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Backpacking Gear for Beginners: Rope

This post is part of the Backpacking Gear for Beginners course.

Why do you need rope?

Rope can be a very useful thing to have on the trail. It has many uses from day to day to emergency. 

For regular uses you can tie up tarps or pitch out tents. In emergencies you can tie up broken gear, or makeshift splints, slings and rescue sleds. 

Depending on where you are hiking you might need to lock up food overnight in a bear cache or canister, but if it’s allowed you can hang it high in a tree. That requires rope. 

Paracord is strong and light

Paracord is a strong and light rope originally used in parachute lines. These days it’s a good multipurpose rope for anything outdoors like hanging bear bags or pitching tarps. 550 paracord (Type III) is popular since it’s not too large but still can hold 550 pounds.

How long?

How long of a rope you need depends on what you want to do with it. I usually bring one 15 meter piece if I’m hanging food in trees. If I’m hanging a tarp, I’ll have two 5 meter pieces and 2 10 meter pieces. You might be able to bring less if the campsites are heavily treed. 

Throw a bag

To be able to get a rope high up into a tree it’s helpful to have a small bag with something to tie to. Tie the rope to the bag, put a small rock in the bag and throw it up over a high branch. Make sure to hang on to the other end of the rope. Tie your tarp or food onto one end and then pull it up into the tree. Tie the ground end to the tree or another branch so it’s easy to retrieve. 

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