Utility contractors spec manila rope lanyards because, unlike synthetics, it doesn’t melt when it comes in contact with hot wires (it will burn in time, though). It’s also used as fliplines – with the addition of a wire rope core unless work is being performed around live power lines – by tree trimmers. The wire core construction is also used by some rock climbers as safety line.
Manila rope – without the wire core – are used, largely due to their good ‘hand’ and ability to absorb perspiration, in gymnasium and obstacle course climbing systems, and in a number of exercise and hand strength building applications. Frequent inspection and padded landing surfaces are required for climbing or other load bearing systems.
Long a standard for stage rigging, many still prefer ‘hemp systems’ over systems using stronger, higher cost synthetics. Used in diameters 5/8″, 3/4″, 7/8″ and 1″ (mostly 3/4″), its low stretch and good ‘hand’ are important here. The wire center construction is sometimes used for added strength.
Despite preferences, habits, and its-what-we’ve-always-used traditions, there are stronger, more durable synthetics for use in towing, safety, or climbing lines, or in applications where rope failure could cause damage to property or personal injury or worse.
On the other hand –
Manila is a popular choice for tug of war because it won’t snap back – potentially causing serious injuries – as nylon rope has been known to do. Manila’s good grip and ability to absorb sweat make it popular for obstacle courses and numerous strength building exercises.
Scouting projects using manilla rope in ‘monkey bridges’, pontoon ferrys, and obstacle courses.
Landscaping contractors and designers and fence contractors specify manila rope for fence rails and frames around gardens, decks, piers, and along pathways, usually in 1″, 1 1/4″, 1 1/2″, 2″ and, occasionally, 3″ diameters. It has the advantage of decomposing over time, making it the ‘greenest’ of reasonably high strength ropes.
But it also has a tendency to run over size, and when used outdoors, to shrink (temporarily)10 – 15% in length each time it rains and expand in thickness over it’s life. These dimensional characteristics should be considered when ordering. We recommend following the ‘landscaping rope’ link above for guidance.