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Polyester webbing for anchors?

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by Nick Smolinske, Oct 15, 2019.

  1. Nick Smolinske

    Nick Smolinske

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    Does anyone use polyester webbing for anchors? It seems better than nylon for this purpose. Polyester has better UV resistance and doesn't lose as much strength when wet. It does start out with less strength, but it retains it better over time.

    Yet, no shops I've seen stock polyester and I've never heard of anybody using it for canyons. Or on climbing descents for that matter (which typically see more UV than canyon webbing). What gives? Just inertia?

    At the very least, it seems worth using poly in high-UV situations, like the opening rappels to some canyons where the webbing sees a lot of sun (I'm thinking the first rap in 150-mile in the GC). Or perhaps Death Valley.
  2. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    I’ve thought about this before as well.

    The fact is that nylon is so ubiquitous and it’s shortcomings don’t really pose a practical problem. It’s good enough.

    We simply don’t hear accounts of nylon failing due to being wet or because of UV degradation.

    Any vertical adventurer worth their salt should always carry some and know when to replace bad webbing they encounter in the field.

    Tubular Nylon is also somewhat standardized (I use the term loosely), and legitimate, fit-for-purpose webbing is easy to identify.

    Polyester on the other hand has no commonly known or easily identifiable standard. It is not all created equal.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2019
  3. Fat Canyoner

    Fat Canyoner T2

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    Nick, I totally agree. The big problem is webbing is primarily used for climbers, which use it in a very different way. They don't leave it out in the sun and water like canyoneers. Probably not much use for you, but I'm working with an Australian manufacturer to produce some for me. Properly tested and rated. Stronger than the nylon stuff. And with a longer lifespan. if you're really keen I can probably ship some over to you.
  4. Jeff Randall

    Jeff Randall

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    Tapecraft makes Polyester webbing for fall protection: https://ykknorthamerica.com/product/polyester-u0117-1/

    They're a manufacturer and make webbing for a lot of different industries, including some of the bigger name rope manufacturers. I doubt they will sell small amounts but we buy from them all the time for some soft goods we manufacture.
  5. hank moon

    hank moon kinetically bulbous

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    @Fat Canyoner what is the interest in stronger and longer lifespan webbing for OZ canyons? Over here, 1" tubular nylon is plenty strong (even with our overweight culture :) and the lifespan of fixed textile slings is highly variable, regardless of material used.
    Bootboy likes this.
  6. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    That polyester webbing is really not suitable for tying knots. Ive handled it and I don’t think it’s really a practical option for canyoneering applications. It’s also way overkill and very bulky.

    Tubular is superior for tying knots as it is much more compliant for running through hardware.
    ratagonia likes this.
  7. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    There are times when market dominance is a good thing! Lots of people know what 1" nylon tubular looks like, where to buy it, how to tie it successfully. It is strong, durable, dependable and due to market dominance inexpensive.

    1" Tubular in Death Valley has been failing due to UV. People are looking for other demons to blame, but sure seems like UV is the most likely suspect. Good thing 1" tubular is inexpensive, so that you and all canyoneers can carry some and replace anchors whenever you go out. In Death Valley, that might be a LOT of webbing!!!

    Tom
  8. Fat Canyoner

    Fat Canyoner T2

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    Hank, I think this is a bit like ropes. For years, semi-static nylon ropes were all that was used in canyons. Basically re-purposed caving ropes, made my companies whose bigger market was climbing ropes, so making semi-static ropes out of the same Nylon materials was cost effective and easier. The fact that there were better materials didn't change that for a long time. It's really only been the last decade where that shift has finally happened. It's still very much a work in progress here in Australia.

    My view is that if there's a superior product or material, and it can be found at the same price or better, there's no excuse not to use it. We have plenty of canyons with slings left in them that only get a handful of visits a year. While I'd love to see them gone completely -- and have been promoting the use of fiddlesticks for that reason -- as a middle ground I'd rather they use better materials that won't rot and degrade as much over time. It is hard to find though. Cousin Trestec in France make a good 100% polyester tubular tape, but the 18mm version has been discontinued and I'm not sure how much longer the 1" stuff will be around.

    The other factor for me is that tubular webbing isn't cheap in Australia. It's all imported, even the nylon stuff, so it works out at about 50 - 70% more expensive than what you guys pay. That means less people carry spare webbing or replace anchors. Both bad outcomes.

    There's no question in my mind that if you're leaving anchor items behind in canyons, you should focus on making them as hard wearing and long lasting as practical. That's a good outcome for safety, and also reduces the amount of waste we produce.
    Jeff Randall likes this.
  9. 2065toyota

    2065toyota

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    So instead of being .30 / foot it costs .50 / foot? What if it was even $1.00 per foot

    And that is justification for not using or buying it for anchor replacement?

    Of all the things that people waste money on in life and then complain about spending money to save their own or someone elses. Guess I don't really follow any of this logic
  10. Fat Canyoner

    Fat Canyoner T2

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    Price plays a big part. It's why so many Aussie canyoners still use crap Nylon ropes. I wish it wasn't so, but for many people that's a key influencer. I'm not one of them -- as my collection of BlueWater Canyon Extreme ropes can attest to -- but I am in the minority.

    One of the great things about Tom's ropes is that they're not only technically great, they're affordable. The lesson from his success is that if superior products and techniques can be made more cost effective, that really helps drive uptake.
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