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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.
They may be made of hemp, cotton or linen, but also synthetic fibers such as nylon, polypropylene or polyester. Webbing is also made from exceptionally high-strength material, such as Dyneema, and Kevlar. Webbing is both light and strong, with breaking strengths readily available in excess of 10,000 pounds-force (44 kilonewtons ).
There are two basic constructions of webbing. Flat webbing is a solid weave, with seat belts and most backpack straps being common examples. Tubular webbing consists of a flattened tube, and is commonly used in climbing and industrial applications.
Some examples of common webbing materials are:
In rock climbing, nylon webbing is used in slings, runners, harnesses, anchor extensions, and quickdraws. Webbing is used in many ways in hiking and camping gear including backpacks, straps, load adjusters and tent adjusters. There are two types of webbing: tubular and flat. Some common webbing widths found on backpacks and hiking gear are:
The most popular webbing width is 25 mm (1 in) but 38 mm (1.5 in) and 50 mm (2 in) are also very common. Narrower webbing is frequently looped through chock stones, which are jammed into cracks as safety anchors. In other cases, webbing is looped over rock outcroppings. Webbing is less likely to loosen itself off the rock than tubular rope. Note that webbing construction is either utterly flat or flat-tubular; the latter tends to handle better but knots are more likely to jam.
The most popular knots in webbing are the water knot and the grapevine knot. The latter is stronger, but uses more webbing for the knot. It is customary to leave a few centimetres extending from the knot, and in many cases climbers tape the ends down onto the main loops.
Webbing is also less expensive than rope of similar size, particularly kernmantle rope, which requires elaborate and expensive manufacturing. Unlike climbing rope, which is generally sold with recognizable brand names, webbing manufacture is typically generic. Climbing shops sell it off of a spool on a per yard or per foot basis.
Webbing is cut with a hot wire as is nylon rope, which prevents fraying and unravelling. However, when webbing does fray and unravel, the result is less disastrous than with rope, providing a modest advantage. Webbing suffers the drawback of less elasticity than perlon rope, and it may be more difficult to handle with gloves or mittens on.
Slacklines often use flat or tubular 25 mm (1 in) webbing, or flat 50 mm (2 in) webbing. Other widths are used, but are less common.
White water rafting boats use tubular webbing for bow lines, stern lines, "chicken lines" (around the exterior perimeter of the boat), equipment tie down, or floor lacing for self-bailing rafts. Rafters call tubular webbing "hoopie" or "hoopi". Rafters also use camstraps with flat webbing for equipment tie down.
Life preservers are also crafted using nylon or cotton webbing that conforms to federal standards and guidelines.
Seat belts are an obvious example of webbings used in auto safety but there are myriad other uses. Nylon and polyester webbing are used a great deal in auto racing safety for a large variety of items. Racing harnesses restraining the driver have used nylon webbing for years, but since the death of Dale Earnhardt, polyester webbing is becoming more popular due to its increased strength, and lower rate of elongation under load. The nylon commercial type 9 webbing generally used in racing harnesses stretches approximately 20 to 30 percent of its initial length at 11 kN (2,500 lbf) while polyester only stretches 5 to 15 percent. Window nets to prevent objects from entering the driver compartment are constructed of polypropylene webbing, as are helmet nets used to reduce side loads to the head in Sprint cars. The HANS device uses webbing tethers to attach the helmet to the collar, and the Hutchens device is made almost entirely of webbing.
Webbing is used in couches and chairs as a base for the seating areas that is both strong and flexible. Webbing used as a support is often rubberised to improve resilience and add elasticity. Many types of outdoor furniture use little more than thin light webbing for the seating areas. Webbing is also used to reinforce joints and areas that tend to flex.
Military webbing, or web gear otherwise known as Mil-Spec webbing, is typically made of strips of woven narrow fabrics of high tensile strength, such as nylon, Kevlar, and Nomex. When these materials are used for parachute and ballooning applications, they must also conform to PIA (Parachute Industry Association) standards.
Mil-Spec webbing is used to make military belts, packs, pouches, and other forms of equipment. The British Army adopted cotton webbing to replace leather after the Second Boer War although leather belts are still worn in more formal dress. The term is still used for a soldier's combat equipment, although cotton webbing has since been replaced with stronger materials. The webbing system used by the British Army today is known as Personal Load Carrying Equipment.Americans use Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment (MOLLE).
Typical contents of military webbing equipment include cooking equipment, 24 hours' worth of rations, water, ammunition, first aid or survival supplies, cold weather/rain gear, anti-gas/CBRN gear and sheltering equipment (such as a tent quarter/shelter half, poles, rope, etc.). Items are generally stored in an ordered fashion in a combination of ammo and utility pouches.
It is unusual for western armies to fight while wearing a pack, and so prior to anticipated contact with the enemy the pack is usually stowed away from the forward edge of the battle area and webbing is used instead. Webbing belts are also used frequently by modern cadet and scout groups, as well as police and security forces.
Tie downs, tie straps, cargo straps, E-track straps, cargo hoist straps, tow ropes, winch straps, cargo nets, and dozens of other items are used by thousands of shipping and trucking companies every day. The transportation industry is perhaps the largest user of high strength webbing in the world.
