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Tow Ropes buying guide

Planning for a perfect summer break exploring water fun? If yes, it's time to unfold an adventurous summer experience with an excellent tow rope.

Owning a good quality tow rope will surely help create a plethora of life-long moments in the water. However, purchasing a tow rope with all the desirable features is tough due to high market competition.

Keep reading this guide to know about all the noteworthy features so that you can get the best tow rope for your unforgettable water event!

What are the tow ropes? Why do you need them?

If you are fond of water sports, you must have heard of a tow rope before. Summer is not complete without boating. People wait for summer to enjoy several types of water activities like tubing, wakeboarding, water skiing, and more. For all this summer fun, what you need the most is a tow rope. Having a tow rope with the right length, stretchability, and breaking strength can have an enjoyable riding experience on the water.

There are some essential benefits of a tow rope as following:

  1. This rope will help you to ride your waterboard and water ski correctly.
  2. A tow rope works as a vital gear to ride behind your boat.
  3. Also, this rope makes the water sports more entertaining.
  4. If you choose the right length of the tow rope, you will be able to ride the wake at a faster speed.

Difference between recovery ropes and tow ropes

There are some specific differences between a recovery rope and a tow rope. So, when it comes to buying a tow rope for your boat, you must choose it correctly. Knowing the differences in advance will help you to make the right decision.

Recovery straps are also used in recovering immobilized vehicles, whereas the tow straps are specifically designed for water activities. Significant differences are given below—

  1. Stretching

Stretchability is essential for all recovery ropes. These ropes release the stored kinetic energy after stretching, which helps to move the immobilized vehicles. So, recovery ropes are safer than metal chains to recover a vehicle that is stuck.

However, the tow straps are not able to move stuck vehicles. So, this type of ropes is usually used in water activities like tubing, wakeboarding, water skiing, etc.

  1. Material

Majorly, nylon is used in making recovery ropes because of its high density. It also has better elasticity. On the other hand, a non-elastic material, namely Spectra, is used for non-stretch tow straps. Low-stretch tow straps are made out of polypropylene. Recovering straps have a higher density than the tow straps.

  1. Contact points

You can install the hooks easily to recover the immobilized vehicles. But if any part gets damaged or broken, it may harm you. But tow straps are designed with latch hooks, which makes these straps safer than the recovery straps. These hooks are not appropriate for recovery ropes. So, for recovery ropes, eye loops are used to ensure maximum safety.

Need to read a proper buying guide before making a choice

With several products in the market, it is tiresome to evaluate every characteristic and select the best tow-rope. The buying guide provides you with all the necessary information to help you get basic knowledge about the different aspects of the product.

So, while evaluating the choices, you can easily filter out the products and select the suitable one.

Now let us get into the characteristics of the product.

Types of tow ropes

When you are going to buy a tow rope, you will find a wide range of variety, and if you are not aware of the differences, it will be challenging to choose the right one for you. Different kinds of tow rope are available in the market that are used for various purposes. The major types include—

  1. Wakeboard ropes

Usually, three types of wakeboard ropes are found: no-stretch ropes, low-stretch ropes, and multipurpose ropes.

No-stretch ropes are made up of Spectra, which does not have any electricity, and it is lightweight as well. Polyethylene is mainly used to construct low-stretch cables, which are perfect for recreational riders. Multipurpose ropes are for both the beginners and recreational water skiers.

Generally, wakeboard ropes have a length between 60 and 70 feet.

Wakeboards handles are wider, so they provide more durable grips which help the riders to perform tricks. These handles are designed with neoprene foam, allowing them to float correctly.

  1. Water ski ropes

Including the handles, the length of water ski ropes is 75 feet, and without handle length, it is 70 feet.

These ropes are designed with polypropylene, so they become a little stretchable. Also, they have a shock-absorbent feature and provide tighter grips for the water ski riders.

Take off is for making the loop shorter or longer as per your convenience. In a standard rope, there is a maximum of 10 colored sections for take-off.

  1. Kneeboard ropes

No-stretch ropes have almost zero elasticity because they are composed of Spectra material. These ropes absorb less moisture, so they are appropriate for water. Low-stretch cables have better flexibility than the previous type. Both beginners and recreational riders can use multipurpose cables.

Though the length of the rope may vary, it has a range from 60 to 70 feet.

Kneeboard handles ensure tighter grips for the riders, and with these grips, it is easy to perform tricks. Sometimes, these ropes provide a second grip, which is smaller in size.

  1. Tube ropes

The typical water ski ropes are not appropriate for tubing. Compared to a decent water ski rope, the tube ropes are less stretchable and have more break strengths. You should always choose a tube rope according to the recommended specifications.

