*Coach Helder may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post
I was first introduced to paracord (550 cord) as an active duty, United States Marine. Our gear was always “dummy-corded” using 550 cord. When we were out in the field, our go to cordage was always 550 cord. I immediately appreciated it’s durability but it’s multipurpose applications are what really impressed me about paracord.
Paracord was first used by the U.S. military in parachute suspension lines; hence the name paracord. It is enclosed in a nylon sheath with various, individual strands, making up its core. The Military-Spec Type III paracord is rated with a minimum breaking strength of 550lbs. Hence the nickname, 550 cord. Paracord is so versatile that it was even used by astronauts to repair the Hubble Space Telescope on one of its missions. Paracord is a favorite of our military community, but as of late, the survival community has greatly embraced the benefits of paracord.
When it comes to emergency preparedness, cordage is one of the top items on my list. It’s a must when I need to build a shelter or even to lash some poles together for Dutch Oven cooking. The survival community understands this and has gone to paracord as their preferred cordage for when the SHTF. The integration of 550 cord into everyday items has been a staple for the past few years with those focused on being prepared.
I have seen and even own all types of gear that is made or woven from paracord. There are dog leashes, rifle slings, belts, necklaces and even iPhone cases made from 550 cord. But the one item that tends to be the most popular with military, and even the civilian preparedness community, is the paracord bracelet. They have become so popular that even the big box department stores carry the paracord bracelet at their locations.
So What Makes These Paracord Bracelets So Popular?
First off, these bracelets made from paracord look pretty cool. They bring that bit of Military Bling that many people want to be associated with. You can add dog tags or even your company logo to these bracelets. Since they can easily be customized to appeal to diverse markets, paracord bracelets have gotten worldwide exposure. We all tend to want to show off our pride for whatever organization(s) we choose to be affiliated with. A custom 550 cord bracelet will go a long way in helping you to express a bit about you; Just by wearing a simple bracelet.
People also want to show their peers that they take their preparedness seriously. These bracelets have become quite the mini-survival kit. There are many integrated features in today’s paracord bracelets. You will find whistles, ferro rods, fishing line and compasses in many of the paracord bracelets in today’s marketplace. The best part is that you easily make your own by following simple YouTube videos. These “extras” are integrated into the bracelet buckles and at times… Even found in the paracord sheath itself.
So now that we know how wearing a paracord bracelet can easily appeal to our ego, let’s get into some of the more applicable purposes for having a paracord bracelet.
Being able to use ropework (lashing) to build necessities during a crisis is imperative. Shelters, cooking stations and even gateways can go a long way in improving a SHTF scenario. In the field, we usually have little trouble finding wood to assist us with our projects. However, when it comes to the actual rope… We have to make sure that we have enough to be able to accomplish our goals.
A paracord bracelet has approximately 12 feet of cord. If you were to take the sheath off and expose the inner strands, you can tie those strands together to have even more rope at your disposal. Whether you are wearing your bracelet or just have it attached to the webbing on your bugout bag, having access to cord can be the difference between life and death during a crisis.
I have seen a few of my peers utilize an inner strand of 550 cord as fishing line; Quite successfully, I may add. But there are various 550 cord manufacturers that integrate a strand of 15 – 25lb test fishing line into their cord. You still get all the benefits of Military-Spec 550 cord but you also have the fishing line that can bode really well in an emergency.
As I mentioned earlier, the buckles on paracord bracelets can offer some additional features besides just being a clasp for your bracelet. I recently reviewed a paracord bracelet that contained a small ferro rod and scraper in its buckles. The ferro rod is quite small but certainly does the job. I was able to get a spark onto my tinder within a couple of strikes. If I happen to lose my main ferro rod or even my lighter, it is insuring to know that I still have a valid means of starting a fire contained in my paracord bracelet.
There are also paracord manufacturers that bundle in a strand of jute twine. Jute twine is an excellent source of tinder and can help to get your fire started in less than ideal conditions. Once again, I look at a paracord bracelet as a source of insurance. If my main tools are unavailable for whatever reason, I still have the redundancy in my bracelets.
There are times when we want to be unheard and even unseen. Depending on the situation, being covert keeps others from being aware of our presence and even location. However, certain scenario’s, such as being rescued, will require you to do the opposite. You need to do whatever you can to try and alert would be rescuers. Signal mirrors and whistles are a common feature that are contained in paracord bracelets.
These devices are small and may not be ideal. But as you know… In an emergency, “ideal” is not something to be expected and rarely manifests. Having access to something that works as opposed to nothing at all is certainly my choice.
Shelter building requires some know-how as well as cordage. We can usually find the basic construction material for our shelter out in the field. But rope is definitely a bit harder to come by or even make during an emergency scenario. Once again, having a paracord bracelet on hand can give you enough cord to get the job done.
I keep a great deal of 550 cord in my bug out bag. But if the SHTF, I may not have time to grab my pack. In addition, I may have lost my pack in the process of getting to safety. Knowing that I wear a few items, like my paracord bracelet, on a daily basis… Gives me a fighting chance during those unpredictable times.
Trap And Snare:
Food may not be readily available during a crisis. We may have to gather, fish, hunt or trap and snare. Paracord will go a long way in helping you with your trapping and snaring. However, some paracord has snare wire integrated with the other 550 cord strands. Not only will the snare wire do a better job than just a nylon strand, you also maintain the integrity of your 550 cord by leaving it intact.
Being able to call 911 and get a response from a first responder will, most-likely, not be an option when SHTF. They will be overwhelmed with calls… And that is if your call even makes it through the jammed up cell towers -if they are still on-the-grid. The need for restraining individuals, until the proper authorities can do their job, may be in your future.
Handcuffs may not be something that most of us will have access to in an emergency scenario. Being able to make your own, may be the only option. You certainly do not want some idiot or idiots lurking around your family at basecamp. Things will be tough enough as is. With the use of paracord, you can easily make a set of handcuffs with a simple knot. The person being handcuffed will obviously need to be compliant but there are plenty of methods to make that happen. 😉
Being able to navigate or just orient yourself during an emergency situation is imperative. Having a GPS or compass in your kit is certainly a priority. But as you know, things do not always work out as planned. Many paracord bracelets come with an integrated compass either clipped on or embedded into the buckle. These are not the best choice for finding your path but in a pinch, it is much better than having nothing at all.
Be sure to test your paracord bracelet compass with your main compass. This will let you know if you truly have a valid source to find magnetic North. If the paracord compass is part of buckle or clasp, be sure to remove it in an emergency situation so that there are no metallic items interfering with your reading. Even a simple ferro rod integration can throw off your compass reading. Give yourself the best possible chance of finding your way when the SHTF.
Shoelaces may not seem like a big deal. But when you are moving out of foot and one of your laces snap… Let’s just say that it is just as annoying as getting a pebble caught in your shoe but can cause even greater risk in accomplishing your goal(s). Luckily, 550 cord can be utilized as shoelaces. As a matter of fact, many people opt to switch out their standard shoelaces, with paracord, right from the get-go.
Having a paracord bracelet that can easily be taken apart and converted to viable shoelaces is certainly a good idea. You can always re-use the paracord in a time of need by undoing your shoelaces and reclaiming the 550 cord.
Sewing/ Gear Repairs:
Being able to patch up your gear, while on the move, is a must if you are truly striving to be prepared.
Unserviceable gear usually becomes… Useless gear.
But if you can get to the inner strands of the paracord and combine them with a FID or needle, you can certainly make that damaged gear as good as new!
Whether it’s your backpack, harness or even clothing, having the option to sew will greatly extend the life of your gear. Just by utilizing one paracord bracelet, you will have plenty of sewing thread for diverse projects while in the field.
You can have access to all the cool tools and features in the world. But if you choose not train and become proficient with these devices, they become almost as useless as if you didn’t have them with you to begin with. Train as if your life depends on utilizing these extra pieces of gear… That is a big part of what being prepared is all about.
Perfect Practice Makes Perfect!