Polyester Rope: Why and Where to Use It

Written By: Lance Piatt

Hey there,

So I am hanging in the office today… first major storms of the season, and thinking about rope.  Ha! Right!!  Actually, warmer weather,  rivers, surf and trail running has my attention, but that is probably TMI ya?  Actually I am looking over a number of  questions I received the last few months pertaining to rope.  Not sure why the influx of questions on particular topic, but hey… if we have folks asking questions, then we should try to answer them.

Manufacturers do an incredible job at giving y’all just the right amount of information and with just a smidgen of techie stuff.  And should you need more… then there is always the specs right?  And so without further ado… Polyester Rope and Why and Where To Use It, and as a side note, I will be focusing in on work and rescue rope and staying with 80-20 rule as the standard.

mono-pod gin pole AHD with polyester ropeSo there are a ton of manufacturers out there with nylon, poly and blended varieties of rope.  I am only going to be dealing with a couple of examples.  In my opinion, and I will likely get some flack here… they are pretty much the same.  For most reading this article, NFPA 1983 General Use is the focus.  Yes, CE is also important, but NPFA is the linch-pin for most.  If it doesn’t meet this grade, then you are likely either working in an arena that doesn’t require this spec, or you probably don’t much care… and for these folks, you still are likely using an amazing rope.  Why?  Because standards being what they are, you have to manufacture a truly great rope just to complete.

So for the digested questions at hand… Why Polyester, When Polyester and What Polyester?  Assuming everyone understands kernmantle and what that all means (core and sheath) and that 12.5mm or 11mm is the diameter of the rope (and you know which one you need), we can move to why you might want “polyester” rope.

So in the beginning, rope was made out of hemp and then moved to nylon…. science brought out the benefits of polyester and for some folks, this changed things in a big way.  HTP (Sterling’s brand name of “high tenacity polyester” rope) really started the trend in my opinion.  Polyester rope was around before them, but Sterling really put things on the map with their HTP.

  • It has very minimal elongation metrics… meaning it stretches very little and this is particularly important with raising and lowering systems, long spans like highlines and long top to bottom vertical rigging work.
  • Because work and rescue rope gets abused frequently, polyester is a great choice where abrasion resistance.
  • Strength is not so much compromised when the rope is wet.

Now while numbers show that nylon is the lead polymer for rope sales, I would contend that if more people understood the merits of polyester, those numbers could shift.  Now, while this short long horizontal span with polyester ropepiece is meant to discuss polyester rope, there are polyester blends and of course simple nylon, that on their own merit, sway what could be a one sided discussion into a more “it depends“… to coin a phrase from my friend and canyoneering thought leader Rich Carlson.

  • Sterling HTP (hyper-tenacity polyester) rope features a low elongation making this rope a top choice for main line, haul systems, and high line use, along with all types of technical rescue, confined space rescue, USAR, and industrial safety applications.
  • CMC Static Pro  A rope with less than 2% stretch at 300 lbf, the CMC Static Pro Rope is a 100% high-tenacity polyester rope. Non-water absorbent, this rope is also resistant to acid and has awesome durability.
  • PMI IsoStatic The riggers dream rope.  Built to stay the course, whatever the course. Much less stretch other rope of the same construction.

For the other questions, we’ll talk about later or… don’t hesitate in tossing us a question at info@rescueresponse.com.


Peace on your days!





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