It is suggested to pick up a tube rope with a length between 50' and 65,' but you should not be set to that limit.

Both ends of the rope have a loop that ensures a fast and secure connection.

  1. Wakesurf ropes

Wakesurf ropes come with a knotted structure which supports the surfers to keep them closer to the boats. It is how they will be able to find the prime spot where they can hit a wake easily.

Commonly, wake surf ropes provide you with a smaller handle. Some cables have foam pads or knots to make the handle. The shorter handles are safer for the wake surfers.

These ropes are shorter in length, and they are extended up to 26 feet. It is useful to pull the surfers slowly and keeps them closer to the boats.

Things to deem about while selecting an appropriate Tow Ropes

  1. Material type

Typically, the construction of tow ropes consists of two materials, and the elasticity of the lines directly depends on those materials.

  • No-stretch ropes

There is a material named Spectra, which is used in making these ropes. Because of this material, this type of tow straps become very durable and robust.

This Spectra material has zero elasticity, so the ropes can not be stretched. These ropes are also less water-absorbent, which makes them appropriate for different watersports such as wakeboarding, kneeboarding, etc.

These ropes are also useful for snow as they do not absorb moisture, and they can last long. Though these non-stretch tow straps made of Spectra are lightweight, they have more strength than steel.

  • Low-stretch ropes

Nylon or polyethylene is mainly used in low-stretch tow straps. Therefore, they become a little bit stretchable. These ropes have 2-3% elasticity, which is ideal for beginners and recreational riders.

Moreover, these ropes come with shock-absorbent features helping them to work effectively during towing.

These ropes are also resistant to water. The polypropylene protects the cables from UV rays and makes them more durable. Also, the nylon supports the tow-ropes with its increased break strength.

  1. Length

When you are about to buy tow ropes for different watersports, including wakeboarding, tubing, wake surfing, etc. you should look for a rope with the proper length. The right length of the cables does not matter for vehicles. But you must pay attention if you are buying these for recreational purposes.

For the beginners, the wakeboard ropes should be at least 65 feet long. If you choose a tow rope for tubing, the length of the cord should be less than 50 feet and make sure the length does not exceed 65 feet. However, the rope length may vary for other watersports.

  1. Contact point strength

Before buying a tow rope, you should keep in mind that the loops at both ends and latch hooks in the connection points are more likely to be damaged by wear and year. Because of higher friction, these points become the weakest on a rope.

Though the ropes usually come with the highest strength, you should be careful while choosing. You should look for protective padding that is made up of the top quality protective material.

So choosing the right quality of the materials also matters. Neoprene is considered the most durable material for the contact points because it is resistant to weather and has a high abrasion feature.

  1. Capacity

The capacity of your recreational tow ropes must be considered before making a purchase. Sometimes, the capacity refers to the lines' breaking-capacity, and the pound is used to measure this capacity.

The first step in choosing the right capacity for your boat is to know the accurate weight of the boat. So you can select a tow rope with higher breaking strength.When you buy a tow rope for tubing or wakeboarding, make sure that the cable can withstand a specific capacity depending on the number of riders.

If you are picking up a rope for your own, there will be no point in choosing a cable having a capacity of two or more riders. It may make the line heavier and thus stop you from using the rope comfortably.

  1. Ease of use

It will be extremely disgusting if it takes long hours to install and uninstall the hooks to the anchor. Therefore, you need a tow rope that is user-friendly and provides a firm grip without much effort.

Also, be sure about the portability to get the highest support for recovering. You can choose a strap that is designed with D-ring shackles. They will help you with rapid extraction. Most of the tow straps available in the market are equipped with these shackles, making them easier to use.

  1. Hook and handle

It is better to look for tow ropes with bigger hooks. A right hook not only does support in vehicle recovery but also eliminates the needs of additional hooks and thus saves your expenses.

Besides hooks, handles also have an essential role in ensuring a tight grip for the riders. Usually, the riders use high-quality hand gloves for the waterboard tows or water ski tows. Nevertheless, a perfect handle size is necessary for comfortable holding.

At first, measure the size of your hand with accuracy and select the handle's diameter accordingly. It is very natural to get confused with the variety of tow straps and their different lengths. So take your time to understand the differences correctly, and finally, you will be aware enough to get the right handle and hooks for your tow rope.

  1. Coating

Tow ropes that are used explicitly for recreational riding are protected with waterproof coatings. So, they comfortably work in moisture and water. Moreover, premium quality ropes are resistant to weather and UV rays, which means the lines will not get damaged easily. In simple words, suitable coatings ensure the longevity and durability of the tow straps.

