A rope swing is a great addition to the yard and kids (and some adults) will have a great time playing with it. It’s so easy to make your own with a few tools and some rope. However, you need to make sure that the rope is strong enough to be safe, and comfortable to hold onto while swinging.
This guide will show you how to pick out the best rope for a tree swing. It also includes some of my top recommendations you can buy right now.
Table of Contents
- What to Consider When Buying Rope for a Tree Swing?
- 10 Best Ropes for a Tree Swing
- 1. SINYLOO 1/2 inch Twisted Polyester Arborist Rope
- 2. SGT KNOTS Twisted ProManila – UnManila PolyPro Rope
- 3. Amarine Made 5/8 Inch 150 ft Fall Protection Vertical Lifeline Rope
- 4. Manila Rope – Nautical Natural Jute Rope
- 5. DWALE 3/4 inch Double Braid Polyester Arborist Bull Rope
- 6. KingCord Twisted Polypropylene Rope
- 7. YUZENET Braided Polyester Arborist Rigging Rope
- 8. SGT KNOTS 5/8” Arborist Bull Rope – Double Braided Polyester
- 9. Ravenox Twisted True Hemp Rope
- 10. Koch Twisted Polypropylene Rope
- How to Hang a Rope for a Tree Swing
- Can You Use a Tree Swing Hanging Strap?
- What Seat Options Do You Have?
- Rope Swing Related Questions:
- Final Thoughts
What to Consider When Buying Rope for a Tree Swing?
Strength is your main priority because the rope needs to be strong enough to hold a person’s weight. When you are looking for ropes, it’s important to understand how strength is measured. Most ropes will have a tensile strength listed and this figure is calculated by gradually increasing tension in the rope until it snaps. So, does that mean that a rope is more than durable enough as long as the tensile strength is higher than the weight of the person and the swing combined? Unfortunately not, because tensile strength doesn’t equate to working strength.
The working load is a more accurate indication of how strong the rope is. This accounts for the force applied to the rope and the movement etc. Usually, the working load is only about 15-25% of the tensile strength. So, a rope with a tensile strength of 5000 lb will have a maximum working load of 1250 lb.
The average weight of a person is 180 lb, so make sure that the working load of the rope exceeds this. Anything with a tensile strength over 1500 lb should be fine, and most ropes will exceed this, but always double check and do the calculations.
Next, consider the material. Strength is important here but don’t forget about comfort. The rope needs to be comfortable to hold without chafing your hands. Natural ropes made from fibers like hemp and manila may be stronger, but they are also a bit rougher on your hands. They are also more prone to rotting than synthetic materials. Polypropylene is an excellent choice because it’s more comfortable, water-resistant, lightweight, and strong. Nylon should be avoided because it’s difficult to grip.
Length and Diameter
When planning your rope swing, determine how high you want it to be from the ground and measure the distance between the branch and the swing seat. Take this measurement and add about 4-5 years to account for the rope that is wrapped around the branch and tied to the seat.
You also need to get the right diameter to ensure that it is strong enough. That said, if you go too thick, you’ll struggle to tie it in knots. The ideal diameter for tree swings ranges from ⅜” to ⅝”.
Your tree swing will be exposed to the elements so the rope needs to be weather-resistant. Natural materials are not as effective for this. Hemp and manila rot eventually and need to be replaced every few years to ensure that they are safe. Synthetic materials like polypropylene will last a lot longer than that because they are waterproof.
10 Best Ropes for a Tree Swing
1. SINYLOO 1/2 inch Twisted Polyester Arborist Rope
SINYLOO makes a range of climbing ropes that are specifically designed to hold the weight of a person with ease. Their ½ inch Twisted Polyester Arborist Rope is ideal for your tree swing. The durable polyester is designed to withstand acids, oils, grease, and a wide range of chemicals, so it can easily handle a bit of rain. The ½” is the ideal thickness for a tree swing rope and it’s definitely strong enough to hold a person. If you are looking for a high-end synthetic rope, this is the perfect choice.
2. SGT KNOTS Twisted ProManila – UnManila PolyPro Rope
The UnManila PolyPro Rope from SGT KNOTS is a propylene rope that they call a synthetic version of manila fiber rope. It’s more affordable than manila and much stronger too, but it still has the natural tan color so it looks like real manila. This rope is designed to be an all-purpose product that can be used on boats or farms, so it’s very strong and resistant to the elements.
SGT KNOTS is a company built around quality and they don’t deal in any of the cheaper products marketing themselves as high-quality rope. All of their products are reliable and excellent value. You can get this rope in a range of thicknesses from ¼” all the way up to 2” and you can buy it in the length that suits you.
