There's a segment in the movie The Boondock Saints where our protagonists are ushered into an Irish gun locker in Boston, and in an every-guy's-fantasy moment the montage shows the brothers having their pick of former IRA artillery. The footage looms over the two ogling RPGs, .50-calibur machine guns, and gruesome boot knives—and as the brothers are packing up, one of the more famous exchanges in the film occurs:
"Do you know what we need? Some rope," Connor declares.
Murphy retorts, "What, are you insane?"
"No, I'm not. Charles Bronson always has rope. He's always got it strapped around him in the movies, and they always end up using it," Connor defends himself.
"That's stupid! Name one thing you're going to use a rope for!" By now, Murphy is indignant.
So is Connor: "You don't f***ing know what you're gonna need it for! They just always need it!"
And, if you've seen the rest of the movie, you know full well how handy the rope ends up being.
All that to say, the Irish brothers inspired me a few years ago to take them at their word and see just how useful having a length of rope really is (I use 5mm utility cord, which is thinner and takes up less space).
Ever since, I've never left home without it. At the beginning of trips, I never know what I'll use it for (outside of my hammock or a laundry line), but I always have.
Ropes, however, are useless if you don't know how to tie any knots—moreover, the right kind of knots is good knowledge to have.
That's why I've kept Columbia's What Knot to Do in the Greater Outdoors iPhone app close at hand.
It features six categories—bends, bindings, hitches, loops, stoppers, and miscellaneous—of 70 different knots, each with their own descriptions and step-by-step walkthroughs. Frequently used knots can be added to the list of favorites for quick access, and the knots can be arranged to your liking.
Regular backpackers, travelers, and MacGyver-types would be wise to check out this free app. But don't forget to bring the rope.