Editor’s Note: This resource has been updated and revised for 2018.
My love affair with paracord continues. Not only is it strong and useful for a myriad of tasks, it is colorful and fun to work with while making bracelets, key fobs, belts and other goodies. I am not the only one that feels this way.
Simply enter the term “paracord” into a search engine and you will be presented with thousands of articles covering everything from what it is, how it is used, where to buy it, and more. It seems like everyone has a stake in the paracord love-fest with preppers leading the pack!
What Exactly is Paracord?
Here at Backdoor Survival, I first wrote about paracord in 2012. I described it this way:
Paracord is a lightweight nylon rope that was originally used in the suspension lines of US parachutes during World War II. Soldiers, however, found that this miracle rope was useful for far more than their paratrooper missions. In the ensuing years, both the military and civilians alike have found hundreds if not thousands of uses for paracord.
It is available by length, typically 50 to 100 feet (or more) and in a variety of colors. It is also available is large quantities by the spool. Many hikers and outdoor sports enthusiasts make or purchase “survival bracelets” made of several feet of paracord which is woven into a compact bracelets that can be unraveled in the field.
By the way, you will often see paracord referred to as Paracord 550 means that it has a breaking strength of 550 pounds or more. Now that is strong!
Paracord can be used for many purposes such as securing things, removing heavy debris and fixed objects, strapping things together, as a harness to escape a burning building, controlling bleeding as a tourniquet, and the list goes on. You can even unravel the cord and use the individual strands as a fishing line or as thread to sew on a button. Wonderful stuff.
I touched upon a number of uses in the description above but that was merely a sampling. There is more – a lot more. Today I share 44 different uses of paracord for prepping and survival purposes.
Paracord is something that every prepper, outdoors person, camper, ect should have some of! From SHTF scenarios to craft projects and every day home needs, paracord is there for you.
What makes paracord different from other cordage?
Paracord was originally developed for suspension lines for parachutes. True paracord has a nylon sheath with multiple inner strands inside. This design is how it has such a superior strength to weight ratio. Quality paracord has a strength rating of 550 lbs or more. This is also called the breaking strength. This makes it an excellent value for your money. Since it is made from nylon it does not rot and holds up to weather quite well!
How to use Paracord: 60+ Amazing Uses for Paracord
Here are 60+ things you can use this amazing stuff for! I can tell you right now that there are more uses than can be fit in a whole series of posts but this list is a good start!
1.Securing a tent against the wind or other inclement weather is easier with paracord.Simply tie off from your tent stakes, poles, or other points for increased strength. You can also use this to stretch a tarp over your tent for increased shelter and protection.
2. Tie tools to your belt
Ever feel like you don’t have enough hands? Well paracord can help you out by allowing you to tie tools to your belt for easy access or simply to prevent loss when moving from Point A to Point B.
3. Make a tool necklace
You can use paracord to make a necklace to carry tools around your neck. Pocket knives are a good example of a tool that is easy to carry this way. When I was a little girl I carried my lockback folder on a cord so I could get to it when I needed it and not worry about losing it out of my pocket or I could wear it while wearing a dress!
4. Secure things to the outside of your backpack
Backpacks don’t always have attachment points and straps where you want them. Paracord is easy to tie and secures items to your pack. This is even good for securing items that are already attached but that you want to be extra sure that you do not lose.
A tourniquet can save your life or that of someone close to you. In an emergency paracord is more than tough enough to use for a tourniquet that can be sized to fit anyone with ease.
Breaks and sprains are some of the most common injuries. A good straight stick can be used to make a splint and paracord can then be used to hold it in place.
7. Sling for injured limbs
Slings can be good for adding extra support to injured arms. While a few doubled up lengths of paracord can make a big difference you can also braid or macrame it to make it more solid and stronger. If at a later time you need use of the paracord you can always unbraid or un macrame it.
8. Make some nice belts
You can get pretty darn creative with paracord. There are all kinds of fancy knotwork designs and braids you can utilize to make custom sized or adjustable belts. One thing you can be sure of is that your belt is going to be super strong and durable if you make it out of parpacord. During a SHTF situation, having a belt that you can adjust may be quite useful because it is possible that a lot of people will be losing weight due to increased activity levels and less access to extra food and calories. While you may not be able to get extra clothes you can make do with what you have more easily with a good belt.
Suspenders are an alternative to a belt and can also be made with paracord.
10. Homemade replacement bra straps and bras
Good support is important for us ladies. You can definitely use paracord to repair a bra strap and I have to say you can use paracord and a little fabric to make a very supportive and long lasting bra that is custom sized for you. Dress straps made out of paracord look pretty snazzy and edgy at the same time.
A lot of us have put back some bootlaces. I know that when I can catch the Outdoor Grade Kiwi shoe laces in the 72 inch length for $1 instead of $2-$3 I buy a few packs and stash them back. Paracord has the advantage of being multi purpose and you can customize the size easily for all sizes of boots and shoes. Use a lighter to melt the cut ends enough to fuse them together so laces do not unravel on the ends.
11. Zipper Pull Repair
Who hasn’t tore or worn a zipper pull out? This situation is easy to fix with a very small length of paracord.
12. Tie up a small boat or skiff
While I would not use just a single piece of paracord for this, you could double it up or more or tie off from multiple points to secure your water craft. Braiding some paracord together could also work. Larger boats are not going to stay tied though with paracord so use some common sense. It would take a lot of paracord woven together to even try to do this.
Lanyards are great for a variety of things. You can attach them to knife or make a fashionable survival necklace with a charm. Key chain lanyards will help you keep track of your keys or you could even keep ID attached at work.
There are a lot of expensive clotheslines you can buy or you can just use some paracord to string a line wherever needed. You can definitely double up the line if you have a lot of wet clothes. The weight of a single load of clothes can be quite a bit, especially if you are having to wring them out by hand and without a clothes wringer.
15. Tow Line
Paracord could be used for a small tow line but again use some common sense. The more you double or triple it up the more strong it will be but watch out towing for a long length of time because wear from friction might be the weak point depending on what you are doing.
16. Hang something up
There are a lot of things that you might want to hang up from pictures to making a toy for your cat to paw at instead of shredding your stuff.
17. Pulley Systems
My husband sometimes has to remind me to work smart not hard. This means using tools and leverage to decrease workload and strain on your back! A pulley system can be a major help. Just make sure to calculate your load and account for friction that can occur on your line.
18. Traps and Snares
Paracord is a bit thick for traps and snares because animals can see it but if you can manage to conceal it somewhat, you could use it in a pinch.
When it comes to closing up a bag, replacing the drawstring on pants, hats, coats, etc, paracord is a tough solution that will last.
20. Booby Traps
Some of you may have read my article on perimeter security, well paracord can also be used to secure areas. There are a lot of booby traps you can make but you should probably not use them unless absolutely necessary because they can actually be deadly. I will leave it up to you to find the info on how to make these. The internet is full of them. I will say that you can use paracord to hang fish hooks off of for a barricade if you want something a bit less tangly then fishing line. Green paracord blends in well.
21. Securing rolled items
Rolling up items for packing or storing can be a big help but it can also be frustrating when they come unrolled so easily. Paracord can be used to tie up items to keep them more compact and secure.
22. Tie stuff together to transport
Having a lot of loose items can be a real burden. Tying items together can make it much easier to transport. For example you could tie a sleeping bag, camping mattress, and pillow together.
23. Make very strong rot proof rope.
While technically you might consider paracord a rope in itself, when braided or knotted in various ways it can be made to be extremely sturdy and able to support very high weight loads. The knotting and braiding effect also makes it less likely to break just because it is harder for the cords to separate under loads and gives you more time to react if a breakage starts to happen.
24. Hammock Straps
While it would take an extreme amount of complicated knot work to make an entire hammock out of paracord, you could definitely use some fabric like a few blankets and some paracord to make a hammock a bit faster
25. Fishing Nets
Paracord could make a decent fishing net if you took the time to make into a webbed network. Size of the net and the size of the spaces that form the webbing is upu and the size of the fish you are trying for. Smaller gives you the chance of a greater variety but takes more time to make.
26. Bags and sacks
Again, the webbing and knot work are extensive to make a bag out of just paracord but you can combine with fabric to put together a bag rather quickly even if just sewing and tying by hand.
27. Bundle plants and herbs for drying.
Gardeners often have the need to bundle and dry herbs, garlic, ect. Paracord is strong and it doesn’t rot or absorb water readily.
28. Tie Plants To Stakes
Paracord is useful for tying trees and other plants to stakes for support but it doesn’t rot so you will have to go back and remove or cut the paracord at some point unlike with jute and other twines that rot over time. On the other hand, paracord is much stronger than jute and other garden twines so if you have a big job, it might not be a bad idea.
29. Pet and Livestock Leashes
If you have priced out dog leashes and animal leads then you might have come to the conclusion that a good one is priced fairly high. A paracord leash is very strong and can be quite pretty when made with macrame or braiding.
Another item that is often needed are collars. Dogs, cats, and livestock can go through a lot of them over the years due to wear and tear and also from growing. You can make a cute custom collar and even add adornments if you like.