Rope ladders can have many uses and get used in lots of situations. Some rope ladders are used for fun like rope swings, access to tree houses through to obstacle courses and fire escape.
Some are used for practical reasons like rope ladders on boats (and ships) at sea.
The most serious situation they are used for is for emergency egress from fire when trying to escape from high rise buildings.
Rope is one of the most accessible materials when it comes to making rope ladders. All you need is rope and something to tie it off with (like a piece of wood).
You can make everything from simple rope ladders that just act as bridges across gaps, to complex ones that use knots and loops in interesting ways. The only limits are your imagination!
These can be really fun to make if you are that way inclined. If not, there are plenty of ready made solutions to choose from.
Rope can come in many forms which mainly divide as natural fibre and synthetic fibre.
Natural fibres include hemp, linen, cotton, coir (like the matting you wipe your feet on!), jute, straw and sisal.
Sisal is typically used also to polish metal when mounted on a disc.
Synthetic fibres include polypropylene, nylon, polyester, polyethylene and acrylic. The synthetic varieties are commonly used for salt water environments.
These are also really strong once they are set up so can bear a lot of weight before breaking which is what makes them great for getting out of high rise buildings in emergencies.
Lots of rope ladder designs use loops which spread the load across each strand so it’s less likely any one strand will snap under pressure.
There are so many uses for rope ladders that it is impossible to list them all here but hopefully this article will give you the basics on how rope ladders work and where they get used.
Kids love climbing ladders and may also have a trampoline. We have a trampoline ladder article for you here.
Bunk bed rope ladders
A popular use for a rope ladder is for attaching to a bunk bed for children which they love. This gives them the opportunity to have rope ladders as part of their play with minimal risk of injury or falling off unlike if they were free standing.
This becomes important once children are over the age of three because it becomes difficult to convince them not to climb something that is clearly a ladder, however dangerous it may be without one attached.
Of course some parents prefer this more traditional method which some companies specialize in. They make rope ladders for bunk beds for children who like climbing rope ladders into bed where possible.
A bunk bed rope ladder can encourage children to go to bed and give them something to look forward to at bed time.
This can help a child form a bond with going to sleep in their own bed. There are rope ladders designed specifically for climbing into a bunk bed which can be helpful if your child becomes scared at night or just likes rope ladders!
These have loops spaced along them to help spread the weight and prevent breaks.
There are also safety conscious rope ladders with different designs to ensure children cannot climb them unless they know how to use it safely which is great if you don’t want your kids tempted to climb up something without you knowing about it.
Presenting, The Telescopic Ladder
The ingenious Telescopic ladder could be the only ladder you’d ever need. Easy to store, use inside and outside and easy to transport!
Rope ladder for a treehouse
Another popular use for a rope ladder is for a tree house. Sometimes not really thought of as a necessity but they are actually very useful, especially for tree houses.
They can help you access a rope bridge or other platforms without having to climb up or down fixed ladders every time.
They also make it easier if you need to bring something up to your tree house like supplies, tools, toys etc, which is why most rope ladders made specifically for tree houses tend to be rather large and stable.
You might even want two rope ladders in case one breaks (although the chances of this happening with a good rope ladder is very small).
Using a rope ladder to access a treehouse can be much more fun than a fixed ladder and also a lot more flexible.
It can also be used as a swing which a fixed ladder obviously cannot.
Rope ladders can come in all sorts of different designs and styles depending on what your needs are. You could even think about a “cargo” net rope ladder!
Most rope ladders will have carabiners attached on the ends of the rope. This means that they can loop over tree branches or solid timber beams in a treehouse easily and safely.
Rope ladders for lofts
Not traditionally thought of as a go to access solution for a loft but a rope ladder can make for a really fun and cheap solution for kids who have a boarded out play area in a roof space.
They can be attached to beams or rope rails and offer easy access for children who want their privacy or an adult free space.
There is also a wide choice between rungs, rope ladders with rope instead of steps, or rope ladders which use loops instead of steps.
This flexibility means that you get the best access solution for your situation which you can make as fun and safe as possible by choosing parts based on what your kids will enjoy using most.
Fire escape rope ladder
One of the most important uses for a rope ladder would be for an emergency when escape is necessary from a high rise dwelling. It is not uncommon for rope ladders to be used in this type of emergency.
Stairwells can be blocked and lifts can be out of action due to fire. Being prepared for these types of situations can only be a good thing.
Purpose made specific fire escape rope ladders can either be attached to balcony railings with carabiners or hooked over a window casement with a hook attachment.
For anyone living in a high rise situation, this is a serious consideration.
Rope ladders for boats
Rope ladders are a great solution on boats as they are quick and easy to attach or install. Mostly used for access and egress from the water and back up onto a boat.
They can also be used for accessing higher decks or platforms for maintenance.
Rope ladders are mostly found on boats that travel short distances and spend time in the water, like cruisers or fishing boats.
Most rope ladders will attach to either a vertical rope guide rail (this is what holds the rope ladder together) or they will be tied between two points with rope loops at each end.
Rope ladders allow you to have an easy access solution without making permanent changes to the outside of a boat.
Once again having different types of rope ladder available can ensure that you get the best rope ladder for your situation.
Rope ladders that are well made, have carabiners and rope guides should be able to hold plenty of weight (up to 400kg).
If you need one with large rungs or even small steps like rope ladders used on boats, there should be options available to suit your needs.
A rope ladder that will be resistant to salt water will need to be chosen in this situation.
The Combination stair ladder!
The combination stair ladder not only has the flexibility to adjust to suit your stair type, it’s combination types are perfect for all those inside and outside jobs!
Rope ladders for cats
One final use for a rope ladder is for domestic cat access. Cats love rope ladders as they are easy to climb and offer a safe way up and down from places that cats would not normally be able to access.
There are a wide range of rope ladder designs available. You can even find a rope ladder for your cats to sit on, slightly off the floor with flat steps attached.
It can attach onto a wall so it can dangle and swing as they move up and down to keep them amused! These options should all be available.
Varieties of rope ladder made specifically for cats come in both natural jute rope or plastic rope which has an almost rope like feel but does require less care than jute rope.
Rope ladders for cats will also offer different types of grip such as rubber rope which always has a slightly tacky feel to it.
These types of rope for cats are great as they offer good grip but also give just enough under weight so they do not damage furniture or fall off easily.
As you can see, there are many uses for a rope ladder. Some of them might seem obvious, like using one attached to a treehouse, but others may be less so.
No matter what your situation is, there should be some way in which you can use a rope ladder to easily access an area where you need to be (so long as you’re not too afraid of heights).
The rope ladder’s utility is fairly obvious. It allows you to climb to a higher location with relative ease and without the use of complicated equipment. Where there is rope, there can be a rope ladder.
Wherever rope can be tied in a knot, that rope can also become part of a rope ladder. The uses for rope ladders are many.
They’re simple but effective tools that allow us to access places or escape more easily than we could with stairs or ladders.
The rope ladder deserves its place on this list of useful survival tools because it offers something no other tool does, simplicity.
When you look at all of the complex technologies available today, it’s easy to forget how useful simplicity really is.
Do you have a conservatory that needs cleaning? You can read our article on how to access your conservatory safely here!