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Choosing a good anchor line shouldn’t be a hassle. It’s anchor line, you just want it to hold an anchor! You don’t want to invest a lot of time or effort into getting the right one. But if you get the wrong one, you’ll know. Bad anchor lines can break too easily. They also knot and tangle. They can be hard to coil or they break down in just a season or two. Some will work with an anchor winch or windlass. Others will not.
Luckily, there are just a few factors you can look for to ensure you’re getting the right anchor rope for your boat. Let’s check out the best anchor rope on the market.
Rainier Supply’s double braided anchor rope has a lot going for it. It’s nylon, which we think is the best material for rope out there. It’s double braided, which means a lot of strength. It’s also a great price, which rounds everything out.
You can pick this up in either ¼ inch or ⅜ inch diameter. It comes in 50 foot lengths. So if you have a massive yacht, this is not the line for you. But for those of us who are heading out fishing in a jon boat, a pontoon boat, or just an aluminum fishing boat, this is great.
And what if you do have a bigger boat or want deeper waters? You can buy spools of the same line at 100 feet and 150 feet as well.
With a tensile strength of 1574 pounds, this leaves polypropylene lines in the dust. The working load of the ¼ line is 374 lbs. If you choose the 3/8 inch rope it’s up to 820 lbs.
It comes with a stainless steel thimble and snap hook. That makes connecting your anchor a breeze. It’s easy to swap out the hook and attach a chain as well. When you attach a chain to an anchor rope, the technical name is anchor rode.
Because the line is nylon, it can handle a lot of abuse. It’s resistant to abrasion, UV rays and chemicals. It also won’t bunch and tangle easily. In fact, it’s very easy to handle but it can be slippery when it’s wet, so keep that in mind.
For the quality and the price, you’re not likely to find a better marine anchor rope out there. Rainier is an American company that was founded by boaters. You can tell this line was designed by people who understand the needs of a boater.
Not everything on your boat needs to cost a fortune. Anchor line doesn’t have to break the bank to get the job done. That’s where SeaSense comes in with their hollow braid anchor line. For the price, this may just be the best anchor line out there.
Made of polypropylene, this is lightweight and easy to use. It’s easy on the hands and fairly easy to cut as well. Just remember to wrap the end with tape and melt it if you do cut it. That will prevent it from fraying or coming apart.
The line comes in either ¼ inch or ⅜ inch diameters. You can also get it at several lengths. The break strength is around 850 lbs depending on the size you buy, and that gives you a safe working load of 90 lbs. That doesn’t seem like a lot and it isn’t. That’s one thing you need to remember about this line. It’s not designed for bigger boats.
We recommend this line for a small aluminum fishing boat or pontoon boats. Put a 5 lb anchor on it and you should be fine.
One thing to keep in mind about this line is that it’s not good at coiling. In fact, if you try to roll this line up, it will almost definitely fall apart into a mess right away. That can make storing it difficult. But for the price and convenience, it’s still a solid choice. You don’t need a big, expensive line on a small fishing boat, right?
Just remember, this line will degrade in direct sunlight. Keep it stored away when not in use. Also, be aware that it will discolor pretty quickly, but that won’t affect how it works.
The word “extreme” gets tossed around a lot in advertising. It doesn’t always mean much, but in this case it does. Extreme Max has made a seriously powerful line here. If your boat and anchor are not suited to these smaller lines, look here. If you are fearful of your anchor line breaking, Extreme Max BoatTector can handle almost any job.
Most lines are coming in at ⅜ inches in diameter. Larger offerings include ½ inch for some brands. Extreme Max can do those, plus they offer a 200 foot long ⅝ inch line. That has a working load limit of 1600 lbs. That’s not the breaking strength, just the safe load limit. The breaking strength is 8430 lbs. That’s over 4 tons. This is one serious anchor line.
The line itself is double braided nylon. That means whatever you throw at it, it can probably handle. It’s abrasion resistant and can stand up to UV radiation and chemicals. The stainless steel thimble will resist corrosion and makes hooking up to an anchor a breeze.
