How To Make Your Own Pace Count Beads for Land Navigation - ITS Tactical

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How To Make Your Own Pace Count Beads for Land Navigation

By The ITS Crew

For this week’s Knot of the Week, we’ll be showing you how to create your own Pace Count Beads. This simple device will enable you to accurately keep track of your distance traveled by using a time-tested technique.

Pace Count Beads

The premise behind Pace Count Beads is to pull down a bead from the bottom stack of nine beads each time you hit your “Pace Count.” Your Pace Count needs to be determined prior to setting off on your trek and we’ve got a great article here on ITS that explains how to determine your Pace Count.

The single bead pulled from the bottom represents 100 meters traveled. At each 100 meter increment another bead is pulled down. After the ninth bead is pulled down, the next 100 meters traveled (1000 meters total / 1 Kilometer total / 1 Klick total) resets the stack of nine beads and a single bead from the top stack of four is pulled down.

Pace Count Beads

Once 5000 meters are traveled, the top and bottom stack of beads can be reset and the process can start all over again.

How to Make Your Pace Count Beads

For this project you’ll need a 26″ length of Paracord and 13 beads. There’s quite a few options available as far as what kind of beads to use. What’s show here are simple plastic craft beads from the hobby store.

Through the video and photos below you should be able to follow along with the creation process for making your own Pace Count Beads. The use of one of the guts from your 26″ strand of Paracord will help tremendously when you go to thread them on.

Simply girth hitching the Pace Count Beads onto a backpack strap or belt loop will keep them readily accessible when you need to track your distance traveled.

*Update* All the supplies needed to create your own Pace Count Beads can be found in our new ITS Land Navigation Starter Pack!

<View Step by Step Guide on Flickr>

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  • Fermi91

    Great article, I think alot of people are suprised by how easy Pace Beads are to make.

    If I may offer a suggestion, I have make pace beads with a very small turks head for the bead, so the whole thing is paracord.

    • Jeff C

      Another, trick while on the move is to just pick up some small rocks.

  • Nice beads. Ya’ll makin’ bracelets?

  • Paul

    Instead of plastic craft beads, go to the plumbing section at Home Depot or Lowes and buy some tapered RUBBER plumbing washers.

    I found a long time ago that the plastic beads eventually break as you throw gear around. The rubber washers don’t break and have a wider outer diameter which make it easier to grab with gloves on. The taper also helps grasp between washers and pull one at a time.

    They generally look like this:

    I I

    I have two I made almost 20 years ago and they are still going strong.

    • Paul

      Disregard my poor attempt at a picture above.

  • dborel

    I recently made some for the first time and could add:
    Doubled over bank line (with standard beads) works perfect.
    Also I used dark beads on one side and light beads on the other side of the knot. The contrast makes it easier to find if dropped

  • hyperspacerubiks

    My modifications.
    Wood beads instead of plastic (slighty larger O.D.). Larger size works better with gloves. And wood tolerates the cold better than plastic
    Changed the knots to Lanyard or Chinese button knots. It takes a bit longer since you can’t thread over the bight. But it makes for a knot where the stands stay in line instead of exiting at a slight angle. The trick is to reverse the order of the knots (and add an extra few inches of cord), fuse the working ends together and thread as per the demo. Snip the fused ends, The second knot, fuse, thread, snip.Tie the last knot and trim and fuse.
    Chinese 550 instead of American made. The chinese cord isn’t as supple as the american made cord, but the casing seems thicker. The beads WILL NOT slide unless you move them. This wasn’t interntional, Black is the only colour I have that’s chinese, and I wanted black. This is the only product where the Chinese cord had an advantage (which otherwise sucks compared to the US made)

  • DenisWarburton

    What is the hole diameter of the beads u are using?

    • ScarletBeach

      I not using any beads. I am hi-tech and use the GPS feature on the phone. There are apps for this, or you could use the map app.

    • Mike821504

      ScarletBeach Then what about when bad GPS signal, dead/broken phone, most phone mapping needs cell signal……

    • Josh B

      Ummm…. you must not go into the wilderness much where cell service is poor or canyons where GPS can not get a lock. But sure be “hi-tech” that should be very helpful.

  • Jon Nystrom

    I lost the ones I picked up at Bragg 2 decades ago, so took this on, and appreciate the tutorial. Some little tips and tricks do help. I found that for the beads I picked up, at least about 1/8″ ID(Inner Diameter) works best, or it gets too tight (even given the guts taken out, of course). I also added about 2″ to overall (28 instead of 26) to probably account for my crappy knots. Wanted enough space to slide for each 1/10 klick.

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