550 Para Cord 101
In the last 3-5 years 550 para cord has gained mainstream popularity. With a lot of survival gear designed out of 550 cord or incorporating 550 cord somehow, a lot more people are carrying it. Since the invention of 550 cord, which was originally made for and used in parachutes for the military, many outdoor enthusiasts have carried this cord for building shelters, lashing things together as well as many other things. Many people that were familiar with its strength have always kept some in their garage as well. 550 Cord is useful for so many applications that it is considered the duct tape of cordage. It wasn’t until “survival bracelets” became popular and became very fashionable, that many people became familiar with this type of cord. Many veterans that were familiar with 550 para cord because of their military service continued to carry and use 550 cord after they left the military just because of its usefulness.
I as well as many others have always carried some 550 cord in their packs well outdoors. 550 para cord is great because it is made of a synthetic material (nylon or polyester) and because of that it does not rot or mildew. This is great for water applications. Since I like to Kayak it’s great to be able to not worry about my cordage deteriorating because of water contact. 550 cord is affected by UV rays and will weaken with prolonged exposure to the sun. Dirt and oils, like the oils from your skin do affect synthetic materials as well. That is why climbers take very good care of their robes. After each climb they are washed, dried and stored in a dark place. This helps any synthetic cordage to last longer. I’m not telling you that you have to wash your para cord bracelet every time you wear it but remember the dirtier and older it is the higher the chance the cord will not be as strong when you use it. You also want to be careful around open flames or intense heat because 550 cord will melt. That is one of its weaknesses.
If you are buying 550 cord or any gear made out of 550 cord make sure that it says that it is made in America. All of the American cord is tested to meet the 550 lb limit and some of the cord even surpasses 550 lbs. The stuff coming from china is not tested to meet the 550 lb limit even though it is labeled as 550 cord. One of the local companies that I order my 550 cord from, they make 550 cord for our military, has tested Chinese para cord and most of it is failing around 150-200 lbs. You can use this cord if you want but don’t expect it to hold 550 lbs.
The great thing about 550 para cord is that, say you only have a two foot piece of cord, you can take that short piece, cut the melted ends and pull the seven inner strands out and now you have eight cords, two feet long. You will now have enough cord to tie the frame of a shelter together. You can also take one of the inner strands that you just took out of the outer sheath and unwind it so that it can be used for fishing line. There are tons of uses for 550 para cord. Here are just a few:
Making a Shelter Attaching gear
Fishing Line Snares
Knife Lanyards Neck Lanyards
Bow Drill Shoe Laces
Making a Hammock Fishing Lure
Lashing a Knife to a Spear Hanging Things around Camp
Tourniquet Gun Slings
Belts Repairing Failed Gear
Equipment Handles Color Coding Gear
I could go on and on about how useful 550 para cord is and all of its many uses but I’ll stop here. 550 cord will only be limited by your problem solving skills and or imagination. If you do not have or are not using 550 para cord I suggest that you get some and keep it in your bug out bag, backpacking bag, hunting bag, garage or anyplace you may be able to use it. I always carry 100 feet of cord in my backpack no matter what I’m doing. It is to useful not to have some on me at all times. What things do you use 550 cord for? Are you familiar with its strengths and weaknesses? All of the 550 cord gear in my store is made in America by Americans out of American made parts. You don’t have to buy from me but make sure you are buying quality para cord gear that is made in America out of American made parts.