If you want the strength of a synthetic rope but you still like the rustic aesthetic of natural rope, this is an excellent middle ground.
3. Amarine Made 5/8 Inch 150 ft Fall Protection Vertical Lifeline Rope
If it’s strength that you want, this Amarine Made ⅝ inch 150ft Fall Protection Vertical Lifeline Rope is the one to go for. It’s a braided polyester rope designed for rock climbing or boat work. The tensile strength is 6000 lb, so it can comfortably hold 900-1500 lb when used for a rope swing. It’s great value considering how durable it is and it has a snap hook on one end, which can be used to attach the swing if you like.
⅝” is in the ideal diameter range for a tree swing and you can buy it in different lengths. 25 ft should be more than enough for your swing.
4. Manila Rope – Nautical Natural Jute Rope
Although natural ropes are less durable, a good quality rope will still hold up in temperate climates. Many people prefer the natural look of a manila rope and it’s nice and soft on the hands, which is ideal for a tree swing. It can be slightly rough to begin with but the fibers naturally soften over time. This Manila Rope – Nautical Natural Jute Rope is twisted from 4 strands, so it’s nice and strong. It’s thicker than many other options on this list but they do offer a ¾” option, which will work well.
If you live in an especially wet climate, you should consider a synthetic rope instead of a natural one. However, this durable manila rope will work perfectly in a moderate climate and it has a nice rustic look that works great with a tree swing.
5. DWALE 3/4 inch Double Braid Polyester Arborist Bull Rope
The DWALE ¾ inch Double Braid Polyester Arborist Bull Rope is another extremely durable synthetic rope. The premium polyester is double braided for extra tensile strength, and it is heavily resistant to moisture, UV rays, dirt, and chemical damage. The working load of this rope is 2250 lb so it’s more than strong enough for your tree swing. The ends are cut with hot melt technology to prevent the rope from coming apart too.
As long as the tree swing itself is well-built, you won’t have any problems with this rope for years to come. It’s also very smooth and comfortable to hold onto. You have the option of ½” or ¾” in diameter but you will have to buy a 100 ft length. That said, it’s an excellent multipurpose rope so having some extra is no bad thing.
6. KingCord Twisted Polypropylene Rope
This KingCord Twisted Polypropylene Rope is a standard synthetic rope that is strong enough for tree swings and many other high-intensity applications like cutting trees down. It’s a very strong twisted polypropylene rope that has a working load of 1000 lb and doesn’t stretch too much either. It also knots very easily, which is ideal when you are trying to fix the seat on your tree swing and hang the rope on the branch.
The yellow color isn’t right for everybody, especially if you are looking for a rustic feel, but it goes well with a kids tree swing and this rope is more than strong enough. The ¾” diameter is great for a rope swing, but you also have the option of ⅜”.
7. YUZENET Braided Polyester Arborist Rigging Rope
YUZENET Braided Polyester Arborist Rigging Rope is a very high-tech rope that is specially designed for maximum strength and flexibility. The inner core is made from 48 braided polyester strands, with an outer coating made from tightly woven polyester wires. This gives it excellent tensile strength with a smooth, comfortable outer surface. It also allows it to be more flexible.
This rope has a tensile strength of 3520 lb, giving it a working strength of 528-880 lb. Although not the strongest rope you can buy, it’s plenty enough for a tree swing and the unique design makes it very hard-wearing. Compared with standard polyester, this rope is more flexible and easier to knot, and more comfortable to hold when swinging.
8. SGT KNOTS 5/8” Arborist Bull Rope – Double Braided Polyester
This SGT KNOTS ⅝” Arborist Bull Rope is one of the strongest polyester ropes that money can buy. It boasts a tensile strength of 10,000 lb, giving it a working strength of 1500-2500 lb. While you don’t need this much strength for a tree swing, it’s good to be sure that it can hold the weight without any doubt in your mind, especially if it’s a family swing.
This amazing strength is achieved with double braided polyester strands that have very little stretch in them. They’re also incredibly resistant to UV and weathering, so you can rely on this rope in any conditions.
9. Ravenox Twisted True Hemp Rope
If you are looking for an eco-friendly option, this Ravenox Twisted True Hemp Rope is perfect. Hemp is a completely natural, sustainable material that can be used to make a very strong rope. It’s more hard-wearing than other natural rope fibers, although not as tough as synthetic options.
However, if you want a more sustainable choice, that’s the sacrifice you make. Hemp is also very soft, so it makes an excellent choice for tree swings. You may have to change this rope more often in wet climates, but it is still a great choice for your tree swing.
