by | Apr 22, 2020 | Recovery

Kinetic Rope Review and Buyer’s Guide

Rather than just provide kinetic recovery rope reviews my approach is to present you with a kinetic recovery rope buyers guide‐plus reviews.  The reason I take this approach on product reviews is simple.  There is no one best kinetic recovery rope for everyone.

Every one of us has different requirements, different applications, and different price sensitivities.

I review kinetic recovery ropes based on five criteria, and you’ll likely agree with those criteria.  Yet we would probably never agree on the weighting of the criteria.  One that is very important to me, might be inconsequential to you.

I will provide a list of my four highest-rated kinetic recovery ropes.  More importantly, I’ll give you the tools to evaluate (aka, review) other products, not on my list.

Plus honestly, google kinetic recovery rope reviews and you’re going to get a bunch of links to websites that have no goal other than to sell product through affiliate links.  Rather than listen to a total stranger’s opinion on the best kinetic recovery rope wouldn’t you prefer to have the information to make your own determination.

And since it’s a buyers guide rather than just a product review, I will provide information on how to select the correct size kinetic recovery rope for your application and rope care and maintenance instructions.

Review Criteria

Following are the areas I consider when reviewing a product (they don’t all apply in every case).  For more information on my review process see my article, Company and Product Review Criteria.

Company

  • Reputation
  • Service and Support
  • Warranty
  • Innovation
  • Quality and Testing
  • Made in USA

Product

  • Design: Features, Functionality and Form factor
  • Documentation
  • Installation
  • Accessories
  • Carriage (size, weight, rattling)
  • Value

My List of the Best Kinetic Recovery Ropes

Based on my review criteria here are four companies that check all of the boxes.  Each is highly rated and provides excellent customer service.  Their kinetic recovery ropes are of the highest quality, manufactured and tested to industry standards and made in the USA.

All sell to the military, which is probably the highest recommendation of product quality and testing.  Factor 55 could rightfully be considered the most innovative company in the recovery gear industry.

Any of them would be a great choice for a kinetic recovery rope.  A high-quality rope will last you a lifetime when properly used and maintained, so they are well worth the money compared to the cheaper brands.

  • Advanced Rigging Systems – 5/5
  • Bubba Rope – 5/5
  • Factor 55 – 5/5
  • Masterpull – 4/51

1 The only reason for one less star is because they don’t have a polyurethane coating on the body of the rope.

Construction

Quality kinetic recovery ropes are made of 12 strand double braid nylon66.  This means they have a braided core surrounded by a braided cover.  Note: This is different than the protective cover some companies offer, which goes over the outer core.

This is the ideal construction for rope cores and high strength braids.

The inner nylon core provides the majority of stretch, and therefore the kinetic energy.  The outer layer is also nylon, but it’s a polyamide nylon which provides some stretch but is primarily used for strength and protection of the inner core.  In addition to abrasion resistance is has good UV resistance.

Unlike winch ropes where a variety of materials are used Nylon is the preferred choice for kinetic rope.  This is due to it’s 30% stretch to break which makes it ideal in applications where energy absorption is a requirement.

There are different grades of nylon.  Nylon66 is used by most quality manufacturers since it has superior resiliency while maintaining the same strength and stretch profile as regular nylon.  This translates into longer life.

Beware of black nylon, which many Chinese imports use.  It will typically perform 10% below the published specifications (Cordage Institue 1500).  Unfortunately, some companies use black pigment on white nylon so you can’t tell by just looking at the color.

Quality products have eye loops that are Class I spliced (the type of splice recommended for double braid nylon).  In addition, some companies will whip and lock stitch the eyes for additional strength (see references for more information).

Protective Coating or Sleeve

While double braid nylon has good resistance to abrasion, sunlight, and chemicals another important issue is water-resistance/repellence.  With immersion in water, nylon ropes will lose from 10-15% of their strength.  Most companies add additional protection in order to increase nylon’s inherent properties and provide protection from water.

