What’s the Difference Between Prusik Cord and Accessory Cord?

Ever wondered what the difference is between prusik cord and accessory cord? Here at Rope and Rescue we’ve wondered this many times.

Prusik Cord is rope that’s used to make prusiks (helpful, right?).

Prusik KnotA prusik is a remarkable knot that acts much like a mechanical rope grab. When grabbing it, you can easily move it up and down the rope it’s attached to. However, when you put weight on it, it tightens up and won’t move (think Chinese Finger Puzzle).

You can use a prusik knot for tons of stuff. It’s most commonly see in haul systems for progress capture. Special prusik minding pulleys make it so the prusik knot only grabs in one direction.

For best results, you should use prusik cord that is at least 3mm smaller than the rope you are attaching it to. So, if you are using 11mm rope, you should use 8mm prusik cord or smaller.

And, by the way, you’ll see people spell prusik a variety of ways… prusick, prusic, etc. The correct way in the US is prusik, and it’s pronounced pruss-sick.

Various Prusik and Accessory CordHolding a piece of accessory cord next to a piece of prusik, there isn’t a visible difference. They feel the same, aside from normal differences from brand to brand. But, for some reason the manufacturers sell accessory cord and prusik cord as two distinct products. PMI, New England, Blue Water, and Sterling all have this distinction (and probably others too, but these are the ones we checked on).

Confusingly, when looking through our Sterling product list, they have accessory cord, prusik cord, and in some diameters accessory/prusik cord. So, they are the same thing?

Last week a customer asked this question again and we decided it was time to find out the answer. We asked Jack Perry from PMI Rope and Matt Hunt from Sterling. “The only difference in prusik cord and accessory cord is the prusik cord we make in consistent colors… With your eyes closed they are the same,” said Jack.


Matt agreed, saying that they were essentially the same thing. You can use accessory cord as prusik cord and visa versa. He added that Sterling actually makes their prusik cord a bit softer so it grabs easier. So, you can use them interchangeably, though the softer it is, the better it grabs.

Are Prusiks Life Safety?

While investigating this question, we made another interesting discovery. We cut open some New England and Sterling prusik cord and noticed that they don’t have the tape that you normally find inside of life safety rope. This was somewhat troubling since we thought you had to have the tape in any cord you were going to hang on. We cut open a piece of Petzl prusik cord and found the tape there.

Matt clarified here that the tape doesn’t represent “life safety” but rather the standards that the rope is certified to. Turns out that there isn’t an American standard that applies to prusik cord. There is, however an EN (European) standard that you can certify it to. Sterling and New England are American companies, so they aren’t concerned about the EN standard. Petzl is a French company, so they do pay attention to that kind of thing.

So, the short answer is that there is no difference between prusik cord and accessory cord. Thanks for reading!

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Amy Lavin

Amy LavinWhat’s the Difference Between Prusik Cord and Accessory Cord?

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