I wanted to talk to you about paracord, the nylon cord that’s versatile and comes with a whole bunch of uses and benefits. Seriously, I think it’s a must-have for preppers and, honestly, just about anyone.
For me, it’s like the duct tape of cords.
The legit stuff contains seven tough nylon cords within it. Each of these seven cords is made up of a bunch of smaller woven strands. All these little strands and cords are wrapped up in a flexible braided nylon covering.
Now, here’s a cool fact: this real paracord can withstand a whopping 550 pounds of force before breaking. That’s why some folks refer to it as “550 cord.”
Where Paracords Began
The roots of paracord trace back to World War II when it was initially used for making parachutes. People soon realized it’s great for a lot of other things too. Nowadays, both the military and regular folks like us use it for all sorts of everyday tasks.
Now, there are loads of knockoffs on the civilian market. But if you want the real deal military-grade stuff, look for cord designated as MIL-C-5040 Type III and rated for that 550-pound strength.
You might stumble upon commercial or civilian 550 paracord, but not all of them are created equal. Some imitations might not have those seven inner yarns, or if they do, the inner yarns might not have those three strands each.
I did a bit of digging, and according to the actual Mil-C-5040 government document, legit 550 Type III Paracord should have somewhere between 7 and 9 strands, with each strand being a 3-ply.
And, here’s the kicker: it’s not that easy to find paracord that meets those specs exactly. A lot of the civilian market ones are still pretty solid, though. Just remember, if you’re aiming for that extra strength, look for the ones with 7 inner yarns (some only have 5).
You might not believe it, but finding the real Mil-spec paracord with those 7 inner yarns, and each yarn having 3-ply (3 strands), can be a bit of a challenge (a lot of them have 2-ply, which is still pretty good for most purposes).
And let’s not forget the range of colors and lengths paracord comes in.
Quick tip: when you cut it, make sure to burn or singe the ends to prevent fraying. Oh, and here’s a cool trick – you can easily pull out the inner strands for even more uses.
And here are just a few ideas for how to use paracord:
- Braiding for extra strength
- Supporting tents and poles, building shelters
- Creating a clothesline
- Using it as a towline
- Tying down a tarp
- Setting up equipment guy-lines
- Fastening and securing gear to a backpack
- Working as a shoe or boot lace
- Making garden lines
- Crafting shelters
- Trying your hand at a fire bow
- Creating a lanyard
- Putting together a survival kit
- Wrapping knife handles
- Using it as a lifeline – it can support the weight of a person!
- Making leads for livestock and dog leashes
- Even acting as a bowstring
And don’t forget those inner strands – they’re great for sewing, fishing, setting trapping snares, using as dental floss, and even emergency stitches (after boiling them first).
One pro tip from me: to avoid a tangled mess when you’ve got a long length of paracord, which you might cut into shorter lengths as needed, I like to buy mine in 1,000-foot spools. That way, I just roll off what I need when I need it.