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Want to learn how to do paracord projects so you’ll always have paracord at your fingertips?
Paracord is a great tool. Yes, it’s essentially just a small woven rope, but it has many uses—from practical everyday to potentially life saving.
It’s incredibly strong and durable, which makes it applicable for situations when you need the strongest cord possible. Yet it’s lightweight and small, so you can pack it without noticing, or even wear it as a paracord bracelet or watch band.
Paracord – Why is it so strong?
Paracord, short for parachute cord, is a material made from nylon kernmantle. The rope of a paracord is constructed with an interior core, called the “kern” that is protected by an exterior sheath, called the “mantle”. The core adds durability and flexibility, while the mantle adds protection from weather and abrasion.
The core is made from nylon, a tough yet lightweight material designed with a protein-like chemical structure. The layers or sheets of filaments create an exceptionally strong product that can be made with a minimum strength of up to 750 pounds.
For an interesting video about how paracords are made and tested in a factory, check out this video.
What Can Paracord be Used For?
Parachute cords were originally used by paratroopers during World War II. As you can imagine, the need for an industrial strength material to make parachute cord was essential. Paratroopers quickly found that the strong parachute cord was useful for a variety of other tasks as well. Paracord uses varied from small boot lace fixes to large-scale security for military cargo.
Paracord is now widely used by both military personnel, survivalists, outdoor enthusiasts and civilians from all walks of life. The paracord survival bracelet became a popular subject of paracord projects along with other parachute cord crafts.
The list of paracord uses is endless. Here are a few examples:
- Bags, pouches and tools – paracord bag, paracord pouch, paracord laptop harness, paracord backpack, paracord zipper pull, paracord keychain with hidden compartment, paracord knife handle
- Food and water – paracord koozie, paracord snare traps, paracord fishing lure, paracord water bottleholder
- Clothing – paracord belt, paracord watch band, paracord neck lanyard, paracord headband, two color paracord braceletNew
- Shelter and fire – paracord hammock, paracord blanket, paracord firekit lanyard, paracord lighter wrap
- Weapons – paracord bullwhip, paracord monkey fist, paracord rifle sling, paracord bandolier, paracord slingshot, paracord key fob
- Pets and misc. – paracord dog collar, paracord dog harness, paracord dog leash, paracord wallet, paracord radio strap, paracord animals, paracord handle wrap, glow in the dark paracord
Different Types & Qualities of Paracord
There are six different types of paracord defined by a range of qualities and features.
Type I has a minimum strength of 95 lb (43 kg) and a minimum length per pound of 950 ft (290 m). This type can have 4 to 7 core yarns and a 32/1 or 16/2 sheath structure.
Type IA has a minimum strength of 100 lb (45 kg) and a minimum length per pound of 1050 ft (320 m). This type has no core yarnsand a 16/1 sheath structure.
Type II has a minimum strength of 400 lb (181 kg) and a minimum length per pound of 265 ft (81 m). This type has 4 to 7 core yarns and a 32/1 or 36/1 sheath structure.
Type IIA has a minimum strength of 225 lb (102 kg) and a minimum length per pound of 495 ft (151 m). This type has no core yarns and a 32/1 or 36/1 sheath structure.
Type III has a minimum strength of 550 lb (249 kg) and a minimum length per pound of 225 ft (69 m). This type has 7 to 9 core yarns and a 32/1 or 36/1 sheath structure.
Type IV has a minimum strength of 750 lb (340 kg) and a minimum length per pound of 165 ft (50 m). This type has 11 core yarns and a 32/1, 36/1 or 44/1 sheath structure.
Out of all of these types, Type III, referred to as 550 paracord or paracord 550, is the most common. This is due to it’s high minimum strength in a combination with long length per pound and the presence of 7 to 9 core yarns, making it a strong and durable as well as affordable.
To make sure you buy the best quality of paracord, consider the strength. For common outdoor use, choose 550 lbs or higher for maximum toughness.
Why Should You Pack Paracord in Your Bug Out Bag?
There are several reasons why you should pack paracord in your bug out bag for every adventure, no matter if it’s a small outing or a treacherous adventure.
