What is paracord used for?

(Last Updated On: February 16, 2018)

What is Paracord?

Paracord is a term thrown around by preppers, outdoors persons, and survivalists who know how useful it is. But for the new prepper, what is this paracord?

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Paracord is a lightweight nylon rope originally used for the suspension lines of US parachutes in WWII. When they landed, they would often cut off this line to use for other purposes. Since then, it has found a multitude of uses.

When preppers speak of paracord, they are generally referring to 550 paracord (also called 550 cord, or type III paracord) which means  it has a strength of 550 lbs.

There are other types of paracord, some of which are heavier and stronger, like type IV 750 paracord (750 lbs strength), and several which are lighter. You can find 425 paracord (425 lbs strength), 275 paracord (275 lbs strength), and type I paracord (95 lbs strength). These lighter, lower strength paracords are often used in crafting and in hobbies due to their smaller diameter.

Commercial Grade vs. Military Grade (MilSpec C-5040H)

550 Paracord is also often referred to as being commercial grade or meeting military specs. To check to see if your cord meets the military specs, (MilSpec C-5040H), cut the cord and pull back the outer protective sheath and check the inner strands. They must meet all 4 of these requirements:

  1. Must have 7, 8, or 9 inner strands
  2. Each of the 7, 8, or 9 inner strands must be made up of exactly 3 inside strands
  3. All of the inner and inside strands must be twisted
  4. Manufacturer must include a twisted COLORED inside strand as the Manufacturer’s Identification Marker Strand

I checked one of my 550 paracords that mas labeled as “Military Grade” and this is what I found:

  1. Must have 7, 8, or 9 inner strands.  YES, mine does have 7 inner strands.
  2. Each of the 7, 8, or 9 inner strands must be made up of exactly 3 inside strands.  NO, mine has only 2 strands
  3. All of the inner and inside strands must be twisted.  YES, each of mine has all the strands twisted.
  4. Manufacturer must include a twisted COLORED inside strand as the Manufacturer’s Identification Marker Strand.  YES, mine does have two colored twisted strand that appear to be manufacturer ID marker strands. (This is often done as a cheap trick to make it appear to be the stronger MilSec Paracord)

Because it does not meet ALL 4 requirements, this  is commercial 550 paracord and clearly NOT MilSpec military grade 550 paracord. This makes quite a bit of difference in strength, but it is also much less expensive than true MilSpec 550 cord. This is common in most of the commercial type II, 550 paracord, but because this is still a very strong cord, I am willing to accept the trade-off.

There are also some new variations available in 550 paracord for the preppers and survivalists. Some have inner strands of fishing line, waxed jute (to use as a fire starter), and a fine multi-purpose wire (used for animal snares, etc.).

Uses of 550 Paracord

Obviously, paracord can be used in any situation where regular rope can be used, but it is far more versatile. Here are just a few suggestions:

  1. Tie downs on a tent
  2. Securing a tarp for a shelter
  3. Make a sling for your injured arm
  4. Emergency tourniquet
  5. Use as a makeshift belt
  6. Make an EDC keychain
  7. Replace drawstring in sweat pants or jacket
  8. Use as shoelaces
  9. Tying things down in truck bed
  10. Used to tie things together
  11. Use as a clothesline
  12. Hanging food in tree away from pedators
  13. Use for a pet leash
  14. Use to tie up a person (intruders,etc.)
  15. Make a trip wire
  16. Make a Monkey Fist knot for self defense
  17. Make a rock sling
  18. Use a a lanyard to hold items (knife, keys, tools, etc.)
  19. Use in a bow drill to make a fire
  20. Make into a belt
  21. Make a bracelet
  22. Make a necklace
  23. Hang a cooking pot over a fire
  24. Make a hammock
  25. Make a swing
  26. Cleaning out inside of a dirty hose or water line (tie a knot in middle and pull back and forth)
  27. Use to pull loads (sled, wagon, logs, etc.)
  28. Hanging a lantern
  29. Replacement pull cord for small engines (lawn mower, chainsaw, etc.)
  30. Tying items to your backpack
  31. Use to lash poles together (make improvised stretcher, pole structures, etc.)
  32. Use to wrap a handle on tools (knives, hatchets, flashlights, cups, etc.)
  33. Use to lower thing down from heights
  34. Use as a zipper pull
  35. Use to make a ladder
  36. Make show shoes
  37. Mooring line for boats
  38. Weave multiple cords together to make a tow rope
  39. Use for water rescue
  40. Make a plant hanger
  41. Make a bottle holder
  42. Make an Altoids EDC Survival tin holder
  43. Use to make traps
  44. Use to replace a broken drawer handle
  45. Use to tie back curtains
  46. Used to make a bullwhip

Using inner threads of Paracord:

  1. Use as suture material
  2. Use as sewing thread
  3. Uses as fishing line
  4. Use as dental floss
  5. Make an animal snare
  6. Make a fishing net

This will give you a few ideas on how important paracord can be to you as a prepper in both daily use and in the event of some emergency or disaster. Make sure to have plenty around, so it’s there when you need it! Get it from Amazon

Let me know if you have found other unique uses for paracord. Add pictures to share your ideas in the comment section below!

Happy Prepping!

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