Belts, suspenders/braces, sandals and handbags/purses are woven from various forms of webbing. Corset-style back braces and other medical braces often incorporate straps made from webbing.
Pet harnesses and leashes frequently utilize webbing. These products are often sewn together with cotton fabric.
Webbing is often outfitted with various forms of tie down hardware to extend its range of abilities (and create tie down straps). This hardware can take the form of:
There is also hardware associated with the various end fittings to attach them to a surface, such as footman's loops, brackets and E-track fittings.
While webbing sizes in general are standardized, buckles in general are proprietary. Therefore, if one part of a buckle breaks (i.e. female or male end) both parts usually have to be replaced (female and male end).
A knot is an intentional complication in cordage which may be practical or decorative, or both. Practical knots are classified by function, including hitches, bends, loop knots, and splices: a hitch fastens a rope to another object; a bend fastens two ends of a rope to each another; a loop knot is any knot creating a loop; and splice denotes any multi-strand knot, including bends and loops. A knot may also refer, in the strictest sense, to a stopper or knob at the end of a rope to keep that end from slipping through a grommet or eye. Knots have excited interest since ancient times for their practical uses, as well as their topological intricacy, studied in the area of mathematics known as knot theory.
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.
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.
This glossary of climbing terms is a list of definitions of terms and jargon related to rock climbing and mountaineering. The specific terms used can vary considerably between different English-speaking countries; many of the phrases described here are particular to the United States and the United Kingdom.
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.
MOLLE is an acronym for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. It is used to define the current generation of load-bearing equipment and backpacks used by a number of NATO armed forces, especially the British Army and the United States Army.
A strap, sometimes also called strop, is an elongated flap or ribbon, usually of leather or other flexible materials.
A halter or headcollar is headgear that is used to lead or tie up livestock and, occasionally, other animals; it fits behind the ears, and around the muzzle. To handle the animal, usually a lead rope is attached. On smaller animals, such as dogs, a leash is attached to the halter.
The water knot is a knot frequently used in climbing for joining two ends of webbing together, for instance when making a sling.
Strapping, also known as bundling and banding, is the process of applying a strap to an item to combine, stabilize, hold, reinforce, or fasten it. The strap may also be referred to as strapping. Strapping is most commonly used in the packaging industry.
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.
A sling or runner is an item of climbing equipment consisting of a tied or sewn loop of webbing. These can be wrapped around sections of rock, hitched to other pieces of equipment, or tied directly to a tensioned line using a Prusik style knot. They may be used as anchors, to extend an anchor to reduce rope drag, in anchor equalization, or to climb a rope.
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.
A girth, sometimes called a cinch, is a piece of equipment used to keep the saddle in place on a horse or other animal. It passes under the barrel of the equine, usually attached to the saddle on both sides by two or three leather straps called billets. Girths are used on Australian and English saddles, while western saddles and many pack saddles have a cinch, which is fastened to the saddle by a single wide leather strap on each side, called a latigo.
The All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment (ALICE) is a set of load-carrying equipment adopted as United States Army Standard A on 17 January 1973 to replace the M-1956 Individual Load-Carrying Equipment (ILCE) and M-1967 Modernized Load-Carrying Equipment (MLCE). Although since superseded by MOLLE, ALICE gear is still in some limited use with the U.S. Army National Guard, State Guard, also some ground units of the Navy and Air Force.
The IIFS was introduced in 1988, to serve as a fighting and existence carrying system - a possible replacement for the All-Purpose Lightweight Individual Carrying Equipment (ALICE) employed and fielded by United States Armed Forces since 1973.
The M-1956 Load-Carrying Equipment (LCE), also known as the Individual Load-Carrying Equipment (ILCE), was developed by the U.S. Army and first issued in the early 1960s. The M-1956 LCE was designed to replace the M-1945 Combat Pack, the M-1923 cartridge belt, the M-1936 pistol belt and the M-1937 BAR magazine belt. The M-1956 LCE was designed to be quickly configured, using no tools, to accommodate various mission and ammunition loads. The M-1956 LCE remained in service through the 1980s and set the standard for future United States military load-carrying equipment.
The Pouch Attachment Ladder System or PALS is a grid of webbing invented and patented by United States Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center used to attach smaller equipment onto load-bearing platforms, such as vests and backpacks. It was first used on MOLLE rucksacks, but is now found on a variety of tactical equipment, such as the U.S. Improved Outer Tactical Vest, Interceptor body armor, USMC Improved Load Bearing Equipment backpack and Modular Tactical Vest. It is used to attach items such as holsters, magazine pouches, radio pouches, knife sheathes, and other gear. A wide variety of pouches are commercially available, allowing soldiers to customize their kit. There is also a variety of attachment methods including the Alice Clip, the Natick snap, and soft, interwoven straps. The PALS system has begun to be adopted by other forces, such as the British Army, who use it on their Osprey body armor.
The 1972 Pattern Webbing was intended to replace the 58 pattern webbing, but never got beyond user trials. It was made from PU-coated nylon to counter the Soviet NBC capability with a general look closer to a load-bearing vest. It was designed to be used in wide variety of environments such as jungles, deserts and was configurable for use, ranging from short-duration jungle patrols to general infantry use.