Paracord Benefits and Its Many Uses

Paracord is a highly versatile multi-filament nylon cord with nearly unlimited uses, applications and benefits, and is pretty much a “must have” for preppers (or anyone!).

It’s like the duct-tape of cordage!

Here are more details about this amazing cord and a good supplier here in the United States Military-spec 550 Paracord:

Real Paracord

Real paracord has seven strong nylon cords inside. Each of these seven cords are made of several smaller woven strands. All of these interwoven strands /cords are wrapped in a flexible outer braided nylon wrapper. The combined breaking strength of real paracord is 550 pounds. For this reason, some call it ” 550 cord “.

Rothco (100′ shank)
(view on amzn)

The History of Paracord

The cord was first introduced and applied in parachute construction during WWII. However this paracord was quickly recognized for its use in other tasks too. Today it is used by both military and civilians for countless general purpose tasks.

There are many copies in the civilian market today. But true military grade cord will be designated MIL-C-5040 Type III and rated for 550 pounds.

Genuine MIL-SPEC MIL-C-5040

Type III Paracord and has 7 inner yarns, each made up of 3 strands.

Commercial/Civilian 550 paracord

Imitations might not have 7 inner yarns or the inner yarns might not have 3 strands each.

“According to the actual Mil-C-5040 government document, 550 type III Paracord should be made up of between 7 and 9 strands and each strand shall be 3-ply.”

Having said that, much of the paracord on the civilian market is still very good. Just be sure that there are 7 inner yarns (some have 5) if you’re looking for higher strength.

It is apparently fairly difficult to find the real Mil-spec paracord with 7-inner yarns AND with each yarn consisting of 3-ply (3-strands) (most are 2-ply, which is still very good for most all purposes).

Paracord Colors
The cord comes in a variety of colors and lengths. Note, when cut, the ends should be burned or singed to prevent fraying. Also, the inner strands can be easily pulled out for many additional uses.


Benefits of Paracord

(Approximately 1/8 inch diameter cord, and an incredible breaking strength of 550 lbs.)

Paracord can be used over and over again while remaining flexible and durable.

Light Weight
(The Mil specification requires that 225 feet of cord weigh 1 pound or less)

Water and Mildew Resistant
(Outside elements are not a problem and it will dry very quickly)

Inner Strands
(The unique ability to remove the inner strands make this cord extremely versatile)

Uses for Paracord

The list is really endless and up to your imagination, but a few ideas include the following:

Braiding for even more combined strength
Tent and Pole support, building shelters
Clothes Line
Tow Line
Tarp Tie Down
Equipment Guy-lines
Pack Strap, Fasten, lash and secure gear to backpack
Shoe Lace, Boot Lace
Garden Lines
Shelter Making
Fire Bow
Survival kit
Knife Handle Wrap
Lifeline – it will support the weight of a human
Livestock leads and dog leashes

Inner strands: sewing, fishing, trapping-snares, dental floss, emergency stitches (boil first)

TIP: To avoid a tangled mess of a long length of paracord – of which you might cut off shorter lengths as needed, I buy mine in 1,000 foot spools and simply roll off what I need. I very much recommend this method.

I have republished this article again, having recently purchased another 1,000 foot spool. Here’s a good supplier of paracord, Made in the USA…

1,000 Foot Spools

If you have your own ideas for the uses of paracord (especially the clever uses), comment below!

[ Read: Survival Kit Paracord – How Much To Include Or Take With You? ]


  1. Paracord comes in many different versions, the glow in the dark sleeved is handy when used for stringing up tarps so you don’t walk into them at night. I am attempting to make a rifle sling out of some for emergency use. A hat band would be a natural !

    Also look into Mule Tape, a product used by the companies that string electrical conduit. Very lightweight and can sometimes be gained for FREE if you know electrical contractors who often throw it away after they use it. Strong for its weight.

    1. Agreed – Mule Tape, is an interesting product.

      A few years ago a local phone Co. did some fiber optic install work in my neighborhood drilling conduit. So my pack rat gene kicked in. I was able harvest boxes / hundreds n hundreds feet of used Mule tape. Some of it is quite soft n flexible while other lengths are more stiff and tightly woven. I told the crews I was thinking of making a hammock from the stuff.

    2. i DID make a sling out para cord i simpley braided it and tied it to the weapon it didnt look very good but it worked

    3. anonymous my son has braided several gun slings from para cord some in multi color, OD & white. I got the ones that were not commercial quality.He also braided Monkey Fists and survival kits.

