They Call This, Rope?


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.)


    1. That’s a very good reference – the white stuff in the rope core looks and feels like dryer sheet material, but sadly, even more frail…

        1. No, I did not test the strength – although I suppose that I could, since I still have nearly 100′ ;) I did check the online spec’s (from the big box store website afterwards) and there are two different loads listed – which is why I mentioned a range 200 – 300 or thereabouts.

          I bought this stuff on a whim. An impulse buy while getting other supplies. I knew it was cheap and didn’t expect too much – but was surprised to find out what the core was made of. I’ll bet that much of the load strength may simply come from the outer shell braid itself (after seeing the inner core).

          In any event, I can still use this rope for appropriate things – but I’m pointing out the need to not judge a book by it’s cover. This rope ‘looked good’ to me, but was not as expected.

        2. I suggest that you test how many congressmen it can hold. For this test, a specific knot and rope placemnet is required.

  1. Living in Florida, I find good used rope from take offs from Sail boat rigging. Extremely high quality, and even being used. Will out perform anything I could ever find new, without spending huge dollars!

  2. forgive me, but when I saw your “front pic” tittle, I was in a rush, and having a quick look see. I was quite sure you had a pic up of Kleenex stuffed into something, and my mind was wondering why you were writing about Kleenex….grin

    when I clicked through, and saw what was what, I burst out laughing, as it seems totally ridiculous the “insides” of this rope. And, that it would not even burn, also seems bizarre…

    on second thought, my first impression of “Kleenex stuffed into something”, not so far off the mark….except, Kleenex would burn.

  3. That is why we try very hard to not buy anything not made in the USA. Yes it takes longer, yes it is more expensive “up front”, but its quality that lasts and speaks for it self. Another reason I refuse to shop the Harbor Freight store, Home Depots, Lowes, Wal Marts.

  4. Actually, climbing ropes come in two basic types – static and dynamic. The static lines are not stretchy, dynamic lines are stretchy (and act sort of like a shock absorber when you fall).

  5. I purchased several 100 foot lengths of rope from home depot, they came coiled up with a no load clip on the end. I cut some and tried to seal off the ends with a lighter and it would not melt together. On inspection the core was made up of cellophane Chinese candy wrappers. I could not be-leave it. I returned it to home depot, and showed them thinking they where being deceived, they could give a crap. The only strength is the jacket, the jacket is to protect the core, in this case hard candy wrappers. I’m horrified to see what the core of their bungee cords are made of? May be condoms?

  6. I work for a small company that makes rope for life safety applications. I know it is good rope, we do our own strength testing and we are certified. I might not be sure of anything else I’ve stashed but, I at least have good rope and cord. They give us the shorts. I have found a few 150′ “shorts” in the free box. I share them with my prepper friends. I even have lots of static & dynamic, 3mm thru 13mm to use for barter.

  7. It sure is difficult to find ‘quality’ anything anymore. The first step in searching is getting away from all those places that sell nothing but cheap chinese crap. Walmart, Homedepot etc.
    I like smaller locally owned businesses, they seem to care more about the quality of the items they sell, and they also spend the time to learn about their products so that they can actually assist you more than just steering you to the correct aisle.

  8. We were given a large coil of roping for Christmas and it looked cheap to my eyes but that’s because we use 100% cotton, 100% nylon, or Paracord. After reading this and laughing at that photo, I’ve got to get the knife and do some surgery to see what the inner guts are like now.
    Still chuckling….

  9. You want to see something else scary, cut into a “heavy duty” extension cord. Some of them have what looks like aluminum speaker wire in them.

    1. There was a lot of house fires in the past with aluminum wire in them. It’s illegal to use it in homes today.

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