Durability and resilience are unmatched here. The line is easy to handle and doesn’t tangle very easily, either. Elasticity and its ability to absorb shocks are top-notch. If you want the best of the best, this line may be it.
If you don’t need a monster like the ⅝ inch line, Extreme Max also offers ½ inch and ⅜ inch as well. You can get the line in either white and gold or white and blue. There are also other colors produced, but they’re not always available. They also have a ¾ inch size available sometimes as well, with a working limit of 2100 lbs. That’s tough enough for some commercial applications.
Young Marine’s Multifilament Polypropylene line comes in 100 feet or 150 feet sizes. It’s ⅜ inches in diameter and is a solid braid. The break strength on this is 1565 pounds. That means this is best suited for smaller boats. Young Marine recommends about 16 feet.
The stainless steel thimble can stand up to saltwater well. That’s because it is corrosion resistant. The line is also able to resist UV rays and chemicals. Remember, something that is resistant isn’t “proof.” It can still degrade over time. Store this line out of direct sunlight. And if it does get coated in oil or fuel, make sure you clean it off with fresh water.
We found this line pretty flexible. It doesn’t have much stiffness to it and it rolls and pulls easily. It’s also pretty easy on your hands. Because it’s polypropylene, it’s going to float in the water. The elasticity is good as well.
Bang4Buck tries to live up to their name with variety. You can get lengths of this rope ranging from 50 feet up to 200 feet. It also comes in ½ inch and ⅜ inch sizes. That versatility allows you to make the most out of this rope. The 200 feet is probably overkill, to be honest, though. If you’re that deep, you may want something with the strength of nylon. This seems to be better suited to smaller boats.
Though it’s not anchor specific, it should be more than up to the task for most boaters. The half inch size offers a 5850 lb breaking strength. That should definitely be enough for small to medium vessels. That works out to a working strength of 1170 lbs. Remember, that’s at ½ inch. They also sell ⅜ inch which will not be as tough.
The rope is made from triple braided polypropylene line. That means it’s going to be very smooth and a little slippery. Watch your knots if you tie any and double check they’re secure. Also, make sure you keep this stowed out of the sun when not in use. UV rays will break down polypropylene. If this lays out all the time, after a couple of seasons, it may break down significantly.
The line floats, so it’s also good for other purposes like water skiing. Because it’s polypropylene, you’ll find it resists tangles easily as well.
Sgt Knots is a good company with a quality product. They’re also one of the few that give you multiple options when buying. You can get this rope in several sizes, which makes it a little more versatile than many others. For instance, most ropes are sold in 100 foot spools. Sgt Knots offers you the option of 100 feet, 150 feet and even 200 feet. Plus, you can try out ⅜ inch or, at the 100 foot length, up to ½ inch for extra strength. It all depends on your anchoring depth and what you need.
The line itself is made from nylon, which is top quality. Nylon rope is powerful and can stand up to the elements better than other synthetics. The rope is actually three strands of nylon twisted together. That means it’s some of the strongest rope on the market. At the same time, it’s flexible and stretchy when you need it to be.
The nylon is resistant to abrasion as well as the elements. It features a stainless steel thimble on the end as well. You should be able to adapt this to just about any anchor setup that you have. Some ropes are good for several uses, including anchors. But this was designed specifically for this task. It’s some of the best anchor rope on the market.
The founder of the company is ex-military and they are US based. Sgt Knots is known to have some of the best customer service in the business. If you have a problem they should be able to help you with it to your satisfaction
This is another super tough nylon rope. This is ideal for medium to larger sized boats. But a small boat would certainly benefit from this tough line as well. It’s made from triple strand nylon. So that’s essentially like having three nylon ropes together. If you’re curious how that affects the strength, check out these numbers. It’s a ½ inch line at 100 feet with an incredible breaking strength of 6237 lbs. That means the working strength is 1247 lbs. As you can see, there are some ropes that are similar in size but have only a fraction of that strength. So this is one of the big guns for when you need reliability.
Because it’s nylon, this rope doesn’t float. That means it’s going to go straight down with your anchor. It’s unlikely to get stuck in your prop. It’s also resistant to things like mold and UV rays. There’s a reason nylon gets recommended so highly for these anchor ropes.
