Guyline/rope tensioners or cord lock things for tents?

7:26 a.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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Sorry if this has been recently done - I did a quick search but couldn't see anything.

I'm looking at getting some extra and replacement guy line and tension lock things. What works and what doesn't, please?

I have had some unusual things in the past, Figure 9 I think they are called, which seemed to be designed to be lost (they didn't attach to the rope permanently and were black). I'm not sure whether the traditional ones are best in plastic or alu, and whether the newer designs, which look like a triangle block, are any good.

Also, what is the 'dyneema' line like, for this purpose - overkill? My favourite arrangement so far is the white reflective line, about 2mm (?), with normal plastic runners.

Thanks, Jon

7:57 a.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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Those plastic adjusters seem to break at exactly the moment when you need them most - in the wind. Take them all off of your tent lines and recycle them. Then, simply tie a taught-line (Taut-line. Corrected by the OGBO) hitch in your guy out lines. Learn how here.

As far as guy line goes, the reflective line is OK, but it can be hard to tie sometimes. I prefer a slightly thicker, far less alternative, 550 (parachute) cord. It comes in orange, red, and yellow as well as the standard black and OD green, so visibility is still pretty good.

The thicker rope in the above pic would represent your tent stake. To tighten the tension, simply slide the knot away from the loop. It self locks and comes undone very easily when you break down your tent.

10:41 a.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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Here is a website that will show you how to tie most common knots:

http://www.animatedknots.com/

12:29 p.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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Actually, that's "tautline hitch", as in a hitch to hold the line taut. Yes, it is true that you have to be taught to tie the hitch to keep your guys taut. There are actually two versions of the hitch, the difference being where the two initial wraps are relative to the final locking hitch. They both work equally well.

Dyneema is just a specific type of synthetic material, an ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene polymer, manufactured and licensed by the Dutch company Royal DSM. Spectra is a very similar material, actually identical in chemical structure, but a different production process, from Honeywell. Jim S and I have backpacks made from Spectra.

I use the version of Spectra cord from Kelty that is reflective (very highly reflective, so you can easily find your tent at night). Spectra and Dyneema are very slick, so they do not hold knots and hitches very well. So you need to leave plenty of tail when you tie your tautline and whatever knot you use to attach the cord to the loop on the tent. The great thing about it is that it is so light without sacrificing strength.

Dyneema and Spectra are used in climbing in the form of webbing for quickdraws and slings. However, because it is so slick, such slings must be sewn - the knots and hitches come loose too easily. Also, Dyneema and Spectra (and related UHMWPE products) are not very resistant to heat, particularly friction from other sling and rope materials sliding over them so it is vital to use carabiners, rappel rings, and such anywhere that sliding could take place.

1:39 p.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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Thanks for all the help. I am not sure that I want to start using hitches, however. Is it not hard to tie and untie these small knots in the winter?

I find it easier to just use tension locks (I think they are called guys and the cord is the guy line?). Also, the quicker the better: Hilleberg tents need the guys up quickly or there is a risk of the poles snapping in the wind.

I know there are different plastic and alu guys out there. I was wondering if the new fangled designs that I am seeing are better than the traditional three holes or even the funny alu Hilleberg ones?

2:10 p.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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"guy" = "guy line" and the locks are called "cord locks" and other trademarked names (except when they inevitably break or get lost, in which case they are called by names not fit for a family site like Trailspace - the plastic ones break much more easily in cold weather).

Untie the knots? Why? Attach the guys at home and tie the knots at leisure, and never remove them. I have 20++ year old tents with the knots just as I tied them back then. Besides, you will need to learn the hitches for the guaranteed inevitable loss or breakage of the little brittle plastic thingies. The tautline takes about 5 seconds to tie and works better than the plastic or metal doodads anyway. Learn how once, and you will be able to tie the tautline with your gloves on.

