Right now, there’s 100 feet of paracord in my bug out bag. There’s 100 feet in my car, and there’s a big spool of it in my basement. And I’m not the only prepper who finds Paracord useful. So why is paracord so popular with preppers?
First, when you are trying to improvise a shelter or make repairs, a bit of rope or cord can help. String some paracord between two trees and you have a roof line over which to throw a tarp or even a military style poncho, and your shelter is quickly taking shape. Break a shoe lace or blow out a zipper on your pack? Paracord can help you get up and running again. Need to hang something up, tie something down, or tie a rope a bunch of stuff together? This tough cord can do it.
Paracord is so versatile because of its strength and make up. It’s also popular because its affordable. A nylon sheath surrounding 7 thin strands, it has a test weight of 550 pounds, which is why it is often called 550 cord. If necessary, you can pull the thinner white strings out of the paracord sheath and you have a line for fishing, for making a snare, a tripwire, or for sewing up a piece of torn clothing or gear.
A quick Google search will reveal plenty of web sites that tell you how to use paracord for prepping, and provide instruction plans for how to make paracord belts, slings, bracelets and and more. Dave’s tips concentrate on more general guidelines for buying and using paracord in the field:
- Only buy 100% nylon cord, make sure it is Mil-Spec, made in the USA, says it is 550 cord, and has 7 strands inside. Rothco sells excellent 550 cord, but they also sell the polyester stuff for less, so you need to be cautious when you buy it to make sure you are getting the right cord.
- Don’t cut the cord unless you absolutely must. Let’s say you are in the wilderness and you string some paracord between two trees to make that lean-to or tent. Maybe it takes 20 feet of your 100-foot roll. Don’t cut the 20 feet off the roll. Think: What if the next day you need a 25-foot piece because the trees are further apart? Use knots you can untie, recover the paracord when you strike camp, and you can use it again.
- When you have to cut the cord and use it for a permanent application, like shoe laces, use the flame of a lighter or small piece of firewood to melt the ends into a solid mass. This will prevent unraveling and make your cord last longer.
- Don’t expect it to hold your weight. Parachutes use lots and lots of lines — don’t expect a strand or two to hold you up. There’s a reason good climbing and rappelling ropes cost at least 20 times as much as paracord does per foot.
- Wear all the paracord bracelets and gear you want, but remember that they are there as a last resort. Use the paracord in your backpack or your car trunk before you unravel the bracelet. Save wearable paracord for those emergencies when you don’t have your pack available.