Tubular vs. flat webbing- it's still a debate in many climbers' conversations, but for most serious climbers the benefits of tubular webbing make a clear-cut case. What's the difference and why even make webbing into a tubular shape? Believe it or not, there are very real differences between the two types of webbing and tubular webbing was designed with some specific advantages in mind.
Flat Nylon Webbing
Flat Webbing is a solid weaved webbing of strong nylon fibers. Capable of great tensile strength, flat webbing is a helpful tool for many purposes. But when it comes to climbing it has some basic weaknesses. When scraped over surfaces like rough rocks or jagged rocks, its stiffness promotes wear and tear. And while it can be tremendously strong, it is not as strong as tubular webbing of the same size.
Tubular Nylon Webbing
Tubular Webbing is a tube of webbing that lies flat, but benefits from having wrap-around webbing because it increases the overall strength-per-inch. Tubular webbing of one-inch width can take about 4,000 pounds of pressure before breaking. And with climbing, knowing that your rope is ultra-strong is a major help for peace of mind.
Tubular webbing is much more flexible than flat webbing. It is soft and pliable, allowing for more uses than flat webbing. And because of its pliability, it tends to glide better over rough or jagged surfaces, preventing the wear and tear that occurs more with flat webbing. On the flip side, however, when pulled to one side or caught over an obstacle or link, the side of friction takes more pressure than the loose side of the tube. But with 4,000 pounds as a breaking point, cutting the strength like that is not a cause for concern unless you are trying to tow a car with the webbing. And it can be purchased in up to 9,000 pounds breaking point strength.
Because of tubular webbing's ease of use in links, joints, and various climbing gear, it is a favorite for many outdoor enthusiasts. It knots much more easily than flat webbing as well. Because of its pliability, it also holds the knots better. Tubular webbing also has a myriad of other uses outside of climbing such as tying your stuff down on the rack or in the pickup. It works for evacuation harnesses, multipoint anchors, etriers, and so many other purposes. Tubular webbing is an excellent choice for the avid climber.