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Have you ever been in need of a reliable yet easy-to-carry rope or cord? Perhaps you’ve wished you had a strong cord readily available for building a shelter, setting a game trap or making a splint?
You can buy expensive and bulky supplies and equipment for these tasks. Or, you can get creative and enjoy the versatile benefits of a paracord.
There’s no limit when it comes to things to make with a paracord. You can wear it on your wrist or around your neck while you’re out in the field, and have a handy tool for just about anything you can think of.
If you’re in a survival situation, you can use paracords to make bows, set snare nooses and triggers, go fishing and help set up a campsite. If you’re a prepper, you can keep a paracord pouch and paracord survival straps with you for any emergency situations that may require pressure or holding something in place.
Why should you have a paracord bracelet and know how to tie a paracord knot? They’re lightweight, easy to carry, simple yet incredibly diverse and way more useful than your average necklace or bracelet. You can craft a custom paracord bracelet or keychain using a variety of paracord knots, paracord braids and paracord weaves with just a few inexpensive materials.
Whether you’re a prepper, an outdoor enthusiast or a crafter, there are hundreds of beneficial paracord uses to choose from.
What is Paracord?
Paracord is short for “parachute cord”. As the name suggests, paracords were originally created to be used for the suspension lines of parachutes, notably during World War II.
Paracords are made from nylon kernmantle, which is an incredibly strong, durable and flexible material for optimal tensile strength. This cord is built to hold a substantial amount of weight and tension without breaking, making it absolutely imperative in many situations where lives are on the line.
Airborne units and divisions originally used paracord for harnesses, tools for containment, tying equipment and securing nets. Paracord is often used by military personnel and astronauts. Nylon is the military standard material used to make paracord, but there are other variations made with polyester.
The incredibly diverse number uses for paracord was quickly made known by civilians and the general public. To this day, people continue to get more and more creative with paracord projects.
Camping and Outdoor Survival
When it comes to surviving in the wilderness, there are four things you’ll need fairly quickly: fire, shelter, food and water. Having a paracord survival bracelet, a paracord hammock and other paracord items from 550 paracord can help you with all four of those things. You can easily wear a paracord belt or have a paracord keychain attached to your clothing at all times. When you need them in a survival situation, you can unravel the paracord and use it for a variety of survival techniques and tools.
- Survival bows and arrows for hunting game or self-defense
- Snare traps for catching game
- Paracord rock sling
- Bow drill for fire starting
- Replace bootlaces, suspenders and belts to secure clothing
- Fishing line made with 550 paracord, a sharp hook and bait for catching fish
- Shelter from 550 paracord tied with cover and trees
- Straps, nets and handles for carrying gear and supplies
- Paracord snow shoes
- Paracord hammock and hanging chairs for sleeping
Prepping and Emergencies
Keeping a paracord necklace or a paracord belt is a great tactic for the preparation of emergency situations. If you or someone else is injured and in need of a splint or a tourniquet, you can simply unravel your paracord bracelet or paracord wrap and turn it into a life-saving tool. The strong, flexible materials of paracords also make for effective self defense items when properly knotted. Even a small amount of paracord from a paracord keychain can still provide you with a solid apparatus to be used in more desperate situations.
- Tourniquet for severe bleeding
- Splint for injured arms and legs
- Shackle lock attached to backpack and food storage to dissuade thieves
- Paracord keychain or pouch for storing matches and other survival items
- Bullwhip for self defense
- Paracord monkey fist for self defense
- Paracord key fob for self defense
- Paracord bandoiler for safekeeping ammo
Crafting and Fashion
There are hundreds of paracord projects you can try and not all of them are specifically for emergencies and survival. Creating paracord crafts is a great way to turn everyday, one-use items into multi-functional tools. If you’d like to get creative with paracord bracelet designs and patterns, there are a variety of paracord weaves and ideas to choose from for every taste. Making paracord crafts for commonly used devices such as dog collars, keychains and phone cases is also a great idea for functional, unique gift-giving.
