Paracord is high strength, light-weight cord that can be used for a variety of purposes. It may also be called parachute cord, 540 cord, 550 cord, or 550 paracord. This type of cord is used on parachutes. You can also get paracord bracelets and belts that can be unraveled and used for emergencies. I recommend having a 100′ roll (about $15) in your vehicle kit and at least 30′ in your hiking kit. When storing shorter lengths of paracord be sure to create a hank to make it easier to store and deploy.

Some uses for paracord include:

  • To aid in getting to hard to reach places in an emergency (NOT recommended for climbing)
  • Securing material when building an emergency shelter
  • Wrapping around emergency splints
  • Hoisting a backpack above ground to protect it from predators
  • Tying small pieces along a trail as markers or breadcrumbs

Paracord Filaments
Paracord sounds very strong with a 550-pound breaking point. However, if you fall, the cord will be subject to both your weight and the g-force associated with the fall. The added g-force with your body weight can get to 550 pounds in a hurry. If you must climb with paracord do so ONLY as a last resort and be EXTREMELY careful to not shock the paracord through g-forces.

The inner filaments of the paracord can be used for fishing, as thread for repairs, and as a fire starter. Be sure that your sewing kit contains needles with eyelets large enough for the paracord filaments.

There are different types of paracord:

  • 550 paracord is the standard and will hold 550 pounds of static weight.
  • Fish & Fire paracord has inner filaments that can be used as emergency fishing line or chopped for fire starter. The filaments hold about eight pounds and the paracord normally holds 550 pounds.
  • Glow paracord absorbs sunlight, glows in the dark, and makes nice guy wires for tents. The glow makes it easier to see at night. This type of cord normally holds 330 pounds rather than 550 pounds.

Paracord comes in a wide variety of colors. In my hiking and vehicle kits I use neon orange and neon yellow paracord for higher visibility. My Bugout Bag includes olive paracord to better blend with the environment.

Helpful Suggestions

Paracord is useful stuff to carry in your vehicle kit, hiking kit, and bugout bag. However, all cordage can get tangled and be difficult to deploy if not stored correctly. Storing a complete package of paracord in your vehicle kit works very well as the winder helps prevent the paracord from getting tangled. In a hiking kit you normally a shorter length of paracord, perhaps 20′ to 50′. I recommend storing the paracord in a hank for easy storage and deployment.

The inner filaments of paracord can be used for a variety of purposes including fishing line and repairs. Be sure that your sewing kit includes needs with eyelets large enough for the paracord filaments.