Kernmantle rope

Last updated

Kernmantle rope (from German kern 'core',and mantel 'sheath') is rope constructed with its interior core protected by a woven exterior sheath designed to optimize strength, durability, and flexibility. The core fibers provide the tensile strength of the rope, while the sheath protects the core from abrasion during use. This is the only construction of rope that is considered to be life safety rope by most fire and rescue services.[ citation needed ]


Parachute cord

Parachute cord (also paracord or 550 cord when referring to type-III paracord) is a lightweight nylon kernmantle rope originally used in the suspension lines of parachutes. This cord is useful for many other tasks and is now used as a general purpose utility cord by both military personnel and civilians.

Use as climbing rope

Internal structure of a 10.7 mm dynamic kernmantle climbing rope Kernmantle climbing rope dynamic Sterling 10.7mm internal yarns.jpg
Internal structure of a 10.7 mm dynamic kernmantle climbing rope

One of the uses of kernmantle rope is as climbing rope.

Nylon ropes that were used in yachts for hauling were tested and found useful in climbing and caving and are now the modern standard. The German company Edelrid introduced the first kernmantel rope in 1953, which revolutionized fall prevention. Hemp climbing rope became a thing of the past and rope breakage was greatly reduced. In 1964, Edelrid and Mammut [1] both developed dynamic ropes capable of withstanding multiple falls. These became the forerunner of the modern dynamic climbing rope. Although there were occasional innovations, the rope used today is similar in construction, strength, and durability across manufacturers. Overall there is a huge variety of climbing ropes available for different purposes; for instance, there are well over one hundred different dynamic single ropes (the most popular rope system in climbing). [2] Kernmantle ropes are still used in sailing and other sports, but the technical requirements are usually not as rigorous for such purposes as for climbing. Small kernmantle ropes are commonly called accessory cords; they are often used to make prusik knots and loops or to attach accessories such as chalk bags. вЦуМ

Depending upon the ultimate use of the rope, one or more of its many characteristics (material, structure, finish, color, strength, durability, elasticity, flexibility, price, etc.) are altered, sometimes at the expense of other properties. For example, rope used in caving is generally exposed to increased abrasion, so the mantle is woven more tightly than rope used in climbing or rappelling. However, the resulting rope is cumbersome and difficult to tie knots in.

Kernmantle construction may be used for both static and dynamic ropes. Static ropes are designed to allow relatively little stretch, which is most useful for applications such as hauling and rappelling. Dynamic rope is used to belay climbers, and is designed to stretch under a heavy load to absorb the shock of a fallen climber. Dynamic ropes manufactured for climbing are tested by the UIAA. A test of "single" standard rope involves tying an 80 kg (176 pound) weight to the end of a length of rope. This weight is then dropped 5 meters (16½ feet) on 2.7 meters (9 feet) of rope, with the rope running over a rounded surface simulating that of a standard carabiner. This process is repeated until the rope breaks. For "double" ropes the weight is 55 kg, and for twin ropes two strands are used. In addition to the number of drops, the impact force is also measured. It is a common misunderstanding to think that the number of drop test falls (as conducted by the UIAA) is the number of real-life climbing falls a rope can sustain before it becomes unsafe. The drop test falls are of extreme severity and a real-life climbing fall will not often generate a comparable force. This adds a margin of safety for climbers who use such ropes as the ropes age.

Rope care

Parachute cord is a type of lightweight nylon kernmantle rope. The kern of this particular example is made up of seven two-ply yarns; the mantle is braided from 32 strands. Paracord-Commercial-Type-III.jpg
Parachute cord is a type of lightweight nylon kernmantle rope. The kern of this particular example is made up of seven two-ply yarns; the mantle is braided from 32 strands.

Kernmantle rope should be inspected before and after every use for any form of damage. "Boogers", which indicate internal damage to the kern, appear as tufts of white threads poking out from the mantle. Ropes that have been severely stressed have tapered sections which are visibly or palpably thinner due to crushed or parted (incomplete) core strands. Parted core strands no longer provide full strength to the rope, and (if not tightly braided) tend to withdraw from the damage with use, twisting & kinking toward the undamaged ends. Rope that has been abraded or cut on sharp edges should be examined closely by an experienced user, who may choose to cut the rope at that point, rather than risk it parting at that location.

A rope can be cleaned by forming it into a chain sinnet to prevent excessive tangling and washing it in a front-loading clothes washing machine with soap flakes. Strong cleansers, including bleach and detergent should not be used on life-critical nylon components. Commercial rope cleaning devices are also available, but must be used carefully to avoid kinking (& weakening) the core strands.

