What is it?
Well for the military, campers, and hikers paracord has the versatility of duct tape or WD40. That ubiquitous substance that you can always find a use for. Whether that is hanging something up, creating a clothesline, fixing that broken item or making a useful gadget it is the go to material. It started out as what it is commonly known as, parachute cord. It was the suspension lines for World War II Parachutes. It is still what is used today. As a paratrooper and jumpmaster, okay, okay..retired, I will tell you its proper nomenclature is type three nylon cord. It is also commonly called 550 cord because it has a tensile strength of 550 pounds. This is made up of 7 inner strands of nylon each having 35lbs tensile strength and an outer woven nylon sheath with a strength of 305 lbs. Whoa Curt way more than I wanted to know…Right? Yea probably, but now you can impress your friends with your trivia knowledge. They used 30 strands each 30 feet long attached to the parachute at one foot intervals on the parachutes I jumped. So, some quick math tells me that’s 900 feet of cordage on each parachute. And that’s just the smaller personnel chutes. The larger cargo parachutes had much more. So the soldiers in World War II, and every generation since, found that this cord came in handy for the many things I indicated above. This wonder material is now commonly available to the general public. It isn’t always to military standards, your life probably will not depend on it, but the colors and patterns available go far beyond those drab colors I used in the Army.
So how can you use it?
Well I am not sure we really have time to cover all of the many ways it can be used, but lets talk about some. The most common way you will see it used is as a bracelet. They may be portrayed as a survival bracelet or an emergency bracelet and really that can be. Most of the ones I make for an adult wrist have about eight feet of paracord as part of them. Mine tend to be simply the cord with a buckle, but you can get them with whistles or flint and steel for starting a fire or even a compass. It can also e made into key chains, dog collars, dog leashes, lanyards for your security badge at work or a lanyard to clip your power tool to your belt as you are working construction
Generally, I carry some in my vehicle and certainly when I go backpacking and camping I will have a few hundred feet. Here you see an emergency repair to the buckle of my backpack I had to use on my most recent trip on the Appalachian Trail. That backpack is history, I had many problems with it on that trip, but that’s a story for another time. I have woven the strands together to be used as a tow rope to get another vehicle out of a ditch and used it to climb down a steep incline to retrieve a fallen piece of equipment. Of course, any time you are using this where you are using it to assist in climbing, lowering yourself, or pulling on something make sure you are wearing gloves. It will give you a terrible friction burn if you are not careful. It works well for lashing items together to form a ladder, or to set up a shelter and it weathers very well. I have a rack I set up in the backyard for hanging things on that has been up for over two years and it is still holding tight. It can be wrapped around a steering wheel to improve your grip or even a knife or other tool. I have seen hammocks, belts, planters, water bottle holders, even sandals made with woven and tied cord. One of my projects soon will be to restore the seats and backs for two lawn chairs that the material has given up the ghost on.
Aside from the many utilitarian purposes for paracord -, which should be enough reason to have it right? – it also just looks good. In the first image you see some of the patterns and colors I have. It can have different meanings depending on the patters. I have cord for Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq Veterans. I am usually not without my Afghan Vet bracelet. You can’t go wrong with red, white, and blue cord – USA!, USA!, USA!. I have rainbow colored cord for LGBT or autism awareness, I can combine two colors of cords to represent a favorite college or Pro sports team, or a cause such as breast cancer awareness. Really the combinations are endless. Not into bracelets? No problem, most can be made as keychains as well. Here we have a standard keychain, a dragonfly, and a snake. There are many other patterns that can be used to make very attractive key chains.
Where can I get some paracord?
Pretty much all over. Well the most obvious place is camping departments at major retail stores or at a dedicated outdoor store. I have also bought it in hardware stores and craft stores. Online is usually the best place to find it. I bought a good amount through EBAY where you can get some really good deals. Sometimes 100 feet for 99 cents if you are lucky. If you buy several items though buy it now or auction from the same vendor they will generally combine shipping. This gives you the chance to really maximize your savings. I have a couple of vendors I buy directly from as well. On the other hand, if you just want a bracelet measure your wrist, tell me what colors you are looking for. If I have the colors or can get them and we can conclude the transaction thru PAYPAL.
What have you done? I would really like to see some of your work and hear your ideas. Contact us with either. We can’t wait to Hear from you!!