      1. Gave the grandsons a para cord – jig, as well as some paracord materials, stainless steel balls, and waited. I now have my one inch diameter steel ball paracord “key fob”, which could also double as a self defense impact device if necessary, several wrist watch bands with compasses attached,, etc.
        I keep sending the paracord and get resourceful stuff back.

    4. I work in the industry and if you ask nicely or show up with a box of donuts they’ll save it for you. For the most part Mule Tape is rated at 1200lbs and comes installed in the conduit(round hole that goes in the ground). Some is rated at 1800lbs. They do not tend to re-use it. I keep a couple 1000′ feet around just in case.

  2. I’ve wrapped several fixed blade knife handles with 550. I also have wrapped a few gun stocks. I have large hands, so the extra cord makes a more comfortable grip for me, plus you always have some cord when out in the woods. I’ve made simple slings for our air rifles with 550 too.

  3. I picked up about 800 ft 650 cord. It was going to be thrown away. How does 650 compare to 550?

  4. 1/8″ diameter? I would have guessed it at a bit thicker. I’m generally pretty good at guestimation and I’ve used genuine military grade paracord many times in the past. I was descending to earth under genuine military grade parachutes at the time.
    Just looked it up on Wikipedia and they do have an entry which says military cord is typically 4mm or 5/32″.

    1. @Me, I just went and measured some of my paracord with digital calipers. It’s difficult to get it exact because the cord will “smush” flatter than round. My measurements were in the vicinity of 1/8″ or perhaps slightly bigger if I could keep the cord round.

      I’ve changed the text above to read “approximately”…

    2. As per Wikipedia


      Military-specification type III cord may be slightly thicker than commercial grade due to it often requiring three nylon fibers per inner core as opposed to the two fibers per core of the commercial version. Military cord will be closer to a 4 mm thickness, whereas commercial versions are closer to a 3 mm thickness. This will also vary if the Type III uses 7, 8, or 9 inner cores. The most common on the commercial market is a 7 core.[citation needed] While the US military has no overall diameter requirements in its specifications, in the field Type III cord typically measures 5⁄32 inch (4 mm) in diameter.”

      3MM = 0.11811 inch, 1/8 inch = 0.125 So in actuality typical Commercial Paracord is less than 1/8 inch.

      Mill-Spec Paracord 4MM = 0.15748, 5/32 = 0.1563 So in all actuality Mil-Spec is not 5/32 it is 3.97002 MM

      With all that said, I bet it has a lot to do with how tight one would ‘pull’ the cord, will it lose diameter the harder it’s put under strain?

      BTW the 550 is the weight rating of the cord, and both are rated at 550, I’m wondering if 0.03937 of an inch is going to make a difference?

      Just curious, since I’m not allowed to state my use for Paracord…. HAHAHAH


      1. NRP

        I purchased a 1000 ft roll from Amazon:

        “TOUGH-GRID”, US made, 750 lb, type IV, US military (MIL – 5040 – H), 100% nylon, UV resistant, 5/32″ to 3/16″.

        There is so much hype out there about paracord and much is advertising BS so I stayed with a US product. I do not know if this product is in fact US military grade but it works well for me so I guess that is all that counts.

        Any knowledge of this product or the specs given above my well stocked friend?

        1. @ hermit us

          Not much info on the ‘tape’ I absconded a roll from an Electrical Contractor/Buddy telling him “This is mine now” he just shrugged his shoulders and replied “don’t hang yourself” HAHAHA Good understanding I guess.
          Tis still sitting on the shelf in the Garage. Unused.


        2. NRP

          After your expert technical data on paracord – that is the reason I asked about the paracord I bought not the pull tape earlier referred to by others. Not sure what a person could do with the tape either.

        3. @ hermit us

          Sorry had a Senior Moment.

          As far as the Paracord 750, $129 for 1000’ seems a bit high priced for my wallet. 550 non-mil is around $38 for 1000’ but ya gata remember I’m a cheap SOB. :-)


        4. NRP

          Yes, I paid 10 cents a foot when I bought it. But it part of my “A” list items – the good stuff. Baler twine works fine for somethings, climbing rope is for other things, stretch nylon rope for other things, … the right tool for the job.

          I think I read about someone buying the cheap dehydrator before going for the good one. Someone else was posting about getting the best pressure cooker on the market but expensive – I think the “All American”. Then the talk about the good knife as opposed to the cheaper utility ones we all have.

          That is why I have an “A” list for when it really counts. I seldom drink so I’m no judge but I’m sure there is gin and then there is good gin – at a price.

        5. @ hermit us

          Gin; you are absolutely correct, as with TP, get the good stuff on the “A” list….. Though I do believe the Paracord 550 will do me well, BUT, having at the right place and right time is Paramount….. Correct?

