Parachute cord, paracord, 550 cord or 550 is a staple of my outdoor gear. If you’re not familiar with it, here’s a primer as to what it is and how it is used.
Parachute cord is a lightweight rope made primarily of nylon. It consists of a smooth outer sheath (usually olive drab but available in a wide variety of colors) and 7 inner yarns. It’s minimal breaking strength is 550 pounds (leading to one of its many names.) Parachute cord became widely used during WWII. After a paratrooper reached the ground, he salvaged the cord from his parachute for later use. At present, nearly all military units as well as civilians have access to paracord and use it for a wide variety of purposes.
I’ve found that it is incredibly useful for outdoor adventures. Depending on my planned outing, I typically keep 24 feet wrapped around the base of my rucksack. Other times, if packing weight and space aren’t a concern, I’ll take what is left on a partially used roll. Additionally, I always keep several feet of it with me either in my fishing vest or in my possibles bag for survival situations.
Over the years, I have used paracord for a variety of purposes. Here is a partial list. If you have any other uses that you’ve come up with, feel free to comment to tell me and the SmoothingIt.com readers about it.
- fastening crosspoles for lean-to shelters
- securing items to backpacks
- as a belt
- as a shoestring
- as a clothesline
- securing items to bicycles
- securing important items or items that are easily lost
- as a snare
- as a fishing line
- as a throw line
- hanging a “bear bag”
- securing items to vehicles
- as an expedient canoe painter (be careful of this one)
- securing items to trailers
- tying tarps over firewood
- tying tarps over furniture when moving
- replacing a lawn mower pull starter
- as a method of staking trees for upright growth
- as a guide for making rows in gardens
- as a pace-counter
- as a makeshift rifle sling
- as a knife lanyard
- as a walking stick lanyard
- securing baby gates to handrails
- as a wrapping and carrying method for sleeping mats
- as a wrapping and carrying method for sleeping bags
- as a decorative keychain
- as a “survival bracelet”
- as a bow lanyard
- raising and lowering hunting gear to a tree stand
If you’re interested in purchasing paracord for yourself, I found my most recent roll on ebay at Loostuf4sale for a reasonable price. Thus far, I have found it to be good quality and well worth the money.
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