Backpacking Light Aircore Plus Spectra Rope (50 feet)


Backpacking Light Aircore Plus Spectra Rope (50 feet)

Ultralight Spectra rope for bear bagging and other high strength applications.

Overview

AirCore Spectra Plus Accessory Cord is a Bozeman Mountain Works exclusive. We've sourced this cord for two specific applications:

  • High-strength, low-weight tent and tarp guylines
  • Bear bag hanging cord

Of course, it can replace normal accessory cord in other applications, including gadget lanyards, etc.

Features and Specifications

AirCore Spectra is a braided, pure-Spectra accessory cord with a hollow core. Consequently, if you have the experience and splicing tool for splicing hollow core braided Dacron, you can apply the same technique for creating end-to-end and end loop splices to AirCore Spectra. While time consuming, the end loop splice is a strong, low-bulk, and artistic alternative to knotted end loops.

The primary difference between AirCore full-Spectra accessory cord and competing Spectra-core accessory cords, such as Kelty Triptease, is that AirCore Spectra is composed of 100% braided pure Spectra fibers, while other cords are composed of braided (nylon) outer sheaths surrounding a continuous Spectra fiber core.

Such construction (as in Kelty Triptease) improves resistance to bight slippage due to more friction created at the nylon-to-nylon interface; thus, these cords hold tautline hitches quite well. In contrast, pure Spectra cords (including AirCore Spectra), will not hold a tautline hitch well. We don't see this as a major limitation, because the simplest tarp and tent guylines simply have end loops that connect to the shelter and slip around the stake. Retensioning is just a matter of relocating the stake, which is usually a much faster and easier process than worrying about tautline hitches.

Caveat: Tautline hitches are still the way to go in extremely hard soils (soils hard enough to require that you pound your stake in with a rock or hammer, rather than your hand or shoe), and AirCore Spectra cord may not be for you if this is your norm. However, we find that these kinds of soils are (1) ill-suited for camping (they aren't so soft), and (2) ill-suited for use with thin titanium-type skewer stakes. But choosing a campsite is a topic for another day, indeed.

So, for you Triptease fans that are looking for an even lighter alternative, we are happy to disclose the limitations of AirCore Spectra accessory cord, and provide you with comparison statistics between Triptease and AirCore:

Type Weight (oz/ft) Diameter (in) Breaking Strength (lbs)
Triptease 0.0290 0.0875 188
AirCore 1 0.0040 0.0400 216
AirCore 2 0.0100 0.0600 327
AirCore Plus 0.0360 0.1250 1109

Applications

AirCore 1 is a gram-counter's answer to ultralight guylines for tarp camping. Ryan uses this cord exclusively year-round. When taking his poncho-tarp, which has 12 guyline tie-outs, he uses ten 3-foot lengths and two 9-foot lengths (for the ridgeline ends). The total weight of this guyline set is a less than 0.25 ounces! He just ties figure 8 or bowline loops in the end of each cord and girth hitches them to the tarp guyline tie-out points, slips a titanium stake into the other loop, and inserts it into the ground. We are major advocates of not skimping on guylines or tent stakes - this is what allows you to sleep securely in the most inclement weather, even above the treeline.

AirCore 1 is a very thin accessory cord ill-suited for tying and untying knots in cold temperatures. We recommend permanently tying end loops into the line, that can either be girth-hitched to a tarp's guyline tie-outs, or simply slipped through a tie-out and staked through the loops, as shown here.

 

AirCore 2 is recommended for those who have trouble tying knots in the thinner cord of AirCore 1, or for high altitude mountaineering applications where a stronger, more robust, and durable guyline is needed for tent guylines.

AirCore Plus is recommended for high-strength or high abrasion applications, or when tying line around trees when the line is subjected to heavier loads (so the line doesn't bite through the bark). Bear bagging is one possible application (this is the cord we use for bear bagging). You may find others.

Knots

AirCore Spectra does not hold a locking bight around a straight section. Consequently, it is an inappropriate cord for tying tautline hitches. It does hold bight-on-bight knots well, including bowlines, figure eights, overhands, sheepshanks, etc.

Tarp Guylines. Simple, foolproof, easy-to-tie tarp guylines can be made by cutting AirCore 1 or 2 into 3.5-foot lengths, and tying a figure-eight-on-a-bight or a bowline into each end, leaving a 2-inch loop in the end. One end of the loop can then be girth-hitched to the tarp guyline tie-out, with a stake inserted through the other end and placed in the ground at the desired location to control tension. This is the fastest method for pitching any tarp, and appropriate in all but the hardest soils (for very hard soils that would normally bend your titanium stakes, use a rock for the "stake").

Longer Length Guylines: If you need longer length guylines, loops at the ends of smaller lengths can be girth-hitched together. This is useful when using large rocks as stakes, tying the line around trees, or tying out longer length guylines, such as the ridgeline of your tarp.

Using Trekking Poles: Many of us use trekking poles to support the ridgelines of our tarps. Effective ridgeline guylines can be made with a 9-foot length of AirCore 1, 2, or Plus, with a figure-8- or bowline-knotted loop in each end. One end goes to the tarp guyline tie-out, the other in the stake, as with your normal guylines. Then, in the middle of the guyline near the tarp's guyline tie-out, use a clove hitch around the trekking pole handle or tip (whichever is less likely to cause the guyline to slip), and voila! An instant, simple, strong, and very fast way to rig - and height adjust - a tarp anywhere.

Links to Knots on the Web

Features:

  • Braided, pure-Spectra accessory cord with a hollow core
  • Does not hold a locking bight around a straight section - do not use for tautline hitches
  • Does hold bight-on-bight knots well, including bowlines, figure eights, overhands, and sheepshanks

Specifications:

  • Weight:  0.0360 oz/ft (3.35 g/m)
  • Diameter:  0.1250 in (.32 cm)
  • Breaking Strength:  1109 lbs (503 kg)
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