For example, according to Bubba Ropes, their Gator-ize® coating will extend the standard nylon positive properties ten-fold and give the added water-resistance property to maintain specified breaking strengths over time.

The additional protection can be a polyurethane coating, a sleeve over the nylon or a combination of the two.  Of my recommended companies following are their approach and stated benefits.

ASR UncoatedCordura covered eyes and 3′ slider on bodyabrasion, UV, chemical1
ASR CoatedFiber-lock coating and dipped eyesabrasion, UV, chemical, water absorption prevention
Bubba RopeGator-ize coating and dipped eyesabrasion, UV, chemical, waterproof
Factor 55Polymer coating and dipped eyesabrasion, UV, moisture absorption prevention
MasterpullNo coating, sleeve on eyesabrasion, UV, chemical1

Other than the ASR uncoated and the Masterpull they all have similar solutions.  Personally, I like having the polymeric coating for increased abrasion protection and water protection.  Although I would not rule out Masterpull over this issue since they are so strong in other areas (full disclosure, I own a Masterpull kinetic recovery rope).  As far as the rope eyes I can live with either dipped or sleeve for additional abrasive protection.

There are several companies that put a sleeve over the entire body of the kinetic rope.  While this might sound like a good idea, over time it creates problems with cleaning and inspection.  The sleeve will get damaged and once that happens it is impossible to perform proper maintenance.

1Since there is no coating these are the standard benefits of nylon rope in regards to abrasion, UV, and chemical resistance. Sleeves, if applicable, will provide additional abrasion resistance.

Company

The company I buy from is just as important as the product.  So let’s see how my four recommended companies compare.

All manufacture their products in the USA and have solid reputations within the off-road community.  Two other factors I like to see are innovation and military affiliation.  I like to reward companies that are pushing technology forward and those that support our military.

Both Masterpull and Factor 55 qualify in regards to innovation, with Factor 55 being the winner of the two.  All four companies sell to the military.

Two other areas we specifically care about when it comes to recovery gear is compliance to industry standards and testing.  You will seldom see any of the second-tier companies talking about these issues.

Manufacturing StandardsTesting Standards
ASRISO 9001 and Cordage InstituteCordage Institute and American Petroleum Institute (API) Q1 Specification Standards
Bubba RopeCordage Institute and militaryCordage Institue 1500 testing
Factor 55MilitaryUses a National Defense Department rigging and hoist certified company
MasterpullMilitaryMilitary

While not an absolute standard, I feel very strongly about buying kinetic ropes that have a serialized tag1.

The unique serial number enables them to trace each item back to the raw materials that were used in its construction.   Traceability of materials is necessary to monitor product quality and respond to problems in the field.  It is a good indication of a company that takes the quality of their product seriously.

1If the tag also has the product ratings that’s a nice bonus.  I write the minimum breaking strength on my recovery gear with a sharpie because two years later who’s going to remember what it’s rated at.  This is also an issue when using someone else’s recovery gear and you need to know the ratings.

Your Application

The final two issues we need to cover are specific to your vehicle and your application: recovery rope size and length.  I’ll start by saying that it annoys me to no end that companies advertise their kinetic recovery ropes by size.  It’s not size you care about, but Working Load Limit, which is derived from the Minimum Breaking Strength using a Safety Factor.

Advanced Rigging Systems Kinetic Recovery Rope Sizing Guide

Image courtesy of ASR

I don’t want to get too deep into the sizing issue since I have an in-depth article covering this topic (Kinetic Recovery Rope Sizing Guide) but I will give three quick examples of why you don’t want to purchase your rope based on size.  At least you don’t once you go beyond the top-tier companies since their standards are all the same.

Not so much with some other companies.

The first company advertises a 1″ diameter braided black rope with a 32,750lb average breaking strength.  This sounds ok at first glance since the top-tier companies all sell a 1″ rope with a minimum breaking strength of 33,500.  Unfortunately, there’s a pretty big difference between average and minimum.

