Reasons Why a Paracord Rope Should Be in Your Survival Kit

paracord ropes

The buzz about paracord being the ultimate survival rope doesn’t seem to go away. We have all heard it before: parachute ropes are superior due to the 7 strands of inner core, they have an outer sheath that is UV resistant, they are remarkably strong given their lightweight build..but what does this actually mean?

We concur – military grade paracord rope is one of the toughest multipurpose ropes you can find on the market. Let’s set the record straight, we are talking about true parachute cord rope. When you buy a rope, you want to be sure you got the real deal. But how can you recognize real paracord before you actually use it?

It’s fairly straightforward, you just need to read through the specifications – the real stuff is described as 550 paracord. No one wants to read labels without knowing what they are looking at so, of course, you might want to know what does 550 paracord mean. In essence, it shows that the rope has a minimum breaking strength of 550 pounds (or 249 kg). So, you can safely use it if you don’t intend to expose it to loads that are heavier than that. And if you have a specific use in mind, like rock climbing, study the scope of application closely. There are six types of paracord rope, so you might need to delve deeper into detailed military specification standards like MIL-C-5040H.

Rope Making Basics

A paracord rope
History of Rope

We are yet to ascribe specific date (or time period) in which rope making emerged. The oldest comprehensive document concerning specialized tools for making rope comes from ancient Egyptian artwork. Of course, many believe ropes go way back than that. What we do know is that some of the materials and techniques associated with producing rope are used to this very day.

Rope Materials

The most simple way to make a rope is to use the resources in your immediate surroundings. For millennia, natural fibres like hemp, manila, linen, cotton and jute were used to make ropes. A reputable bushcraft survival course has to include training for using twine for basket weaving, shelter building and much more. So, when you don’t have paracord, just go with what is around you.

Nylons, polypropylenes and polyesters came to the scene in the 1950s and quickly became widely used almost instantly. These synthetic fibres have far superior strength and are used in standardized production of tactical rope.

Rope Making Techniques

Rope construction techniques have become rope manufacturing processes assisted by technology, however, the principles of putting rope together are basically the same. You can twist, braid or plate rope. The ubiquitous three strand twisted rope is made by yarn twisted in strands and these strands are then twisted to form the rope.

Strength comes from the diameter of the yarn, the number of yarns in each strand and the number of braids in the end product. While twisted rope is the most simple way to do it, there are many other ways to increase the strength of a given rope. Braided ropes have yarn that is braided to make strands. If you apply this braiding procedure to a twisted strand you will get a plaited rope. These are the three most common ways to put a rope together.

The most sophisticated ropes of today are based on these principles. They are combined to make ultra-strong ropes – the inner core is covered by an outer sheath and this is where the strength and resistance come from. So, you can have a four-strand twisted core with a braided sheath.

Survival Paracord

Type III paracord (550 paracord)
Survival paracord contains a mixture of natural and synthetic inner core strands. Aside from the seven individual strands of three strand nylon braids, it has waxed jute, monofilament fishing line, brass wire, and one marker strand. Depending on the exact make of your paracord, this can vary. However, if you have Type III paracord (or 550 paracord) in your hands, then it has to be made up of 7 inner cords, each made from 3 strands.

If you are not keen on gutting a survival paracord with a knife to get some of its strands out of the sheath, you will appreciate its level of resistance. They are built to resist UV rays, rot and accumulation of mildew. Rotting of natural fibres, for example, can happen on the inside and you won’t know that the integrity of your rope is breached until the rope fails you. The synthetic fibres not only ensure your rope won’t rot, but they also contribute to it being so lightweight. To put this in perspective, 30 meters of paracord (with a diameter of 4mm) weighs only 227g. This is remarkable given its strength.

It’s not so often that you can use outdoor ropes more than once. Paracord can serve a purpose even after you employed your knife over it. If it has vivid colours you can use it as a fishing lure, if it has waxed filament inside you can use it as a firestarter, and if you need a shoelace, you can certainly use it to tie your shoe as well.