Typical specifications

Dynamic ropes
DiameterTypical impact force*Typical weight
8.1 mm (~5/16")6 kN (1350 lb)42 g/m (0.45 oz/ft)
9.8 mm (~3/8")8 kN (1800 lb)63 g/m (0.67 oz/ft)
11 mm (~7/16")9 kN (2000 lb)78 g/m (0.84 oz/ft)

*Dynamic ropes are rated for a certain number of falls (usually 5-10) at a given impact force.

Static ropes
DiameterTypical breaking strengthTypical weight
9 mm (~11/32")21 kN (4700 lb)51 g/m (0.55 oz/ft)
10 mm (~3/8")27 kN (6000 lb)66 g/m (0.71 oz/ft)
10.5 mm (~13/32")30 kN (6750 lb)69 g/m (0.74 oz/ft)
11 mm (~7/16")34 kN (7650 lb)75 g/m (0.81 oz/ft)

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Figure-eight loop</span> Type of knot

Figure-eight loop is a type of knot created by a loop on the bight. It is used in climbing and caving.

The Flemish loop or figure-eight loop is perhaps stronger than the loop knot. Neither of these knots is used at sea, as they are hard to untie. In hooking a tackle to any of the loops, if the loop is long enough it is better to arrange the rope as a cat's paw.

Climbing protection are the mechanical devices and pieces of equipment used by climbers to reduce the risks, and the effects, of a fall to the climber while rock climbing or ice climbing. It includes such items as nylon webbing and metal nuts, cams, bolts, and pitons.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation</span> International sport governing body

The International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation, commonly known by its French name Union Internationale des Associations d'Alpinisme, was founded in August 1932 in Chamonix, France when 20 mountaineering associations met for an alpine congress. Count Charles Egmond d’Arcis, from Switzerland, was chosen as the first president and it was decided by the founding members that the UIAA would be an international federation which would be in charge of the "study and solution of all problems regarding mountaineering". The UIAA Safety Label was created in 1960 and was internationally approved in 1965 and currently (2015) has a global presence on five continents with 86 member associations in 62 countries representing over 3 million people.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Climbing harness</span> Item of climbing equipment

A climbing harness is a device which allows a climber access to the safety of a rope. It is used in rock and ice climbing, abseiling, and lowering; this is in contrast to other activities requiring ropes for access or safety such as industrial rope work, construction, and rescue and recovery, which use safety harnesses instead.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rope</span> Length of braided strands

A rope is a group of yarns, plies, fibres, or strands that are twisted or braided together into a larger and stronger form. Ropes have tensile strength and so can be used for dragging and lifting. Rope is thicker and stronger than similarly constructed cord, string, and twine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rope rescue</span> Type of technical rescue using rope

Rope rescue is a subset of technical rescue that involves the use of rope, be it steel or cable rope, or more commonly used nylon, polyester, or other type of rope. Kernmantle rope as it is called, is available in various types: dynamic or static which is most commonly used in rescue and industrial rope work. Anchoring includes using specialty anchors, as well as things as simple as a length of chain, cable, rope, or webbing wrapped around a pillar, tree, boulder, or such. They provide the security and a point from which a person or subject can be belayed. Belaying is the act of protecting the climber, rescue professional, or subject in the event of a fall. Various other devices used, including friction rappel (lowering) devices, which acts as a braking device on the rope. They are used for lowering a load, a subject or oneself (rappelling). Pulleys can serve as a mechanical advantage, along with rope grabs, and other tools, to raise, or haul, a load up a vertical section, or across a gully or canyon. Pulleys systems are used in conjunction with the rope, rope grabbing devices, i.e.: Prusiks, or mechanical grabs, to capture the progress made during the lift. Since pulley systems are generally short in length, they are used in conjunction with a progress (raise) capturing technique, and a long rope; and a backup safety or belay. This specialized equipment is used to reach the subject(s) and safely recover them.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Webbing</span> Strong fabric woven as a flat strip or tube used instead of rope

Webbing is a strong fabric woven as a flat strip or tube of varying width and fibres, often used in place of rope. It is a versatile component used in climbing, slacklining, furniture manufacturing, automobile safety, auto racing, towing, parachuting, military apparel, load securing, and many other fields.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Glossary of climbing terms</span> For rock climbing and mountaineering

Glossary of climbing terms relates to rock climbing, mountaineering, and to ice climbing.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rock-climbing equipment</span> List of manmade gear

