A usually underestimated aspect of looping a tent is the need for guy ropes. Many campers have no idea how important these lines are to their tent structure.
To optimize the performance and usability of your tarp, hammock, or tent, you’d better pay more attention to the guy ropes, particularly their material.
Today’s post will discuss the vital role of guy lines, what guy lines material is best for your shelter, and what you should look for when buying ones.
Our go-to recommendations, though, for guy line materials are light nylon, bricklayers, thin spectra, and light dacron kite line. These fibers are generally sustainable, firm, and apply to various occasions.
What Is A Guy Line and Its Use?
A guy line is a cord or rope designed to add stability to a free-standing structure, tying down a tent flap or tarp. It’s a critical part of pitching a shelter since it keeps the shelter anchored and stable.
We use these wires for tent covers, tent extensions, and rain flaps to deter them from flying away. Apart from that, our shelters need guy wires for some benefits:
- Keep dry – stake out your tarp or rainfly and keep out the water.
Water rolls off and drips to the ground rather than inside the tent by keeping your rainfly taut, which admittedly defeats the purpose. A poor setup without guy ropes will surely cause raindrop leakage in your tent.
Other than keeping the rainfly taut, these wires also deter it from landing directly on your shelter’s interior wall. This function allows for quick air ventilation through the shelter, helping avoid pesky condensation and offering you more fresh air.
It’s crucial to stake out your shelter walls using these ropes since it’ll help prevent sagging and offers you extra space to store and spread out your gear while keeping the tent watertight.
The same goes for those with vestibules (regions surrounding the interior wall formed by the rainfly). The tents usually depend on these ropes to form those vestibules.
You can store gear not in use in these vestibules, like the muddy boots.
Non-freestanding models, like most ultralights or pup tents, primarily depend on guy wires to stand straight up in place of heavier and more spacious poles.
Those wires function as supplemental structural support for free-standing models with poles, keeping the tents’ bodies upright and anchored into the ground.
This point is particularly vital in harsh weather, like heavy winds or snow. An outdoor shelter should be rigid and stable, alright?
What Is The Best Guy Lines Material?
Choosing guy line materials is not as straightforward as you may think, particularly if you want to seriously push the weight down and expect the rope to work effectively in harsh weather.
Here is a list of the most highly recommended rope materials we’ve tried with our shelters.
Light Nylon String
You can typically find light nylon strings in an outdoor store. The common colors are green, purple, red, or multicolor woven, usually sold in climbing gear sections.
This product is strong yet rather heavy, stretching under load. A 2.5-mm nylon string provides great strength and durability to almost any need.
Such a robust, sturdy line can secure your tarp or tent, like a washing line. The beauty is that it is even more rigid than polyester.
More importantly, nylon features high resistance to fungi, insects, abrasion, mildew, and chemicals. The rope’s reflective design will protect you from tripping as you return to your shelter in the dark.
Another thing we love about nylon strings is that they apply to all Nordisk Performance products since they either are incredibly grippy or work smoothly with a Triangular Lock Slider.
These strings are available in local hardware stores. A brick wire, also called a mason’s wire, brick twine, or builder’s line is essentially a brightly colored, long rope that does not stretch easily.
Our brand of choice, an Australian manufacturer, used to make the stuff in Melbourne yet imported cheaper fluorescent Chinese string.
Indeed, we found Chinese stuff slightly crappy when comparing: it snags easily and has a pretty loose lay.
So, when buying a bricklayer’s string for your shelter, don’t forget to check the material’s source.
Thin Spectra String
A thin spectra rope is fluorescent yellow and looks like a fishing line, usually priced at 250 pounds. You may wonder, “why yellow?”
Since yellow is exceedingly bright, allowing us to locate it at night, in snow, or dim-light conditions and avoid falling over it.
Nonetheless, we tried using this type of line in the snow but noticed an anticipated issue.
Some high-tech spectra strings, particularly the fishing poles, are waxed to prevent fraying. Of course, it’s a fantastic idea until the snow is heavy. The sub-zero temperatures cause the rope to be challenging to tense and manage.
Should you prefer a lightweight choice regarding guy strings, this one is right for you. It’s super thin, light, easy to tie and burn ends, yet highly strong and reflective.
Light Dacron Kite Line
For us, light dacron kite wire (for example, from Michaels shop) is better and lighter than anything else.
You can choose among a variety of strengths. We chose the 150-lb product with little toggles for easy adjustments.
The only problem with this type is that it is white and usually visible in heavy snow. Sometimes, we have to mark it using a fluorescent marker pen.
It’s good to import customized guy strings and match toggles from a local store. But be aware that most toggles don’t apply to exceedingly thin wires, such as a 150-lb kite wire.
What Characteristics Should A Guyline System Have?
