Bushcrafters, backpackers, and survival experts know the importance of cordage in a survival situation. The list of applications is lengthy and includes: making shelters, trapping small game, and making a tourniquet to stop bleeding. But if you are caught without any para-cord on hand, not to worry: people have been making rope out of grass for thousands of years.
How realistic is the idea of making rope out of grass? We asked survival expert and co-owner of ESEE Knives and Randall’s Adventure & Training, Mike Perrin. Perrin points out that in some regions, rope is still made this way. “In parts of South America, what you do is take small bundles of fiber and roll them on the inside of your thigh. Keep feeding fiber in, pulling it with one hand and twisting with the other.” Perrin emphasized that the key to a strong rope is in the twist. “It increases the strength of the cordage a hell of a lot… it’s why all the metal cable you see is twisted – you don’t ever see metal cable that’s just bundled wire.”
With nothing more than a knife, grass, and two hands, this YouTuber teaches how to quickly weave grass into usable rope in this video.
Natural rope can have surprising strength. Perrin remembers a striking example from Peru, where two villages collaborate yearly on the construction of a rope bridge spanning a gorge that would otherwise separate their communities. “They make it starting with fiber, twisting it into cords, twisting those into larger bundles… they keep going ‘till they have rope strong enough to make a bridge.”