So What's Manila Rope? Its Rich History, Top 3 Uses, and More! thumbnail image

So What's Manila Rope? Its Rich History, Top 3 Uses, and More!

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Author: Phil Scaggs, Right Rope Founder4th Dec 2023

Manila Rope's History

Manila rope, is one of the oldest and most well-known types of rope in the world. Dating all the way back to the ancient Egyptians, who used this all-natural fiber rope primarily for sailing, as its durable construction made it great for holding strong and tight knots. Manila rope is made from the abaca plant. The gathering of the abaca fibers for Manila Rope is an extremely labor-intensive process as each stalk must be sliced, hand-scraped, washed, dried, and then sent to a manufacturing plant to be spun into the rope.

The abaca plant is a close relative of the banana plant and is native to the Philippines, where the capital city is Manila, hence the name. Manila rope is sometimes referred to as hemp rope, but this is a misnomer. While the hemp plant is also used to create fabric and rope, Manila rope is derived from a different plant altogether.

Manila's top applications/use cases

Nautical Rope Railings

One of the most popular reasons people purchase Manila Rope today is for its classic, "look and feel" in their decorative projects. For example, many people will use Manila for nautical-styled rope railings on their decks/docks. If you want an easy-to-follow video tutorial on how to build your own rope railing, we have a dedicated article and YouTube video teaching you how!

We recommend though, that you consider purchasing a modern alternative rope, Promanila (aka Unmanila) for outdoor uses. This is because Promanila has a synthetic construction, making it weather-proof, UV resistant, and longer-lasting. If you want a full breakdown of these two ropes, read our comparison article, or watch our YouTube video.

Manila rope railing on an ocean dock.

Exercise Applications

Many people also love using Manila rope for fitness applications, such as gym climbing, tug-of-war, or a battle rope. Due to its all-natural fiber construction, even while sweating, you’ll be able to maintain a good grip on the rope. If you are looking a synthetic battle rope we suggest our Polyester Battle Rope or our Premium Braided Battle Rope

Manila rope Battle Rope in action.

Is natural Fiber Manila Rope Safe for Animals?

At RightRope, we are often asked about using various types of rope with animals. In general, we do not recommend using Manila with animals as it is made with mineral oil during production. Instead, we recommend two other natural plant fiber ropes, sisal or cotton ropes. Sisal rope is a common choice with cats and birds, and RightRope’s 100% cotton rope is a popular choice for dog rope toys. If parts of sisal or cotton rope are ingested by your pet, it will not harm them. Some people use Manila without consequence with certain breeds of animals, but you’ll want to research this for yourself to be 100% certain. 

A dog playing with a cotton rope toy.

What Else Should I Know about Manila Before Purchasing?

There are a few things to consider before purchasing manila rope. First of all, Manila rope's actual diameter is slightly oversized. This is common with all-natural plant fiber ropes. For example, our 2-inch diameter rope is closer to 2 ⅛ inches in actuality. Another important thing to consider is that manila rope shrinks in length and expands in diameter when wet. Manila shrinks about 10-15% when it gets wet for the first time because it absorbs water. 

You should take this into consideration when calculating how much you will need for your project. As we mentioned earlier, Manila is treated with light mineral oil. This mineral oil protects the rope and keeps it from becoming brittle. After handling Manila for a while, or after leaving it outdoors for several days, the scent will diminish.

The Right Rope at the Right Price

RightRope’s manila rope is a timeless choice. It is a beautiful rope that will give your project a classic look and feel. Depending on your project’s needs, you may need to choose another rope. Whatever your decision, at RightRope, we are committed to getting you exactly what you need. When you shop RightRope, you can be sure you’ll be getting the right rope at the right price. 

Nautical Manila Rope tied up to an old ship.

What Sizes of Manila Rope Does Right Rope Sell?

Our natural fiber manila rope is available in several different diameters. We sell manila in 1/4", 5/16", 3/8", 1/2", 5/8", 3/4", 1", 1-1/4", 1-1/2", 2", and 3-inch diameters. You can purchase our Manila Rope by the foot, in pre-cut lengths, or in bulk.

Shop RightRope’s Manila | Promanila | Sisal | 100% Cotton

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