The Science of Cool

If you are a roper, did you know you can have an influence on what tomorrow’s ropes will look like? Designers must anticipate trends, so that a new rope with the latest features will hit stores just when you need it. That’s the science of cool.

Take Cactus Ropes, for example. The Pleasanton, Texas, manufacturer has stayed competitive by keeping ahead of the curve. Production Manager Barry Berg offered a quick glimpse into the process of discovering and creating the next big thing.

Blueprint for Greatness

Rope-making has changed considerably since Cactus Ropes opened its doors more than twenty years ago. According to Berg, it is still evolving, and his team is always on the hunt for fresh ideas.

Cactus Ropes:  The Official Rope of the PRCA | Team Ropes

Cactus Ropes: The Official Rope of the PRCA | Team Ropes

“At Cactus Ropes, we say that great performances begin with great ropes,” he said. “We rely on the talents of experienced rope makers and input from ropers of all levels.”

One of those is the PRCA’s only $4 million cowboy, Trevor Brazile, who helped design this year’s Freedom rope. The Freedom is the first three-strand in Brazile’s Relentless™ collection, which is made by Cactus Ropes.

“After field-testing many products through the years, I realized the best way to get products to meet my needs was to collaborate in their design,” said Brazile, who is involved in developing the prototype for every Relentless product.

In addition, Berg said that sometimes the best inspirations come from average ropers.

“At the end of the day, our goal is to increase the catching percentage of any roper,” he said. “We want to create the perfect rope for every style, at any level.”

Regardless of how an idea reaches Cactus Ropes, the ones that make it to stores go through the same process.

Cactus Ropes:  The Official Rope of the PRCA | Team Ropes | Shock-N-Awe

Cactus Ropes: The Official Rope of the PRCA | Team Ropes | Shock-N-Awe

The first step is to take an idea and design a rope that meets the need. Then, the team builds the first prototype, experimenting and adjusting the formula until it meets precise specifications. Afterwards, staff test ropers put the rope through its paces at their arenas. Passing that, samples are shipped to endorsees for real-world trials.

“When we have a rope style that we think is ready, we have certain professional ropers on call that we’ll send samples to,” said Berg. “We also give them specific instructions on how to break those ropes in. We tell them to catch five steers per rope the first day. Then, we have them let the ropes rest until the next day, and then see how they feel. After that, they can run as many head as they want. But, that first 24 hours is very important.”

While in the test phase, if a rope line doesn’t meet standards, it will be reevaluated. The design may be tweaked and retested, or completely scrapped.

The final assessment, actual sales, is the most important one. It doesn’t matter how well it tested if it no one is using it. That’s the unseen factor manufacturers are searching to find.

Got a great idea?

Help Cactus Ropes find the next cool rope design. Send them your suggestions at or

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