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Paracord?

paracord bracelet survival

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#1 BenBRockN

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Posted 04 November 2014 - 09:08 PM

So I come to ITS frequently, but I don't know much about general survival stuff. My question today is paracord. I always hear about it, people make bracelets out of it (see this video by ITS: http://www.youtube.com/v/4uDhsnYYI7s), you can use it for whipping an etrier (aider), but what else?

 

What are its uses? Whether you have 50 feet of paracord lying around, or a 10 foot paracord bracelet that you can untie in an emergency.

 

If I were to make a bug-out/in bag, should I have some readily availiable? How much and why?

 

 

Thanks,

 

- Ben



#2 BenBRockN

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Posted 04 November 2014 - 09:13 PM

EDIT: Also, what kinds are there, and what are they used for? (550, types I, II, III, milspec,climbspec, etc...)



#3 EMSWxSAR

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Posted 04 November 2014 - 09:21 PM

I can't go into the more technical details as that is beyond my knowledge, but for survival situations I want cordage.  550-cord fits the bill nicely.  You can split it into its 7 internal strands to really stretch it far.  Use it for lashing together a makeshift shelter, replacement shoe laces, replacement belt, etc.  Tons of uses.  Google "550cord uses" and you'll see a ton of 'em.

 

Hope that helps!

 

EDIT: Forgot to mention.  I have a paracord bracelet and keychain that I have on my person all the times.  Sometimes wear a paracord belt, and when my EDC bag is with me I have 100 feet in that.  Probably over-kill, but better to be prepared than sitting there wishing you had some cordage on you.


Edited by EMSWxSAR, 04 November 2014 - 09:29 PM.

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#4 PsychoFish

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Posted 04 November 2014 - 10:22 PM

EMSWxSAR covered it pretty well.

 

I have a couple bracelets (hey, they are pretty cool) that I have for hardcore emergency use. But in my EDC bag I keep 100 feet of it. In my hunting bag, I keep 200 feet of it, and a few hundred feet of it in my truck. Its pretty useful stuff!


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#5 Davis

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Posted 05 November 2014 - 09:02 AM

Different types of paracord can mean a lot of things; different size (diameter), different load ratings, different standards met, some have different fibers woven into them, etc. 

 

When people say "paracord" they are most commonly referring to a cord that is approximately 1/8" in diameter and has an outer jacket with multiple internal stands. Now, this is where you need to pay attention to what you are buying. Paracord is a very popular item right now especially with the recent advent of the "prepper community". With that everybody has started to import from China and sell this stuff. You can buy paracord almost anyplace now a days, but if you care about what you are buying then beware. 

 

I buy mil-spec Type III 550 cord and I buy it from reputable places that I trust actually build to mil-spec and don't just write that on the label. This means that it was built to mil-spec has 7 internal strands and a minimum breaking strength of 550 lbs. There are better more expensive cords out there, but for me this is the most versatile and gets the job done for what I need. I also usually keep some Type I cord around as it is a much smaller diameter and serves different purposes. 

 

As far as uses go, as the guys said above, they are pretty much endless. I use deconstructed Type III for my bootlaces on a daily basis but I also keep bundles of the stuff in by EDC bag and in my truck. You can use it for lashing things down, you can using it for putting together an improvised shelter, you can use it for medical purposes, you can replace your boot lace if it breaks on you while out in the field, you can do a lot of things with it. Type III cord is one of those things like duct tape and WD 40, you should just always have some around. 


Edited by Davis, 05 November 2014 - 09:55 AM.

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#6 Hidyn

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Posted 05 November 2014 - 11:49 PM

I keep ten feet on me in a quick release braid.

One use Id like to add is a friction saw. Used properly it cuts through thick plastic zip ties and duct tape like butter.

Try it. :)
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#7 BenBRockN

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Posted 06 November 2014 - 08:19 PM

I bought some of this from REI, it says 550 cord made out of nylon, it appears to have 7 strands, but the cord is squishy when you press it between your finger and thumb (is it supposed to be hard or soft cordage?).

