Some time ago I was telling my wife that 550 cord (paracord) is as amazing as duct tape, and there is no end to its uses. Not being familiar with the stuff at the time she quite naturally asked me “like what?”. A fair question, but I was dumbfounded; all the military guys I associate with know this stuff is amazing, and I simply didn’t know where to start.
Well lads and ladesses; here is a good list. My mother forwarded this to me and I’m afraid I don’t know where she got it; when I find out I’ll share it because I’m sure there’s other useful stuff on that website. I just don’t want to take credit for a great list that some other guy compiled.
If this stuff isn’t in your bug out bag you are wrong; and a no go at this station! And please don’t rely on those cute little bracelets that take 15 minutes to unravel when you need it immediately. I have one, but it was a gift in a combat zone, and is now saturated with sweat and Iraqi grime; as most of the original were; then some guy figured he could make a buck off them…and thus “survival bracelets.”
Genuine MIL-SPEC MIL-C-5040 Type III Paracord has 7 to 9 inner yarns each made up of 3 strands. Commercial 550 paracord imitations may not have 7 inner yarns, or the inner yarns may not have 3 strands each.
101 Uses for Paracord
Paracord is an amazing piece of gear that was developed during World War II. Initially designed to attach parachutes to harnesses, parachute cord, or paracord as it became known as, was later used for countless other things by GIs, and later transitioned into civilian usage. Sometimes referred to as 550 cord because it is rated for 550 pounds of pull, paracord is what’s known as a “kernmantle rope”. Kernmantle simply means that there are internal strands, known as the kern, protected by an external sheath, known as the mantle. We’ll take at some potential uses of this amazing cordage below:
1. Using a makeshift needle, use the interior kern strands as sewing line to mend clothing.
2. Since a single strand of paracord is rated for 550 pounds of pull, loop it ten times into a coil and use it as a makeshift tow strap that will pull 5500 pounds – enough to tow an SUV!
3. Use it to tie down items to the roof of a car and it will withstand the highest winds.
4. A length of paracord makes an instant clothesline to dry wet clothes.
5. Use paracord to hang your food supply from a tree well away from your camp; this will keep the bears away.
6. Replacing your shoelaces with paracord ensures you’ll always have a few feet of it on hand when you need it most.
7. Paracord makes a great improvised zipper pull to repair a broken zipper.
8. Paracord’s kern is fine enough to make great dental floss – remember, you don’t want dental problems in a survival situation.
9. A single length of paracord strung between two trees and a poncho draped on top makes a great and dry shelter.
10. Some paracord, a couple sticks, and a poncho makes a great hammock.
11. The kern is excellent for making fine and nearly invisible snares that are also very strong.
12. Use paracord to lash logs together and create a raft.
13. Walking in deep snow is hard without snowshoes, but using paracord to lash a few evergreen boughs to your feet makes it far easier to walk.
14. Use paracord to make a bow drill for starting fires, but make sure to practice at home first, before you actually need to make fire.
15. Paracord makes a great sling to throw an improvised spear; the velocity is much faster than if you used your hand to throw it.
16. A length of paracord and an old DVD or CD makes a great signaling device.
17. A length of paracord with two small lashed to either end makes a great bolo to hunt with.
18. The kern can be used to make fishing line. Military spec paracord has seven internal strands, each made up of three smaller strands, so that’s lots of line, and it’s fairly fine as well meaning fish won’t see it.
19. Use the left over mantle as a fish stringer to tie your caught fish through the gills.
20. Excess kern can even be used to make a fine but strong fishing net.
21. Two sticks and a good length of paracord is an improvised splint.
22. Finish off the splint by using a piece of paracord to act as a sling if need be.
23. The kern is excellent to make improvised stitches from to sew up a wound.
24. A paracord made into a loop and a stick threaded through it makes an improvised tourniquet – turn the stick and the paracord will squeeze tight. (A note from Jon here; the smaller in diameter you tourniquet is the more it will hurt; use something wider if at all possible)
25. Two long sticks and some paracord makes a great improvised stretcher, or if there is only one person pulling, it makes a handy papoose.
26. String paracord around the perimeter of your camp, and attach a few bells or tin cans to this to make an early warning system.
27. Paracord is easily rigged into a pulley for lifting all sorts of objects. (Another note from Jon; we use this stuff for bear bags when we’re camping)
28. Paracord is strong enough for rappelling, although it can chafe. For ease of handling and safety, use multiple strands.
29. A Spanish windlass is easily made from a loop of paracord and a stick, and can exert tremendous squeeze pressure on most anything big or small.
30. Use a length of paracord to hang your compass around your neck.
31. Paracord makes a great replacement drawstring for anything that needs one.
32. Lash your fixed blade knife to a long pole with paracord and create an improvised and formidable spear.
33. Wrap the handle of your Mag-Lite with paracord – it will give it a great grip and you’ll have some emergency paracord available for use.