It comes with a stainless steel thimble attached. It’s easy to get attached to your anchor, and it’s smooth and easy on the hands to pull in and out of the water. This rope is good in some chop as well, because it has a great elasticity to it. Nylon offers good give without breaking. That makes it ideal for a number of tasks, but we definitely think it’s great for anchors.
If you want a tough braided nylon anchor line, Better Boat has a solid option. At 100 feet in length and ⅜ inches in diameter, this is a standard size line for most boats. The double braided nylon construction is abrasion resistant and tough as anything. The stainless steel thimble included is corrosion resistant. It’s also very well secured, so you shouldn’t have to worry about it being a weak spot in the line.
By the numbers, just look at what this line boasts. You have an 820lb working load and 4035lb breaking load. That’s why double braid nylon rope is such a standout for marine uses. This is great on a small boat, but it can clearly handle larger jobs as well. This line can adapt easily from an anchor line to a docking line as well.
The line itself is black, which is aesthetically cool. But don’t worry about losing track of it. They’ve also woven in reflective threads so you can see it even in poor light. It’s designed for use with any kind of anchor, from a kayak anchor to a fluke or box anchor. The versatility and strength make this ideal.
Because it’s nylon, it’s tough against whatever you throw at it. Not only is it physically strong, but it can handle UV rays. It’s able to withstand freshwater and saltwater easily. And, even better, it’s chemical resistant. If this gets exposed to gasoline or oil, it can be cleaned off and saved. Just remember to get it out and cleaned asap.
Better Boat is a family owned, American company. If you have a problem with their products, they’re very easy to get a hold of. They also respond in a timely manner. So if customer service is as important to you as the product itself, give this one a try.
Give Airhead credit, they found a way to make rope fun. Once upon a time all anchoring rope was boring, white line. And sure, it’s not a toy, but this anchor bungee is still pretty cool. It’s also bright enough that you’re not likely to lose track of it too easily.
One of the coolest features of the anchor bungee is that it allows you to tether your boat. Toss the bungee and anchor overboard as you come into shore. Then, when you reach the shallow water, you hop out. Attach a line to a beach spike on shore. That keeps your boat safely away from a rocky shoreline. It allows the line to stretch out so your boat is floating safely in waters where it won’t get damaged. But it’s not getting away from you, either. The bungee absorbs the shocks that would unmoor an anchor with a normal line.
As a regular anchor rope, this is great for shallower waters. It stretches from 14 feet all the way to 50 feet. So you’re not taking this into the deep sea by any means. Still, if you want to stop somewhere closer to shore, it’s a good choice.
The zinc-plated shackle and snap hook are tough and easy to use. The bungee rope is polypropylene with a 2500 lb tensile strength. So it can stand up to some weight with no worries .
Attwood has made a strong and durable MFP anchor rope here. MFP stands for Multifilament Polypropylene. That means it’s made from a large number of very thin fibers woven together. This is what makes it stranger and more durable than similar ropes.
The rope comes in a 100 foot long spool. It’s a ⅜ inch diameter as well. The line is very flexible, but it does float. Some people prefer a line that floats, others don’t, so keep that in mind. It’s also labelled as UV resistant. Keep in mind that polypropylene is less UV resistant than other synthetic lines. There have been some complaints from previous owners that the line fell apart. Some said they “turned to dust” after a season or two. That’s UV exposure. Keep the line stored safely out of the sun when not in use and it will last a lot longer. For the price, you should still get some good value out of the rope.
Based on calculations, the safe strength of this rope should be around 189 lbs. That means you don’t want to use it on a larger boat. However, for a small boat, this is ideal. It’s light and easy to store. It’s also easy on your hands if you have to pull it in. Plus, since it floats, it’s good to use as an emergency line if need be.
TRAC Outdoor is known for making quality, reliable products. Their anchor rope is no exception. This rope is made from braided polypropylene. It comes in a 100 foot long spool. The rope diameter is .2 inches.
