The Pros and Cons of Using Ropes and Tethers for Inflatables


If you've been around inflatables for long at all, you know giant cold-air and sealed inflatables need some apparatus to hold them upright.  Because of their height and other physical attributes, these types of inflatables require stabilization.  In addition, if used outdoors on sidewalks or rooftops, cold-air and sealed inflatables have to have a way to battle back against the elements.  

There are two common methods for anchoring inflatables: ropes and tethers.

Both are essentially made from the same materials: polyester, cotton, nylon or a blend.  Let's take a look at the pros and cons of each.

Tethered Inflatable 

Ropes

Depending on the type and size, ropes can be as strong as tethers if you use mountaineering-grade rope (not the plastic/polypropylene type).  In addition, rope comes in various sizes so you can get a cleaner look with smaller inflatables by using a smaller, not-so-obvious rope that diminishes the sight line. Ropes have a couple of special requirements of which you'll want to be aware.  First, they can be difficult to fine-tune.  Because ropes have no built-in adjusters, they must be completely untied then retied to make them longer or shorter.

Also, ropes require the ability to tie marine knots to ensure they stay secure.  If the person on-site who will be installing the inflatable doesn’t have this ability, you will likely have a problem.  Also, if your inflatable is part of a mobile marketing campaign and you'll have a variety of installers at various locations, you may not have foreknowledge of who can and can't tie the required knots.

If you have a strong preference for ropes or you've ordered an inflatable made overseas that didn't give you the option of tethers, you can visit this site for instructions on tying the nine basic marine knots.

Tethers

Tethers (also called webbing) are, essentially, flat ropes with a few important exceptions.  Their exceptional strength makes them common gear for auto racing, climbing, parachuting, cargo hoisting and - of course - inflatables installations.  At Landmark, we typically use tether straps instead of ropes because they not only look more professional, but they're easier for the casual inflatable installer to use. Tethers give consistent performance with no knot-tying skills required.

You can easily adjust the length of the tether strap since they come equipped with hardware that makes lengthening or shortening the strap quick and easy.  Especially if it's a one-man (or woman!) job like this one.


Both ropes and tethers are used for inflatables installations.  However, at Landmark we take great care in determining the best anchoring systems for each inflatable we make.  After years of experience with both, our recommendation is tethers because - simply put - we've never had a tether system fail.

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- What Others Say About Landmark

"This year’s event was the highest attended in some time, and the [inflatable] astronaut, front and center on our Portico, was a great visible draw from all over the area."

- Dennis Bateman, Carnegie Science Center