The Many Uses for Paracord
One of the most important items you should have in your survival gear, camping gear, or hunting or fishing pack is parachute cord, or paracord for short, also known as 550 cord. Paracord was developed during World War II for use as the strands attaching a soldier to his parachute. Paracord is made of lightweight nylon kernmantle rope, .125 inches diameter with 7 inner strands and a covering. More specifically, the sheath is braided from 32 strands and the inner seven cords are each a 3 ply braid, so there are 22 pieces of useable cord in a single strand of paracord. I know that’s a little confusing, so refer to the picture at the bottom of this post. It gets its name of 550 cord because it can hold 550 pounds of weight, which gives it many, many uses, which I will list some below.
A lot of people, including myself, refer to this product as a survival item, which it certainly is. In fact I have a paracord bracelet on my website that is a convenient way to carry 10’ of paracord easily around your wrist or attached to a pack. This is a great way to always have some paracord with you, and 10’ is actually quite useful, plus it’s a nice looking bracelet, I wear one all the time when I’m not in the office, and even then I have one in my briefcase. You can find this bracelet by clicking here.
But paracord is a great thing to have for camping, hunting, fishing, and general outdoor activities, as you will see in the list below. Think of it as the “duct tape” of rope, it can do just about anything, even tow a stranded vehicle. It’s also great to have around the house, and I always keep some in my truck. Paracord is incredibly cheap, I offer a bundle of 100’ for only $10.00, you can find it by clicking here.
Here is my list of some of the things you can do with paracord:
1. Make a belt or suspenders for your pants. A belt made of paracord is a great way to carry a lot of it easily with you, and you can use some of it to make a make-shift belt after you unravel it.
2. Repair torn clothing with the internal strands which slide easily out of the casing. Hopefully you have a needle in your survival gear, or you can make one from a fish hook, a thorn, or a sharpened piece of wood.
3. Repair torn or broken equipment either by sewing or tying the pieces together securely.
4. Rig a makeshift tow rope. A single length of paracord has been tested to handle 550 lbs of weight, so wrap it securely 10 times and you have the ability to pull 5500 lbs.
5. Securely tie down items to the top of a vehicle, or to protect them from a wind-storm.
6. String up a clothes line. Wet clothes are uncomfortable when you’re camping and dangerous when you’re trying to survive.
7. Hang a bear bag to keep your food away from critters.
8. Replace your shoe laces. Just burn the ends and thread them through. Actually you should replace all of your outdoor boots and shoes with paracord laces before leaving home.
9. Replace a broken zipper pull.
10. Use it as dental floss. Pull out the internal strands and keep up your hygiene even in the woods.
11. Tie things to your backpack with it so you can carry more stuff hands free.
12. Secure a petto a tree or post, or make a leash.
13. Tie up a person.
14. String up a trip wire to protect an area. You can also rig it with bells, or cans to alert you when something or someone is lurking in the darkness.
15. Lower yourself or an object very carefully down from a height. (note: paracord is NOT climbing rope, and is NOT a realistic replacement for true climbing rope; do not expect it to catch you should you fall. For security double or triple the thickness if you can).
16. Make a ladder to get up or down. This can be done by tying loops into a doubled strand.
17. Tie up a tarp or poncho to make a shelter.
18. If you’re hiking in a place where there is danger of avalanche tie yourself to your buddy so you can find each other should one of you get caught under snow.
19. Build a shelter using sticks or long branches.
20. Make a snare out of the internal strands.
21. Lash logs or other items together to build a raft.
22. Make snow shoes. Bend a 1” branch in a teardrop shape. Tie it securely then weave the paracord back and forth across the opening. Tie this to your shoes. My son Kyle actually did this once, it was pretty cool!
23. Make a bow drill for fire starting.
24. Make a sling to throw stones for protection and food.
25. Make fishing line by cutting a length and pulling out the internal strands, there are seven of them, each of which comes apart into two, so there’s 14 thin lines. Tie them together to make fishing line.
26. Make a net out of the internal strands, which can take a lot of time, but could be useful.
27. Tie straight sticks around a broken leg or arm to make a splint.
28. Tie a sling to hold an injured arm.
29. Sew a wound using the internal strands. For thinner thread untwist one of the internal strands.
30. Make a tourniquet to slow loss of blood
31. Make a stretcher by running paracord between two long poles.
There are 31 uses for paracord, from simple applications to survival applications. It is quite a versatile piece of gear to have, and it’s very inexpensive for what you get. I keep paracord in all kinds of places, in my truck, my packs, around the house, its uses are infinite, and it takes up very little space.
If you use paracord for other uses, please share your ideas!