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What Is Paracord and What You Can Use It For

August 24, 2017

Paracord has a long history, dating back to World War II. It has since evolved from strictly military uses to commercial and personal use as well. You've no doubt heard of paracord or seen a paracord bracelet on someone. Curious? Read on to learn what is paracord and what you can make with it. 



To trace the lineage of paracord, we have to journey to the battlefields in World War II. The United States Military introduced a new form of cord—“paracord,” as it would be later known—to be used as the suspension lines for their parachuting expeditions. 


Once paratroopers were in the field, they began to develop new uses for this paracord. The slender, strength-resistant rope fulfilled many functions including attaching equipment to harnesses, tying rucksacks to vehicle racks, securing camouflage nets to trees and vehicles, and being used as a pace counter to estimate ground coverage. 


(photo via WWII in color)


Outside of the initial uses discovered by the military, paracord’s versatility continued to expand domestically. 

In 1997, during one of the early shuttle missions (STS-82), NASA astronauts accessed the highly useful cord to repair damaged insulation on the Hubble Space Telescope. It could be said that over the seventy years since its inception, paracord has subtly shaped American history.


Let's get technical, technical...


 550 Paracord has

- 550lb tensile strength

- 7 inner 2-ply strands 

- Nylon sheath composed of 32 woven strands 


550 Paracord is

- Type III paracord

- Also known as parachute cord 

- 4mm (5/32) in diamenter

- Kernmantle type of rope (inner core protected by a woven outer sheath)

- Most common type of paracord used

- Mold, mildew, and rot resistant



Running end: the end of a line that is being used to make the knot or tie


Standing end: the end of a line that is not involved in making the knot or tie


Weld: fusing two piece of paracord together


Singe: using a lighter to heat the end of paracord to keep it from fraying 


Weave: passing a cord over and under another cord (there are thousands of different weaves for making paracord bracelets). Check out our video tutorials for a ton of paracord crafts!


Sinnet: a weaving technique or tie generally performed with a series of slip knots, used to shorten the length of a cord


Tuck: inserting the ends of paracord though another piece to secure (generally used at the end of a bracelet)

 What can paracord be used for?

Paracord can be used for crafting, survival situations, and everyday necessities:

  • Crafting: bracelets, key chains, necklaces, belts, rings, and a ton more

  • Bigger projects such as DIY hammocks, water bottle slings, chairs, and steering wheel covers

  • Catching food: fishing line, lure, traps, slings

  • Injury: arm sling and securing a splint

The inner strands can also be removed anytime a smaller yet tough string (each has a 50lb tensile strength) is needed in any variety of situations such as fishing line, sutures, snares and accents just to name a few. 

There are 3 other types of paracord besides 550 paracord. 



Type I

- 1 inner strand

- example: 95 Paracord

- 95lb tensile strength


Type II

- 4-7 inner strands

- example: 425 Paracord


- 425lb tensile strength


Type IV

- 11 inner strands

- example: 750 paracord

- 750lb tensile strength


I'm sure you've also heard of Military Grade Paracord aka Mil-Spec Paracord aka Mil-C-5040. There are some important things to note about 550 Mil Spec cord.



1) not all 550 paracord is Mil-Spec

2) To be certified Mil-Spec it has to pass 14 rigorous scientific tests

3) Has an identifier strand to prove it's certified (pictured left)





Have fun learning all you can about the most versatile rope available to you. It's definitely a necessity to keep in your car, purse, bug out bag, and hunting/camping bags. It could save your life one day. 


If you're starting a project, make sure you know what paracord is right for you.


If you have any questions on 550 Paracord or any other sizes, please feel free to contact us via our website or any of our social media platforms!


Let us know on FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest and be sure to follow us!


Happy Cording, Lauri



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