With lots of new people currently getting into rope in London one of the most common questions I encounter is, “what rope should I buy?” It’s not an easy question to answer directly because there are so many pros and cons to different ropes, and it’s primarily down to personal choice. For these reasons, the following “review” is an attempt at giving an description of the physical characteristics of a very well-treated jute rope from a local south of England-based supplier.
Benjamin sources his raw jute ropes from Esinem (who essentially supplies almost all the high quality jute you can buy in the UK) and treats the ropes according to his own formula. The technique basically involves burning off the rope fuzzies, boiling the rope, drying it properly, softening it over a carabinier and finally applying a special paste made from a blend of pure camellia oil and beeswax. You could of course try doing all this yourself but it takes a lot of practise to get good results consistently, and you need space to dry the ropes under tension to prevent them from shrinking.
The first thing I noticed about Benjamin’s tossa jute is how different it felt from Esinem‘s, despite being the same source rope. The surface of the rope is far smoother, so it slides through the hands easily. If you prefer a slightly rougher rope try Jakara or Esinem. There is just a hint of the oil/wax paste present on the surface of the ropes when you first get them, but this goes away soon after you start using them (I think it either sinks in, or the excess rubs off).
The rope also feels very flexible, and it almost feels like the weave has been slightly loosened by treatment. Personally, I like this because I prefer looser weave ropes, however I know many riggers prefer a tight weave. This is a two ply rope, so the weaves keep their twist naturally, making it a very low maintenance rope and therefore good for people starting out.
Benjamin’s tossa jute is available in both golden and blonde colours. I have only personally tried the gold version but I think the blonde version is of the same high quality.
Reviews of other types/sources of rope will be posted as we try them.