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paracord

Survival Kit Component: Paracord

A paracord, or a parachute cord, is a kind of lightweight nylon that was first used by american paratroopers during World War 2. Out in the field, it was typically used to fasten equipment to a harness, tie knapsacks to roof racks, attach camouflage nets to trees, and as a lanyard for small items.

Early Usage of Paracord

Soon after the war, it was made available for civilians – as military surplus in the beginning, then as a retail product later on. Due to its durability and versatility, it didn’t take long for the paracord to hit the mainstream. Back in the 70s, and even to this day, it was the material of choice for whip making.

Paracord Usage in Recent Years

In the recent years, the paracord has gained widespread popularity for its countless survival uses and also as a fashion statement. In fact, it has become rare to find a hiker or an outdoor activity enthusiast who does not own a paracord bracelet or any other kind of paracord gear.

Since they are so cheap and easy to make, paracord projects have also become popular among handicraft hobbyists – in some cases, as a way to raise funds for a charity or a cause.

Different Types of Paracords

There are 6 types of paracord, namely: I, IA, II, IIA, III, and IV.

Their minimal breaking strengths range from 43 to 340 kilograms. The most commonly used type for bracelets and also in general is Type III, otherwise known as the 550 cord. With 7 to 9 core yarns or a total of 32 yarns, it has the minimum breaking strength of  249 kilograms.

However, not all paracords are made to U.S. military specification, even if the labels say so. A lot of brands that differ from the standard type in terms of construction, strength, and quality have recently come out in the market. Finding an authentic brand can be a little tricky, especially now that China has jumped on to the paracord bandwagon. These brands may not be very reliable in survival situations, so make sure that you pick a good brand when purchasing a paracord.

Personally, I buy paracord from The Bushcraft Store.

Various Uses for Paracord

If you’re wondering about paracord uses, well, there are probably countless. It can be used for virtually anything and everything – in outdoor activities, fishing, first aid, and a bunch of other practical, everyday situations. The paracord can be used for:

  • tying things down on the roof rack of a vehicle
  • mending torn or broken fabric or equipment
  • making a perimeter line
  • hanging objects
  • stringing up  a clothesline
  • replacing broken shoe laces
  • lowering yourself or an object  from a height
  • building a shelter
  • lashing logs together or other materials to build a raft and other things
  • making a fishing line and stringer
  • tying up an animal
  • securing your boat or raft
  • making a snare
  • making a splint or sling in case of a broken limb
  • sewing up a wound
  • making a stretcher

These are just some of the most common uses for paracord; the list goes on and on with your imagination as the only limit.

Aside from its utility functions, paracord can also be made into bracelets, key fobs, lanyards, belts, and dog collars, among a bunch of other things. Among these products, paracord bracelets are perhaps the most popular.

Paracord Bracelets with Side Release Buckles

Aside from looking cool, paracord bracelets can save your life in a survival situation. Once unraveled, the cord used in each bracelet typically range from 3 to 7.5 meters – that’s 3 to 7.5 meters of very useful cord!

Paracord bracelets come in various colors/color combinations and are made using various weaving techniques. A regular bracelet would take a couple of minutes to unravel, but there are also quick deployment types that would only take seconds.

Most are fastened using a simple knot, but for quick deployment in a survival situation, bracelets with a side release buckle or a stainless steel shackle would be more ideal to have. There are side release buckles that are equipped with a whistle, compass, and even a handcuff picker. Stainless steel shackles, on the other hand, are sturdy enough to support 1,180 kilograms of weight, and may also have the extra feature of being adjustable.

If you want an accessory that is both stylish and practical, you can’t go wrong with a paracord bracelet. With its remarkable durability and versatility, it is no surprise that paracord can be found in almost all survival kits nowadays.