What is Paracord?
Paracord takes its name from a contraction of “parachute cord.” It was first made during World War II. It is a type of kernmantle rope, made with an interior of up to nine separate cords surrounded by a braided nylon or polyester sheath. It is light, flexible, and extremely strong. It is also known as 550 cord, because of its ability to hold a 550-pound deadweight.
Paracord was soon widely adopted by fans of the great outdoors. It has a wide range of uses like tying additional gear onto packs, anchoring makeshift shelters, or making a temporary rifle sling. It can be cut apart and the strong individual strands used for snares or fishing line. In emergencies it can be used with splints to support broken limbs.
There are also numerous paracord uses around the home, garage, and yard. So let’s take a closer look at this versatile material.
Paracord comes in many colors and can be crafted into any number of stylish accessories. Paracord bracelets in particular have become popular, but they are not just decorative. If you find yourself in need of cord, they can always be unraveled. Belts and suspenders, too, can be made of paracord. If you crochet, you can make chic bags and purses. The strength of paracord makes it an ideal replacement for shoelaces, also.
If you know a few knots (or want to learn a few), it takes no time at all to rig up a carrier for your favorite tinned beverage. You can easily add a strap to hang it around your neck or from your shoulder. A more closely woven version can be used as a protective cover for sports bottles and adds a layer of insulation so drinks stay cool a while longer.
Although not a replacement for a proper tow rope or chain, paracord can be a very useful alternative for towing things around the yard. It can be used with a winch for lifting and moving heavy objects around (with full attention to safety, of course). It can also be a durable replacement if the pull cord breaks on a lawnmower, chainsaw, or portable generator.
Getting a Grip
Some hunting and utility knives have slender handles that aren’t easy to grip. Or maybe your favorite knife has just worn smooth. Wrapping that handle in paracord makes for a much more secure hold. The same can be done with bucket handles and garden forks or spades. Wherever more bulk will benefit grip, paracord can be a quick and easy solution. Handles enlarged in this way can also be better for those who have limited hand strength.
Going to Pot
Paracord is an ideal material for macrame (decorative knot work), which has long been popular for making all kinds of decorative items. The combination of tough paracord and attractive knotted patterns is particularly good for hanging plant pot holders. Thanks to paracord’s good weather resistance, these can be used indoors or out. For those who would like to try this absorbing craft we recommend the book Macrame Plant Hangers, available from Amazon.
Neat and Tidy
Enthusiastic DIYers, gardeners, and those with home workshops will find plenty of paracord uses. Hemp and sisal-based products are prone to wear and don’t do well in damp atmospheres. Ordinary nylon frays easily and can cause unpleasant burns. If you want to bundle things away in the garage, or hang things from roof beams to clear floor space, paracord’s combination of suppleness and strength is just about perfect.
Straps and Supports
We mentioned wrapping handles in paracord, but its high load-bearing capabilities mean it’s equally useful as a complete replacement for all kinds of handles and straps that have broken. Paracord is also great for training climbing plants, particularly for bridging a gap between young plants and trellises.
Related: 5 Ways to Make Your Own Hammock
Great in the Garden
There are plenty of uses for paracord in the garden, not least of which is as a temporary repair for broken gates or fences. Tie strands of paracord from the roof supports in a greenhouse and tomatoes will happily climb those, too. On the fun side, with just a few knots paracord can quickly lash up a bath towel or blanket to create a camp chair or hammock. The adventurous might want to try a tree net. Paracord also makes a great temporary garden clothesline if the dryer breaks down.
We’ve already spoken about macrame from a decorative point of view, but what about knot tying for practical purposes? The ability to tie a variety of knots, and understanding how they can be used in survival or emergency situations, are great accomplishments at any age. Adults who don’t already possess the knowledge can learn right along with their kids.
Gone to the Dogs
With a little work and some low-cost hardware (like these snap hooks and D rings available at Amazon) it’s not difficult to make a light but strong dog leash that is unique to your pet. Paracord has some elasticity, so if your hound suddenly takes off after the neighbor’s cat you should get enough warning to brace yourself. You can make a matching collar so your pooch is properly coordinated.
Challenge your Creativity
Does Paracord always need to be useful? With a wide color palette to experiment with, there are plenty of opportunities to get creative. A piece of plywood can soon become an impressive upscaled nail art piece. What about animal sculptures? Weave or simply hang strands of paracord from a wire frame to create dogs, or bears, or any of our furry friends.
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