Synthetic rope, made of high-tech polyethylene, is far safer than steel cable and is currently required in the majority of major sanctioned off-road activities. Synthetic rope is far lighter than steel cable and does not retain as much energy as steel cable, therefore it will not become as much of a projectile if it breaks.
Synthetic rope is more durable than steel cable as well. It can be repaired or replaced without removing the truck. Steel cable needs to be removed from the bed of the truck to repair or replace it.
The quality of synthetic rope varies but there are several manufacturers that produce excellent products. You should look for the SYNTHETIC ROPE label when purchasing rope for use on your vehicle. This will indicate that the rope is safe for traction applications and has been tested by an independent laboratory for durability.
Cable remains the primary choice for winches because it's easy to install and maintain. However, synthetic rope is now used primarily for trailering because it is less likely to cause damage to road surfaces.
Because of the way the synthetic material stores energy, synthetic rope is intrinsically safer than steel rope. These ropes are significantly less likely to shatter than cable, and even if they do, the energy stored in them is so little that the repercussions are negligible, and harm or damage is improbable. Synthetic ropes are also much more resistant to ultraviolet light and other forms of degradation.
Synthetics winch cables can be made from polyester, nylon, or polypropylene fibers that are usually blended together in a single cable. They can also be made from monofilament fiber strands that are tightly twisted together. Both types of synthetic cables are used by winch manufacturers because they provide good traction when pulling objects down hill or into holes, and they are more resistant to damage when used as rappelling lines.
The main advantage of steel cable is its durability. It can be bent without breaking, and will not wear out as fast as a synthetic rope. However, this advantage comes with a price - steel cable is heavy! One side effect of being heavy is that it makes climbing up hills or over rocks more difficult. A second disadvantage is that it's more likely to cause injuries if you hit your head while climbing.
Synthetic ropes and cables can be bought in various sizes and strengths. You should always use the proper size cable for the job. If you use too small a cable, you will have to replace it too often.
Synthetic rope is substantially lighter and simpler to handle than steel cable. This has made it a popular destination for both professional tow truck operators and recreational off-road enthusiasts. Though synthetic rope offers obvious advantages, it is not widely accepted. Critics say it isn't as strong as steel cable.
The first modern-day polyester fabric was developed by Dr. Wallace Carothers at the DuPont chemical company. He called this new material "nylon." Today, this fabric is used in everything from clothing to carpeting to parachutes. It is also used extensively in the fishing industry as a material for boating lines because it resists degradation from sunlight and water.
Nylon's main disadvantage is its color. Because of this material's ability to resist heat and chemicals, it is often found in applications where its appearance is unimportant (such as fencing). However, many people find nylon materials to be uncomfortable when touched. This is due to their being manufactured from natural fibers (such as cotton) and not plastic like polypropylene or polyethylene.
Synthetic ropes have become popular with tow truck operators because they are more lightweight and easier to handle than steel cables. Also, they don't rust like steel does. However, critics say that synthetic ropes aren't as strong as steel cables.
Synthetic rope is eight times lighter than wire rope, eliminating the need for physical handling. Wire rope is heavier and more difficult to move than synthetic rope. The longevity of your rope will be affected by how it is handled and cared for, depending on the use. Synthetic ropes tend to last longer because they are less likely to damage from being bent or strung up too tight.
Wire ropes must be handled with care because even though they are not as fragile as their synthetic counterparts, they can still be damaged if used incorrectly. Wire ropes should never be bent or twisted in a circle; this will cause them to become unusable. Instead, wires in a rope should be kept parallel to each other and always kept under tension.
Synthetic ropes are made of fiberglass, polyester, or nylon fibers that are twisted together. These ropes are lightweight and flexible and come in a variety of sizes and strengths. They are easy to work with and do not require much maintenance. Over time, sunlight and heat can weaken synthetic ropes, so they should not be exposed to these elements for long periods of time. Washing synthetic ropes with soap and water will remove any dirt or debris that may have accumulated during use.
Wire ropes consist of many individual strands of metal wire that are twisted together. They are stronger than synthetic ropes and can bear a greater load per unit length.