- Paracord is lightweight. You can easily carry it on your body or in your backpack at all times and it won’t take up very much weight. Usually, it is woven into the form of items such as a survival bracelet, a paracord watch, a paracord sling, paracord buckles, paracord key fob, paracord necklace and much more. All of these items can be unraveled as soon as you need them.
- Paracord is useful. From hunting bows and game traps to survival rope and just about anything you can think of that needs to be tied, pulled or held – there’s tons of options for paracord uses. Paracord can be unraveled and the inner strands can produce even more length if the situation calls for it.
- Paracord is cheap. Considering the enormous amount of paracord uses, it’s a very affordable material. For example, you can get a paracord spool of various lengths on Amazon for as low as $3.49.
- Paracord is versatile. While the material itself can be used in several outdoor survival or emergency scenarios, it can also be crafted into a variety of interesting and valuable items.
- Paracord is weatherproof. High-quality paracord will not rot or develop mildew. This will allow you to use your paracord time and time again in any type of weather.
Paracord Projects 101: How to Get Started
High-Quality Paracord. You want to use real US government certified 100% nylon 550 paracord for your paracord projects. There are several off-shoot brands – try to avoid them by looking at the materials. You generally want a 550 paracord with nylon and a 7 to 9 strand core. This equates to greater overall strength and more length of yarn and cord to work with. You’ll find a wide range of paracord colors, including shades of greens, blues, reds, purples, yellows, blacks, whites and everything in between. USA made paracord is considered to be one of the highest-quality options you can find on the market, so look for that when shopping.
Paracord Jig. A jig is a device used for paracord projects to hold the cords in place and create different paracord braids and paracord weaves. It’s useful for correctly measuring the length of paracord while designing paracord bracelets and other projects so you can avoid the headache of needing to start over when things become uneven. When it comes to designing things like a paracord monkey fist or a paracord zipper pull, using both hands makes things a lot easier. You can buy various types of jigs from places like Amazon, such as this Ezzzy-Jig Bracelet Maker. Or you can make one on your own using instructions from books or online resources (check out this video for an example on how to make a paracord jig without a saw).
Scissors, Exacto, or Pocket Knife. Paracord is an incredibly strong material and therefore not easy to cut with your average pocket knife or house scissors. You’ll need an extremely sharp knife, exacto or scissors to properly cut paracord. The cut needs to be clean as possible to produce a limited amount of loose strands that would comprise the entire paracord project. Learn how to properly cut paracord below.
Lighter. A lighter is used to melt the ends of the paracord after it’s cut. The lighter will melt the material, causing it to become glue-like and sealed. This allows for a clean cord end without any loose strands that could unravel unexpectedly. You can melt the end of a paracord with a lighter by briefly brushing the flame over the tip, causing it to melt and singe away the loose ends. Either lick your finger first or use the butt of the lighter to press down on the burned end of the paracord to ensure it stays nice and smooth.
Clips or Buckles. When crafting paracord weaves and paracord braids, you’ll need to be able to close the loops, especially if you’re making a paracord keychain, paracord lanyard or paracord bracelet. This is often done with clips or buckles. The wide 5/8 inch buckle is commonly used for paracord bracelets and paracord lanyards. There are a few different ways of attaching paracord to buckles – one common method is the cow’s hitch. Check out this video for an effective method of using buckles on paracord bracelets.
Cutting Board or Mat. Cutting boards are useful for a wide range of paracord projects because you’ll need a place for safely cutting and chopping. Look for a strong, wooden cutting board or mat with scratch resistance.
Paracord How To’s
Before you get started on paracord projects there are a few basic how to’s to learn. This will ultimately make things go much smoother when you set out to complete your first project.
If you’re completely new to paracord projects, you’ll want to check out my complete guide to paracord knots, weaves, and braids.
How to Cut Paracord
If you want to cut paracord at home, there are a few simple steps you can follow to stay safe and make a clean cut. There are a couple different ways you can cut the paracord (traditionally it is done with a hot knife, but that’s not usually practical for DIY paracord projects).