 

This is the first time I've seen/bought paracord, but it doesn't look that durable to me. Did I just buy a crappy brand or does it all look/feel this way?

 

http://www.rei.com/p...utility-cord-30



#8 LongHaul

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Posted 07 November 2014 - 09:49 AM

I've never used the paracord from Ultimate Survival Technologies, but I have used a couple of their other products and the gear seems to be reasonably well built. As for their paracord that you bought at REI, I checked out the specs at the link you posted and it has the normal 550 cord specifications. I buy my cordage in large spools from the companies that manufacture the military stuff and I've never found it to be squishy at all. I might drop by a local sporting goods store today and see if I can get my hands on the same kind you've got and let you know what I think.


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#9 LongHaul

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 07:26 PM

...but the cord is squishy when you press it between your finger and thumb...

This is the first time I've seen/bought paracord, but it doesn't look that durable to me. Did I just buy a crappy brand or does it all look/feel this way?

http://www.rei.com/p...utility-cord-30


Today I picked up a 30 foot section of the UST paracord you mentioned. It is weirdly squishy. It's almost like the sheath is too large for the core. I'm not sure how its performance will compare to my normal paracord. When I get a chance I'll try do do some strength and durability comparisons. I'll post pictures of the differences. Might not get to it till tomorrow.
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#10 BenBRockN

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Posted 11 November 2014 - 07:02 AM

Today I picked up a 30 foot section of the UST paracord you mentioned. It is weirdly squishy. It's almost like the sheath is too large for the core. I'm not sure how its performance will compare to my normal paracord. When I get a chance I'll try do do some strength and durability comparisons. I'll post pictures of the differences. Might not get to it till tomorrow.

 

You are the man, going above and beyond to help me, thanks LongHaul.



#11 LongHaul

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Posted 12 November 2014 - 12:21 AM

Here's my review of the Ultimate Survival Technologies Paracord. I'll be comparing it to the paracord that I normally use. I buy my paracord in 1000 foot spools from US manufacturers that make the "mil spec" cordage, but I don't pay the premium for it being specifically labeled "mil spec." I'll include a picture of some mil spec stuff at the end of my review and explain why I don't pay twice as much for the "good stuff."

 

Also, for anyone that doesn't like reading. Here's the bottom line up front:

The Ultimate Survival Technologies paracord is fine. I don't like it as much as the stuff I usually use, but it's alright. It's rated to 550 pounds just like my regular stuff and should be fine for any application you'd normally use any brand of paracord for. Oh, and mil spec paracord isn't worth the price in my opinion.

 

 

I'll start out by comparing prices:

 

1000 foot spool: $47 or about $0.05 per foot

UST 30 foot bundle: $4.95 or about $0.17 per foot

 

The winner here is the spool. To be fair, the UST bundle comes with a carabiner for attaching it to your gear. But it isn't a very good carabiner and I don't think it justifies the price difference.

 

 

1000' Spool next to 30 foot bundle

15150034894_68eacd24ba_c.jpg

 

 

Closeup on the bundle with carabiner

15584564478_2b32f7d795_c.jpg

 

 

 

 

Here are two closeup shots of the seven inner strands from both brands. The UST cordage is on the top in the first picture and on the left in the second. Both brands have the standard 7 strands and both are rated to 550 pounds. I noticed when I cut these sections that the sheath on the UST cord frayed quite a bit more when cut than the sheath on my other paracord did. Hopefully you can see that in the pictures here. It's not a huge deal, but considering that the UST cord feels "squishy" it starts to make me question the durability of the sheath.

 

15746289506_c796a000f0_c.jpg

 

15584827967_67e892b9a4_c.jpg

 

 

 

Next I tied bowlines into both cords. The dark green paracord that I normally use feels better to tie knots with. It's more supple than the UST cord and doesn't have the stiffness that I noted with the UST cordage. Also, you can see in this picture some pretty significant flattening of the UST cord around the knot. The flattening resulted from the loose/squishy sheath and there are two problems that I see with this. The first problem is that knots will be more difficult to untie after tightening due to the flattening and deforming of the cord as it passes through the knot. The second, and probably more significant, problem is that the UST paracord will probably be weaker than other paracord at the knot as a result of the flattening. All cordage is weakened by knots and the sharper the angle or the more deformation caused by a knot the more the cord is weakened.

