Paracord 101: The Basics

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Paracord is one of those survival supplies that is in everyone’s bug out bag. But why? What makes it so much superior to any other type of cordage? Why is it so useful? What can you do with it?

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paracord-basics

Paracord is one of those survival supplies that is in everyone’s bug out bag. But why? What makes it so much superior to any other type of cordage? Why is it so useful? What can you do with it?

What is Paracord?

To answer why paracord is better than standard rope, we need to take a look at what’s inside.

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Paracord, also know as parachute cord, is more than just one piece. It’s made up of 7 2-ply strands inside a braided nylon sheath. The strands (“guts”) allow paracord to handle much more than typical rope of its size.

These smaller lines can be separated and used for smaller tasks like fishing line, snares, and sewing while the sheath can still be used for larger tasks like hanging a bear bag.

Just this feature alone lets you turn one bit of cordage into eight, multiplying its usefulness without having to carry more equipment.

While you should not trust standard 550 cord to support your weight, paracord more than earns its space in your bag.

How Can I Use Paracord?

“That’s all great and good, Dr. Science, but how can I use it?”

I’m so glad you asked. Here are just a few common uses for paracord:

  • Tie down tarp for shelter.
  • Make a net for fishing.
  • Hang your clothes to dry.
  • Tie your friend to a tree.
  • Make an improvised splint.
  • Make a spear.
  • Hang things from trees (lanterns, showers, pinatas).

There are a million and one uses for paracord. Or at least 101:

Prepper Projects

“Gee, paracord sounds pretty useful but how do I make sure that I have it when I need it?”

There are many ways to make sure you have paracord handy at all times. Here are a few:

Common

Here are some examples of using everyday items to keep cordage close at hand.

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  • Bracelet – Most popular. Many come with survival kits woven inside. There are plenty of places to buy paracord bracelets but it’s pretty easy to make your own.
  • Belt – Probably the second most popular option. Depending on how much you like Oreos, you can fit a pretty sizable amount of cordage onto a belt. Like the bracelet, you can hide survival gear inside.

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  • Knife handle – Great way to add functionality and comfort. The wrap gives you a bit more grip and padding. Works especially well for minimalist or skeleton knives.
  • Necklace – With all of the different knots you can use, there plenty of options to suit your style.
  • Key chain – You could just have something simple like this or a…
    • Survival Kit (grenade) – Keep a whole kit right there on your key chain.
    • Monkey fist – Fairly innocuous but can be useful in a fight.

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    • Kubotan – Japanese self defense weapon. Basically a metal stick you jab into your attacker’s pressure points.
  • Survival knife kit
  • Zipper pulls – For pullin’ them zips up and down.

Uncommon

You may not have thought of these:

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  • Dog Collar/leash – I love this one because it’s turning something that you always use into something more useful.
  • Watch band – Not a fan of these but I’m a watch snob.
  • Boot laces – Swap out those basic laces and switch to something that you can use!
  • Rifle sling – If you’re going to have a sling anyway, it might as well be made out of paracord.
  • Lanyard – If you have to wear an ID to work or school everyday, why not carry it on paracord?

Weird

Basically, at this point, you accidentally bought 6 miles of paracord on a drunken Amazon shopping spree and you’re looking for any excuse to use the stuff.

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  • Flip flops – …sure.
  • Gear wrap – You’ll see a lot of paracord projects for making holders for your gear. Even gear that didn’t need a holder. Here are a couple of them:
    • Water bottle – I can see this being somewhat useful.
    • Multitool pouch – They come with sheaths. That are less bulky, more ergonomic…
    • Lighter – For when your lighter gets cold.
    • Flashlight – To hang it, maybe?
  • Bandolier – Ah yes, to replace my regular bandolier.
  • Wallet – If you get to the point where you need everything to be functional, including your wallet, just make a duct tape wallet.
  • Koozie – Because the world needs more koozies.
  • Steering wheel –

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  • Bookmark – You never know when you’ll be reading the latest Danielle Steele novel and need to tie something up.
  • iPhone cable wrap – I guess it keeps the cable from getting kinked.
  • Donut – No, not wrapping an actual donut. This one is actually useful because it keeps your paracord neat and manageable. Check out the video:

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