If you’re a hiker or an outdoors enthusiast, paracord is a simple but versatile accessory you should carry in your backpack. For less bulk, you even take it around your wrist as a bracelet, or as a sheath for your hunting knife or other tools.
Having the right paracord can make a huge difference in your next outdoor adventure. You can even use it as a unique crafting tool. With that in mind, we will discuss our top five paracord products and paracord accessories: which ones we think will rise to your hiking and survivalist needs or creative desires.
What is Paracord?
Our first question of the day is this: what is paracord, and how exactly does one use it? Paracord is a nylon utility rope, initially used in the suspension lining of parachutes, but is used today as light cordage in military operations.
Para cord is a sheath of braided fibers that encases a core of inner fibers made from ply-yarns. The inner fibers serve several different purposes, including being used as a fishing line, sewing thread, safety rope, tinder, and even shoelaces. People can use a whole paracord rope or remove the sheath and use the inner fibers when finer thread or string is needed.
Hikers might use paracord survival bracelets, woven out of several feet of paracord, that the wearer can unravel whenever needed. However, survival experts do not recommend using paracord as an emergency tourniquet for slowing blood flow, as the rope is not large enough to provide adequate pressure. It also must be strong enough to support the user’s weight.
Paracord comes in different lengths and strengths, but its strength depends on its diameter and how many inner fibers it has. It’s a little overwhelming, but hopefully, this chart from West Coast Paracord can help you see the differences between the dozens of paracords available.
Where to Buy Paracord
The most obvious answer to where to buy paracord is the Internet. You’ll find lower prices and a large variety of paracord types and colors. However, if you want to do some physical shopping around, you’ll find paracord at most sporting goods or hardware stores.
What Kind of Paracord Should I Buy?
Most experts recommend you purchase at least 100 feet of paracord for extra bulk and security. To keep the paracord from fraying, you can burn the ends to melt the threads together. Paracord should also not stretch very much. The most reliable paracords come from 100% nylon, not polyester, which has a shinier appearance than nylon.
Mil-spec (short for “military speculation”) paracord is the best kind you can find because it fits the United States Military Standard for nylon cordage in strength, construction, or elasticity. Paracords classified as mil-spec undergo extensive testing to meet quality standards.
However, since there is no private governing body on mil-spec paracord, some commercial-grade paracords may be just as good as mil-spec paracord. A seller may sell commercial-grade paracord, but as long as the seller is reliable, the paracord is still worth a look, and maybe a purchase.
We also recommend that you refrain from para cords in neon colors, since this indicates a polyester makeup. Make sure your paracord has at least seven, non-fluffy inner strands, and that each strand twists around itself.
TOUGH-GRID 750lb Paracord/Parachute Cord- Genuine Mil Spec Type IV 750lb Paracord Used by The US Military (MIl-C-5040-H)
The best paracord combines durability with flexibility, so you can use Tough Grid’s paracord for stringing up a hammock, emergency hiking situations, or even for crafting. Each of their paracords is 100% nylon (polyester is not as strong or versatile) and has an impressive and reassuring eleven triple-stranded ply-yarns. Plus, the U.S. military uses this paracord.
The Tough Grid paracord also stands up to severe weather, including high winds, heavy rain, and long-term exposure to the sun. If you’re planning a road trip or camping weekend, this paracord may come in handy holding a tent or luggage together in inclement weather.
Tough Cord also sends its customers extra information on how to tie specific knots and overall use their paracord with each purchase. Some customers say this feels like spamming, but others might feel inspired to create new projects with the paracord, including fishing lures, lanyards, and a dog leash or collar.
- Extra internal cordage
- Sturdy outer sheath
- Easy to tie knots in
- Stands up to all kinds of weather
- Doesn’t fade or wear after weeks of weather
- A little harder to burn and seal the ends
- Ends might fray faster if not sealed right away
- Stretches just a little
WILDAIR Paracord Survival Paracord Parachute Fire Cord Survival Ropes 4-in-1 5/32″ Diameter U.S. Military Type III with Integrated Fishing Line, Fire-Starter Tinder
Some paracord brands claim how great their paracord works for survival, but the WildAir paracord has soft cords for DIY projects, like fishing lures or paracord survival bracelets. However, their variety of paracord fiber types, including fireproof and survival, also helps the WildAir brand stand out among paracord brands.
The WildAir paracord has seven triple-stranded fibers, one waxed fiber, one fishing line, and one cotton sewing thread. As a result, the paracord has a greater softness and even elasticity. The fire paracord also has a red waterproof fire tinder string, which you hit with a spark to start a fire. Even without sealing the ends with a flame, the WildAir paracord does not fray.
Not many paracords include a string specifically meant for sewing, so the cotton sewing thread is a fantastic bonus. Otherwise, if you’re not using the inner fibers, the WildAir paracord is flexible and holds a knot pretty well
- Flexible and holds knots
- Variety of threads for different use
- All yarns are tough and durable
- Available in lots of fun colors
- Tinder string is still soft
- Tinder string is not entirely waterproof
- Elasticity may hinder some projects
- The sheath is not made from nylon
620 LB SurvivorCord | The Original Patented Type III Military 550 Paracord/Parachute Cord with Integrated Fishing Line, Multi-Purpose Wire, and Waterproof Fire Tinder.
