Soft Shackles & Loops
There are dozens of shackles you can use on a boat; screw pin, key pin, trigger, J-Lock just to name a few. Recently there is a newer style of shackle that's been added to the mix. These shackles are collectively referred to as Soft Shackles. Soft Shackles have quickly grown in popularity as the technology for low stretch line like Dyneema and Spectra have advanced. The primary benefit of this shackle is weight reduction without loss in breaking strength. The downside is diminished durability but for most people this is an acceptable trade-off.
Our two most popular soft shackles are the APS Dyneema-Shackle Loops, which are all-Dyneema shackles, and Equiplites Soft Shackles which have an aluminum bobbin used to secure the Dyneema loop in place.
What is the benefit of an alumninum bobbin? The benefit of the aluminum bobbin is that no matter how highly loaded the shackle is, it is just as easy to open whereas the Dyneema Shackle loops can snug onto themselves, sometimes making quick sail changes difficult to perform. But the all-Dyneema loops are much less expensive whereas the Equiplites can often cost many times more. It really depends on the application which you should use and each has their pros and cons.
For a closer look at how to operate them, let's take a look:
More information on Soft Shackles & Loops:
Whether you call them soft shackles, softies, or loops - it’s clear that spliced Dyneema shackles are quickly becoming the norm on high performance race boats from the America’s Cup to moths and everything in between. Extremely lightweight and strong, these can replace shackles almost anywhere you need them and happen to be ideal for jib sheets as they won’t bang up your mast or get chewed up by inhaulers. Our rope shackle loops are also a great way to attach blocks like the Harken T2 or Airblocks to a padeye, toerail, or boom when you need a block to be able to rotate and pivot in ways a shackle won’t allow. A Velcro securing strap comes with each shackle to prevent the loop from coming undone in no-load flogging situations.
Spliced onto the end of a stripped halyard, it’s the lightest weight halyard attachment available. These Dyneema shackle loops are offered in a wide range of diameters and lengths. Developed in-house by APS expert riggers, they are all made in the APS rigging shop and can be custom made to any length you need.
Harken has unveiled LOUPS - a new product designed to replace steel shackles, providing greater strength at a fraction of steel's weight. Using UHMW Braid, Harken's engineers overlap consecutive coils, then splice the ends to create a single loop of overlapping lines. That multiple-strand loop is then encased in a 48 carrier polyethylene sleeve to reduce abrasion. The completed loop then undergoes Harken's proprietary process to equalize stress across each strand, ensuring maximum strength when the finished LOUP is ultimately installed.
The EquipLite connector boasts a weight savings of approximately 80% to 90% over comparable stainless steel fittings. Its softer materials result in less damage to masts, spinnaker tracks, topsides, etc. when flogging; combined with its lighter weight, the risk of injury from flogging is also reduced. It uses high tensile allow and DSK 75 Ultra loops to take the connection load with a high tensile aluminum body. Dyneema loops have a UV coating to protect them.
Check out the APS blog for more tips and tricks on Soft Shackles: