During the first week of Preptember™, we published a guest post about making a paracord bracelet. I followed the instructions and made myself a bracelet. It was fun, easy, and it
felt good to have some back-up cordage.
We received a comment on the blog post that said, “Not to sound stupid, but what would I use this for?” That’s a great question. Remember that a paracord bracelet is supposed
to be extra cordage. It’s good to keep at least fifty feet of paracord in your emergency kit.
Paracord has seven thinner strands of nylon string inside a sheath. Each inner strand is made of two or three strands. This gives it a tensile strength of 550 pounds. Theoretically,
you could get about 120 feet of cordage from the eight feet of paracord in your bracelet (if you take each inner strand apart). Of course, the strength of the cord diminishes as you take it apart.
Tip: If you need to cut the cord but don’t have a knife, you can use paracord to cut itself. First, find the point you want to cut. Next, tie the cord to two sturdy objects with the cut point in the middle (leave plenty of slack). You can also use your feet for this; just make sure the cord is held firmly in place. Take a length of cord and run it behind (or under) the point you want to cut. Pull against the cut point with one end of the cutting section in each hand. Rub the extra length of cord back and forth vigorously at the cut point until the friction melts through the cord.
So, what can you do with a paracord bracelet? Here’s my surely-not-exhaustive list in no particular order:
1. Tying just about anything to just about any other thing. Like a bottle or knife to a backpack or belt, or a rack on a bike, motorcycle, or car.
2. Repairing broken items like bootlaces, belts, backpack straps, rifle slings, zipper pulls, camera straps, or just about any kind of strap.
3. Lashing things together. This would be particularly handy for building an improvised shelter, raft, spear, etc.
4. Carrying stuff. I learned the hard way that carrying a heavy bundle by a single strand of thin paracord can be very painful. Try braiding or improvising a handle if you need to do this. If you have other paracord with you, a paracord bracelet actually makes a nice handle.
5. Traps. There are several types of traps you can make to catch wild animals. I don’t know how to make any, but there are plenty of books and videos on the subject.
6. Making a bow for a bow drill. See #5 above to find out what I know about making fire with a bow drill.
7. Hanging stuff. You can hang food up in a tree to keep in away from sneaky critters. I saw a guy rig up a hammock with paracord and it actually held his weight.
8. Making lanyards and “dummy cords.” Attaching useful items like keys, cell phones, flashlights, knives, compasses, etc. to your pack or clothes can help you hang onto them longer and keep them easily accessible.
9. Making a net. You’ll need enough cordage and some skill to do this. You probably couldn’t make a very big net just from your bracelet, but the seven inner strands add up to about 56 feet of cordage plus the eigh-foot-long sheath. Dave Canterbury (of Dual Survival fame) has made an instructional YouTube video on making a rope hammock (which is essentially a net).
10. As a guyline or ridgeline (the main support) for a tent or tarp shelter.
11. Anything else you can think of.
The point is, paracord is useful. You can find tons of information and instruction for making paracord items on the internet—some more practical than others. I don’t like wearing bracelets, so I watched a bunch of videos online and was inspired to make my belt. It took a lot of time and trial and error, but it was worth it.
You can make plenty of useful items out of paracord. I think it’s fun. If knot-tying isn’t your thing, it’s easy enough to wrap the cord in a bundle and throw it in a bag. Either way, you’ll be glad to have cordage in an emergency.