Soft Shackle & Eye Loop

Do-It-Yourself Soft Shackle and anker rope with Eye Loop ends using HMPE rope

You can find many excellent instruction videos on making your own soft shackle. This is about my research into making them. It seems that making your own soft shackle is well established in nautical community. Whereas the off-road community does not accept home-made soft shackles. I can see the liability concerns, but my thought is that recovery is already a very dangerous exercise. I watched too many recovery videos with a winch where the top priority was to get a video for YouTube instead of safety. In my opinion, the biggest issue is not the material, it is the people.

Tow Rope with Eye Loop ends With the success of our Soft Shackles, we bought 35 meter of the 5/16" HMPE rated at 13,700 lb. The one in the picture is the 12 meter Tow Rope, we have another 21 meter rope. The Eye Loop has proven to be strong in our quick test with a 1000 kg HMPE rope. I cranked the HiLift Jack to the ropes breaking point. It did NOT break in the loop.
It is very likely that the tow rope(s) will be used folded which doubles the breaking strength. They are very light and fold to a small package for easy storage.

Recovlery Ring and Soft Shackle We ordered a Recovery Ring 41,000 lb aluminium. We got the ring without the Soft Shackle for $27 from Aliexpress. This was the only place where we could order the ring without the Soft Shackle. Both the ring and shackle are around $45. These prices include shipping to Canada.

I found an interesting article from English Braids about HMPE and Dyneemaź. HMPE is short for High Modulus Polyethylene and Dyneemaź is a brand. Generic HMPE ropes may not be produced with the consistent quality as Dyneemaź ropes.
The lifespan of the rope very much depends on the use and care. Read and follow the manufacturer instructions.Think about it, the rope in your winch is exposed to the elements like water, sand, mud, ice and salt. Clean and dry them regularly and after each use. The same goes with the soft shackle.

All soft shackles will lose their strength over time. Replace them after a few years or frequent use. Well, the same is true for the winch ropes.

Soft Shackle break test
After watching several break tests, the wisdom I got out of it is:
icon A soft shackle breaks at the loop
icon A soft shackle strength is higher than the rating of the rope
If you buy a rope, HMPE or Dyneemaź, it is likely not to snap until the rope strength is exceeded. The knot may be an issue, so make every effort to have a tight knot and feed the tapered ends inside the rope. That is by no means a rule or my recommendation, just an observation.

The rope
Let's start with ropes I found @ AliExpress. The vendors from a year ago don't have them anymore. Anyway, offered a 92 feet with 20,500 lb rope, ready to install for just over $100. After you add taxes, import duty and fees, you are likely around the $150 or more. Amazon is in a similar price category. Interesting is the rope length, most of them are in the 90 feet or less.

Winch Rope The same type rope from Maple Leaf Ropes in Brantford, Ontario is $184 plus taxes for the 3/8 inch 100 foot with 19,200 lb, or $340 lb for the 1/2 inch 100 foot with 34,000 lb. The rope from AliExpress may be $50 less, but Maple Leaf Ropes is a place I trust. And best of all, they have 200 foot winch ropes as well.
When I look at winch ropes from Rough Country, Rugged Ridge or WARN, their Synthetic ropes cost about 20% more. The few Dyneemaź ropes I found are close to double the price.

We don't have a winch on our Jeep, so my advice about the winch is not based on experience. However, we have a problem when our Jeep gets stuck. An anchor must be within 30 meters. We thought about buying a cable to extend the reach. With the HMPE 3/8" rope for $65 per 10 meter, this will be our solution. We can use the rope to set up a camp for the night or enact Tarzan in the Jungle ... maybe not. For a winch, my choice would be the 200 foot 3/8 inch rope for $370, or the 100 foot 1/2 inch for $340 from Maple Leaf Ropes. Visit Maple Leaf Ropes for other options. After reading so much about these ropes, our recreational requirements do not demand the Dyneemaź quality.

Making the Soft Shackle
I made my case about HMPE vs Dyneemaź. I bought the HMPE rope and started tying the knot and figure out how to get the tapered end into the rope.

Rope and home made rope making tool I watched several YouTube videos and none of them made sense when it comes to the magic Diamond Knot. Then I found the Overhand Knot version and that made a lot of sense. The biggest challenge was to find a wire coat hanger in our household. I think I got the last one, I will guard it carefully. The video that I followed is from HowNOTtoHIGHLINE. Finding a knife or blade that can cut through the strands is not easy, this HMPE is really tough. No wonder it replaces steel cables in recreational winches and the shipping industry.

12 inch shackle After reading about rope tests in general, I learned that doubling the rope (or webbing) will also double the load capacity. I had over 5 meter of rope left and decided to make two shackles. The 280cm long rope made a 30 cm shackle. Four pieces of tubular webbing will protect the rope. Unless the protective tubes are flexible in length, they must be cut to allow the HMPE to flex freely.
Now I have one more 280cm long HMPE rope left for a second shackle like this one.

Final Thoughts
The recovery gear in our Jeep is for safety, like the spare tire. I hope we never have to use it. The Soft Shackle is not something that we really needed, it was a project. It turned out better than expected. I still have enough rope for two more shackles, or one long one.

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, recovering a vehicle is dangerous. Get all the people away from the area. Recovery is not a race. Plan, communicate and execute the task. Before you continue your journey, collect all your gear. Clean up the battle field, don't leave any parts or garbage behind.

First published on April 15, 2021 Contact Us  Help