What You’ll Need:
- A lighter
- Very sharp scissors, exacto or pocket knife
- A length of paracord
- A piece of wood or chopping block
What To Do:
You can quickly cut the paracord by folding it in half and cutting into the fold with a sharp blade. This should get the job done but it will leave more frayed ends.
You can also heat your paracord carefully over a flame and make the cut at the heated area. You’ll have to be careful about the length of time the heat is applied. See this article for more tips on this method.
Hold your paracord down on a chopping block and carefully use your knife to push down on the paracord to make a cleaner cut. The key is to make sure you are pinching the cord with your fingers to prevent the inner strands from sliding out of the sheath (see video).
How to Fuse Paracord
If you want to learn how to make a 2 color paracord bracelet, you’ll need to understand the process of fusing paracord. Fusing two colors of paracord can be done in a variety of different ways, generally involving melting with a heat source. If you’re looking for a simple practice method, the easiest way is to melt both ends with a lighter and smash them together. For more serious paracord projects, the Manny method is thought to be one of the best ways to fuse paracord.
What You’ll Need:
- Two pieces of paracord
- One or two paracord needles
- A pair of sharp scissors
- A lighter
What To Do:
Snip the free ends to expose the inner strands and trim them back, about half an inch to three quarters of an inch. This will allow the inner strands to be hidden and pushed back into the sheath. Thread the needle onto one end for each of the paracord strands. This is for stretching the sheath. Singe the end of the paracord and twist the needle into the sheath, widening it. Do this for both cords.
You’ll have to be careful with the next step. Use the needle (threaded onto the opposite cord) to pierce (not cut) the end of the other paracord’s sheath one or two centimeters down from the opening. Thread the other paracord through the hole. Do this again for the other color. This should thread the two colors together after you pull them tightly. See video.
Use a Paracord Jig
There are a few different types of jigs you can use and the way you use them will depend on what type of paracord projects you’re working on. For paracord bracelets, using a jig is fairly straightforward. Some versions, including the Ezzzy-Jig, already come with buckles. You can use the ruler on the jig to line up your paracord and estimate the overall length you need to create a well-fitted bracelet. To learn more about the benefits of jigs, check out this link.
What You’ll Need:
- A jig with accurate measurements
- Buckles for paracord bracelets
- A fair amount of paracord (about 8 or 9 feet for most bracelets)
What To Do:
Thread the paracord through the buckles on the jig. Use the jig to measure and hold the paracord in place while you perform the paracord weave or paracord braid. Undo the buckles at the end. See video.
41 Cool 550 Paracord Project Ideas
Paracord Survival Bracelet
A paracord survival bracelet, otherwise referred to as a 550 cord bracelet or a parachute bracelet, is a great item to start with if you’re interested in parachute cord projects. Here is a paracord tutorial with survival bracelet instructions that you can use to get started.
Paracord Belt Project
A paracord belt is a great project if you’d like to have a large amount of paracord available with the convenience of wearing it as a practical belt around your waste. Check out this video on how to make a paracord belt that you can quickly unravel.
Corkscrew Paracord Survival Bracelet
This is a beautiful and unique survival bracelet made by weaving a corkscrew pattern. Check out this video to learn how to make a corkscrew paracord survival bracelet with two different colors.
Paracord Bracelet Project
If you’re interested in trying different paracord bracelet designs, there are hundreds of books and online resources to help you learn how to make a paracord bracelet, how to make a wide paracord bracelet, how to make a paracord bracelet without buckle and so on. Just search “YouTube Paracord Bracelet” and you will see tons of results. For a very simple paracord bracelet tutorial, check out this video.
With this paracord project, you can combine the practical use of a watch with the visual and tactical benefits of paracord. Check out this link for instructions on how to make a paracord watchband that provides a fair amount of paracord.
Paracord Key Fob
A paracord key fob can be attached to your bags as a keychain for a cool yet functional accessory. Check out this video on how to make a paracord key fob with two colors.