 

15768126031_541c62266d_c.jpg

 

 

 

Next I did a durability check by using the paracord to cut through zip ties. I used 175 pound breaking strength zip ties, the strongest you typically find at home improvement stores. Sawing through the zip ties with cordage is a common technique for breaking out of this form of illegal restraint. Kevlar cord works a lot better for this, but paracord works fine too, as you'll see.

 

 

15150579673_e94edaf110_c.jpg

 

 

Ultimate Survival Technologies paracord set up to cut the zip tie

15769996905_2cca3dda06_c.jpg

 

 

My usual stuff set up to cut the zip tie

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Here is the aftermath of cutting through the zip ties. You can see the sheath damage very clearly. From top to bottom this picture shows:

 

1. Undamaged paracord from my 1000' spool

2. The damaged section from my usual stuff

3. The damaged UST sheath

4. The undamaged UST paracord.

 

My methods were definitely unscientific, but I tried to keep the pressure the same throughout the test. I noticed more heat and a bit more melting plastic smell when I used the UST cord. It took me 6 sawing motions with the UST cord and 5 sawing movements with my paracord. That's not a significant difference and they both got the job done. You'll notice in the picture that you can still see the weave pretty well on the green paracord, but the UST cord is very flattened and the sheath shows a bit more damage.

 

15768136711_dd7a7655af_c.jpg

 

 

Overall I'd say the UST paracord is fine and would work well for most uses. That said, I like my paracord a lot better for the following reasons:

 

1. It costs less.

2. It's easier to tie knots in.

3. I think that it will retain it's strength better at the knot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now, my thoughts on mil spec paracord.

 

In my opinion mil spec paracord is too expensive for any benefit it provides. It costs nearly twice as much as the commercial paracord. The primary difference between mil spec and commercial paracord is the identifier on one of the inner strands (the light green marker in the 5th strand from the top in the picture below). They also may or may not use a different dye in the sheath and there are some tests required on the mil spec stuff. Due to the increased cost associated with the mil spec requirements the commercial cord that doesn't have the identifier on the inner strand costs less. Both commercial and mil spec cord are rated to 550 pounds and should perform equally well for what most people use paracord for.

 

Mil spec paracord with the colored identifier visible on the 5th strand from the top.

15771566432_3eee3d966a_c.jpg

 

 

 

I hope everyone got something out of that long and rambling paracord discussion. I'll finish up with an incomplete list of the things I use paracord for.

 

Tent guy lines

Rigging tarps

Loosening stuck bolts (yep!)

Securing stuff in the bed of my truck

Building shelters

Gardening

Clothesline

Hanging food in bear country

Bow drill for starting fire

Use it to make a "buzz saw" with a glow stick for signaling

Making ranger pace count beads

Making sweet bracelets to show how prepared I am

Repairing gear (using the inner strands)

Burning my fingers by accident

Escaping illegal restraint (practice only, so far...)

Hanging game meat in the field

Dummy cording my gear

Other random things

Posting long-ass replies to the ITS Tactical forum...  :cool:

 

 

-LongHaul


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#12 EMSWxSAR

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Posted 12 November 2014 - 06:52 AM

Awesome review LongHaul.  I've never tried using paracord on stuck bolts...definitely something I'll have to try when I find one!


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#13 spenceman

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Posted 12 November 2014 - 06:58 AM

Good review. You should repeat the test with a section of 2 or 3-inch pvc. Paracord burns through that stuff reasonably well but the extra wear will usually destroy the sheath. 


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#14 BenBRockN

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 04:34 PM

Great review LongHaul!



#15 BenBRockN

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Posted 14 November 2014 - 04:37 PM

Hey, where do you buy your spool of paracord at btw?



