How to Make the Best Rope Swing in the World

Teen boy jumping off rope swing over water
Photo credit: Mr Moss via Visual hunt / CC BY

A Rope swing is such a versatile source of fun. Tie a rope to the branch of a tree and you can happily swing about for a bit. Tie the rope to a branch that hangs over a river, and you have a whole new ball of fun. Here are some examples of some great big rope swings, and how to make your own.

In its simplest form, to make a rope swing, you get a piece of rope and tie it to the branch of a tree. To get the best from it though, here are a few tips on making the best rope swings.

Is your rope swing strong enough?

Choosing the right place to tie your rope swing to

You don’t want the rope swing breaking on you. It seriously hurts when you land on your backside. You create quite a few expletives; and that’s if you’re not in too much pain to get up.

Make sure that the branch you are going to tie your rope swing to is strong enough. A good branch should be thick enough, have signs of green leaves growing on it, and no sign of dead bits or fungus. You will want a branch that is at least 30cm in diameter. That way, there is a good chance of it holding the heavier grown ups who will no doubt intrude on your fun.

You will also have to consider the location of the branch.  Is it high enough to get a good swing?  Will you be able to get the rope over the branch without it getting tangled up in other branches?  Is the path that the rope swing takes clear of obstructions?

You don’t have to tie your rope swing to a tree branch. You could tie it to the metal supports under a footbridge or bridge over a river. Or if you have the right climbing gear, you can anchor it into the rock of a big natural arch. Only do this if you are an experienced climber and know how to anchor ropes.
If you can find a branch over a river, then you can swing out and jump into the water. Make sure the water is deep enough to land in though. Oh yeah, and make sure you can swim.

Video of the largest rope swing in the world

The Best Rope for a Rope Swing

There are several different ropes that you can use for a tire swing. The best rope for a rope swing will need to:

  • Be Durable – It has to last in all weathers without fraying or rotting
  • It has to be thick enough to hold onto – thin ropes are harder to hold on tight to when swinging, so you need at least 3/4 inch (20mm) width rope.  If you are using a proper swing seat that is attached by both ends, you can get away with using rope that is thicker than 14mm.  However, this is a guide from my personal experience.
  • Be Strong – the rope you choose for your tire swing has to support the weight of at least one adult.  Always allow for extra weight because you will get multiple adults trying to swing on it at once.  When buying rope, check the breaking strain.  Always allow 2 or 3 times the maximum expected load.  It needs to hold at least 300kg.
  • It has to hold a knot – Some polypropylene ropes do not grip and the knots can slip

Any decision you make for your rope swing design is taken at your own risk.

Types of Rope

Manila Natural Rope that is 20mm in diameter can be bought by the metre from Amazon or hardware stores for less than £2 per metre. Natural or hemp ropes are the best ropes for rope swings. It is durable and doesn’t deteriorate in UV light.
Climbing ropes are designed to take the weight of someone, and may be a good option. They do cost money though, and don’t last well rubbing back and forth on a tree branch.

Make sure that the rope you use for your rope swing is long enough to go over the tree branch, be tied up, and have enough length for you to reach it. I have seen loads of rope swings where the bottom of the rope is nowhere near the ground and you have to climb on something or jump to reach it. The rope becomes shorter if you are going to tie a stick to the bottom as a seat.

Another good thing to use as a rope swing is a 20m heavy duty towing belt, or the thick straps used on lorries for holding goods down. These are flat, but designed to be very strong pulling 7 tonnes, and withstand wear and tear.

Tying your rope swing to a tree branch

Anyone good with knots? One way to tie your rope swing to a tree branch is to tie a loop in the end of the rope, pass the rope over the branch and back through the loop in the rope. When you pull the rope, it tightens itself onto the branch. This is also a good method if you cannot climb the tree to attach your rope swing. To make it easier to get the rope over the branch, you can use a weight attached to a long piece of string and throw it over, keeping hold of the end of the string. Then tie the other end of the string to the rope and pull it over the branch. Put the end of the rope through the loop and tighten. You are good to go.

Using a bank for your launch point

Rather than having to be pushed on your rope swing, or have to run to get a good first swing, you can use a bank to get the height. If you can find a tree where the branch is over a lower point in the ground and there is a bank or raised bit of ground where you can start your swing from, then this gives you a nice big swing.

Check that the end of the rope reaches the bank so that you can get on, whilst also making sure it will not hit the ground when in motion. If you do this right, this means that you can use a longer piece of rope and get a bigger swing. The longer the rope, the further you swing and more exhilarating it is. Just watch the YouTube video of the world’s best rope swing ever to get the idea. They are starting off from the top of a cliff and swinging down under a rock arch.

How to make it easy to hold onto the rope swing when swinging

horse tyre rope swing

The simplest way is to use a foot loop. Tie a non-slip loop knot at the bottom of the rope. You put your foot in the loop, hold on further up and swing. You can also put a stick through the loop and sit on it. This can be tricky for some people, as you have to balance on the stick. You can also tie a tyre to the rope and make a tyre swing.

If you want to be really different, you can cut the tyre and make a tyre horse rope swing.

You can buy rope and seats for rope swings from Amazon.

Rope swings, rope and seats from

Rope swing rope, seats and ladders from

Make Your Own Zip Line Aerial Runway

Amazon now has some great zip line ropes and pulleys so that your can make your own zip line. The 100′ Night Riderz Series Zipline Kit includes 100 feet of cable, and includes everything you need to get the zipline up and running. It even has 50 multicolored LED lights on the seat, rope and trolley so you can have fun using it in the dark!

If you want to try some big rope swings and ziplines, have a look at what Go Ape ropes courses offer.

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