets), and have never had a problem with the cordage cutting through anything. The knots I usually use are square knots, figure eights, and tautline hitches. The tautline hitches have a tendency to slip gradually, but not necessarily any more than with any other type of cord. It can be difficult to get knots out of small cord like this. I tie the square knots singly slipped to make them easier to get out. The cord is plenty strong. I've been using it for years, and have never had any problem with the strength of the cord.

I have also seen 2 mm dyneema tent cord with some kind of (presumably nylon) mantle that was reflective. I bought a small piece to play with it, but haven't used in for tarping. It was expensive. The reflective mantle makes it easier to see the stuff in the dark. Dyneema is super strong, so this type of cordage might be worth looking into if you're concerned about your tent holding up to very high winds.

  • Why not? The question is about guylines on tents. Your answer is just as useful without telling him to use a tarp!
    – Ryley
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 17:59

Your best bet is probably to switch out all your cordage and attach something like a LineLock to each tie-down point. Those things will grip even really tiny cordage like Spectra (which is definitely a good choice for your lines).

There's an online store that sells them as a package (bonus, their spectra cord is very bright). Well worth the effort to switch it out on your tent.

According to that store (which I've bought from before with no issues, FWIW), 12 LineLocks + 60' of cord will be 1.65oz.

EDIT: An alternative that I've used to those LineLocks is another product made by the same company called a LineLoc3 (sold here). The nice thing about these ones is that you would attach them to your tent (the other ones are usually closer to your stakes) and then if you find your tent sagging or billowing in the wind, you can reach the tensioner from inside the tent to tighten it.

In either case, you have to choose cordage that won't slip. Both stores I've linked to here sell a specific cord diameter that is known not to slip in the locks they are selling. It seems that Line Locks work on the thinnest stuff and LineLoc3s on slightly thicker cord.


You don't need to go thin to get a good strength to weight ratio.

100 feet of paracord weighs only 7 ounces. In this case, it's only amazing how much cordage weighs because it's so light!

If I'm traveling ultralight, I bring 1-3 ounces of paracord. That is sufficient for tarps, small tents, and many other uses.

If I'm traveling with a heavy pack I might bring 1 pound of paracord, that's nearly 200 feet and more than we would ever need for any style camping setup for a weekend.

So, at merely a few ounces you can have plenty of strength, enough cord as long as it's not a big tent, and it's not thin enough for your fabric-slicing worries. You can, however, use paracord to cut through fabric by using it as a friction saw if you pull hard and pull back and forth rapidly on one end then the other. I've cut through carpets using paracord with this method. But it won't just slice through because of thinness.

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