34. Use paracord in conjunction with a piece of tarp material to create an improvised water catchment system.
35. Replace your watch strap with some woven paracord – both decorative and strong.
36. Use paracord to bundle firewood together for easy transport.
37. Use a length of paracord to hang a lantern over your latrine pit for safety.
38. A couple lengths of paracord squirted down with some bore cleaner makes a great improvised bore snake.
39. In a pinch, a piece of paracord can create an ultra strong pair of improvised handcuffs.
40. Use paracord as an improvised lanyard to keep your pistol on your body.
41. Paracord makes a great tool for tying people together along the waist so you don’t get lost on a trail.
42. Paracord’s sheath burns readily, so in a pinch you can use a bit of it as a fire starter.
43. Use paracord to tie horses or dogs to a tree for the night so they don’t take off.
44. Make an improvised tree stand by lashing a log between two trees about ten feet up, using paracord.
45. Paracord makes a great horse hobble for the night in a situation where there are no trees to lash the horse to.
46. A flexible piece of ash and a couple strands of the kern make an improvised hunting bow.
47. Paracord mantle can be used as an improvised strop to polish a razor or scalpel.
48. Paracord can be fun, too. A couple lengths of it suspended from a tree limb and an old plank makes a handy swing.
49. Broke a pull string for a boat engine or chainsaw? Use paracord!
50. Paracord makes an excellent replacement for guy lines on a tent, especially when strong winds are expected.
51. Hunting kills need to be bled in order to taste right. Hang them from tree limbs using paracord.
52. Use paracord as an improvised mooring line on a canoe or boat.
53. Use a paracord lanyard on your canoe or kayak paddles to avoid them getting lost.
54. Find a drip or damp spot on the side of a rock face? Put a piece of paracord line where the dampness is strongest, then place the end of that line inside a water bottle to collect the water.
55. Use a length of paracord as an improvised zip line to span a small canyon. Tie a rock to one end to send it across to someone on the other side, then secure it.
56. Paracord makes a great gillnet for fishing.
57. Using simple granny knots and some time, you can create an improvised and super strong rope ladder entirely from paracord.
58. Take an ordinary garbage bag and drape it over a bushy tree limb, tying the end with paracord. Come back in a few hours to enjoy the water that accumulates inside due to condensation.
59. Wrap paracord around the handle of an axe or sledgehammer to cushion the shock of impact.
60. Paracord makes an effective improvised rifle or binocular sling.
61. Braid three pieces of paracord together wherever you need a thick piece of rope to grip.
62. Tie off a couple lengths of braided paracord between two branches and you have an effective improvised bar for doing pull ups.
63. Skinning and gutting a big animal by yourself is hard work. Use paracord to spread the animal’s legs apart by lashing them to trees.
64. Use paracord to make a flag lanyard.
65. Toddlers are easily secured with a paracord lanyard, but you must not leave them unattended.
66. A length of paracord with a rock lashed to the end makes an excellent improvised impact weapon.
67. You can use paracord to make an improvised horse bridle or repair a broken one.
68. Tie up the legs of a turkey when roasting.
69. Woven flat, paracord makes a variety of mats.
70. Paracord makes a great safety line for diving; tie it to yourself and tie one end on the boat.
71. Use paracord to replace the metal sling swivels on your rifle for a super silent sling system.
72. Some paracord woven around a piece of leather or thin wood makes an improvised sandal or flip flop.
73. Lash some paracord to radio antenna line and throw it up into a tree for better reception.
74. Tie your closed ended wrenches together with paracord to avoid losing them.
75. Paracord makes a great safety line when working in high places.
76. Use paracord as a life line to someone who has fallen through ice.
77. Use short lengths of paracord as trail markers to mark your progress on trails.
78. Secure your eyeglasses with a paracord lanyard to prevent loss.
79. A braided or twisted piece of paracord makes a good bite block when performing improvised surgery.
80. Use the mantle of the paracord to act as a silencer on dog tag chains – simply put your chain inside the mantle then fasten.
81. Use a single strand of the kern and weave it into the eyeglass screw hole if you lose the screw.
82. A length of paracord tied to a key ring makes a great improvised flail.
83. Roll up sleeping bags and tie them up for transport.
84. A pole with a paracord loop at the end makes a great dog or snake pole for corralling hostile animals.
85. Paracord makes a great improvised belt or suspenders should your break.
86. Make an improvised Swiss seat out of paracord to create an effective climbing harness.
87. Lash three poles together at the top with paracord to make a tripod that you can place over a fire and hang a pot from.
88. Fray an end of a little piece of paracord and use it as a fly for fly fishing.
89. Use paracord as improvised tie downs for an airplane.
90. Tie your double door handles together with paracord for added security.
91. If your city dog is giving you away by barking too much in the bush, use paracord to make an improvised muzzle.
92. Tie some loose branches together with paracord and drag them behind you when you walk on a trail to obscure your tracks.
93. Use a length of paracord lashed across a stream so that the elderly or infirm can use it as a railing to cross.
94. Tied into proper loops or even double looped, paracord makes a great improvised carabiner.
95. Lash your favorite six pack with a length of paracord then throw it in a stream to cool down.
96. Write messages or directions to people further back on the trail with paracord, then when your friends spot it, they can pick up the cord and follow you.
97. Tie one of your gloves with paracord, then loop it through the inside of your coat and out the other sleeve. Next, tie your other glove on. You won’t lose your gloves this way and they’ll be right there when you need them.
98. Melt the paracord mantle and use it for some amazingly sticky glue that dries hard.
99. Wrap the tang of a broken knife handle with paracord.
100. Use paracord as a temporary replacement for a broken serpentine belt on your car or truck.
101. Use paracord to connect your parachute and your jump harness – wait a minute, that’s what it was supposed to be used for!