#16 redsol1

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Posted 15 November 2014 - 06:00 PM

LongHaul, Great Review!

 

To the OP. I work for a military contractor/manufacturer and we use type III 550 all the time. i carry it in all of my kits. i've used it for multiple situations. one of the most common you'll see in a "prep" or "Bug out" situation is in conjunction with a tarp or poncho liner to make a shelter. it can be used for traps or snares, lashing stuff down, ect. I've personally used it in the field to:

 

1.) used it with some washers to fix a sea bag who's clip ring had torn out

2.) made guide loops out of gorilla tape and threaded with 55o cord to secure a plastic vent hood closed over an equipment rack

3.) Used it with tent stakes to secure tall equipment (light kits) to the ground in high wind

4.) make replacement becket loops for tactical shelters

5.) tied to tools with caribeners to make ad hoc gear leashes when climbing with tools

 

 

550 cord has a ton of uses. it's one of the most versatile items in a kit. I would hazard to say that a lot of people have it, but don't have the proper "mindset" to use it. When you need to get you McGyver on, 550 is good to have. There's a joke in my team that we can fix anything as long as we have 550 cord, duct tape, zip ties, and one-wrap Velcro.

 

La'


Edited by redsol1, 15 November 2014 - 08:07 PM.

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#17 LongHaul

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Posted 18 November 2014 - 01:02 PM

Hey, where do you buy your spool of paracord at btw?

 

I picked up the 1000' spools from Amazon. If you don't need 1000 foot spool of cord the ITS Store has 100 foot lengths of paracord that exceed the Type III Mil-Spec 550 pound rating for a price that's about 1/2 what the UST stuff costs per foot. As a bonus, it's packaged a lot better than any other paracord I've seen on the market. Also, if you're thinking about signing up as a crew leader then your discount will make the ITS cordage about the same price per foot as the big spools that I bought and I think it's probably a little bit nicer cordage. Here's a pic and a link.

 

 

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Edited by LongHaul, 28 November 2014 - 10:13 AM.
fixing some grammatical errors

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#18 pira114

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Posted 29 November 2014 - 02:00 AM

I use deconstructed Type III for my bootlaces on a daily basis

 

Davis, 

 

I'm curious as to why they're deconstructed?  Why not just use the real deal?  I do.  In fact, I've got about 2.5 extra feet of it that gets tied/braided and tucked up into my bloused pants (work pants get bloused).  A little less for my off duty boots as it's harder to manage that much extra cordage.  

 

Purpose of this is to have cordage everywhere I go.  I can take the lace off my boot and cut 2/3 of it off.  Take the remaining 1/3 and relace my boot.  That will get me about 6 feet of cordage while still having my boot laced at least to the ankle (this is for my Danner Ft. Lewis boots, they're pretty tall).  For off duty boots, I end up with about 3.5 feet of cordage and still lacing my boots enough to keep them on and not lose too much support.

 

My theory for doing all that was simple. I wanted cordage stashed on me at all times for bare essential emergency type situations. (I also have 550 cord in other places, including bulk cordage in my bag and truck).  But I also wanted to be able to lace my boots.  I've tried hiking with boots laced to various points, including without.  For me, not having my Danners laced to at least the ankle fucking sucked.  My Columbia hiking mid tops were a bit better at needing less lacing, but there wasn't too much to start with.  

 

Add to that the fact that they just last much much longer as boot laces than anything I've bought in a store.  

 

Soooo, all that just to ask, why gut the cord for laces?



#19 spenceman

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Posted 29 November 2014 - 06:28 AM

I think the idea is that full paracord will swell when it gets wet and make your boots uncomfortable, which sounds reasonable to me, but I've never tested it. Being from the desert I usually don't bother gutting my laces either.


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#20 pira114

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Posted 29 November 2014 - 06:44 AM

Interesting. I've had mine wet and never noticed any discomfort. Now I'll have to get them really wet and test it out. It's snowing at my house now anyway, as good a time as any
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