The bright blue color makes it easy to see in murky water and low light conditions. That’s also thanks to the reflective tracer patches woven into it. The ends also feature what they call a “rock guard’ sleeve. This helps protect against serious abrasion and wear. That will extend the lifespan of your rope considerably. Paired with a chain, you could expect this rope to last a good deal of time.
It’s polypropylene so it can easily handle saltwater and freshwater. They’ve included a loop and a shackle as well. The break strength is listed at 700 lbs. That means your safe working strength is about 140 lbs. That should make this more than strong enough for the average fishing boat.
The company that makes TRAC is located in North Carolina. They offer good customer service. If you have an issue, they are usually quick to respond. That said, you may want to inspect the shackle and splice on your line closely. Some past buyers have had issues with the line separating and losing their anchor. It’s not common, but more than one person complained about it. For that reason, you may want to tweak things if they don’t look solid to you.
Choosing the Best Boat Anchor Rope
More goes into picking the best anchor rope than you might think. You need to be aware of not just length and width, but a number of other factors for the right anchor line. Can you rope hold up in saltwater? What if it gets exposed to chemicals? Is it OK to be exposed to UV rays for a long time? How can it handle rough seas? There is a lot more to consider than newcomers might suspect. Let’s look at the type of anchor rope that you need.
Types of Anchor Line Material
There are actually several kinds of materials used to make boat anchor ropes. Which you choose depends on a few factors.
Nylon Anchor Rope
The most common kinds of ropes are made from nylon. Nylon rope has a lot going for it, which is why it’s so common. For instance, for its size, nylon is very strong. It doesn’t have a lot of buoyancy, which is obviously important. The level of elasticity is ideal for anchor rope as well. Nylon rope can stretch up to 40%. Overall, it’s fairly light as well. It can stand up to salt water without problems, not to mention chemicals.
We think nylon makes for the best anchor ropes for of all of these reasons. And, the fact is, it’s everywhere. It’s the easiest to find. That makes it a smart choice as well. Every marine supply store will have nylon rope in stock.
Remember that nylon rope loses strength when it’s wet. It will reduce the strength up to 25%, in fact. Pay attention to the words “up to” here, however. Not every nylon rope is made to the same quality, and some will be stronger than others.
Polyester Anchor Rope
Polyester rope is not too different from nylon. The big differences here are strength and stretch. Nylon is superior when it comes to each. That doesn’t mean polyester is not strong, but for the same size, it’s not quite as strong. However, when wet, polyester does not lose strength like nylon does.
The stretch factor is more of an issue. Again, it’s not drastically different. But stretchiness in marine rope helps absorb shock. If you choose polyester over nylon, you may feel jolts harder. It’s also more prone to chafing than nylon rope is.
Polyester can handle the sunlight better than nylon. Nylon is OK, and as long as you care for it properly, it should be fine. But polyester is less affected.
Polypropylene Anchor Rope
This is the cheapest kind of rope in most cases. It can offer reasonable strength and elasticity. However, polypropylene is not good with sunlight. UV radiation really causes damage to this kind of rope. As a result, if this sits out in the sun too much, it will degrade. That can pose a real problem after a while.
Polypropylene line tends to be slippery. It’s not good for tying things off very well and it can cut. If you’re trying to pull this line in an emergency, you may slice your hands up. There’s a reason why nylon is a lot more popular.
We recommend not using polypropylene rope for an anchor line on larger boats. There are just too many drawbacks to it. That said, because it’s cheap and it floats, keep it around for a rescue line instead if you already have some.
For smaller boats, this can be a good choice. The strain of your anchor is not likely to cause too much trouble overall. Just remember to stow it properly out of the sun!
Manila Anchor Lines
Manila is a natural fiber robe. Unlike synthetic lines, this will shrink some when it gets wet. You’ll still see large ships using manila rope to this day. That’s because it’s remarkably strong. But compared to synthetic lines, you’re better off with nylon. Nylon can do the job better with a smaller rope overall. But if you want a natural line, then this is what you would use. It’s the best overall, and it does have that authentic, old-timey sailor appeal. Just remember, you’ll need larger manila rope to match the strength of nylon. And manila can go bad if not stored correctly.
