Paracord has got to be one of my favorite survival items. When you're stuck in the wild, having good cord is a god-send. And it's been used for generations. Originally designed as the "parachute cord" our soldiers used in World War 2, it wasn't long before the military realized the benefits of paracord.
The stuff is literally fantastic.
All you need to do is buy it. Paracord comes in lengths of 50 to 100 feet, though you can buy more if you want to pick up a spool of it. Personally, I've got a belt that's woven paracord, just in case, and I usually carry a roll of about 100 feet with me in my kit when I'm camping. Oh, but be sure you're getting the Paracord 550. There's a bunch of different "strengths" to paracord, and the 550 means it'll take 550 pounds or more to break it.
But that's not the best part. Inside proper paracord there's seven strands, each of which are made up of three inner strands. You can cut a length of paracord down to get these strands out, and while not as strong as what you started with, they're plenty strong enough if you need a little line for fishing, or to lash different sections of your shelter.
I've used paracord for a ton of different needs when I've been in the woods.
Here's a few different ways it can help.
Building your shelter
My go-to shelter is a simple piece of tarp I string up with paracord. It's far lighter than carrying even a backpacking tent, and means I can adapt it to whatever environment and conditions I'm facing. But you need cord to both string it up and secure it.
Adding to your backpack
One of my biggest peeves with most backpacks is there's not usually enough straps. There are a few key pieces of survival gear I like having handy, like a Firestarter and a knife, space for my rifle, and a small bedroll for winter hikes that I tie on with paracord. It's much easier than having these buried in my bug out kit.
Survival first aid
You can spend a ton of money buying specialist gear, or you can learn how to adapt and improvise with what's in your kit. Paracord can be used to create a tourniquet, hold a splint or a bandage in place, or even build a makeshift sling.
Repairs around camp
After I tore out an old leather belt, I spent an evening making a new one with paracord using a cobra weave. It's still my favorite camping belt to this day. You could also use it to replace a broken shoelace, fix a broken zipper pull, or even to replace a drawstring in your clothes.
Trapping and hunting
I prefer thin wire when setting snares, but beggars can't be choosers. Strip out the inner threads to give you the cord you need to set your snares and any other traps. I've also built a couple of smaller fish traps that I tied up with the thin inner strands of paracord, and you can even use these as fishing line in a pinch.
Setting a perimeter
In a SHTF situation you never know who may be sneaking up on your camp. For a simple alarm system run a perimeter with paracord and tie cans or bits of metal that will rattle if the cord is knocked. In the dead of night a few seconds warning may just save your life.
Drying your clothes
Once you've setup camp you're going to need a way to dry out your clothes for another day in the outdoors. A few lines of paracord between the trees makes a great clothesline, especially if it's close enough to the fire to dry it out.
Improvise a hammock
When the weather is clear there's nothing better than sleeping under the stars. Take your tarp, and use your paracord to string up each end. Weaving a hammock would take far too long, but with this technique you'll be resting peacefully in minutes. Just make sure to double it up a few times before jumping into your new bed.
Create heavy-duty rope
Paracord isn't the strongest rope, until you start weaving it together. With each strand capable of up to 500 pounds of pull, you can braid or knot together many strands to create a heavy-duty rope. To hold your weight on a descent, or even tow a broken-down car.
Setup grips and lanyards
Often the tools I use are a little lacking in the grip department. To make a non-slip grip you can tightly wrap paracord around the handle, and leave a loop at the end to also act like a lanyard. It makes it so easy to find or hang a knife so it's always within easy reach.
Bear-proof your supplies
If you're in bear country it's important to keep any food well out of reach. A length of paracord makes a great bear-hang, just tie one end to a rock to give you enough weight to send it over a high branch, then hoist up your gear.
Restraints for the bad guys
When the SHTF the rule of law goes out the window, and you never know who you may come across. Paracord is strong enough to tie and restrain any bad guys who intend you harm, either as a set of rope handcuffs or to lash them to a tree or other object.
From fortifying your shelter to the thousands of different uses around camp, it's clear paracord is one of the best survival items you need in your bug out kit. So, buy a length today, and ensure you're not left wanting next time you're in the great outdoors.