I should also mention this is a double braided black rope.

My second example is a well-known company that sells a 7/8″ recovery rope with a breaking strength of 24,700lb.  Firstly I don’t know what “breaking strength” means and the top-tier company’s equivalent rope has a minimum breaking strength of 28,500lb.

Super Yanker Kinetic Recovery Rope Sizing Guide

Image courtesy of Masterpull

My last example is really scary, a 1″ rope with a minimum breaking strength of 10,000lb.  Someone’s going to be in for a surprise when they use that product.

Hopefully you now get my point on using size to select a kinetic recovery rope.  I’ve provided two charts to help you out, but they are just general guidelines.  Based on your vehicle and application your sizing may be different, so I suggest you read my Sizing Guide.

Length, on the other hand, is a much simpler discussion.  Kinetic ropes are available in twenty and thirty-foot lengths.  The important thing to know is more nylon between the two vehicles will provide more stretch and thus help transfer the energy more effectively and require less effort to extract.

Before you run out and buy a 30′ kinetic rope though consider the following.  In many recovery situations, the terrain (trees, rocks, winding trail) won’t allow enough room for the longer recovery rope.  So the choice depends on where you typically wheel, and only you know the answer to that question.

One solution to this issue is to go with a 20′ kinetic rope and a 10′ kinetic bridle like the one Master Pull sells.  The bridle can be used to extend the reach to 30′ in emergency situations1 or allow you to use two recovery points.  The benefit of the latter is it will reduce stress on the individual recovery points.

1I would not use this as my go-to solution since you are adding more points of failure, but it does provide a good backup.

Care and Maintenance

Your kinetic recovery rope will last you a lifetime if properly maintained (bonus points to Bubba Rope for the most amusing Instructions and Care article.  We’ll start out with a couple of things you want to avoid with nylon rope.

Things to Avoid with Nylon Rope

  • Left wet for long periods of time
    • Nylon will absorb the water and shrink resulting in a loss of up to 15-20% of its strength
    • In saltwater, the salt and minerals can get trapped in the rope fibers and cause internal abrasions
  • Avoid contact with chemicals
    • Nylon is rapidly attacked by most acids, paints and linseed oil
  • Sand or grit inside of outer sleeve
    • Sand will act as an abrasive and damage the internal core

After every off-road trip where you have used your kinetic rope, it should be cleaned and inspected.

Kinetic Recovery Rope Cleaning

For minor cleaning you can hose it off and let it dry in the sun, flipping it over every so often.  Make sure it is dry all the way through before putting it up.  If you’ve used it in the mud or sand use the following procedure to clean it.

  1. Fill a bucket with water and some mild soap.
  2. Run the rope through the water.
  3. Push together on the outer sleeve to open it up and expose the core.
  4. Replace the water when it gets dirty.
  5. Continue until the water stays clear.
  6. Do a final flush with only water (no soap).

Do not use a washing machine or a power-washer to clean your kinetic recovery rope.

Kinetic Recovery Rope Inspection

The two most common types of damage are abrasion and cutting.  Inspect both the outer layer and inner core for signs of damage.  Even if the outer sleeve looks fine, sand grit can work their way into the inner core and damage it.  Since the inner core carries most of the load it is critical that it is in acceptable condition.

To inspect the inner core, grab the rope with both hands about four to six inches apart and push your hands towards each other.  This will open up the weave and expose the inner core.

Retiring a Kinetic Recovery Rope

The following are links to two articles that will help you evaluate any damage to the rope and determine when it needs to be repaired or retired.  The first is a two-page pocket guide with a comparator for evaluating damage.  Unfortunately, the images are small and very low resolution.  The second link provides more in-depth inspection and retirement information with better images.

Samson, Inspection and Retirement Pocket Guide

Samson, Rope User’s Manual (Inspection info starts on page 45)

Note: Use the double braid information, not the single braid.