Can You Use Adhesive Tape on Ropes, Cords, Webbing?

Is it OK to use adhesive tape on ropes, cords and webbing? I like to use sports tape to secure the tails of my prusiks and tied slings, but I also don’t want to weaken them.

By Rock and Ice | September 20th, 2016

Is it OK to use adhesive tape on ropes, cords and webbing? I like to use sports tape to secure the tails of my prusiks and tied slings, but I also don’t want to weaken them.

—Jesse Dank, Enumclaw, WA

As a general rule, if a substance is fine for skin, it is fine for ropes and slings.No one or no company has tested every type of tape on every type of sling, cord and rope, so use tape at your own risk. I can say that I have had the tails of the back-up cords on my Jumars duct-taped since 1981 with no apparent harm. I say apparent because all I know is that the cords haven’t broken, and the tape hasn’t eaten through them.

If I could do it over, I would use cloth surgical tape instead of duct tape, because the adhesive in surgical tape is kind to skin, and the rule is if a substance is fine for skin, it is fine for ropes and slings.

Duct tape may or may not be safe to use—its adhesive is typically a rubber compound mixed with various substances to optimize viscosity and tack. Those various unknown ingredients aren’t likely to damage nylon—it is illogical that a tape maker would make tape that damages one of the very things it is supposed to mend—but why take the chance? Just use white surgical tape. Next!

 

This article was published in Rock and Ice issue 229 (September 2015).

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