True North Blog

Paracord – The Wonder Tool!

In my opinion, every survival kit should include at least a 50′ hank of parachute cord.  As it is  exceedingly strong and exceedingly versatile, parachute cord has, almost quite literally, a 1,001 uses.  In terms of wilderness survival it ties together all seven survival priorities.  Among other things, it can be used, then, to: form a ridge line for my shelter and tie down the ends; fashion a bow string for a primitive fire; construct a litter to evacuate a patient; and sew a ripped jacket.  It can even be used to make a fishing lure!

To show you how, I have provided the following video.  I thought it a good one so decided to pass it along.

Moving on …

What is parachute cord?  Parachute cord was originally developed during World War II solely for use as the suspension lines in a parachute.  However, because the nylon cord is strong, lightweight, pliable, and resistant to rot — and because the seven inner yarns can be easily separated from the outer sheathing — soldiers quickly found other uses for it.  Today, parachute cord is used in all branches of the military services for everything from tying rucksacks, to securing camouflage nets, to making pace-counting beads.  Heck, NASA even used it to help repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

Luckily, this wonder tool is available in the civilian market where you will see it also referred to as paracord or 550 cord (which refers its tensile strength) in a wide variety of colors.  Rather than use the standard olive drab in the field as I once did, I prefer to now use Paracord Colorsbright colors, like red or orange, because I can more easily see the cord on the ground … Not too mention that it helps keep me from clotheslining myself!

On top of everything, paracord is very fairly priced.  A 50′ hank will cost you just around $5.00.  While, yes, I have found that I can get it on-line far cheaper, by the time I pay the shipping costs, it saves me no more than if I purchased it at a neighborhood retailer.  Personally, then, I prefer to visit Fred and his wonderful staff at Exkursion in Monroeville, Pennsylvania where they charge 10¢ a foot.  However, if you buy in larger amounts, then they will very nicely discount you accordingly.

No matter where you choose to buy your paracord, as a purchasing hint, though, I strongly recommend that you confirm that it is “Mil-Spec” rated — that is, that it meets military specification standards.  Oftentimes, the so-called “paracord” that one can buy in a national retailer is nothing more than a cheap nylon sheath which surrounds a simple cotton stuffed core — It not only breaks easily, but its functionality is limited.

Personally, I try to buy gear and supplies as though my life depends on it.  After all, one day, it just might.


Would you like to learn how to use paracord, or other tools and materials in an emergency situation?  Then consider enrolling in one of our upcoming wilderness survival courses.  Check out our Schedule to learn more and pick a course that fits your goals.

Erik Kulick leaning aginst wall with True North badge on blue shirt

About the Author

Erik is the founder of True North Wilderness Survival School. He is a police officer, EMS provider, a Wilderness EMT, and a Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. He has been featured in national and international media, including CNN, the Associated Press, and Backpacker. To learn more about Erik, visit him on LinkedIn and be sure to follow him on Facebook and YouTube.

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