2:27 p.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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I use Kelty Triptease for my guy line, I think its the same line Bill S uses. Its super bright and strong. https://www.kelty.com/p-136-triptease-lightline.aspx

2:50 p.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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Triptease it is (the name is because it is supposed to reduce the probability of tripping over it - doesn't seem to help me, though, I can trip while looking directly at it)

3:18 p.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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I like the reflective line. It tells me who the newbys are! ;-) Bill's right, I've never untied my hitches either. I just drive the stake through the loop, or slip the loop over the stake after I drive it in most of the way, take out the slack, and I'm done.

The Taut (thanks bill) Line Hitch is great for quick tarp shelters too.

4:44 p.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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OK, thanks. I have found some dyneema in bright yellow but no reflective thread on it. I don't think I can get anything by Kelty in the UK, so I will have to have some Triptease sent over. I will probably get some 'micro' locks, just in case my knots end up gordian.

5:01 p.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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Here is a link for reflective line.

http://www.cabelas.com/p-0030002516842a.shtml

Granted my tents all came t/the plastic tensioner but when they break(which they do) I never replace them. A knot does the job a bit better IMO as has been stated above.

6:49 p.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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Another voice to the chorus supporting the tautline hitch. I, like Bill, have some guy lines bearing knots that are old enough to run for President, I think.

The hitch is actually very easy to tie, even with gloves, in the dark, and so forth, once learned. And the learning part needn't take long.

I also use the same line from Kelty mentioned above, in hopes of avoiding tripping incidents and the like. Thus far, I've never tripped over 'em. And now that I've said it, I'll be doing a nosedive into the bushes next weekend, no doubt.

A few years back, I saw a young lad in Boy Scouts being taught to tie a tautline. He was in the process of pitching a tent, and one of the adults was showing him the hitch for use on the guys. The boy pointed out that the line had "one of these plastic holder things" on it. The well-aged man zipped it to the end of the line, or as close as he could get, and cut the line just above it.

"There," he said. "Took care of that problem. Now you don't have to worry about it breaking and you not knowing how to tie the right knot."

11:32 p.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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Perry I really like the story, it brings back fond memories of my Scout days.

11:48 p.m. on March 2, 2010 (EST)
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SEHiker--

I think I know what you mean. I had some similar experiences when young, and I'm now trying to do my share to pass some of my hard-won knowledge along. But since I don't know much about World of Warcraft or the nuances of Call of Duty 4, I'm not considered much of an expert. It occurred to me on a recent campout that more of the Scouts probably knew how to start a fire using some sort of magic potion found in a secret locked box that could only be opened after defeating the monster Cytothor and his minions on level 3 of some video game than how to reliably get one going using actual wood and stuff. Depressing.

And now I see that someone's coming out with a video game version of "Dante's Inferno". Of course, it seems to be--ahem--only loosely associated with the great poem. We must be on the equator, 'cause we're going straight down the toilet, no spinning around either direction.

Okay, I'm done being a curmudgeon, for the next few minutes, anyway.

1:05 a.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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Haha too funny,

Well remember its not just over at Eagle Scout, hopefully your helping these guys cultivate a desire for being out in the great outdoors and that desire will out last the desire of playing WOW or hopefully it will haha. I know I have went back to old Scout leaders for wisdom, information, and trail locations.

2:59 a.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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At risk of inflaming the knot-tying community: this version of the Figure 9 is made of aluminum (though obviously taking enough of these along to secure a tent/tarp would be extremely heavy).

6:49 a.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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Pathloser is right. The figure 9 is still is designed to attach without knots, thus increasing the "Had it when I left the house, but now it's gone" factor.

1:51 p.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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"The Figure 9 eliminates the frustration of tying, adjusting and untying knots."

This is but one of the hilarious comments in the dealer descriptions for the figure 9. It warms the cockles of my heart to know that there is a product that saves me from having to possess "an encyclopedic knowledge of rope work".

