Camping & Survival

Quick Prepper Tip: 20 Uses for Paracord

Making a Lanyard from paracord

Only a few short decades ago, it seemed as if survivalists and the military were the only ones using paracord. Today, the extremely versatile and popular paracord is found most anywhere and comes in a multitude of vivid colors. Now, average folks are discovering what military and survival experts have known for years—high-quality paracord has endless uses and is one of those items you want to carry with you at all times, especially for hunting and camping.

Paracord is stronger and has more options than most standard nylon cords. In a survival situation, the paracord is usually the better option. Why? 550 paracord has a rating of 550, so its minimum breaking point is 550 pounds. Also, a high-quality paracord has an outer woven casing that usually covers anywhere from four to seven internal strands (depending on the manufacturer). You also may pull apart each of the internal strands to separate them into smaller diameter threads for endless options.

Here are 20 uses for a quality paracord:

  1. Lean-to shelter lashing
  2. Rock climbing
  3. Lanyard
  4. Survival bracelet
  5. Belt
  6. Rifle sling
  7. Shoelaces
  8. Dog leash and collar
  9. Woven into a chair or hammock sling
  10. Woven into a net
  11. Tie-down
  12. Sewing
  13. Fishing line
  14. Snare
  15. Trap
  16. Tourniquet
  17. Dental floss, using the strings inside
  18. Woven into a ladder
  19. Lashed to bind together sticks
  20. Stringer for your bow

Share your favorite uses for paracord in the comment section below.


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Comments (12)

  1. 43 years ago I got a Buck folding knife for Every day carry in the navy. The south china sea rotted the leather sheath in a short time. Its still my EDC today. I drilled it for a lanyard with a small 3 finger loop .This gives me about 8 feet of cord. Latter I realised I had turned it into a heavy brass and steal sap or black jack. The old folders are heavy. This now gives me 2 defensive tools in one plus it is still my work knife. Buck built them good. Hope this is still legal in the Peoples Republic of California. If not I will remove the loop.

    1. The loop snagged on a piece of metal and pulled the knife out of my pocket ! Found it hanging hours latter. Will have to rethink the loop.It may be a pick pocket risk.

  2. We used to tie one end to our belt, and the other end to the brand new LT’s. Nothing worse than losing your butter bar in the field.

  3. There’s parachute cord and then there’s rope and I’m sorry but half of the recommendations above don’t make sense outside of a book. For tying something or someone up it works fine but I have to agree with Chris it’s not designed for climbing. A ladder? I wouldn’t want my weight suspended on it and as far as using it as a tourniquet? Ouch! A folded triangular bandage as per ARC instructions and a stick works much better. Fishing? What kind of a hook are you suing that has an eye big enough for parachute cord? I think we’re stretching it on this one. What do you think folks? hank

    1. For some of us, it’s not what we think, but what we know. With 32 years military service, I can tell you what I know about paracord. But I would still never select gear intended to support me or my family in a life threatening situation based solely on someone’s word. It is your responsibility to physically test gear in simulated situations before adopting it.

      A couple of mentions before I continue are: I am referring to real parachute cord per military specifications, not the increasingly popular Walmart knock-off cord. Also please keep in mind that even though the intent of this article appears to encourage uses beyond military and survival, I am writing only within a pure military, survival, or emergency context.

      That said, parachute cord, also known as paracord or 550 cord is extremely versatile. Extremely light weight and at just 1/8 inch diameter its size-to-strength ratio is one of its most prominent features over thicker ropes; hence the 550 pound weight designation in the name. However 550 is the minimum breaking strength required by the military, in reality the cord exceeds 600 pounds in weight tests. Countless YouTube videos demonstrate this incredible strength while showing that user error in making knots, lanyards and anchor devices can be a point of failure, but never the cord itself.

      While there are designated rope types rated for various specific uses, 550 cord can absolutely be safely used for a single-man scenario in the absence of climbing, repelling, escape line, or life line safety type ropes. However, this use should always be considered a learned survival technique requiring training and practice. Regardless, these tasks can and have been accomplished with complete confidence using 550 cord. Note: Never use 550 cord in place of designated rope types in a non-emergency.

      By design paracord is quite thin, yet packs 7 or 8 internal strands with each of those strands made up of 3 more twisted strands each. The smallest strand is where you will find line thin enough to thread a needle or fish hook and can easily be used for stitching a wound, and sewing thread for gear repairs such as tents, bags, clothing and buttons. And yes, it is thin enough to thread a hook as fishing line in a survival situation.

