Manila rope, also referred to as hemp rope, is perhaps the first image that comes to mind when one hears the word “rope.” It is made of manila hemp, which is a natural fiber that comes from the leaves of the abacá plant, which is native to the Philippines. British Naval Captain James Cook is responsible for giving manila hemp fiber its name in the late 1700s on one of his expeditions. He named it Manila, after the capital of the Philippines. Interestingly, manila hemp is not actually hemp, but since all rope up until that time was made from hemp, Captain Cook assumed that manila rope was also. For thousands of years, this rope was used for everything from ship lines to making clothing. In modern times, manila rope has long been the number one choice for towing, safety line, climbing, landscaping, and countless other uses. Though synthetic ropes began gaining popularity in the 1950s due to their non-shrinking properties and mildew resistance, manila rope has maintained its popularity and reputation through the years.
Manila rope is known for being flexible yet non-stretching, durable, and resistant to salt water damage. For these reasons, it is a common choice for ship lines, fishing nets, and a variety of general utility and decorative purposes. You may recall seeing it in rope courses and gymnasiums—its popularity in these environments is due to its ability to absorb perspiration and therefore act as a good grip. Also, unlike synthetic ropes, manila rope does not melt when coming in contact with hot wires, making it a top choice for utility contractors and those working close to live wires. Landscapers and fence contractors often use manila rope for fence rails, along pathways, and for decorative outdoor purposes due to its decomposability and reputation as the most environment-friendly high strength rope. Manila rope is also popular for scouting projects and any situation involving knot-tying, as its non-slip grip makes it impeccable at holding knots.
Whether you have a need for rope to use for general utility purposes, outdoor activities, décor, or even tug of war, manila rope is a classic choice for a strong, durable, and natural rope.
FMS is proud to source the highest quality manila rope. Choose between 1/4-inch, 5/16-inch, 3/8-inch, 1/2-inch, 5/8-inch, 3/4-inch, 1-inch, 1.25-inch, 1.5-inch, 2-inch and 3-inch diameters in many different lengths.
Check out this great historic stock footage of Manila Hemp trees (abacá plant) being processed for Manila Rope fiber in Davao, Phillipines.
Production of Manila Hemp, also known as Manilla, in Davao, Philippines during World War II. A farm of Manila Hemp (the plant is actually the abacá plant or Musa textilis, a relative of the banana, then frequently used to make "Manila Rope". But the colloquial name for it at the time was Manila Hemp). Farmers cutting, stripping and drying Manila Hemp. A Japanese officer on the farm supervising. Manila Hemp loaded on a cart and taken to a shipping yard for shipping. Location: Davao Philippines. Date: January 1943.