I’ve read a lot of posts about folks bringing rope, painters, line, etc for use in canoeing, yakking, camping. I’ve always gotten my rope at the local hardware store not thinking much about it, hell, rope is rope, right? Or is it?

Well, I’ve noticed a couple of folks I paddle with have rope that seems to untie easier then the stuff I use, especially when wet. Just a little observation that I tucked away in the ol’ gray matter but never asked about.

I’m in the market for about 100’ for painters and other uses and would like to know what kind of rope others use and maybe a good place to get besides the local HW store. Any comments or suggestions?



Go to a marine supply store…
…such as Boaters World or West Marine and you will see the difference between the good soft pliable stuff and the hard stiff stuff.



They call the better stuff yatchline, and it is expensive.

I use a lot of military spec 1/4 line called Ranger cord. Parachute cord is also handy.

I find it convenient to have painters made of something that will float, something else to consider besides flexibility and workability.

is good for most uses,but ya better know how to tie a knot. Usually the only thing that will rot nylon is UV rays.

Tie downs; Deck Rigging
As mentioned above, some of the specialty ropes can be expensive. But, I think they are worth it. Here is what I use:

Bow/Stern Tie Down: 3/8 or 5/16 in Polyester Line. Very strong, with low stretch. Tends to hold a knot but come undone when you want it to.

Deck Rigging/Bow Line: 1/4 in Polyester/Polypropylene blend. Forget the brand name. But, this stuff will float, so it can be handy for use when a line may get in to the water and need to float for retrieval. Used it for bow line on my kayak and the deck rigging. Also, this blend is stronger and stretches less than pure polypropylene (sp). Also, provides a nice finished look to the kayak.

Finally, if you don’t do this already, you might add slipped finish knots to standard knots (bowline, rolling hitch, etc.) to make them easier to untie when wet.

3 strand and braided
3 strand is great for knot tying and braiding back on itself in splices. Braided line is great for sheets. Runs nice through tackle. If you can get to a marine supply then you can check out various types and sizes.

Painters…safety line
For making painter loops I use 3/4 tubular climbing webbing, very strong stuff with a tensile strength of 3430 lbs. comes in any color you want. Use a tape knot and it’s strong enough for a rescue harness too. I also use kernmantle climbing accessory cord in 5,6,7,or 8mm for all sorts of outfitting…double or triple fishermans knot. Caution these ropes and webbing are much stronger than most boats and will not break under the worst conditions, but under tension they will cut like butter with any sharp knife, therefore the term “rescue knife” something that many paddlers somehow perceive as a weapon.

Get nautical
Go to the marine supply store and ask for 100 feet of shore-line;-)

The nicest floating line I’ve seen is the stuff used in these throwbags:

Floating line (usually polypropylene) is nice for painters and towlines. Nylon is elastic and good for anchor or mooring lines. Dacron is good where you need less stretch.

Try Neocorp

In their Factory Overruns section, they have 3/16" Tie Down Utility Cord. It’s non-stretch and resistant to abrasion and UV, and works great for painters and deck lines. The price is $14.20 for 2, 250’ spools (500’ total). Keep one for yourself and sell one to a friend to get your money back.

If you don’t like white, their Sport Cord is the same product, only in black. If you need bungee, they’ve got killer prices on that, too, plus their bungee has a textured sheath that grips gear better than the slick stuff that most companies sell. I’ve dealt with them and have found them to be very responsive to questions and the products are top notch.

As an old climber, I learned the value of quality rope years ago. For paddling I try to find a kernmantle construction. Ideally a caving rope works best for me as it has no static or dynamic stretch. I personally like a pliable rope over a stiff rope. Knots hold better in pliable rope, but untie better in a stiffer rope. Personally, I don’t like hawser laid rope because of the tendency to unravel.

I also use …

– Last Updated: Apr-08-04 10:58 AM EST –

I also use kernmantle, climbing accessory rope for my boat's painters. A bit expensive initially; it lasts for a long time. The mantle (cover/outer braided sheath) protects the core (kern/high strength inner core) of the rope & you don't have to worry about it unraveling, or abraiding. It is also flexible for tying/untying knots, and has very little stretch. It is also very strong for it's size. I use a bowline knot, backed up with an overhand knot to attach it to my boats.
If you try, you might even find some to match the color of your boat, if that means anything to you.


Many Thanks!
For all the suggestions, links and advice. I will be deciding what to get in a hurry as I have a trip coming up at the end of May and will be needing something ASAP. Good deal all, thanks again.


UV damage
If you are concerned about appearance, buy polyester lione s from a yachting store such as West Marine. Less prone to fading than nylon, and absorbs less water as well (less stretch).


Different Sizes
You may want to look into getting different sizes for different applications.

I prefer a larger rope {3/8"} for my painters because it’s easier on the hands, smaller rope tends to dig into the skin and is harder to get a grip on.

You really notice this after a dump and you’re trying to pull a canoe that’s full of water to shore in a current using the painter or while lining.