      Even non-military spec paracord is still quite strong. Given the growing popularity in sales and hobbyists making wearable paracord gear such as belts, shoelaces, bootlaces, bracelets, key chains, necklaces, and sunglass neck-straps, the chances of availability during an emergency are far greater than a Red Cross approved triangular bandage for a tourniquet. As for the “ouch” factor, if a wound is severe enough to require a tourniquet the victim will be in shock which is no condition to care what implement is used to stop their bleeding.

      As for the “triangular bandage and stick working much better”, I would disagree and say that both methods are equally effective. However, speed is of the essence when treating such life threatening injuries. Delays in completely stopping profuse bleeding can rapidly lead to brain damage just as well as death. So given that speed is the most important factor, I think it obvious you would encounter a shoelace, lamp cord, belt, or even paracord before the average citizen is able to produce “a folded triangular bandage as per ARC instructions”.

      Due to extended paracord lengths and ability to resize and cut, there are additional emergency first-aid uses that are more versatile which exceed the effectiveness of a triangle bandage e.g., multiple arm slings, multiple leg and arm splint ties, makeshift litters (stretcher), t-shirt gauze ties, and as mention already, wound stitches.

      In addition, 550 cord can be used over and over again while remaining durable and flexible. It dries quickly and will never mildew or rot due to its 100% nylon construction; which makes it virtually impervious to the elements as compared to organic rope types.

      So in response to your concerns, I say no, no one is “stretching it here”. And while I have attempted to address your specific comments and concerns, the uses for 550 cord are so massive and well documented that there is no possible way I could cover them all here. More information is all over the Internet showing military and survivalists who will swear by their 550 cord experiences. But alas, don’t take my word for it, get some mil-spec 550 cord and see for yourself.

      I for one think that as small a footprint this cord takes up, versus its incredible uses, leaves very little excuse for every responsible minded individual to not carry at least some amount on their person, vehicle, or bug-out bag at all times. I hope this helps other readers.

    2. You tell’em G-man. Some people just don’t get it. They just hear what they want to hear. It’s amazing how many people are stuck on their own ignorance.

  4. Make sure you get real mil spec paracord .A lot of the stuff looks good but is junk.Weave a belt out of cord.This should give you 8 to 10 yards. Weave a hat band .

  5. I don’t leave the house without some type of knife on my person, usually a neck knife, and at least 6 ft of 550 paracord. I have combined both and wear my neck knife on a doubled lanyard of 55 cord for a total o 6 ft. What would I use it for? Lash anything that needed tying down solid. I used it recently to lasso a large branch that was just out of reach and pull down to cut (we were clearing branches that scraped out truck on the pond bank).
    I used the paracord in aircrew survival training as fishing line and filled my pockets with hand sized perch from a stream. Fed my hungry buddies that night and was somewhat of a hero. I HGHLY recommend taking apart 550 cord and separating the strands into cord thin enough to fish with when you are in the safety and comfort of your own home. 4×6 ft inner strands of 550 cord makes an effective fishing line. I usually carry a gerber multi-tool with goodies in the holster : a flint/magnesium, some small fish hooks and a couple lead weights rolled in aluminum foil and a 2 ft piece of duct tape folded up on itself. With my 550 cord lanyard and my multitool survival pouch I am ready for a minimalist bug out excursion.

  6. Rock climbing?! Are you trying to get people killed? 550 cord is engineered much differently than climbing ropes. It’s not near as strong, thick, dynamic or abrasion resistant. I suppose I could see using it in some manner to assist in lowering off a short ledge, but using it as an actual climbing rope will likely result in a very painful or fatal experience.

    1. @ Chris. I believe the focus here was “In a survival situation”, according to the author. Thus the assumption would be that no other rope is available while unexpectedly ascending a mountainside to rally inside your hidden cave’s weapons cache as you flee the advancing Chinese upon our homeland. I personally maintain 2 identical bug-out bags that each includes 50 foot fast-ropes of genuine military specification 550 Paracord (Type III MIL-C-5040).

      I would be remiss to not add to the author’s list by including – summary executions. During post-apocalyptic times, 550 Paracord makes for an excellent hanging rope. It is re-useable and saves using up precious bullets.

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