paracord as painter

Hey folks

Not sure if this is a dumb question or not but what is wrong with just using 550 cord as a painter? I usually carry some with me on all outdoor trips anyway and adding another twenty or so feet while replacing the larger marine line would save weight. Maybe add a couple short pieces of tubular webbing to protect the trees. I have Tug-eyes installed, but take it easy if this is not a good idea. I am new to this. Thanks, casey

I like my cord 3/8 or thicker
Not so much for strength, but for comfort when you have to grab the painter. I guess it depends on how you use the painter. I’m often swimming, which is definately a skill issue before somebody adds that, and I’m grabbing the painter to try to stay connected to the boat and ultimately to recover the boat. Thin cord is gonna cut into your hand under pressure, and thin cord is gonna be hard to grab if the water is cold.

I have also used the painter to drag my boat up steep banks, to lower my boat over a dam, to ease my boat down a ravine. For these applications, a thicker line is far easier to work.

I don’t know all the properties of para cord, so I have to ask, does it float? It is imperative that the cord float. I was personally involved in the trashing of a canoe due to the painter getting caught on the bottom of the river. It’s gotta float.

There is an inexpensive .5 cord sold at the big box HW stores that floats and is plenty strong enough to do what a painter needs to do. It is very light. I know every ounce counts, but you can carry 20 or 30 feet of this cord and you won’t complain.

So, I vote no on para cord painters. Your usage may be none other than tying up the boat. Your skills may be such that you never have to chase your boat down in a rapid. So para cord may be fine for you. My vote is no.


I’d say no…
the high tensile strength, thin nylon that is 550 cord could easily cut or burn your hands

Agree that painters should float if you’re in moving water. Probably not as important on flat water.

1/4" is the smallest line I’d want to handle in moving water, and 5/16" or 3/8" is much easier on the hands.

I use 3/8ths
for one reason. It’s easy on the hands. When you have to drag your boat up a bank, or line it through rapids, you want something substantial enough that it won’t cut your hands. 550 paracord is probably plenty strong for a painter, but the diameter is small enough it could hurt you. Really, is 3/8 rope that much weight?

thanks folks

This is exactly what I wanted to know. I climb also and trust my life to rope, so spending money on good line is not an issue. I just did not know the many uses of a painter. Looks like I will be getting a few lengths of floating line, any recommendations of type/brand? Also any cool knots I should learn. thanks again, casey

Learn a bowline
Learn to tie it underwater behind your back with your eyes closed if you are hanging around whitewater rivers. It is not that hard to do.

I think any floating 3/8 inch line is fine. It is much stronger than needed so you just need to make certain it floats. Cheaper poly double braids from the Home depo work for me. I lot of times I’ll get 5/16 but nothing smaller is any good to pull with your wet hands.

Here are yur knots

The cheapest polypro tends to be very slippery. Better-quality polypro, like throwbag rope, is much easier to handle and knots better.

This is good stuff

You don’t need to know that many knots. Start with the bowline, trucker’s hitch, sheet bend, and half-hitches. Figure of eights make good stopper knots.

Double fisherman’s knots, figure of eight follow-throughs and bends, water knots and Prusiks are useful in setting up Z-drags and rescue work.

1/2" braided rope that is soft …
… in your hand , very flexable w/no memory , 25’ long and have two them with you when on the water .

A sharp knife is standard equiptment also .

An 8"-10" loop on one end (a simple over hand is fine) . Having a few good size carabiners on hand is handy also .

Be careful
Knots and loops placed on the free ends of painters can be very hazardous in moving water.

If the painter is floating, a knot or loop makes it much more likely that the boat will get hung. It may do so in a location that you cannot safely get to, or in a place that creates hazards for others.

Don’t put a loop in a painter around your wrist in moving water, or grab it in any fashion such that you can’t immediately release it.

the loop …

– Last Updated: Jun-04-10 12:56 PM EST –

....... would be used on the rope to canoe attacment , for a quick and easy connection .

The loop passes under something such as a carry handle or thwart and the tag end passes over the thwart etc. , and through the loop . Pull the remainder of the rope through the loop and when it draws up snug , it's attached . It removes just as easily . Just a quick way to attach a rope to anything without need of knots .

You can do what ever you want with the tag end of the rope , it has no loop or knots in it . Tie it off to something , line your canoe with it , drag the canoe , etc. .

Every rope I have has always had a loop tied up on one end , and has always been a great plus for me , and many ways to use it .

If you care to take the time , you could do one of the fancy loop weaves so there is no overhand knot exposed .

3/16-3/8 quality polypropylene
this Marlow line is very good. Easy on the hands, not exactly rescue line but strong enough, floats on the water and holds knots.

too thin
and it sinks!

I prefer 3/8" yellow poly as it can be seen easily, floats and is cheap to replace.

Been using it since 2001…
As a painter, paddle leash, bow & stern tie downs, lashing gear to the decks & under deck.

Not a thing wrong with it except it is not made of yuppie material or color, nor does it have a yuppie name.

Paddle easy,


Ummmmmm… Yep.
Take 100’ of each & size & weight are drastically different.

Paddle easy,


For flatwater I use this:

Floats, easy on the hand (kernmantle construction) and even though it is called 1/4 it sizes out as 5/16" line.

Oh, yeah. Another vote against 550 cord.


sounds and looks like
yuppie material and color


Who uses 100’ (or 50’ at each end) of painter?