- Dog collars
- Dog toys
- Paracord watch for watchbands
- Paracord koozie for keeping drinks cold
- Laptop device harness
- Paracord lanyard for keeping keys and ID badges
- Toys and figures
- Drawstring bags for laundry
- Paracord wallet
Types of Paracord
There are various basic types of paracord, usually distinguished by differences in minimum strength, length, core yarns and sheath structure. The most common type of paracord that people use is the 550 paracord, also referred to as Type III.
The “550” refers to the strength of the cord and the Type III is one of the strongest types (only surpassed by Type IV 750 paracords). The military -specified 550 paracord is designed with three nylon fibers and an inner core, unlike the two fibers in commercial versions. For an extensive list of the different types of paracords (six in total), check out this link.
The best paracord will balance a combination of powerful minimum strength and long length. You want a sturdy and durable paracord, but you also want enough of it to be able to use it for more situations. Additionally, the best paracord options will be resistant to UV rays, fading, rot and mildew.
The 550 paracord is considered to be one of the best paracord types to buy because it’s incredably strong, has seven innerstrands and a minimum length of 225 per pound. While other types are available for a longer minimum length, they do not rival the strength of the 550, which is ideal for more heavy-duty situations.
In general, the best paracord for you will depend on how you intend to use the cord and how much you need. Weaker, cheaper paracord may be suitable for basic crafting, but 550 or higher is a better choice for outdoor and survival needs.
Where to Buy Paracord?
Are you wondering where to buy paracord without breaking the bank? You can buy cheap paracord products from a variety of sources for very fair prices, especially if you only need minimal amount of length. You can also purchase a paracord kit and 550 paracord supplies to help you get started if you’re just learning the basics of paracord knots, braids and weaves.
You can buy paracord at survival outdoor shops, both online and in-store. Cabela’s is an example of a popular shop where you can buy various paracord colors and supplies.
Amazon is another great resource on the web where you can buy bulk paracord, paracord spool products and USA made paracord for a variety of types and colors. For example, you can get USA made paracords on Amazon in a huge assortment of colors and two lengths (50 and 100 feet) starting at less than $10.
Types of Paracord Knots, Paracord Braids, & Paracord Weave
Are you wondering how to braid and weave paracord? Would you like some paracord ideas or tips on how to make a survival bracelet? If you’ve chosen the type of paracord you want, including the color and length, you’ll now need to know about the different types of paracord knots, paracord brains and paracord weaves. In essence, these are the different methods you can use to tie, craft or put together paracord in a way that is useful for a specified tasks or functions.
What to Avoid When Starting Out
There are a few beginner mistakes to avoid when starting out with learning to tie paracord knots, braids and weaves. Avoiding or knowing how to overcome these mistakes will help to ensure you have a positive experience and a more successful outcome with your paracord projects.
- Do your research first. While it might seem overwhelming, there are plenty of resources that can help you get started. Take some time to see what works best and what has positive reviews and feedback. Watch as many tutorials as you can handle and find techniques that work for you. Successfully learning how to make a survival bracelet won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth it.
- Make sure you start out with enough cord length. A common mistake is running out of cord, causing large amounts of frustration. Want to learn how to make a paracord bracelet with two colors? The first step is making sure you have enough length in both colors. Give yourself extra cord, even if you think you’ve accurately estimated. It’s easier to use extra cord for scraps than it is having to start over an entire project.
- Be careful when melting or joining two different cords together. The Manny method has shown to be an efficient way of joining cords.
- Finish properly. When learning how to tie a paracord bracelet, the way you finish your DIY paracord bracelet will play a large role in its functionality down the road. Don’t use the overhand knot (the knot commonly known by most people for tying shoes, etc.). They are not secure enough. Take some time to learn how to do a proper finishing knot, such as the lanyard knot, to save yourself some headache down the road.
