We’ve all been out in the woods – camping, hiking, hunting, MilSim, backpacking and more. Most regular outdoorsmen have a good idea what they need and they pack their tactical gear accordingly.
Most of us who are into tactical gear also know what paracord is and how to use it. Parachute cord (also paracord or 550 cord when referring to type-III paracord) is a lightweight nylon kernmantle rope originally used in the suspension lines of parachutes. This cord is useful for many other tasks and is now used as a general purpose utility cord by both military personnel and civilians. See this Wiki article if you need the whole rundown of what paracord is.
Because there’s a serious sense of adventure built into your DNA, you’re probably constantly doing one of two things: You’re either thinking about your next outdoors escapade, or you’re actually engaged in it, enjoying it to the fullest.
And, if you are the outdoors type, you’ll have noticed a trend that is taking the great outdoors by storm.
What started as a practical way for soldiers, firefighters, and adventurers to carry some extra cord has quickly turned into a major trend.
Paracord is now either being carried on a spool or it’s being worn as a bracelet by every type of outdoor adventurer out there. From the novice to the expert, and all folks in between, it’s a trend that is increasing with enormous regularity, and it looks like it’s here to stay.
But, paracord is so much more than just a trend. There are numerous paracord uses that can help to make your adventure a more interesting one.
From making you look super cool, to helping you protect yourself in the wilderness, you’ll be amazed at the sheer volume of paracord uses.
In this article, we’re sharing ten awesome paracord uses that won’t just help enhance your life, but actually save it.
Ready for the full scoop?
Let’s do this!
Looking after yourself can pose some challenges in the outdoors.
A common problem that many people encounter outdoors is muscle, bone, and joint injuries.
Though not life-threatening in themselves, these kinds of injuries can be painful. But, worse than that, a muscle or bone injury can leave you immobilized.
Looking for a way to splint the injury? You can use some paracord for that.
One of the fundamentals of wilderness or SHTF first-aid is knowing how to make a splint, in case you or a companion endures a serious injury such as a dislocation or a fracture. A splint stabilizes the body part in question to minimize additional injuries. The exact method of applying a splint depends on the location of the injury and the materials at hand, but a foam or inflatable sleeping pad is a handy-dandy tool many campers or preppers will have in their equipment. Once said pad’s cut to size, it can be rolled around a banged-up leg or braced under a pummeled wrist–perhaps with clothing or some other soft cushion underneath–and then secured with bandages and/or paracord.
Paracord may also be incorporated into the more complicated setup of a traction splint, sometimes employed in the event of a femur fracture. Traction splints are difficult to properly pull off, though, and can be more injurious to the hobbled person if done incorrectly.
If you’ve got an injured (and perhaps splinted) hand, arm, collarbone, or shoulder, you can also use paracord to fashion a readymade sling. Don’t forget to elevate the hand to the level of the heart and to leave fingers exposed or easily accessible so you can check on circulation.
Use the paracord to tie a slip knot around your wrist, then pull it back behind your neck. Finally, secure it to the elbow and you have a sling.
What if you’re out in the wilderness and there’s a case either for you or your companions of uncontrolled bleeding?
In extreme cases, excessive bleeding can be life altering or life threatening.
In these cases, you can use your paracord as a tourniquet. Please educate yourself before using a tourniquet in real life. If done incorrectly, you risk not being able to slow down or stop the bleeding of the victim. There’s a helpful guide to applying a tourniquet here.
One of the basics of survival is having good shelter. And, in this, paracord can be a great aid. Whether you’re an ultralighter who scoffs at tents, or you’re somebody caught in a sudden rainstorm or blizzard on the trail and in need of a quick roof over your head, a tarp is an absolute must in your wilderness and survival gear. And a paracord’s just the thing for setting up the readymade shelter in a flash. Use it as a long line attached to tree trunks or trekking poles to backbone a tarp, and for guylines staking out the sides. Just about everybody’s got their own preferences for tarp-rigging knots, but good candidates include slippery, tautline, and trucker’s hitches.
Shelter comes in many forms. Paracord is ideally suited to the following shelters:
In the Army, we carried a simple poncho ‘hooch’ (rain gear) in our rucksack. The poncho had four eyelets (one each corner) that we used bungee cords to tie the poncho to trees, and make a quick shelter for the night. You can do the same with Paracord for a simple and quick shelter in place.