Cutting Anchor Lines
Synthetic lines have a tendency to fray when cut. They will unspool into hundreds of tiny, hair-like fibers. Over time, these can unwind and fray the rope to pieces. Also, it’s going to cause a significant loss of strength when this happens. That’s why you need to address it as soon as you cut the line.
Because these ropes are synthetic, they melt when you heat them. This is ideal for fixing those frays. Once you cut a line, you can use a special tool to essentially cauterize the end and prevent the stray, frayed bits. It’s just as easy to use an open flame. You can even carefully use a lighter to melt just the very end of the line. That will melt the frayed bits into a solid end that’s easy to work with.
Anchor Rope Construction
When you’re picking a suitable anchor line, you’re going to have two main choices. These are braided anchor ropes and twisted or laid anchor ropes. Both of these have pros and cons that are worth considering. There isn’t really a right choice and a wrong choice. It’s a lot like comparing anchors or props. You have many options and they all can get the job done.
Twisted Rope: You’ll find twisted rope at fairly reasonable prices. This is usually cheaper than braided ropes. The trade off is that it does tend to kink a bit. It offers a good amount of stretch, though. Splicing this rope is also pretty easy. A twisted nylon anchor rope would be still be a good choice.
Braided Rope: Pound for pound, this rope is usually stronger than twisted. Same length and same anchor line diameter, braided is tougher. It’s also less harsh if you pull it in by hand. It’s flexible but not necessarily as stretchy as twisted rope. You might also have a difficult time splicing this kind of rope.
Anchor Rope Length
Having the right length of rope is essential to ensuring your anchor works properly. Too little and your anchor won’t even hit bottom. Too much and you’ll be drifting all over the place. You can get snags and tangles and cause a ton of problems. But you’re going to hear a lot of different ideas about how much rope is the right amount.
If you Google it right now, you could find 3 different sites with 3 different opinions. In fact, we did just that. One site said 7 feet for every one foot of depth. Another said 8 feet. One said 10 feet.
There are a lot of variables. If you’re in very choppy waters, you may want to have more rope. Likewise, if you’re not sure about bottom conditions. We think that 8 feet of rope per one foot in the water is the best ratio. But, again, that can change based on conditions.
Anchor Rope Width
It’s easy for a newcomer to overlook this part. Length is something you obviously want to worry about. But the rope thickness is extremely important as well. Too thin and your rope will snap like a twig. You definitely don’t want that. But how do you know if it’s thick enough?
A good rule of thumb is to add ⅛ of an inch for every 9 feet of boat.
Up to 9 feet = ⅛ inch
Up to 18 feet = ¼ inch
Up to 27 feet = ⅜ inch
Up to 36 feet = ½ inch
In general, bigger is always better. If you have a 16 foot boat, ⅜ inch is a fine idea. Even though technically it could get away with ¼ inch.
Boat Anchor Rope Strength
So you don’t want a rope that’s going to break. Just like fishing line, if it snaps it’s useless to you. But how do you determine boat anchor rope strength?
Rope strength is all based on a standard. That standard is natural manila rope. We compare other kinds of rope to manila to determine how tough it is. This will let you know the safe working load of a rope. So you’ll need to know the anchor rope size to figure this out.
You can calculate the strength factor of synthetic lines with a simple formula. The square of the circumference of the line multiplied by 900 lbs times that rope’s comparison factor.
(Circumference X 2) x 900 lbs.
Now things get a tiny bit complicated here in determining circumference. All the rope sizes we listed are diameter. Diameter is the distance across a circle if you cut it clean in half. But the circumference is the distance around the circle. That said, we can use diameter to calculate circumference.
Circumference = the diameter X pi (3.14)
Let’s do a practical example. You have a ¼ rope. So to calculate circumference, we multiply that by pi (3.14) and get 0.25 x 3.14 = 0.785. Then we multiply that by 900 lbs and get 706.5 lbs. That’s the rope’s breaking strength of a manila rope at this size.
If you have a synthetic line you need to include the comparison factor. Let’s look at those.