- Know that it takes time. While people in videos might make paracord projects look easy, that doesn’t mean they are. Be patient with yourself. Whether you’re learning how to make a paracord lanyard or reading paracord keychain instructions, the process can get overwhelming. Don’t get frustrated if the knot, braid or weave doesn’t turn out very well the first or second time around. Keep practicing!
#1 – Cobra Paracord Knot
The paracord cobra weave is one of the basic weaves for beginners.
What You’ll Need:
- A long string of paracord (8 or 9 feet depending on your wrist size, see video)
- A sharp knife or scissors
- Plastic buckle
Step One: Measure out the paracord according to your wrist side if you’re making a bracelet (see video). Thread the buckle. Hold the strings straight alongside each other.
Step Two: Form a loop with the left cord. While you’re doing this, put the rest of the left cord behind the two main strings.
Step Three: Take the right string and bring it under the left and back over (see video).
Step Four: Pull to tighten and repeat. If you’re making a bracelet, be mindful of what side is away from your wrist and what side is toward your wrist. After the first knot, there will be a lump on the left side. For the next knot, do the opposite side under, and so on (see video).
Step Five: Make the last knot extremely tight. Cut the ends up with a sharp knife. Burn the end pieces with the lighter – this will melt down the cord for a clean seal.
#2 – King Cobra Paracord Knot
The king cobra paracord knot is a larger version of the cobra paracord knot done over the top of a finished cobra knot bracelet.
What You’ll Need:
- A long string of paracord (8 or 9 feet depending on your wrist size)
- A sharp knife or scissors
- A finished normal cobra paracord knot bracelet
Step One: Take the two ends together and pull to find the middle. Now you’ll have a loop.
Step Two: Put the loop behind the finished bracelet (starting at the same base you started from for the normal cobra)
Step Three: Do the same weave as you would the normal cobra – pass the left side over the top of the bracelet, cross over the right side, take the right side and go under the bracelet and through the left side (see video). Continue on, interchanging the sides of the strands each time. You may have to do some adjusting to tighten everything up.
Step Four: Cut the ends off and burn them as you would in a normal cobra knot.
#3 – Snake Paracord Knot
The paracord snake knot is used to make a variety of paracord keychains, paracord lanyards and other paracord crafts.
What You’ll Need:
- A piece of paracord (length will vary depending on your desired craft)
Step One: Fold the paracord in half.
Step Two: Make a loop on the left cord side.
Step Three: Insert the right end through the loop.
Step Four: Take the right end and place it behind the left one. Insert it through the loop that was just made (see video).
Step Five: Carefully tighten up the knot. There should be a loop at the end.
Step Six: Flip it over. Place the right cord side behind the left. Loosen up the first knot and insert the end through that loop (see video).
Step Seven: Continue this process, flipping the knot each time.
#4 – Trilobite Paracord Knot
The trilobite is fairly simple method of making paracord braids, great for making paracord keychains.
What You’ll Need:
- Two different colors of paracord at 5 feet each (depending on what you’re crafting)
- A nail or hook for hanging the cords on while you braid
Step One: Hang the two pieces of paracord on a nail, one behind the other. Make sure they are folded over and you are hanging them from the middle.
Step Two: Take the the first color in your left hand and the second color in your right hand. You’re now going to use your fingers to braid them.
Step Three: The two middle strings are the core and the two outer strings are what will be weaved. Start with the right exterior string and put it over the two core strings and under the left string. Take the left string and weave it under the two core ones and over the right one (see video). Wrap the left string (now on the right side) once around the right string. Do this for the opposite side.
Step Four: Repeat the process for the paracord weaves. When you get to the end, you’ll need to cinch the bar. Do this by taking it off the hook and pulling the bottom two core strings. Pull the strings at the top again.
#5 – Fishtail Paracord Knot
The fishtail paracord knot creates a very clean look and sturdy knot for a variety of uses.
