What is 550 Paracord & How Can It Save Your Life? - Paracord Basics - Part 1

Posted by Stacy on 4/18/2013

Finally a video that gives a clear explanation of what paracord is and how it is different from your every day nylon rope.


David: Hey, welcome to another edition of Survival Quick Tips. I'm David. Okay, I recently got a question from one of our subscribers asking why they should use paracord instead of more affordable plain nylon cord. This is a great question, because on the surface we really don't see much of a difference between the two. They're both cord, about the same diameter and weight, and one is half the cost of the other. So what's the big deal about paracord anyway? And why should you even care if you use paracord or just plain nylon cordage in your bugout bag, emergency kit, or your next camping trip? Well the answer's really simple. Paracord gives you many more options for improvising in a survival situation. Let me explain.

Okay, here's a length of standard 150 lb. test weight nylon cord next to a length of type 3 military spec 550 parachute cord. The 550 means the paracord is rated with a minimum breaking strength of 550 pounds, or about 250 kg. Okay, so right off the bat, just in its load-bearing strength alone, we already know that the military spec paracord is over three times stronger than the nylon cord, and alone this is enough for me, but that's not all. The real genius of the paracord is how it's engineered with this outer casing and seven internal yarns. Each yarn in our paracord is made of two individual strands. See? This design prevents the cord from totally failing if it's nicked or damaged slightly, because even if the casing and a few yarns are harmed, we should still have several independent yarns and strands to keep this thing together.

But strength and resistance to damage are not the only beautiful things about having paracord in a survival situation. Check this out. So 1' or 30 cm of paracord is actually about 8' or 2.4 m of useable cordage when you pull it apart. This means that 100' or 30 m of paracord that weighs only around 6 oz. or 170 g, gives you up to 800' or 243 m of strong, useable cord when we pull it apart. So this is well over two soccer or American football fields in length. How cool is that?

To access this length, we simply pull the casing off. See? And now we have this rugged outer casing that has many uses alone, including making a great boot lace, a tie down, and 1,000 other uses. And we have seven pretty tough individual yarns inside that are often called the guts. These little guys are suitable for sewing, fishing line, making a net, shelter building, bush crafts, snares and traps, any other use you can dream up when you need to improvise to stay alive.

So we've just taken a look at some paracord basics, and why paracord is generally a better choice for survival in emergency situations than regular nylon cord. For your convenience, I've included links to all the gear that I've mentioned in the video description on YouTube. So don't forget to subscribe to this channel, and for more gear reviews, survival tips, and survival news, check out UltimateSurvivalTips.com. While you're there, grab our monthly survival e-mag, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter to get the latest news and be the first to hear about the great gear giveaway contests we have planned.

Okay, this is David. Hope to see you on the other side, and remember, be prepared, because you never know.
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