Size and Store 550 Paracord For Use On the Trail (How to)

Posted by Stacy on 1/31/2013
Have you ever wondered what length to cut your paracord to take with you? Have you ever ended up with a tangled mess shortly after heading out. The Equip 2 Endure channel provides some handy tips for this and more.


Adam: Hey guys, Adam from equip2endure. Today's video's going to be about one of our favorite items and that would be that old fashioned paracord. When you're buying a paracord, whether you're buying a somewhat smaller size like this or bigger sizes like this, the common question always asked is, "How much is too much paracord and what's the proper way to pack and travel with it to make it the most effective and efficient tool that it can possible be?"

Everybody knows that the uses for a paracord are almost limitless. It is also very light even in large bundles such as this. This is a thousand feet and it comes in with the spool, a whopping four pounds. You guys can imagine, you can do a lot with paracord and it is an essential tool for any water and survival type tasks or even bushcrafting. I do like natural fibers as well, but nothing beats 550 cord.

One thing about 550 cord is it's a nylon strand and we're going to get some close up shots right here for you guys. I got some spools right here. We have our outer nylon shell, this is a OD green and we have our seven inner strands. The real cool thing about each of the inner strands, they're actually twist together and if we pull these guys apart, of course we have two more main strands that lead to the seven, and of course those two strands are actually made of, I don't know, about 40 little, very, very, very fine strands, probably more than that. I don't want to count all those, but it's very fuzzy as you guys can see.

It's great stuff, but one problem is, after a couple of days out on the trail or after camping or doing some different training, you end up with a lot of different bundles of 550 cord if you're trying to save your stuff. You got anything from something like this to something like this to unfortunately something like this. Everybody knows you have that one little piece 550 cord or wrapped to even something loose like this where we're getting to be something under six feet long.

What's the proper size? What's the most effective and efficient size to maximize the utility of your 550 cord? We've all gotten down there where we're working on something and we cut a piece of 550 cord and then we realize, "Oops, I've cut it too short so I've wasted it."

Instead of doing that, instead of throwing it away, we throw it in the bottom of our bag and it collects dust there. Then, what also tends to happen is you do that over and over again. Before you know, you got a bunch of cut pieces of 550 cord where something like this once existed. A couple of tips and tricks we're going to cover 550 cord right now to maximize the size, so stay tuned.

What we have here is a tree. I think the longest thing you're going to use a piece of 550 cord is probably to run a line for some kind of shelter, be it a lean- to with a tarp or anything like that. There's a real neat trick I want to share with you guys in regards to how to pack your 550 cord and choosing the size based on some cool properties the 550 cord has.

We got a tree right here. This is slightly scientific and you need a little bit of math with this one. This is based on the theory that I use. Most of the time, whenever I'm doing a lean-to or something like that, I'm looking for a few trees that are relatively close together and that's based on my body size.

I'm about six three, so I want to make sure that any trees that I'm going to throw a line at, I'll be able to fit myself in between there. A good rule of thumb is you stick your arms out straight from fingertip to fingertip and that's the same link as your height. I use a wall between two young trees. Something about this thickness is getting up there. Usually, I use younger trees, but this is a good example based on whatever forest you are. Trees this size aren't that close together. Actually, as a forest evolves, certain trees come in their early stages in forest and actually die, some other different species come up and take their place, in reference to the cycle of life of the forest. This is going to be a good example for what we're going to do.

I'm showing you one really quick thing on this one and one cool thing about 550 cord if I have enough here for this type of tree is, if you wrap 550 cord around an object, this is not going to be enough, the friction in here to the cordage is enough that you don't need to secure it any other means except of wrapping it. You guys can see right there, I've just wrapped this 550 cord without a knot, without anything, just three times. For smaller trees, you would use eight.

I'm going to lean back and you can see that stuff is not going to budge at all. Based on that, if I was injured for whatever reason and only had use of one of my hands, this is a really cool technique you can use to wrap the 550 cord around the tree. If you're not able to tie any knots or anything because of something because of some kind of damage, maybe a frostbite and you can't manipulate your fingers, you lost dexterity, for whatever reason, this is a cool technique.

I use this technique and I incorporate that in how I'm going to do the size of my 550 cord. This tree is probably about twice thickness of any tree that I'll usually use for some kind of shelter building. We pull this piece of cord back and we got three wraps around, pull it back here. This tree is about … this tree's circumference … got a handy tape measure, is four feet.

The 35 feet lot ratio is about the size that you're looking at for a good rule of thumb. Most of the time, I just pack mine for 25 feet, but something larger like a couple 35-foot bundles would be great. If you have 100 foot [inaudible 00:06:36] you just bought and splitting that up in three equal pieces even if you go 33 feet, you'll do very, very well. I try to stick, I try to stay away from anything under 25 feet for my links of paracord because at that point, you might run into a situation where it's not long enough. This is actually a pretty cool technique, a pretty cool rule of thumb on doing your size of paracord. I really think that cutting them down in five-foot or ten-foot bundles can be a little small, better safe than sorry I always say. Next part we'll look at how we wrap it, the most effective and efficient way to store your 550 paracord. We'll be right back.

All right guys, we're back. Really quick, there's a quick technique you can use to bundle your 550 cord. Number one rule with cordage, you should always know where both ends are. If you control both ends, you're not going to lose it.

What you could do is see start out here is your hand. What I do is, I just actually, I'm going to put that right there, just wrap around some loops around your hand, no big deal. The reason I like doing it like this I think it makes this as compact as possible, just the size you want it by making your hand close together when you start to lock it. Leave about that much, about two feet, grab the bundle, you still know where that is, take this, pinch it off and just start wrapping around, nice and taut.

Now, you have this other end right here. What I do with that one is I'll place this, a little closer angle for you guys. I don't really snag points, start wrapping this one right here, same tightness. Then, what you can do is just take this, simple bow knot or whatever, square knot, whatever knot you want to do.

There are hundreds of ways to do this. It's easy, you have one simple knot right there to unloop and then pull everything. It's nice and compact, there's not much snag points. Throw a carabiner through this to upload a couple of different links. That's pretty much it, guys and I’ll put that one back in our rope container.

Guys this is equip2endure. If you guys have any questions or comments, please email me at adam@equip2endure.com. Make sure to check out the website at www.equip2endure.com. You guys take care and be safe out there and remember, if you're not always prepared, you're never prepared. Thanks.
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