The Titan SurvivorCord has combined the best aspects of great paracord: seven triple-stranded yarns and four high-quality survivor strings, including a waxed jute fiber for lighting fires. The company soaked the jute fiber in water for four hours to test its durability, and it only took two Ferro-rod strikes for the fiber to make a fire.
Each Titan purchase includes plenty of information to help you use each string properly, especially the jute fiber. They even show you how to make a paracord survival bracelet. You need only use about six inches to make a ball of tinder for a fire with the jute fiber, which burns around 2″ per minute.
The Titan SurvivorCord also includes a conductive brass wire, which you can use to fix an electric line or to make an electric current. That wire is also non-magnetic and will not set off a metal detector. Plus, it holds up to many bendings and re-bendings without breaking. When you burn the paracord end, you’ll need to be careful of the conductive wire.
In some circumstances, having the wire inside the paracord might also make tying some knots, like the monkey fist knot, easier. On the other hand, it might make braiding the paracord into a survival bracelet, or any other projects, more difficult. Finding a braiding pattern that doesn’t twist or kink the wire too much should remedy that problem, though.
Ensuring that paracord strands don’t become fluffy (unless you’re making fishing lures) is one crucial paracord quality aspect. The Titan SurvivorCord’s threads don’t turn fluffy, not even after several uses.
- Tightly-woven outer sheath
- Jute cord is thick and comfortable to use
- The conductive wire holds up well
- Strands don’t get fluffy with use
- The fishing line could hold a sizeable catch
- Strands are sometimes difficult to separate
- Jute cord might take fluffing to use properly
- The conductive wire might make braiding projects difficult
MONOBIN Paracord Combo Kits – 550 Type III Parachute Cord – Bracelet Crafting Kits, Survival Rope Making lanyards, Dog Collar, Bracelet
So far, we’ve talked about heavy-duty paracords meant for expert hikers, campers, and survivalists, but paracord explicitly made for crafting is worth a look too. The fun of the Monobin Paracord Combo Kit is all the colors, making teaching your children about paracord use engaging.
Although made for kids, the Monobin Paracord Combo Kit still has the basic makeup of mil-spec paracord with seven inner strands (even though it comes from Type III commercial-grade paracord). It’s also made to resist abrasion, fading from sunlight, pilling, and mildew. Besides a range of fun colors, the kit also includes keyrings and carabiners.
Bear in mind that this is a kid-friendly paracord, and probably would not hold an adult’s body weight in an emergency. If anything, this kit helps teach kids to braid paracord and how to use it. You could make a dog lead or a couple of lanyards with it, but it’s not going to save anyone’s life, which in this case is not a bad thing.
In a surprising, but quite useful, turn, you can also use this paracord to make more comfortable earpieces for face masks.
- A rainbow of fun colors
- Several versatile uses
- Comes nicely packaged in a mesh bag
- Has decent pulling force
- Easy to practice paracord braiding with
- Only a few carabiners and keyrings
- Might not hold a lot of weight
- Could have more materials for the price
SpeedyJig PRO – Paracord Bracelet Kit and Jig | Easily Make Paracord Bracelets from 4″ to Over 13″ | Adjustable Steel Frame Made in The USA | Includes Free Paracord & Buckles
Some people begin paracord lanyard braiding with taping the braid’s end to a table and weaving from the taped end. It works for a bit, but it might be easier to invest in a braiding jig to help keep the braid straight. The SpeedyJig Pro comes with everything you need to get started right out of the box, including different lengths of paracord, buckles, and keyrings.
However, the materials provided with the jig are not the best quality, though you could argue that these materials are just for learning and practice.
Solid steel wingnut buckles help to hold your bracelet measurement while you braid, and are easy to adjust by hand. The frame itself is made from 12-gauge powdered steel. Four heavy rubber soles keep the frame from moving around and raise the jig off your working surface to prevent damage.
An easy-to-follow instruction manual teaches you how to braid different paracord items, such as bracelets, belts, and dog leads. The pictures are clear, and the detailed instructions provide useful tips for beginners.
The SpeedyJig Pro allows you to make paracord crafts between 4-12″ long. The steel connector taps integrate to any ⅜” buckle, keyring, or carabiner—whatever connecting device you’ll use for your project. Plus, the measure markers on the jig are clear and precise to the size you need. The more you adjust the size on the jig, however, the markings may rub away.
You might also need further reinforcement to keep the buckles in place on the steel connectors, as sometimes, the buckles can come off.
- Stays in place on a work surface with rubber soles
- Precise measurement scale
- Wingnut screws keep steel connectors in place
- Easily adjustable
- Simple design
- Measurement marks may rub away with frequent size adjusting
- Buckles might come off of steel connectors while you work
- The materials provided are not the best quality
You can use paracord in almost any way you choose, such as a safety feature in your car or on your next outdoor adventure, or a fun, child-friendly activity. Plus, in some situations, a paracord survival bracelet is essential.
We recommend that you do your research and buy accordingly, though, as not all paracords will work for both crafting and outdoor safety. We hope the choices above helped you with your next paracord purchase.