Rope is made by twisting or braiding some fibrous material together. The materials employed to make it are as varied as the hands that have touched it over its millennia of usage. Early rope materials included grass, leather, hair and reeds. The Chinese began using hemp rope sometime around 3000 BC. Natural materials, like hemp and silk, are still used, but many modern ropes are made out of synthetic materials. One such material is polyester, sometimes called Terylene, Dacron or Trevira.
Polyester rope is a continuous multifilament low-stretch yarn, with very fine and hair-like fibers, which are almost always white. About 0.023 mm in diameter, polyester fibers are virtually indistinguishable from nylon by appearance, though polyester is much stiffer and slightly stronger than nylon. A polyester rope typically loses only 10% of its breaking strength after two years of outdoor use, excluding extenuating circumstances like cuts or severe abrasion.
In addition to low stretch, polyester rope’s other attributes include superior strength, UV and chemical resistance, good grip, low stretch, abrasion resistance, flexibility and splice-ability. It also retains its strength when wet, as it does not absorb water, and it does not float.
Because of its attributes, polyester rope is especially popular in boating. It is good for boat lines, anchor rodes, halyards, sheets, sail material, cargo lifting straps, tow straps, winches, capstans and block and tackles. All around, polyester is the best rope material for outdoor use, aside from activities that require dynamic rope. It often serves as the sheath of a rope with a core made of a strong but UV sensitive material like kevlar.
Polyester rope is generally well-suited to static loads and ill-suited to dynamic loads. Since it does not become waterlogged and resists mold and mildew, polyester rope can be stored in a dry or wet environment. However, to contribute to the longevity of the rope, it may be best to store it in a dry area.