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#19315 - 09/20/03 05:27 PM Spectra Parachute Cord

Does anyone have any experience with Spectra parachute cord? It is supposed to have the same 550 lb. strength as the mil-spec parachute cord, but is more abrasion and cut resistant and is only 2.5 mm in diameter. The outer sheath is polypropylene.

If anyone has any experience with this cord, I'd like to hear from you. Please tell me everything you can about this cord. I'd be very interested in your observations. Among other things, I'd like to know what the core is made of. Is it solid, or is a made up of a number of fibers? Does it hold knots well? Does it, or can it, unravel? Does it melt well? Does it get slippery when wet? Does it tangle easily? Any and all observations would be welcome.

#19316 - 09/24/03 07:32 AM Re: Spectra Parachute Cord
JohnN Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/10/01
Posts: 966
Loc: Seattle, WA
I suppose it depends on what specific cord you are looking at and what you are looking for in a cord.

I found this link useful:


I've collected links of some various cool cords. I have some of the New England Tech Cord in 3mm and 5mm as well as the 7/64" Spectra Cord. It's all cool stuff IMO. This spectra cord is braided, the New England tech cord has an unbraided core. The tech cord is pretty stiff.

Some links to various high tech cord

Also, the Kelty Triptease Guyline has a Spectra core:
Kelty Triptease Guyline

Here is a pic of the Kelty (2nd from top) and spectra cord (bottom):

#19317 - 09/24/03 09:13 AM Re: Spectra Parachute Cord
JohnN Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/10/01
Posts: 966
Loc: Seattle, WA
Disclaimer - I've just played with this stuff. I'm not an expert, I'm not a climber, etc. My experience with these cords is casual.

Among other things, I'd like to know what the core is made of.

While I don't have experience with this specific cord (post a link so we can check it out), it sounds like you has answered the question - Spectra core with polypropylene sheath.

Is it solid, or is a made up of a number of fibers?

Again, I don't know this specific cord, but I would say it is too small in diameter to be braided inside. I expect this cord is very much like the New England Tech Cord I refer to with the exception that the tech cord uses a Technora core instead of Spectra. That is to say a large number of individual fibers bundled in a sheath, typically polypro, polyester, nylon or something like that. Basically the same type of construction as the Kelty line in my picture in the previous post.

Does it hold knots well?

From casual observation, these types of materials seems to be a bit slippery. The Tech Cord is pretty stiff which also impacts it's ability to take knots. That considered, I haven't found the spectra cord (braided) or the tech cord (nobraided core) to have a problem with knots - at least as long as you are not shooting for some dainty knot. I suspect the built in give of the braiding (spectra cord) helps, and the sheath of the tech cord helps in their knot holding ability.

On the other hand, certainly don't trust your life to my casual observations!

Does it, or can it, unravel?

The braided spectra cord seems to hold it's braid fairly well. Obviously untreaded ends will unbraid. The tech cord stays pretty well put unless the sheath is missing. My feeling is the unbraded core of the tech cord becomes pretty well unmanagable w/o the sheath. The tech cord is a harder to secure the ends since melting really doesn't cut it with this stuff.

Does it melt well?

Spectra seems to melt reasonably well (not as well as Nylon) and the Technora - not well at all, althought it does melt somewhat - not enough to use to secure the ends, but well enough to compromise the integrity of the cord. It isn't kevlar or nomex.

Does it get slippery when wet?

Since your cord has a polypro sheath, it's probably going to be about the same as any other polypro rope or polypro sheathed cord.


Does it tangle easily? Any and all observations would be welcome.

Um, doesn't seem any worse than anything else AFAIK.

The upside is all this stuff is pretty cheap and so it's not cost prohibitive to get some to just play around with and see how it works for you.

Note the 7/64" spectra cord is rated at 1200lbs and the 3mm tech cord at 3100lbs.



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