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If you’ve ever browsed a survival site or read a book about survivalism, you’ve no doubt heard of paracord. There are countless articles about it, and it’s considered a staple in any bug out bag. But if you’ve never used it yourself, you might be wondering what the big deal is. In a nutshell, paracord is the strongest, most versatile, most affordable cordage on the market.
Paracord is also called 550 cord. It has been around for decades and was first used in the military on parachutes. The 550 refers to the 550 pounds of weight the cord can hold before it breaks. Each strand of paracord is comprised up of 7 inner strands. That means when you pull apart the cord, you have an additional 7 strands woven together inside the outer casing. This gives it strength and provides you with more cordage for taking care of tasks that don’t require the full strength of all 7 strands. Paracord is made from nylon in most cases, which gives it a bit of elasticity as well.
Now that you know what it is, let’s talk about the ways paracord could save your life in a survival situation.
1. Constructing a Shelter – If you’re stranded somewhere outside in harsh weather, you’ll need to build a shelter ASAP. Paracord can be used to build a very sturdy shelter. You can use it to tie a tarp to trees, stake the tarp or blanket to the ground, or lash branches together. The paracord can also be used to secure a door onto a shelter.
2. Building a Fire – If it’s especially cold outside, or if you need to cook food and boil water, you’ll need to build a fire. Paracord can be used to make the bow in a bow drill fire starting assembly. The flexible rope will make it easier for you to move the bow back and forth. If you don’t have matches or another way to start a fire, a bow drill is a good option.
3. Making a Raft – If you need to build a raft to get off an island or go out fishing for food, paracord can be used to tie branches together. The sturdy cordage ensures the raft won’t break apart while you’re floating in deep water. You can also use paracord to secure your raft to a tree when you’re not using it.
4. Going Fishing – If you’re trying to survive somewhere with water nearby, you should consider fishing for food. A little paracord, a stick, and a hook fashioned from bone or a paperclip is all you need to make a fishing pole. You could also make a fishing net or basket with the help of paracord.
5. Stop Bleeding – Injuries are going to be a part of almost survival scenario. You can’t expect to go unscathed, but you can expect to be your own doctor. If you or someone in your group suffers a traumatic injury, you may need a tourniquet to save their life, and paracord is a quick and easy way to make one. Just be sure to put some sort of padding beneath the paracord, otherwise the injured person could end up losing the limb.
6. Provide First Aid – Tourniquets are just one way paracord can be used in a medical emergency. You can also use it to fashion a sling should you injure an arm, wrist, or shoulder. A rolled up shirt or towel and paracord can secure the injured limb to your body to prevent further injury. It can also be used to make a splint for a leg. You can use a couple strands to secure two branches to the leg to keep it straight. And if someone has a wound but you don’t have any tape, paracord can be used to secure a bandage to the wound.
7. Move Heavy Objects – Paracord is durable enough to pull something heavy, such as a log, back to your camp. You could also use it to create a pulley system to lift a log or large rock out of the way. With a pulley system, you could build a shelter that is much more durable than one with branches leaning against each other.
8. Save Someone – Paracord can be used to pull someone out of a hole or out of water if they’re in trouble. For this, you’ll want to use the full strength of the cord and not just a few strands. It isn’t technically capable of using on climbing missions and should not be used if you are scaling a cliff or rock wall.
9. Make Traps – Paracord is great for making traps or snares for hunting big and small game. There are a number of different types of snares and traps, but almost all of them require some kind of cordage. If you are hunting big game, you will need the strength of paracord to keep the animal contained.
10. Set Up a Trip Wire – Paracord can be used to create a trip wire around your camp. This will give you a safe zone inside the perimeter. You can attach empty cans or a bell to the wire. If man or beast crosses the cord, you will have a chance to prepare for the intruder.
11. Stay Dry – Use paracord to tie plastic bags around your shoes to keep them dry when you are walking through snow and rain. You must do what you can to keep your feet dry at all times. You could also use the paracord to secure a garbage bag you’re wearing as a poncho. It will keep the poncho snug on your body and block rain from getting in.
12. Carry More – If you don’t have a backpack or your backpack is full, you can use the paracord to tie things to your body or pack. You can use a strand to tie a flashlight or other gear you need often to your belt loop or a hook on your pack.
13. Make a Stretcher – Use paracord to make a stretcher to carry an injured party or a child who can’t keep up. Just tie some branches together to make the stretcher and use the cordage to pull the stretcher along as you walk.
Paracord can be used in all sorts of ways, many of which could actually save your life. But even if paracord doesn’t save your life, it can still make life during a disaster a lot easier. The possibilities are truly endless. It’s so lightweight and easily packed away there is no reason you shouldn’t have paracord in every bug out bag.
You can get 100 feet of paracord for less than $10 on Amazon.com.