What isn't particularly funny though is the statement that "you don't have to be a knot expert to strap a kayak to the roof of your car". I am not a physicist, or a mechanical engineer, but I do question the wisdom of securing a kayak to the roof of a car using 3/8"(maximum) rope and a device with a 150lb. load limit. Thanks Backcountry.com, I was able to easily "secure" my kayak to my car, it just wasn't able to stay there. In a day and age where the warning,"HOT COFFEE IS HOT" is printed on coffee cups, the recommendation to use a figure 9 for anything other than cleaning rocks out of the soles of your boots, might not be prudent.

1:59 p.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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This would be a good test for those Mythbusters guys -- real knots vs. "knot-free devices." They wouldn't have to blow up anything, however, so I doubt they'd take it on.

2:35 p.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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Tom, I agree that the lack of incendiaries and/or explosives would preclude an in depth Mythbusters involvement.

I consider myself a simple tool, and I generally have far more faith in a machine which has fewer moving parts. A rope(and attachment point) as opposed to rope, mechanical device, and attachment point. Kind of the antithesis of Steve Martin's "that's all I need" sequence in "The Jerk".

Having seen a many lengths of the nylon webbing(the type that's used in conjunction with a come-along tightener) laying on the side of the road, I surmised that for one reason or another, the system failed. I have also seen rope lying at the side of the road, I prefer to think that's due to operator error(in storage). OK, so I'm deluding myself; it's just that the feel of cinching a load down using a trucker's hitch(extremely useful knot) is reassuring.

5:15 p.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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The best knot for a tarp setup is the Prusik Knot it won't slip and you can adjust it as needed.


6:46 p.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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The tautline, prussik, kleimheist, hedden, autoblock, Bachman, etc are all minor variations on the basic friction knot. The tautline is best for an end-of-cord situation (like a tent guyline). The prussik is a simple ascender version, but tends to jam easily. The kleimheist, its reverse twin the hedden, and cousin the autoblock are fast, can be tied with either cord or tape and don't jam, making them superior as ascender knots.

8:04 p.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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Bill, if I recall correctly, I learned the Bachman years ago from a guy named Turner, who was always trying to show yet another knot--the guy was in eternal overdrive on the subject--and who's favorite remark on seeing someone with a new or unique knot was, "You ain't seen nothing yet." He also regularly ranted about the theft of gear--"Takin' Carabiners" seemed to be a theme song.

8:50 p.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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Perry, your post made me crack up. I was just really lucky that I wasn't drinking milk at that particular moment. I was getting past an "I like pizza Steve" moment. I did it, I resisted the urge, and you came through with flying colors.

10:34 p.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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HAHA That was awesome Perry! Thanks!!! :)

10:55 p.m. on March 3, 2010 (EST)
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wow, that is almost in the same league with the scene in "Master and Commander" where the skipper tells his ship's surgeon that when it comes to bug-infested loaves of bread, "You should always choose the lesser of two weevils."

(ok, as long as we're being silly, wouldn't this be a great band name: Weevil Knievel -- editing to add that my punishment for this digression was discovering that such a band already exists)

1:21 p.m. on March 4, 2010 (EST)
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Back when I was in Scouts, I learned a lot of knots and figured that all possible knots and hitches had been invented and were listed in Clifford Ashley's giant tome. Then as I got more into climbing, I discovered that there were newly invented knots. Eventually, I realized that most knots and hitches are just minor variations on about a dozen basic knots and hitches. Sometimes they are distinguished by one being called the right-handed version and the other the left-handed version. Sometimes they have completely different names, but if you look at them one way and turn it around, you find it is actually the same knot, proving that one Good Turn deserves another.

Basic rule - if the knot works for you, and follows the KISS principle, it is the best knot for the purpose.

Just remember that all knots can be untied in the manner Alexander used to solve the Gordian knot.

7:20 p.m. on March 4, 2010 (EST)
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I may have reached my personal pinnacle of forum funniness. Glad you guys liked it. A flash of inspiration as I saw "Bachman" mentioned, and, well, the rest is history, recorded above.

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