Rock-climbing equipment requires a range of specialized sports equipment, for training, for aid climbing, and for free climbing. Developments in rock-climbing equipment played an important role in the history of rock climbing, enabling climbers to ascend more difficult climbing routes safely, and materially improving the strength, conditioning, and ability of climbers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Abseiling</span> Rope-controlled descent

Abseiling, also known as rappelling, is the controlled descent of a steep slope, such as a rock face, by moving down a rope. When abseiling, the person descending controls their own movement down the rope, in contrast to lowering off, in which the rope attached to the person descending is paid out by their belayer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tarbuck knot</span>

The Tarbuck knot was made popular around 1952 by Kenneth Tarbuck, a climber and skier, for use by climbers, and was primarily used with stranded nylon ropes, before the advent of kernmantle ropes made this use both unnecessary and unsafe. It was used when the rope is subject to heavy or sudden loads, as it will slide to a limited extent thus reducing shock. The knot was already employed by 1946 as "the knot" by American tree trimmers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fall factor</span> Mathematical ratio relevant to climbing safety

In lead climbing using a dynamic rope, the fall factor (f) is the ratio of the height (h) a climber falls before the climber's rope begins to stretch and the rope length (L) available to absorb the energy of the fall,

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Munter hitch</span> Adjustable knot used control friction in a belay system

The Munter hitch, also known as the Italian hitch, mezzo barcaiolo or the crossing hitch, is a simple adjustable knot, commonly used by climbers, cavers, and rescuers to control friction in a life-lining or belay system. To climbers, this hitch is also known as HMS, the abbreviation for the German term Halbmastwurfsicherung, meaning half clove hitch belay. This technique can be used with a special "pear-shaped" HMS locking carabiner, or any locking carabiner wide enough to take two turns of the rope.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Offset overhand bend</span> Knot used to join two ropes together

The offset overhand bend is a knot used to join two ropes together end-to-end. It is formed by holding two rope ends next to each other and tying an overhand knot in them as if they were a single line. Due to its common use in several fields, this bend has become known by many names, such as thumb knot, openhand knot, one-sided overhand knot or flat overhand bend (FOB), though the terms "one-sided" and "flat" are considered incorrect.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Prusik knot</span> Type of knot

A Prusik is a friction hitch or knot used to attach a loop of cord around a rope, applied in climbing, canyoneering, mountaineering, caving, rope rescue, ziplining, and by arborists. The term Prusik is a name for both the loops of cord used to tie the hitch and the hitch itself, and the verb is "to prusik". More casually, the term is used for any friction hitch or device that can grab a rope. Due to the pronunciation, the word is often misspelled Prussik, Prussick, or Prussic.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Parachute cord</span> Multi-core rope originally used for parachutes

Parachute cord is a lightweight nylon kernmantle rope originally used in the suspension lines of parachutes. This cord is now used as a general purpose utility cord. This versatile cord was used by astronauts during the 82nd Space Shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Climbing rope</span> Rope used to secure climbers

A climbing rope is a rope that is used in climbing. It is a critical part of an extensive chain of protective equipment used by climbers to help prevent potentially fatal fall-related accidents.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dynamic rope</span> Rope designed to stretch under load

A dynamic rope is a specially constructed, somewhat elastic rope used primarily in rock climbing, ice climbing, and mountaineering. This elasticity, or stretch, is the property that makes the rope dynamic—in contrast to a static rope that has only slight elongation under load. Greater elasticity allows a dynamic rope to more slowly absorb the energy of a sudden load, such from arresting a climber's fall, by reducing the peak force on the rope and thus the probability of the rope's catastrophic failure. A kernmantle rope is the most common type of dynamic rope now used. Since 1945, nylon has, because of its superior durability and strength, replaced all natural materials in climbing rope.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ice screw</span> Protection anchor for ice climbing

An ice screw is a threaded tubular screw used as a running belay or anchor by climbers on steep ice surface such as steep waterfall ice or alpine ice during ice climbing or crevasse rescue, to hold the climber in the event of a fall, and at belays as anchor points.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Static rope</span> Rope designed not to stretch under load

A static rope is a low-elongation rope that is designed to stretch minimally when placed under load, typically less than 5%. In contrast, a dynamic rope is designed to stretch up to 40%. Static ropes have a wide variety of uses, for instance in fire rescue operations and caving.


  2. Andreas Unterschuetz. "All Single Rated Climbing Ropes Available" . Retrieved 2017-09-05.