Paracord Project Knife Handle Wrap
If you’re a survivalist, a prepper or an outdoorsmen, you’ll likely carry a fixed-blade or pocketknife with you at all times. Why not give it a paracord handle? Check out this link for instructions on how to make a paracord knife handle wrap.
Solid Gear Wrap
A paracord solid gear wrap can be useful for holding your survival gear and tools for easy and comfortable access. Check out this guide to learn how to craft a solid gear paracord wrap.
Paracord Dog Collar
Does your dog love to go hiking and camping with you? Why not give him or her a paracord dog collar, which will have multiple purposes: a cool accessory, a firm dog collar and a useful survival tool. Check out this link for making a sturdy dog collar in two colors.
Keychain with Secret Compartment
If you’d like to craft a multi-purpose keychain with a secret compartment, a paracord keychain is a great way to achieve that goal. You can fit in money, matches or any other small materials you find to be useful for your needs. Check out this link for instructions on how to make a paracord keychain with a secret compartment.
If you have a wallet, you know how important it is that it stays with you at all times. Making a paracord wallet can also allow you to have a useful resource for paracord thread. Watch this video to learn how to make a wallet entirely out of paracord.
Disposable Lighter Wrap
If you use disposable lighters, giving them a paracord lighter wrap is a great way to add multi-purpose. A wrap can also help you keep track of the lighter. Check out this video for a very simple lighter wrap method with paracord.
Paracord Rifle Sling
A paracord rifle sling is a heavy duty, multi-functional option for carrying your rifle or gun in the field. Check out this guide to learn how to make a paracord rifle sling.
Axe Handle Wrap
An axe can be used as a versetle outdoor tool, so giving it a paracord wrap can really make it an efficient survivalist tool. Check out this video to learn how to make a paracord axe handle wrap that you can unravel within seconds.
Paracord Giant Monkey Fist
A paracord giant monkey fist is a unique and durable accessory that can also be used in self defense and exercise or training purposes. Check out this guide to learn how to make a large paracord monkey fist with a pool ball.
You’ve probably seen plenty of store-bought lanyards for holding keys, but have you ever considered making a paracord key lanyard? A well-made paracord neck lanyard can not only hold your keys and look interesting, but it can also be unraveled for a source of survival paracord. Check out this guide to learn how to make a 550 paracord lanyard.
Mini Paracord Pouch
If you’re a survivalist or prepper as well as a minimalist, you can certainly benefit from a small paracord pouch. With this tiny little tool, you can store several small objects (including mini survival kits) and have around 36 feet of paracord at your disposal. Check out this guide to learn how to make a mini paracord pouch with different colors.
Paracord Bundle Compression Strap and Handle
A paracord bundle compression strap and handle can be useful for carrying various types of gear, including sleeping bags, clothing and supplies. Check out this guide to learn how to make a strong paracord compression strap with a handle.
Water, along with a container to transport it, is an essential item for every survivalist, prepper or outdoor enthusiast. You can give your water an additional useful feature (as well as improved temperature control) with a paracord koozie. Check out this video to learn how to make a paracord koozie with a chain sinnet paracord weave.
Paracord Dog Toys
If your dog loves to chew, try making them a heavy duty and practical paracord dog toy. Check out this guide to learn how to make paracord dog toys for heavy chewers.
Paracord Eyeglass Lanyard
Whether you wear eyeglasses or sunglasses, attaching them with a paracord eyeglass lanyard can be a useful way to keep them secure on your body. Check out this guide to learn how to make a paracord glasses lanyard that’s adjustable.
If you’re going to have a chair at your house or campsite, make it a paracord chair for maximum functionality. Check out this guide to learn how to make an adjustable and collapsible paracord chair that’s also comfortable.
Paracord Multi-Tool Pouch
A paracord multi-tool pouch can be useful for storing a range of items, including flashlights, mobile phones and survival kits. Check out this guide on how to make a durable paracord pouch.
Paracord Zipper Pulls
If you’re already using a backpack, gun bag or jacket, adding a paracord zipper pull can be improve convenience and practicality. Check out this video on how to make a paracord zipper pull using a cobra paracord knot.
