> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Cordage: Bankline



Cordage: Bankline

Photo courtesy Vigilant Gear.
I'm not sure if he's the person who brought it into the survivalist consciousness, but I first heard about bankline from Dave Canterbury.

Many of you probably have rolls of bankline floating around your retreats, but for those unfamiliar with the stuff, it's tarred line used for fishing - the tar helps prevent rot, and it's not meant for wee little fishies - it comes in test strengths like 160 lbs and 340 lbs.

It's not as strong as paracord, but it's also lighter and cheaper on a per foot basis, and there are many cordage jobs that just don't require 550 pounds of strength.

Because it's tarred, bank line holds up well to the elements and won't unravel when cut - there's no need to melt the ends as you do with paracord. It also ties knots quite well - the tackiness helps the knots hold - though untying those knots can be a little trickier than with other kinds of cordage.

One standout area for bankline is the ability to unravel the individual strands for finer tasks or tasks that don't require the given weight. Yes, you can do this with paracord, but the inner core strands of paracord can be difficult to work with. Individual bank line strands are quite a bit easier to work with and retain all the properties of the complete cordage.

Great for dummy cords, camp crafts, shelter building and a host of other uses - a 250 foot roll is an easy addition to a bag and should see plenty of use! It's become my go-to cordage to add to pocket kits, too.

I got my bankline from T-Blog sponsor, Vigilant Gear. Check 'em out!


    Carry something to burn it
    Carry something to cut it
    Carry something to tie it

    Yup, it passes easily, the test of 'do I really need this thing'

    Buy it if you can't make it, and carry it if you can't haul it. Also, kill it if you can't grow it and protect it if you can't replace it. And with ANYTHING that you don't want to lose, tie it down to your gear or it will fall off; eventually.

  2. I am less likely to use bankline for dummy cording things (as it is sort of tarry), but I agree with how it holds and ease of use. I am curious though how animals react to the smell of bankline when making traps, etc.

  3. I can't say enough good things about Dave Canterbury and hope he continues to make contributions to the various communities of like minded people in the future. I suspect the tarring was first used by sailors to give them "purchase" or better hold and control of heavy loads heaved to by line/rope. Then when I used bank line I noticed how this coating made it easier to harness friction and make a know tighter and use more knots more effectively. So is it to prevent rot, improve grip or make knots more secure? I don't know but it does all these things.

  4. This stuff is by no means perfect, but it is very, very useful. I love it.

    If nothing else, get a roll, and replace all those useless elastic and bead zipper pulls on all your gear with a 2-3inch long "survival bracelet braid /cobra knot" strip with a loop you can loop and thread thru the zipper. A foot or 2 of bankline has a lot more uses than a 1inch piece of elastic. Braided mason twine is also handy for really small zippers.

    The tarring is an old maritime tradition - this size twine used to be hemp or cotton or linen, in the 'old days', pre-nylon. It was called "marline" or just "small stuff" by old-time sailors and fishermen, and used for whippings or seizings, or "worming and serving" on larger twisted lines, or for repairing nets. The tar helped waterproof the line and helped prevent rot.

  5. God Bless Dave Canterbury, he keeps it real and passing along / teaching survival for the masses without asking for much in return is a rare animal indeed. I knew of bank line (trot lines are popular in the South) but I never thought of it as a product for survival. Pretty inexpensive too, compared to 550 cord. I have at least 10 300 yard reels in my preps, maybe $50.

  6. Used the stuff for years. Many a catfish ended up in the boat off a trot line made with the stuff... For the stuff i have two pieces unravelled and rebraided in a 4 plat will make a fine improvised bowstring...

    PS: Squirrels never seemed to notice the "tar" smell, nor rabbits neither...

  7. Before I went to Dave's basic and advanced courses, I was a firm believer in 550 cord. Now, I like bank line a lot better. Bank line is better for setting up primitive traps and it's definitely strong enough.