Awhile ago, I had purchased a 100-foot coil of ‘rope’ from one of the big-box stores. I knew it wasn’t the best, because the price was fairly cheap compared to others. However I got ‘roped’ into buying it because of it’s appearance.

Just today, I discovered what’s inside this so called rope. Here’s what I found:

If I had read the fine print, I would have noticed the description of the rope’s core to be a bit unclear, “a mixed synthetic core”. Now I know what that means…

It’s basically a very weak fabric mesh.


The bulk of the rope core is a white fabric that can be easily pulled apart and shredded with your fingers (not a confidence builder regarding overall strength). There is also a blue colored fabric which is only slightly stronger, although it can be easily torn into pieces.

The outer braid of the rope is what ‘roped me’ in that it ‘looked good’. It has the appearance of a hefty rope. The outer shell is braided polypropylene, and the fact that the rope is fairly thick in diameter – leads one to presume that it’s of good heft and strength.

The only apparent good thing I could find about this rope is that it apparently floats. But if loading anything more than 200-300 pounds, watch out… it’s not very strong. It also stretches more than I would have thought.

Why am I posting about this?

It’s not about bashing this particular rope – which I knew wasn’t the best when buying it – while even cheap rope has its purposes, but it’s about the general notion of the ‘crap’ that is in the store(s) today (masqueraded as quality). In fact, it’s actually (often) fairly difficult to seek out and find very good quality ‘stuff’ these days. And when you do find it, you will surely pay lots more money to get it.

Oh, another thing… after I shredded the core of this rope, and after I saw the nice little nest of “mixed synthetic core”, I thought I might have discovered a clever source of emergency tinder for building a fire. To test my theory, I dropped the shredded nest into an empty tin can and lit it with a lighter. Or should I say – ‘tried’ to light it. Nothing. Not even a sputter. It simply melted into a globular ooze (and barely at that).


In any event, the lesson learned is to assume that perhaps much of what you’re buying today is ‘crap’. Read the fine print. If it’s inexpensive (especially if it’s even less than what you might have expected), there’s a reason.

There are all sorts of rope – all with varying applications and specifications. It’s good to first consider what you might be using it for – before you buy some. Then look at the construction and materials of the shell and the core, as well as the load rating. Also understand whether or not it will stretch (if that makes a difference to you).

I have plenty of quality 550 Paracord, but having a good general purpose coil of substantial strong rope has its place too. I suggest you don’t buy the one which appears in the images above – unless you’re looking for some cheap rope that floats (e.g. probably good for securing a small boat to the dock, etc.)

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