Manila Rope vs. Unmanila (Promanila) Rope thumbnail image

Manila Rope vs. Unmanila (Promanila) Rope

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Author: Phil Scaggs, Right Rope Founder4th Dec 2023

Manila Rope vs. Unmanila Rope . . .
What's the difference?

To clear up some confusion, Unmanila and Promanila rope mean the same thing. So what is the difference between Manila rope and Promanila rope? Which one is best for your project?

In this blog (and the above video) we discuss:

  • Differences
  • Pros & cons
  • Why we generally recommend Promanila

Manila Rope as a Decorative Rope

Undoubtedly, around the world, the most well-known kind of rope is Manila. For centuries, this is the rope used for nautical, fishing, and general purposes. These days, the most common use for Manila rope is for decorative. When you handle natural fiber Manila rope, you will immediately recognize its rich caramel color and coarse texture, giving the rope a rustic, earthy vibe.


Manila rope is made from Manila hemp (not actual cannabis), also known as abacá. Abacá, or its scientific name, musa textilis, is actually a close relative of the common banana plant. Manila rope fibers are stripped from the leaves of the abacá plant and twisted into yarns. Abacá is found in the Philippines, where this rope is made, and Manila is the capital of the Philippines. This is how this rope came to be known as Manila.

Manila rope is the strongest and most popular natural-fiber rope. Since Manila is made from a natural plant fiber, it does shrink around 15% in length and expands in diameter when it gets wet. Natural fiber Manila rope is a low stretch rope and holds knots really well. If you plan to use Manila rope to fit through an opening with a specific diameter, keep this in mind, and cut your holes 15% larger. This can be a downside of using a natural fiber, due to the expanding and contracting of the rope with changes in moisture.

Promanila Rope as a Decorative Nautical Rope

A popular and modern variation of Manila rope is unmanila rope, also referred to as promanila rope. Promanila is made from polypropylene fiber strands, so it is a great alternative to Manila. With Promanila, you will find a long-lasting, highly durable rope while maintaining the classic, nautical feel of natural fiber rope. The color of Promanila is a bit lighter than Manila, and it has a much smoother texture. Our Promanila rope is a danline construction, meaning it contains polypropylene and polyethylene fibers, which offer high UV resistance. Not all Promanila is made this way, but it is important to us to offer a premium product so you get the longest life out of your rope.

Because of its synthetic makeup, unmanila rope will last much longer than manila. Unmanila lasts up to three times longer than Manila while maintaining its shape and coloring. It will not shrink or expand like Manila, and its breaking strength is nearly 50% higher than natural manila rope. At the same time, unmanila weighs less and can even float on water.

If you plan to use the rope in a humid environment, we recommend purchasing synthetic Promanila instead of natural Manila because it is resistant to rot and mildew. In most climates, our high-quality Promanila and High-Tenacity Unmanila ropes will last 10-15 years.

Choosing the Right Rope

We strive to ensure our customers get the Right Rope at the Right Price. Here are the main points to consider when choosing the best rope for your project:

Manila RopePromanila Rope
Natural fiber - Expands when wet, shrinks when drysSynthetic fiber - Keeps length and shape in weather
Covered in light mineral oil to provide some protection from drying outDanline construction with UV protection
Will rot or mildew over time, if exposed to moistureWill not rot or mildew over time

In general, for most applications, Promanila will be the best choice. If you absolutely need a natural fiber rope, go with Manila, but for every other reason under the sun, choose Promanila rope. For projects that need higher strength or larger diameter, check out our High Tenacity Unmanila rope. We are the only company in the world that offers 3 inch Promanila for extra heavy-duty projects!

If you are still unsure of which rope is right for you, or have other questions about rope, we’d be happy to talk with you personally about your project. Call us at 616-577-5105 or email us at:

Shop our Manila Rope | Promanila Rope | High-Tenacity Unmanila Rope

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