Some tow straps are made up of the highest standard materials, which are naturally protected by these coatings. On the other hand, some ropes have extraordinary UV ray resistant coatings. Also, some tow-cables are coated with adhesives.

With these coatings, the durability of the tow straps increases to a great extent and does not get tangled easily.

Therefore, it will be wise to get a tow rope coated with waterproof and UV ray proof materials to make sure you are allowed to use the lines for a long time.

  1. Durability

You must check the strength of the tow straps you are choosing to buy. Bear in mind that better quality materials ensure higher durability.

So, you should not think twice about spending a little more for the best materials. The no-stretch and low-stretch ropes are designed with strong and sturdy materials that provide the cables with better longevity.

Another critical factor that matters a lot for the durability is coating. Always try to find out a tow rope that is resistant to moisture and UV rays, and thus you can use them for any type of watersports hassle-free.

  1. Portability

Usually, the tow straps used in recreational riding are available with a standard length. Some ropes have smaller handles where some do not have any handle at all.

Also, the basic materials of these ropes are lightweight, which means they do not add much weight to the lines. As a result, these tow-straps become very light, and you can carry them without much effort.

As they are lighter, they are travel-friendly as well. So, it is recommended to buy a tow rope that is easy to carry.

  1. UV and weather resistance

Considering the weather resistance features of the tow ropes will be beneficial for the buyers in terms of longevity and durability.

Most of the high-quality tow straps are designed with weatherproof and UV proof materials to protect the ropes from the harshest weather conditions.

Usually, nylon and polypropylene are used to construct these ropes, and both the materials are less absorbent to moisture and water. So you can use the cables in wet places without worrying about any damage. Moreover, these materials are capable of protecting the ropes from mold and fungus even after being used in water for a long time.

These materials can also withstand extreme conditions like heat, snow, ice, so you can use these ropes anywhere you want without any issues.

  1. Breaking strength

If you do not check the breaking strength of your tow rope, it may break the tow rope while using it. So, you should not overlook this factor and make sure the line works properly without collapsing.

You are suggested to choose a tow rope with a higher breaking strength, and for safety use, you may go for a cable with more strength. In simple words, you must consider a rope that is stronger enough to handle the weight of the riders.

So, go through the specifications carefully to know the breaking strength of your tow rope to avoid any accident.

How to attach the tow rope with the boat?

If you are a beginner recreational rider, you may find it difficult to attach the tow rope with your boats. Therefore, you need to learn the right way to tie the tow ropes perfectly, and it is not that difficult. You need a lot of practice and experience to master the technique.

Nowadays, you will find many boats that are equipped with wakeboard towers and wakeboard tower speakers as well. Otherwise, there will be a hook on the backside. You can use the hooks to attach your tow rope to the boat.

Whichever system you have, they will help you to keep the rope above the water level. Also, it will not get hooked around the prop. For wakeboard tow straps, you can find a specific end to connect the hooks easily.

You just need to remember that it should be twined around the eyelet and then tighten it correctly.


  1. Is it right to tie a tow rope with a recovery strap?

No, tying a recovery strap with a tow rope is not at all a good idea. It is because a recovery strap is elastic while a tow strap consists of either low or no-elastic material. Thus, when you combine them, you will not be able to use it properly due to uneven pressure distribution leading to unsafe removal.

  1. Is there no need to tie a tow rope?

Yes, nowadays, tow ropes do not need to be tied as they are already equipped with loops. They can be attached to the boat from one side and held from the other. Thus, it eliminates the need to tie it at all.

  1. Will the tow rope break with the heavyweight?

No, the tow ropes usually come with an immense breaking strength as they need to handle your entire weight without any hassle. Even the least breaking capacity of such cables start with 2000lbs. It means that you always get an assurance that the tow-cable will never break no matter you try wakeboarding or any other water sports involving tow rope.

  1. Are the tow ropes versatile?

No, tow ropes are not versatile. You cannot use one type of tow rope for any other purpose as each cord is designed according to the characteristic operation that it will perform later. Thus, you need to buy separate tow ropes based upon your specific need.

The Final Verdict

Planning to enjoy some thrilling water sports this summer? An ideal tow rope is just the right thing to invest in. Mind you! It is a worthy long-term investment to cherish water adventures in the years to come.

After all, we bet you'll love it and would want to do it every summer!

So, go through this guide once to know what features you need to look at while buying the right tow rope. We are sure it will make it easier for you to choose the best one with the apt length and strength. / - © Copyright 2020