What You’ll Need:
- A piece of paracord about 8 or 9 feet long
- A buckle (5/8)
- A sharp knife or scissors
- A lighter
Step One: Thread the cord through the buckle from the outside. Thread in the second half of the buckle (see video). This is your chance to see if the bracelet fits.
Step Two: You’ll now have four lines of cord to work with between the two buckles: two exteriors and two cores. Take the left cord and pull it over the second one (#2) and under the third one (#3).
Step Three: Tighten it and then take the right exterior (#4) and weave it over the #3 and under #2. Repeat the process.
Step Four: Make sure everything is very tight – you shouldn’t have any space left. Cut the ends off and seal them with the lighter.
#6 – Lanyard Paracord Knot
The lanyard knot is similar to the common overhand knot, but more visually pleasing and stronger.
What You’ll Need:
- A piece of paracord (length will vary)
- Sharp knife or scissors
Step One: Bend the paracord over in half.
Step Two: Take your middle and ring finger and loop the cord around it so there is a piece of cord hanging on either side.
Step Three: Make a loop with the right hanging side. Lay it over across the left hanging side.
Step Four: Take the left strand and go underneath the right strand. Feed it through the loop, going over and then under the left side (see video).
Step Five: Now you’ll have something similar to a figure 8, with two strands sticking out on either side. Take the strands on each end and bring them around and through the center in the diamond shape in the middle. Go counterclockwise.
Step Six: Tug on the two strands you just pulled through the center. Use your fingers to work the knot and cinch things up.
Step Seven: Don’t tighten up your knot just yet. Adjust it as needed (the excess side can be cinched to move the knot – see video).
Step Eight: Pull the knot as tight as you can, cut off the access and melt with the lighter.
#7 – Monkey Fist Paracord Knot
The monkey fist paracord knot is a fun yet challenging knot used to create a tool for self-defense or decoration.
What You’ll Need:
- About 4 feet of paracord (more will be needed for bigger projects)
- A steel ball bearing, golf ball, marble or some other item to go on the inside of the fist. What you use will depend on how big you want the monkey first paracord knot to be. For this tutorial, use a marble.
Step One: Use your fingers as a jig. Start by looping the cord over your index, middle and ring finger. Pass it over three times (more will be needed for larger monkey fists).
Step Two: Use your thumb to pinch what would have been the fourth pass. Take the strand and go behind your fingers and around the three. Do that three times. Make sure to keep them lined up properly.
Step Three: Insert your marble in the center that you’ve made (see video). Loop the cord all the way around the marble.
Step Four: Go horizontal through the loop of the three, then take it back down through the bottom (see video). Repeat. Make sure you have three strands on all sides of the fist.
Step Five: Cinch out all the slack. This may take some time.
Are you still wondering why you should use paracord? Here are some reminders:
- It’s very cheap and comes in a variety of colors
- It’s weather-resistant and holds up to most wear and tear
- It’s very lightweight and won’t weigh down your backpack, even when you’re carrying bulk paracord supplies
- You can easily have it in the form of a paracord bracelet, paracord belt or paracord necklace and keep it on your body at all times so you’re prepared for a any situation
Paracords are meant to aid you in using your wits and the environment to your advantage. They’re beneficial for accessing extra pieces of rope when you have no other options. While you’ll need to get creative with paracords, there are hundreds of guides and videos on the web that you can use to teach yourself how to properly use and tie a paracord knot for every situation, from survival to crafts. Learning to make paracord braids and paracord weaves is also a great way to improve your hand-eye coordination and learn skills that would be useful in the field.
There is a wide range of paracord projects you can work on to meet your needs, whether you’re making self-defense weapons, survival gear, dog collars or charms. Preppers should use paracords because they meet all the prepper criteria: they’re easy to carry at all times and diversely capable of being used for all sorts of circumstances. No matter what you’re preparing for, a paracord is sure to earn its keep.
Photo attribution: Flickr creative commons: GA-Kayaker