We’ve bought and experimented with lots of different systems. Here are the key features and characteristics that we found most crucial.
Almost any shelter will have some flexibility in its pitch, whether shaped, height from the ground, or/and ridgeline angles. Such flexibility allows your tent to be practical for:
- Different local terrains, for example, uneven or flat surfaces, inconveniently located rocks and vegetation, and soft or hard oils.
- The expected and current weather, such as wind direction and speed, humidity, and temperature
A non-adjustable tensioning system won’t offer you this flexibility. Thus, we avoid fixed wire lengths and fixed knots and use guy wires instead of just stake-out loops.
Adjustability is particularly vital with tents made of stretchable silicone-impregnated nylon, easy to stretch, especially when wet.
You can effortlessly eliminate stretch-caused sinking thanks to an adjustable guy wire system.
In blizzards, gusty storms, heavy downpours, or even a combination of such weather conditions, you must be confident that your rigging system won’t collapse.
We have depended on a guyline system for almost 500 nights. This system has gained our trust since the knots haven’t ever become untied or slipped, and the string hasn’t ever snapped.
In a word, choose a rigging system that offers great dependability and reliability even in harsh weather.
Suppose you have to break down or set up your tent in freezing temperatures or inclement weather (when your hands alone without gloves can lose dexterity quickly).
In that case, you’ll appreciate being able to do the job with a fast, uncluttered rigging system.
No Hardware or Fixed Knots
Before using the current rigging system, which takes 20 minutes to practice, we used to rely on end-of-line fixed loops.
These components significantly impair adjustability and instigate knots at the same time before transferring to tensioners, cleats, and plastic wire locks. We deem this feature convenient but not perfect because they:
- Add weight
- Create an extra failure point
- Freeze up during cold weather and in freezing-and-wet conditions
- Instigate knotting.
- Require rigging of a certain width (like 2mm) available only at specialty retail shops with climbing departments.
The correct lengths and number of cords rely on each specific shelter. Generally, we would be willing to spend a lot of cord we attach because one or two additional feet weigh extremely little, yet it adds considerable flexibility.
Our three-season suggestions are:
- One-frame tarps: 4-6 feet for the tent’s sides, eight feet for its ridgelines, depending on your tent’s usual height.
- Hex-shaped tarp: six feet for the tent’s side corners, eight feet for its ridgelines.
- Mids and tents: three feet for low or ground-level sides and corners.
You’ll need guy wires of greater lengths to tie off to deadman anchors during wintertime since you have to bury the anchor under around 1-2 feet from the snow.
We recommend using six-foot lengths for low or ground-level tie-offs on mids and tents.
Can I Replace My Tent’s Guyline?
Of course, you can replace your guyline system once you notice the damage. Keep in mind that it’s critical to employ a reflective cord to replace those guylines.
Bright colors and reflectability help decrease the tripping hazard that guy lines are the prime cause of. We advise you to go for strings like ShineLine to enhance your guyline system’s visibility at night and in heavy snow.
As said, most shelters come with tensioners and guy ropes attached to their bodies or ground stakes or included in a box.
However, if your product does not or you wish to subsidize your tent guyline system, the best idea is to buy those with integrated reflective strips.
The reason is that tripping over these wires at night or in dim-light conditions is a considerable issue and might cause a severe safety concern, particularly in hazardous camping spots, like a ridge, cliff-edge areas, or alpine.
Here are the quick steps to replace your guyline:
- Measure and divide the replacement guyline into smaller strips equal to the length of the current one.
- Tie out a loop the first end
- Pass the guyline through the tensioner and tie the knot at that end.
- Hook anchor to the lower loop and pull through
- Guide the looped end through the loop on your tent
- Guide tensioner end through the loop
- Pull through and secure your guyline to the shelter loop.
- Anchor stake under the ground and pull up the tensioner to tension the guy wire.
Does Choosing The Wrong Guyline Material Hurt My Tent?
Can a weak, unstable, poor-quality, or unsuitable guyline system withstand raining, pouring, roaring, strong winds? No, of course.
In such fierce conditions, it’s necessary to set up your tent properly with the correct guy lines. If not, then you can expect water to leak inside your shelter, or in worse cases, snapped poles and tent failures.
You’d better prepare your outdoor backcountry shelter with a suitable guyline system to help ensure that it stands still in any weather.
Remember that drastic condensation can get together on a rainfly’s underside, particularly in wet and cool weather.
Wrap Things Up
Choosing suitable guy lines material is critical for setting up a tent and safe camping. Durable, rigid, and visible guy strings help stabilize your shelter and keep it dry.
Overall, they serve a variety of imperative purposes and are surely worth investing in, particularly if you consider how effortless they are to install.
So, safe and fun camping!