Paracord Drawstring Bag
A paracord drawstring bag can be used to carry clothing, blankets and other supplies safely and securely. Check out this guide to learn how to make a paracord drawstring pouch bag.
Paracord Pot Holder Wrap
A paracord pot holder wrap is a great addition to include with your outdoor cooking supplies. Check out this guide on how to make a paracord pot holder wrap that will protect your hands without the need for an oven mit.
Paracord Double Monkey Fist Bookmark
If you’re looking for one of the best cool paracord projects, consider crafting a paracord double monkey fist bookmark. This paracord bookmark can additionally be utilized as a self defense tool and a source of survival rope. Check out this guide to learn how to make a paracord double monkey fist.
Paracord Army Man
Try making a paracord army man figure to improve your paracord knot and hand-eye coordination skills. Check out this guide on how to make a poseable paracord army man.
Paracord USB Bracelet
A paracord USB bracelet provides you will all the useful features of a survival bracelet with an additional USB feature. Check out this video to learn how to make a USB paracord bracelet using a silicone USB bracelet.
Paracord Rock Sling
A paracord rock sling is useful for hunting or self defense. Check out this guide to learn how to make a simple paracord rock sling.
Paracord Headband Project
A paracord headband is a cool paracord project for enhancing a traditional headband accessory. Check out this guide to learn how to make a simple paracord headband with two colors.
Quick Deploy Paracord Fob
If you like the idea of having quick access to a decent amount of survival rope without the hassle of cutting apart a bracelet or keychain, consider making a quick deploy paracord fob. Check out this video to learn how to make a paracord fob that will give you access to paracord rope in as little as one second.
Paracord Headphone Cords
If you have an old pair of headphones, crafting a paracord headphone sleeve is a great way to give them extra strength and decrease tangle. Check out this guide to learn how to paracord earbud cords.
If you use a Leatherman multitool or knife, crafting a Leatherman pouch is a functional way to keep it secured. Check out this guide to learn how to make a paracord case for a Leatherman.
Paracord Backpack Strap Wrap
Attach a paracord backpack strap wrap to your gear and have an fair amount of extra paracord immediately at hand without taking up any extra space. Check out this guide to learn how to make a paracord strap wrap.
Paracord iPhone Case
iPhones are generally reliable devices for fieldwork, but they need resilient cases. Check out this guide to learn how to make a paracord iPhone case sleeve using a homemade jig.
Paracord Bull Whip
Looking for challenging and seriously cool paracord projects? Try making a paracord bull whip. Check out this guide.
A flashlight is a vital tool for outdoor activities and emergency situations. Adding a flashlight wrap can make it even more useful. Check out this video to learn how to make a quick-deploy paracord flashlight wrap.
Paracord Water Jug Harness
Making a paracord water jug harness is useful for carrying your water bottles on your gear and having an extra source of survival rope. Check out this guide to learn how to make a paracord water jug harness.
Paracord Bow Sling
Are you a bow hunter? Consider the toughness and practicality of a paracord bow sling. Check out this guide to learn how to make a paracord bow sling with two colors of paracord.
Paracord Hammock in a Nalgene
If you planning on staying outdoors overnight or longer, you’ll find a paracord hammock in a nalgene to be extremely useful. Essentially a hammock in a jar, you can use it for a fishing net, storage, a place to sleep or a shelter. Check out this guide to learn how to make a multi-use paracord hammock in a nalgene.
Supply List for Paracord Projects:
- Jumbo Lacing Needle
- Paracord Knife or Scissors
- Lighter or Candle
- Ruler or Measuring Tape
If you’d love for a chance to get creative and craft something interesting, practical and durable – consider taking up a paracord project!
Paracord is a practical and multi-functional tool used for a variety of purposes, including gear storage, shelter, hunting materials, weapons, clothing and aesthetic accessories.
Whether you’re an outdoor survivalist, a prepper or a paracord hobbyist, you can choose from a wide range of paracord projects to suit your individual needs and interests.
Photo attribution: Flickr creative commons: Dave Murphy, AngryJulieMonday, Adam Meek
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