Nylon = 2.5
Polyester = 2
Polypropylene = 1.4
So if you had a ¼ inch nylon anchor rope you’d multiple your number by 2.5.
Your new formula would be 0.785 x 900 x 2.5 = 1766.25 lbs. That’s the breaking strength of a ¼ nylon anchor rope.
Breaking strength of a rope is a rule of thumb more than a set in stone guide. Remember, someone tested this in a lab. In the real world, things can go wonky. Maybe your rope is older or frayed. Maybe something will damage it. It’s hard to say.
Another thing to remember is that this number is for one solid piece of rope. If you have a knot or splice, it will decrease. Those weak spots are unpredictable. Just in terms of how they are going to affect the breaking strength.
Safe Working Load
This number is often given alongside break strength. Safe working load is how much weight your rope anchor can safely manage. It will be significantly less than the breaking strength. If you push your anchor rope to the breaking strength point, one thing is going to happen. The rope will break. Probably a lot sooner than you think, too. That’s because, as we mentioned, there may be mitigating factors.
Knots and splices significantly lower breaking strength. UV rays will weaken the rope. If it has endured a history of temperature changes or abrasion, that reduces strength as well. So a rope with a breaking strength of 1766 lbs on paper may actually break at 1200 lbs. Or even less.
To be safe, the rule of thumb for safe working load is ⅕ or 20%. That means if your line has a breaking strength of 1766.25 lbs then your safe working load is 353.25 lbs.
What About Anchor Chain?
You’ll often see chains and ropes being sold or even used together. Some people think chain is the better option, some think worse. But what about both? This is not uncommon at all and actually serves a good purpose.
Many anchors are attached to chains at the anchor itself. The chain extends for a short length and then the nylon rope is attached to it. So why would you choose a section of chain and then use rope? It’s all for a very practical reason.
The ocean floor is an unpredictable place. You don’t know what’s under you when you lower the anchor. There could be plain mud, sure. But there could be old trees, rocks, or trash. If your anchor hits something solid and rough, it’s no big deal. But if you have a length of rope resting on it, that could be a problem. Over time, even the toughest rope can wear down. If it keeps grating or rocks or other junk, it will start to fray.
We recommend a length of chain that is half the size of the rope you’ve chosen. That’s in terms of diameter. For the length of the chain, check your boat length. You want it to be about as long as your boat. Then you can connect the rope to the chain with a shackle unless you have a windlass.
One foot of chain for one foot of boat is ideal in most conditions. However, this can be tweaked. In rough water, you may one one foot of chain for every 6 feet of rope. This helps maintain a good angle. But it can be hard to predict if and when you’ll need this. And not every boat has the capacity to store a lot of chain.
Make sure you pick a chain that’s meant for this job. A bike chain from Home Depot is not going to work. You need a marine grade chain that’s galvanized. Not only will it preserve your rope, it will also make anchoring more efficient. Chain is a lot heavier than rope, so your anchor is going to drop straight down. That makes it less likely to suffer any kind of drift as well.
If you have a larger boat, more chain is typically a good idea. Chain will do a better job of keeping that anchor set.
One thing you always need to remember is to be safe around the boat anchor line. Newcomers to boating often aren’t aware of how dangerous lines can be. If you have guests on your boat, make sure they are aware of what is safe and what is not.
If you have a line under tension, no one should be within 45 degrees of that line on either side of it. Always make sure everyone on the boat knows this.
Always double check your knots. This is especially true when you use synthetic lines. All synthetic materials are slippery to one degree or another. They can easily slide out of knots if they are not done securely. So once you have a knot in place, check it again to make sure.
The Bottom Line
Safety is always your number one priority, Make sure you’re choosing adequate line for your boat. It needs to be strong enough and long enough to get the job done. Always store it safely out of the way to reduce tripping hazards. This will also go a long way to making sure it lasts for several seasons.
As always, stay safe and have fun
My grandfather first took me fishing when I was too young to actually hold up a rod on my own. As an avid camper, hiker, and nature enthusiast I'm always looking for a new adventure.
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