Out on a camping trip and some of your gear has become damaged?
Sternum buckle broke on your favorite backpack? A gaping hole has appeared in your tent? A simple tear in your shoelace?
You are not alone. These are some one of the most common things to happen to most outdoor adventurers and often, with a combination of common sense and imagination, paracord can provide a multitude of repairs.
Setting traps can be a superb backup strategy for nourishment in a survival situation, or you may just want to create your own traps for the thrill of the adventure.
Similarly, those inner strands can also make a lethal survival snare for catching some backwoods fodder. Search for a small-game trail–often revealed as a tunnel through tall grass or a thicket–and set the noose enough above the ground that a squirrel’s or rabbit’s head, say, would pass through it. Your paracord can be used for the snare, as well as for smaller trap parts. But, you can also use it as a trigger mechanism.
If you find yourself in the outdoors and you’re all out of food, you’ll need to find other sources of food to keep you sustained.
If you’re near a lake, river or stream the obvious answer comes in the form of the contents of that water. But, you’ve no fishing rod.
No worries. To catch a fish all you need is a fishing line of some sort, some bait, and a little bit of skill. Maybe throw in some patience to boot.
The inner strands of paracord can be separated out and used as effective fishing line. That can make bugging out alongside a trout-rich river or lake that much more pleasant–or an unexpected backcountry emergency survivable. You can use your paracord as a fishing line by tying the ends of the threads together using a bend knot. Grab a stick and find something to use as the hook (a soda can tab can work wonders).
And, hey presto, you’ve got a line.
Now all you have to do is wait.
When you’re out on any adventure, between different weather conditions, hiking, and swimming and gliding through all sorts, you’ll undoubtedly need to handwash clothes at some point or other.
But, where do you dry them?
Use your paracord as a line to hang the clothes and you have your very own clothes’ line in the wilderness.
It probably comes as no breaking news to you that the ability to strike a fire–in a variety of conditions and with a variety of materials–is one of the most critical skills for any outdoorsperson or prepper to master.
A fire-making tool used for thousands of years around the world, the bow drill is easy to construct but–speaking of mastery–quite difficult to use effectively. Loop paracord tied to your bow around the drill, the base of which tucks into a socket on your fireboard. Working the bow back and forth causes friction between the drill and the socket to produce–eventually–a spark that can be blown into a flame. (The fireboard and drill should be fashioned from dry wood; certain trees particularly lend themselves to the task, including poplars, yucca, white-cedar, and willow.)
The bow-drill technique takes plenty of practice–and just as much patience–to pull off, but, without a doubt, it can be an extremely effective method for starting a fire when you need it most.
Keep critters and all sorts of other nasties, out of your backpack, tent, cooler, or anything else that you want to strap up. Think here especially in terms of food that you want to lock away.
Some animals are dab hands at rummaging through your foodstuffs. They have mastered the art of unzipping your bags.
As a result, zips will never be enough. Instead, you can use the shackle on your paracord to pin two zippers together.
Whether you’re backpacking or bugging out in the wilderness, it’s essential to keep food and any other odorous goods well out of reach of bears–grizzlies and black bears, namely, in North American backwoods. While the powerful and potentially dangerous bruins are the main focus, a bear bag also lessens the chance you’ll be plundered by rodents, raccoons, and other less threatening marauders.
Paracord’s ideal for the task of hoisting a bear bag. The really important thing is putting enough space between the bag and a bear’s access point: You want it hanging 12 feet off the ground and at least six feet from the nearest trunk or branch. (Don’t forget that black bears can adeptly climb trees, and grizzlies have a hell of a reach.) Sling one end of the paracord to a weight–a stone works best–and toss it over an appropriately positioned bough. Then securely tie the bag to the cord, pulley it up to that 12-foot-plus sweet spot, and knot the free end to the tree trunk.
An important tip: When choosing your campsite, scout out likely bear-bag branches right off the bat (they should be at least 100 feet away from your site). And try to hang the bag before nightfall, as it’s much easier to do the job with a little daylight on your side.
So, are you ready to put your paracord to good use?
Well, there you have it: 10 prime backwoods or emergency uses of parachute cord. If you’re convinced that this nylon rope should be part of your go-to gear–and you should be convinced by now–check out the super-convenient paracord bracelets we offer here at MiliTactical!
Should you need any further advice, do reach out and talk to us.