I had never seen a paracord survival bracelet until last year. It is my understanding, though, that guys in the military have been making them for years now. Recently, they seem to have become a fad. The bartender at my local pub wears one. I have purchased them online and at gun shows. I have even seen a woman at a roller derby match selling them. I am not very crafty, nor do I have much patience, so the two paracord bracelets I own, I just bought. Then Cheaperthandirt.com got the paracord bracelet kits. The review on ROPE-106 says it has easy to read instructions and I have always been interested in learning how to make these, so I decided to give it a whirl. How hard could it be? I used to crank out friendship bracelets using embroidery string by the dozens, so I was pretty sure I could master the paracord bracelet. I used ROPE-105, the OD green kit.
The kit includes 50 feet of 550 paracord, five side release plastic buckles, and an instruction sheet that includes color pictures. The description on the product says it will make five bracelets.
Before you begin, you will need your kit, measuring tape, a lighter, matches, or soldering iron, and sharp scissors or a sharp knife.
A traditional survival paracord bracelet or key fob is one long continuous cord when it comes undone. The paracord bracelets from this particular kit are constructed of two pieces— one shorter and one longer. The 7-1/2-inch bracelets I made have 75 inches as the longest piece. At this point, I do have to put a disclaimer. I have not tested the strength of this cord. I wouldn’t use it to climb rocks or anything, but in a pinch, when you need rope, this 550 paracord will work just fine.
To make your first bracelet, measure your wrist with a tape measure. On the back of the instruction sheet is a sizing chart that tells you how much paracord you will need for each bracelet depending on size. I measured all the guys in the office and took an average to make my first one. I came up with 7-1/2-inches, which requires a total of 94 inches of paracord. What the instruction sheet fails to tell you is that you will need two separate lengths of cord for each bracelet: one for the “spine” and one for your “weave” or knots. For example, for a 7-1/2-inch sized bracelet, cut 19 inches of cord for the spine and then cut 75 inches for the knots, or woven part of the bracelet.
Step 1 tells you to insert the looped portion of the spine, which is the shorter pieces of the two you cut, of the bracelet through one end of the buckle. I used the end of the buckle without the prongs. If you have trouble getting the loop through the buckle, you can use your pen to push it through.
The pictures and written instructions thoroughly explain steps two through four. Step 5 is where you will begin your weave or knot. To make the bracelet shown in the picture, you must do a classic macramé knot. I had to have someone show me how to make the knot. I have taken my own pictures showing each step in creating the knot. Once you get a hang of tying the knot, the rest of the bracelet goes pretty fast.
A tip I have about making your knots is to remember which side you are working on. For every piece I made, I was distracted and ended up forgetting which side I was working on. That means you will have to unravel the bracelet to the point you made the mistake and start over. I just placed my pen down from left to right as I worked, so that if I had to put the project down, I would know which side I was working on.
Steps 10 through 19 explain how to finish the bracelet. Step 18 tells you to melt the two cut pieces of the bracelet spine and then quickly press it onto a piece of cardboard. I was afraid to ruin the first one I made, so I did not burn the ends completely. With my second bracelet, I asked a seasoned professional at making paracord survival bracelets and key fobs to help me make a very secure closing. Burning the ends and fusing them together with a soldering iron would be ideal, but I just had a Bic lighter. My friend showed me how to let the ends actually catch a flame from the lighter and start to melt the cord. Eventually the cord will burn down to a black knob that will be too big to go through the loop of your final knot. You then can quickly smash the bracelet down on cardboard or use the end of your lighter so that all the burned ends will fuse to the bracelet.
Personally, I feel like the instructions are lacking some very basic first steps, which I tried to help you with here. My first attempt went horribly wrong, because I did not understand I needed to cut two separate pieces. Fortunately, I just unraveled the bracelet and turned it into a key fob. The macramé knot is an easy knot, even for those who are very craft-challenged like me. Once you get the hang of it, completing a bracelet takes about 45 minutes. This time accounts for having to unravel and correct mistakes. So far, my first bracelet has survived a 16-hour car ride, a Kansas City Royals baseball game, and a full day of work.
I have made a total of two 7-1/2-inch bracelets requiring a total of 94 inches of cord each and a key fob with one piece of cord that is 66-inches long. I still have 210 inches of cord left.
At around $20, the paracord bracelet kit saves you money. For around $25, I purchased just one bracelet on the Internet. With this kit, you can get at least five bracelets or key fobs for the same price. The paracord bracelet kit is an excellent introduction to learning how to make these. There are many different ways to knot paracord for a myriad of items. Only your imagination is the limit! If you need some ideas, CTD Robbie has some for you.
My next challenge? A 550-paracord rifle sling. I know I’m up for it!