          “the right tool for the job.” I agree 1000%.


      2. Yes, nylon it will elongate as it stretches. Some of the newer aramid fibers don’t elongate much at all and are stronger than steel. I use a length of Dyneema 1/4″ line for pulling small logs, popping saplings out of the ground, etc. It stretches 0.7% at 20% of breaking strength. Breaking strength is 9,700. I don’t worry very much about it breaking. Nylon is good for shock absorption as it’s stretch makes it springy. As far as using it as a lifeline it would depend on the application. Sending somebody into the water for a rescue might be okay but I wouldn’t use is to arrest a fall or as a line for rappelling as friction around a D ring or figure 8 could cause it to melt. Might be okay for short distances.
        As an aside safe working load is generally 1/3 of breaking strength. Knot strength also has to be considered. A simple overhand knot can reduce a ropes strength by as much as 50%.

        1. Me, I would never use paracord as a safety line on the river. Throw bags have static rope ( non-stretchy). My bow and stern lines are also static climbing rope. Rappelling and climbing (even short distances) use dynamic (stretchy) climbing rope. Whenever I am “out there” I have my 30 meter 8 mil. Paracord will hold the weight of a person but cannot sustain the force magnifier of a fall. You are absolutely correct in that it would melt on a biner, any kind of belay/rappel device, or webbing. As far as knots go, a butterfly has the least affect on rope strength as it keeps the rope in line with itself. Butterflies work great if you want to hang several things from a vertical static line or have 3 people on the same rope crossing a snowfield.

  5. I love paracord and use it all the time for various uses. However, don’t let the name and specifications fool you, the breaking point may be 550 lbs. but the actual working load limit is only about 150 lbs. or so. What that means is don’t expect to put 500 lbs. on the same length of cord and expect to use it over and over.

    I’ve towed cars with multiple lengths combined before, and even pulled up a tree stump. Afterwards I either throw those lengths away since they’ve been under stress or I put them in a marked bin and save them for light duty stuff in the future because I don’t want it snapping while I’m doing something critical.

  6. I made a paracord family out of it. they’re great to hang around with, but they don’t say a darn string. Win WIN! it’s knot what you think!

  7. @Hermit us, the tape can be used to make a quick, cheap fence. See YouTube. Via Dave Canterbury.

    1. CR,

      Paracord is great. For me, tarred bank line is head and shoulders better than paracord for kits that put a premium on space. 150ft fits in a smaller space than 20ft of paracord. Not as strong, but how often do you need to support 500+ lbs with your cordage?

  8. I use paracord all the time when camping. I also have replaced all of the stock guylines on tents and canopies with it. I’ve used it to wrap handles for walking sticks, replace broken boot laces, and hang sunglasses around my neck. It makes a great backcountry clothesline. I use it to hang my water bladder from a tree so that I can have “running water” in camp. It also makes a pretty cool looking woven bracelet for guys. However, as useful as it is, I would NEVER use it as a protection from a fall or in a rescue situation.

  9. Very useful stuff, It took me a long time to burn through my first 1,000′ roll.
    Not too long ago I bought another thousand foot roll, to have it after collapse.
    thinking of another one because I can.

    I’d like a big roll of 750 paracord but that’s getting a bit pricey.

  10. I pick up some at wally about every 4th time we go there. Mr. “why do you need more”? Because we can’t have too much dear!

  11. paracord is good.
    i used Ace Hardware 3/8 in. Cotton Cord for years and years on my service truck to tie down pipe and ladders. they call it “sash cord” hauled some very heavy large loads of pipe with it. the truck was left out in the weather rain or shine and it would last for a loooong time, several years. take it for what it’s worth, but that’s just been my experience from using it in the field. i have some paracord but the 3/16 cotton is my go to. ten bucks for 50 ft. ya can’t beat that.

    1. Well, 100′ real paracord off ebay for $10 no shipping charge.
      My local farm store charges $0.09 per foot for 550 paracord.
      Ken’s amazon link works out to $0.07 per foot for the thousand foot roll.

  12. Buy it on eBay, one seller in Colorado selling a 1200’ foot roll (mil spec on a spool) for 49 bucks includes shipping I have purchased two it’s the real deal.

  13. Has anyone else seen the Titan products Survivorcord ? Mil – Spec, Type II 7 strand product. Some of them have several other strands of material in the same cord. Fish line (25lb test), fire starter cord, copper wire strand, and waxed jute along with standard strands for 650 pound strength. Taking up same space as standard paracord.

    Titan sells several different products – worth your consideration I think.

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