10. Koch Twisted Polypropylene Rope
Some of the super strong ropes designed to withstand any application can get quite expensive. But if you are working to a budget, you can still get a good quality rope. This Koch Twisted Polypropylene Rope is still incredibly strong and weather resistant, and it’s not harsh on the hands either. It is flexible enough to easily tie in knots too.
While this probably won’t last as long as an expensive double braided rope designed for boating use, it will still outperform natural fibers and make a great tree swing.
How to Hang a Rope for a Tree Swing
1. Pick the Right Branch
Choosing the right branch is so important because it needs to be strong enough to hold the weight of the swing and a person on it. As a general rule, you should stick to hardwood trees like oak, maple, and sycamore. Evergreen trees are usually weaker and the branches snap easily.
Make sure that the tree is in good health too. It should have a full canopy of leaves in summer and be free from cracks, pests, and signs of rot. Once you are happy with the tree, look for a specific branch. You need 3-4 feet of space between the trunk and the swing, but you don’t want to be too close to the end of the branch or it will sag. Ideally, it should be 10-15 feet off the ground. Make sure that it is 8-10 inches in diameter so it is strong enough to take the weight.
2. Put Rubber Tubing on the Branch
Once you have found the right branch, you can start attaching your swing. If you put rope straight around the tree, it will strangle the branch as it grows and eventually kill it. So, for a long-term solution, you should put rubber tubing over the branch to prevent friction damaging the branch.
3. Attach the Rope
Once the rubber tubing is in place, you are ready to attach the rope. Tie it over the rubber tubing using a slip knot. This allows the knot to expand as the tree grows, so it is not damaged. You can find a tutorial on tying a slip knot here if you don’t know how to do one.
Alternative Option: Use Eyebolts
If you have a large branch and you want a permanent solution, you could consider using eyebolts instead. Pick some large eyebolts that are longer than the branch is thick. Drill through the brand and fix two eyebolts with a washer and nut on top to hold them in place. You can then tie the role through the eyebolts.
Can You Use a Tree Swing Hanging Strap?
Yes, the easiest option is a tree swing hanging strap. Instead of tying slip knots or drilling holes for eyebolts, you can fix a ready-made strap over the branch. These straps have a carabiner at the end to fix the ropes onto. This is a much simpler option and you can get affordable straps in different lengths to fit any tree.
These Tree Swing Hanging Straps on Amazon can hold 2000 lb and they’re so simple to use.
What Seat Options Do You Have?
You have several options for the seat on your swing. A simple wooden board attached to the ropes at either end works brilliantly. An old tire is a great budget option too. You can buy rubber swing seats as well and these will stand up to the weather better than wood, which needs to be refinished regularly. If you don’t want to put a seat on at all, you can make a large knot at the end of the rope.
As long as it is comfortable and you fix it securely to the ropes, you can get creative with your seat choices.
Rope Swing Related Questions:
Why Avoid Nylon Rope for a Rope Swing?
Nylon is one of the strongest rope materials there is, so why not use it for a swing? Firstly, it is very slippery so it can be unsafe if you can’t hold on properly. Secondly, it stretches a lot so regular use will extend the rope and the swing will sit too close to the ground.
What is Knot Retention and Why is it Important?
When a rope is knotted, you sacrifice strength. This is because the rope is bent in different ways, meaning that fibers on the outside take more of the load and fibers on the inside take much less. Ultimately, this means that when you knot a rope, it loses some of the strength quoted by the manufacturer. In some cases, this strength loss can be up to 50%.
When you are planning your swing and purchasing ropes, it’s vital that you overcompensate for this strength loss and pick a rope that has more than enough strength to hold a person, even after it is knotted.
How Long Will a Rope Swing Last?
A rope swing will last, on average, 5 years with regular use. After this, you should consider changing the rope to make sure that it is safe. That said, it depends on the type of rope you use. For example, a double braided polyester rope could easily last longer than 5 years. A manila rope, on the other hand, is far more prone to moisture damage so may need to be replaced sooner.
How Much Weight Should a Rope Swing Hold?
A rope swing should be able to comfortably hold an adult. This is difficult because everybody weighs a different amount. As a guide, the average adult man weighs around 180 lb. However, some people are over this average so you may want to push it further. If you aim for 200 lb, which is easily manageable with the quality ropes listed above, the majority of people should be safe.
It’s not worth risking a cheap rope when building a tree swing. It is dangerous and you will have to keep replacing it as it is degraded by the weather. Instead, go for a tough rope that can definitely hold enough weight without breaking, so you can be sure that everybody is safe.
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.