The Arctic: home to some of the world’s most treacherous terrain. For the Mission Arctic team, ropes made with Dyneema® and manufactured by Atlantic Braids weren’t just the best solution – they were the only solution capable of facing up to the challenge.

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Helping people go where no one has gone before

The melting ice of the Arctic is revealing secrets of the Earth that have been hidden for millennia. To uncover this new knowledge, researchers, scientists, and explorers of Mission Arctic planned an unprecedented eco-expedition to the unexplored areas and newly exposed waterways of this extremely hostile environment. Covering 7,000 miles and isolated from supplies for several months, the team needed to be 100% independent and self-sustainable – especially when it came to essential safety equipment like ropes.

“We had to make do with what we had on board – so we needed to bring the best equipment to try to anticipate any scenario that might arise.”

Nick Peissel, Expedition Leader/Project Director, Mission Arctic

The team identified five key points of performance for the ropes they needed for boat rigging, anchoring, docking, lowering instruments into the ocean, and even mountaineering:

1. Dependability

A broken halyard, deck line, anchor, or mooring line would spell certain disaster for the expedition. Plus, the team would be tying up to floating ice with sharp corners for days at a time, so ropes prone to wear and tear were simply not an option.

2. Quality

For an expedition of this size, high-quality equipment was essential. Mission Arctic needed lines that were rated well above their anticipated load.

3. Manageability

With so much equipment and limited storage space, the team wanted lines that would fit with existing pulleys and deck hardware.

4. Weight

As well as being lightweight, the lines had to be able to float: with pack ice surrounding the boat when anchored or moored, the team needed to be able to see exactly where the lines lay to stop them from catching on the ice. What’s more, the ropes could not absorb water, or they would freeze.

5. Multi-functionality

Mooring lines that could also act as spare shrouds or forestay/backstay would be even more useful – as long as there was no compromise on strength.

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The only all-in-one solution

Mission Arctic never expected that there were ropes that could meet all of the team’s unique needs. But when it reached out to rope manufacturer Atlantic Braids, that was exactly what they found. “After consulting with Atlantic Braids, it became clear the only do-it-all solution would be ropes made with Dyneema®,” explained Nick Peissel, Mission Arctic Expedition Leader/Project Director.

The Dyneema® difference

To support the expedition, Atlantic Braids recommended products ranging from soft shackles and rigging lines to a floating high-strength safety line – all made with Dyneema®, the world’s strongest fiber™. Dyneema®’s carefully engineered properties make it stronger than steel, while seven times lighter. Plus, ropes made with Dyneema® are more durable, are UV and moisture resistant, and show extraordinary performance even in the world’s most extreme conditions.

Peissel and his crew were thoroughly impressed by the multipurpose performance of the ropes made with Dyneema®. Despite the heavy strains and freezing weather, the ropes containing Dyneema® remained light, strong, and flexible.

“Atlantic Braids and Dyneema® met our needs on every level and allowed us to do things in the Arctic we never believed possible.” Nick Peissel, Expedition Leader/Project Director, Mission Arctic

Small but mighty

The Mission Arctic team used drones and underwater automated vehicles – including a conductivity, temperature, and depth (CTD) oceanographic device – to conduct its research. Before working with Atlantic Braids, Mission Arctic had planned to divide up the dedicated lowering line into sections that would be shackled together as the line was paid out, allowing the team to store the sections in smaller spaces. Instead, Atlantic Braids recommended 2,500 feet of 1.8 mm Fling-It™, an eight-strand twill line made with Dyneema® SK78 fiber. The Fling-It™ would fit on a seven-inch tall spool – making it much easier to handle and store.

Peissel and his crew were skeptical when they first compared the size of the CTD device against the small Fling-It™ line, and carried out testing to ensure the line could withstand the weight of the device, its protective cage, and the forces of the undersea currents. Much to the team’s surprise, the line showed no sign of strain, nor was there any compromise on flexibility.

Months into the expedition, Peissel remained impressed: “Over 300 casts later, there was no sign of wear. The CTD device would easily have broken any other line of the same size. But thanks to the Fling-It™, hundreds of meters of line that used to take up a 200-liter drum on deck are now stored conveniently on a small spool that fits in a drawer!”

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Soft shackles deliver flexibility and strength

Made with Dyneema®, the soft shackles provided by Atlantic Braids are lighter, more flexible, and more cost effective than their steel counterparts, but can still carry the same load. “The flexibility you gain without losing any strength is, in my opinion, the soft shackles’ most impressive quality,” Peissel said. “A soft shackle can take any shape, molding to the angle needed to keep things from breaking or damaging the hull, spares, and deck. What’s more, whereas steel fails without warning, soft shackles make it much easier to monitor any signs of wear. Day after day, in these extreme conditions, our lives and the safety of our boat depended on them.”

For Mission Arctic, the soft shackles had multiple uses on board, allowing the crew to be more creative with their rigging and mooring solutions without having to install hardware. “We used them for a wide range of tasks, from the useful to the essential,” Peissel reiterated. “And we were able to do it all without having to add a new cleat or force an inflexible steel shackle.”

“Sustainability is a key driver for Dyneema®. We want to contribute to a better world, but we know we can’t do it alone: we need collaboration with our partners. We’re proud that our best-in-class Dyneema® SK78 fiber performs in extreme applications and, on this mission, contributed to a better understanding of a vulnerable natural environment.”

Edwin Grootendorst, Global Business Director, Dyneema®, Avient

A greener world is a stronger world

Of course, the mission was all about gaining a better understanding of a delicate natural environment and the impact of climate change – which is why it’s so significant that Dyneema®-based ropes were not only the best-performing option, but also the greenest choice.

It’s all thanks to three factors: continuous sustainability improvements in manufacturing, ongoing R&D to further enhance the long-lasting properties of Dyneema® fibers, and industry partnerships that contribute to a circular economy. Today, Dyneema® fibers deliver the lowest carbon footprint of any synthetic rope per unit strength, meaning there’s no need to compromise between high performance and sustainability.

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