Latest Firearms News and Updates

How to Make a Prison Rope: Plan Your Escape!

We here at SKILLSET certainly aren’t here to promote criminal behavior, so as you read this article, remember this is for entertainment purposes only. Unless, of course, you stand wrongfully accused in some third-world country with no chance of ever getting back to the good ol’ USA. It’s there and then that we are glad you read this article on how to make a prison rope, and we hope it aids you in your escape from those evil commies.

(Photo by Kevin Estela)

Make a Prison Rope!

   We’ve all seen (or should have seen) the movie The Shawshank Redemption. We’ve driven by prisons and probably wondered what life would be like behind bars. Some of you reading this may have even spent time behind them. At some point, our minds have likely wandered to the thought of escaping confinement. Perhaps doing what we’ve seen in the movies, which is, of course, making a rope and descending a wall. 

Prisons are meant to keep people in, but resourcefulness and prison ingenuity will occasionally get a win. Give convicts enough time, and they will find a way to break free of walls. We don’t encourage prisoners to take our advice here and add to their sentences when they inevitably get caught or killed. However, we want to satisfy that curiosity about making a rope and making it actually strong enough to hold the weight of a convict carrying some goods and provisions for life on the run. 

 The Basic Concept

   Good cordage should be long, strong, and flexible. All three of those factors must be present, and it doesn’t matter if you are making it bushcraft style in the woods or the concrete jungle of prison. Behind bars, you may have access to toilet paper or newspapers. While they can be traded for chocolate milk, paper is long and flexible but not exactly strong. As you layer more and more paper, you lose flexibility.

 A rolled magazine, for example, makes an impact weapon called a Millwall brick that is anything but flexible. You may also have access to human hair if you swing by the barber, but human hair is usually short enough, and you’re not Rapunzel. Even if you grow your hair long enough, cutting it would be pretty obvious and draw unwanted attention. We looked at what could be squirreled away and worked with limited resources. 

Bed sheets and clothing are commonly found. Our third test rope material was garbage bags as they could possibly be located and allocated. We would test each of these in the same manner, creating a rope that is approximately 1″ in diameter. Since we didn’t have an eternity behind bars, we settled for making rope anywhere between 3′ and 6′ long. 

Good cordage should be long, strong, and flexible. All three of those factors must be present.
(Photo by Kevin Estela)

The Material Selection Matters

    Rather than stripping the sheets from my bed, I visited the local thrift store. One sheet was tan and twin-sized, and the other was a full-size white sheet with a nondescript blue stain. The sheets used for the cordage test weren’t designer and likely of similar quality to those issued in prison. An unexpected treat during this test was the cheap, pleasant aroma the sheets still had on them from recently being washed.

    Using a single razor blade burned into the plastic of a toothbrush, we cut each sheet into long strips, first in half and then in half again. We could have used scissors, but we wanted to stay true to the resources commonly found in prisons. 

The process took longer, and we quickly dulled the razor with sustained use on the fabric/material. Cutting the material created less sound than tearing it. The strips were stacked into two piles of equal quantity and rolled from a ribbon to a twisted cord. These cords were then reverse-wrapped to form a twisted 2-strand rope. 

Different Prison Methods

Reverse wrapping involves twisting the two cords against one another, where the tension of one rope keeps the other from unwinding. Extremely strong cordage with a tight twist and a thin diameter is possible, but it would be tough to hold onto this in a slow, controlled descent.

 Reverse wrapping can be done by a single person or as a tag-team effort, with one person twisting the lines and the second working them into a twisted rope where they meet. Assuming you have a cellmate, this two-person method makes it easy to crank out a lot of rope quickly. It also creates an accomplice for your escape and a liability if they join you. 

    For comparison, we made another rope with a simple three-strand braid. We found the braided method easier on the hands and used the limited resources best. The amount of fatigue was noticeably more holding the reverse-wrap rope together than the braided rope. We made the rope long enough by splicing it together with a simple fold-over method. Typically, when rope is spliced, a bulge in the line can be noticeable and it is undesirable. However, for a rope that will be held onto to support your weight, these bulges make gripping the rope easier. 

We will never advocate you break the law or find yourself in a predicament that would lead you to prison. That said, if you ever end up there wrongfully and make the decision to attempt an escape from the confines of your cell and the prison yard, this DIY prison rope may help you find your way to freedom.
(Photo by Kevin Estela)

Testing is a Blessing

   In an actual escape attempt, you don’t have the luxury of testing your rope in the open. This means there is a chance your rope fails you after you go over the wall. While desperation would push you to accept this risk, we were unwilling to and leaned on the side of safety. We were not subjected to group showers, solitary confinement in the hole, or conditions that would require secret testing. 

Our test was done by attaching the prison rope to a carabiner and then the carabiner to an actual static line we tossed over a small climbing wall. We found caused some sounds of ripping fabric as we shifted our weight with each handhold. If the rope could hold a 220-pound man with a sling bag made from a towel filled with escape provisions, we could determine if the rope was viable or not. We didn’t use the rope to failure but perhaps that tensile strength test will come with a later article. 

Knots Landing

   Worth noting is the weakening effect of knotting in a line. The strongest state of a line is when it is stretched from end to end without any kinks or knots in it. Even a simple overhand knot will reduce the strength of a rope by approximately half. Making rope in a prison cell is one problem. Finding a way to attach it to an anchor at the top of a wall is another. Our do-it-yourself rope needed to be longer and the carabiner helped attach it to the wall easily. In a jailhouse, you could find an electrical cord, coat hangers, or wire to help you anchor your rope to the wall before tossing it over. 

These cords were then reverse wrapped to form a twisted 2-strand rope.
(Photo by Kevin Estela)

 The Verdict

  We will never advocate you break the law or find yourself in a predicament that would lead you to prison. That said,, this DIY prison rope may help you find your way to freedom. All three of our ropes held without issue, and the most comfortable to hold onto was the braided rope, followed by the reverse-wrapped bed sheet and the trash bag last. 

Make sure you pack plenty of provisions to support your escape mission, and don’t get caught making rope when the man comes walking around during the night shift. You shouldn’t wait until you are behind bars to practice this skill. You should understand that making cordage is rewarding around the campfire and when you aren’t incarcerated. 

Now that you now how to make a prison rope, here’s another prison article you might find helpful: Prison Workout

Didn’t find what you were looking for?

Read the full article here

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy