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Paracord was first used as the suspension lines in parachutes, and when paratroopers hit the ground, they found a multitude of uses for it. Paracord has been a popular cordage option among outdoorsmen and survivalists for decades, but in recent years its popularity grew with the rise of survival-based television shows, movies, and YouTube videos.
Just as the case is with all tools and gear, paracord isn’t the perfect option for all situations and environments. Based on the circumstances you find yourself in, there are some disadvantages to it. Having said that, paracord is some amazing cordage due to its size, strength, and versatility. There are a lot of things that paracord can do, and some of them you may not even be aware of.
Here are eight things you didn’t know you could do with paracord…
1. You can break it down easily.
Many types of rope are constructed by taking smaller pieces of material and weaving or twisting them together to create larger and larger pieces.
Paracord is made in a somewhat similar fashion. Paracord is composed of two parts, the inner strands (or yarns) and an outer sheath. The yarns are twisted into long pieces and then covered by the outer sheath.
Most ropes can be taken apart, but it can be difficult to do so because they are so tightly constructed. Also, depending on the material the rope is made from, there can be some “memory” to the broken down strands, meaning they don’t easily straighten out.
Paracord, on the other hand, is extremely easy to take apart. Simply cut an end of paracord, and the yarns easily pull out.
2. Paracord provides an extreme amount of cordage.
As mentioned above, paracord is incredibly easy to break apart. Having such quick access to the inner yarns provides a person with much more cordage than you may realize. For instance, 550 paracord has seven inner yarns. By adding in the sheath, there is a total of eight individual lengths of cordage.
This translates into having eight times more cordage when the paracord is broken down. So, a ten-foot piece of paracord can actually be turned into a length of cordage almost eighty feet long!
3. Paracord won’t rot.
Paracord is made from nylon, which is a one hundred percent synthetic material. Cordage isn’t always put away right after use sometimes, it is left outdoors, and even if it is stored right away, it may not be completely dry. Unlike ropes made from natural fibers, paracord won’t rot or develop mildew.
This means it’s perfect for long-term survival use.
(For more advice on cold-weather survival, make sure to check out our free QUICKSTART Guide on how to survive a winter storm.)
4. Paracord won’t freeze.
Cordage isn’t only used in warm climates, and when temperatures drop, some cordages can literally freeze rock-solid. In cold temperatures, paracord may become a bit stiff, but it will retain a lot more flexibility than other types of cordage, especially ones made from natural materials.
So, when it gets really cold, you will still be able to use paracord to tie up gear or make a shelter.
5. Paracord can hold a flame.
When paracord is held near a heat source, it will begin to melt. If the heat source is hot enough, paracord can hold a flame too (reasonably well). This can come in handy if you are low on matches, the fuel in your lighter is getting low, or you need to transfer a flame to another source.
6. Paracord can tow a vehicle.
Paracord is some pretty strong stuff, especially when you consider how small it is. The most common kind of paracord is type III, or what is generally referred to as 550 paracord, or just 550 cord.
It’s called this because type III paracord can bear a load of up to 550 pounds. Every time paracord is looped around an anchor point, it greatly increases how much weight can be pulled or held. Four lengths of type III paracord should be able to bear a load of 2,200 pounds.
A hank of 550 cord is usually one hundred feet of cordage, and this amount of cordage can easily fit in the pocket of a coat. If a vehicle is stuck in a ditch, becomes bogged down, or just needs to be pulled, 550 cord can help out.
7. Paracord can be turned into fashion accessories.
You don’t tend to see many people walking around wearing or using cordage or ropes other than for its intended purposes. However, 550 cord can be turned not only into fashion accessories but other functional pieces as well. This is because paracord is soft, small, very flexible, affordable, and comes in a huge variety of colors.
Paracord can be used for all sorts of things that include but are not limited to dog leashes, bracelets, lanyards, dog collars, belts, slings, straps, tool wraps, water bottle holders, and boot laces. Using 550 cord in this manner gives you a way of creating a functional accessory while being able to carry additional cordage.
If you want to discover a number of ways to weave 550 cord into these designs, make sure you check out my book, Paracord Projects For Camping And Outdoor Survival
8. Paracord can prevent you from losing your gear.
While some synthetic cordages have a variety of color options available, 550 cord comes in just about any kind of color or design you would want. Some websites offer hundreds of different options.
But, how does this relate to lost gear? A lot of outdoor tools and survival gear come in neutral or dark colors that blend well into outdoor environments. Because of this, when a tool is placed on the ground or accidentally dropped in vegetation, it can be difficult to see them.
Paracord comes in such a variety of colors that by using brightly colored options to create handle wraps or lanyard loops, gear becomes much easier to visually keep track of.
So there you have it, eight things you may or may not have known about paracord. I hope you enjoy using 550 cord as much as I do and would love to hear about your experiences with it. If you have any other interesting facts about 550 cord, or just want to share your thoughts about it, be sure to leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!
About Bryan Lynch
Bryan Lynch is the author of two books, Swiss Army Knife Camping And Outdoor Survival Guide, and Paracord Projects For Camping And Outdoor Survival. He has also written hundreds of articles about prepping, emergency preparedness, self-reliance, and gear reviews. Through his writing, his hope to help educate people and get them interested in these topics so that they are better prepared for an emergency.