The other day an intermediate climber friend of mine mentioned something to me about having some cord that he got from RONA and was thinking of using for prusiks and ice-tool umbilicals: my hair nearly stood on end, because there’s a problem with some commercial general-purpose cord and rope these days: There’s a new type of utility rope and cord in hardware stores, etc. that may look good to a climber but is dangerous. Climbers who occasionally go to Wal-Mart or Home Depot, etc. to buy cheap leave-behind cord need to know that and be very careful of what they’re getting.
That kind of cord looks like regular UIAA-approved kernmantle and comes in similar colors and patterns, but may be a poor woven sheath over a core of something like paper towel — with 1/10th the strength of UIAA cord and almost no elasticity. A 1/4″ or 6mm cord wouldn’t hold anything near 100lb or 45kg.
Two Kinds of Bad Hardware Store Cord, Showing ‘Paper Towel’ Filler
This stuff is almost useless, and should be rejected for any practical use at all–even around home, as for bundling or tying down loads.
Standard instruction and advice in climbing is to use only UIAA- approved cords and ropes for all uses in climbing anyway — so why should I even bring this up?: because many climbers will still use industrial cord especially for rappel slings because of their low cost and so expendability; now they have a new hazard to watch out for because of the present trends in glitz marketing of junk.
Go to the Safety page under the “Resources” tab for more comments and information on this subject: as Case #11.