I think we have all come across paracord at some point, and most of us own some as part of our backpacking kit. But not many of us really know the extent of how useful paracords really are.
There are more uses than I can list for this wonder-rope. In this article I will cover some of the knots you can make that may just save your life, some of the survival uses, and how just a short piece of paracord can make your outdoors experience that much better!
Why Everyone Should Have Paracord in Their Backpack
Firstly, paracord is inexpensive and doesn’t take up much room in your backpack, so there are no reasons not to have some. In fact, paracord bracelets are soaring in popularity because you can wear it around your wrist effortlessly. If you really need to color code it with your other kit, you can do that too.
Paracord unravels too to reveal more stands of super-strong cords, so you don’t just have the cord you can see to work with. I’ve seen people use paracord to repair tents, hang tools and pots, replace shoelaces, make a tow line, secure a hammock… the list goes on.
One of the main uses is making knots. I’m sure you’re well aware that being able to tie secure knots comes in handy all the time while outdoors. And, while tying some knots isn’t the easiest thing to do, once you nail that part the paracord does the rest.
Here are 5 knots to master, they are all fairly easy and I’ve included video tutorials to help you get the hang of them with visuals.
5 Strong and Useful Paracord Knots
#1 – The Cobra Knot
Probably the most commonly used and useful paracord knot is the cobra knot. You can make this knot using two strings or looping the paracord around.
The video below takes you through the steps using a bracelet but demonstrates the knot. Basically, you need to:
- Hold the two strings parallel to each other
- Loop the left cord while placing the rest of the cord behind the two main strings
- The right cord slips under the left cord and back over, then through the loop
- Tighten up the knot and have the cobra
#2 – The Figure 8 Knot
An 8 knot provides a strong and secure ‘8’ shape in your paracord.
The video below takes you through the steps how to tie a figure 8 knot. Basically you need to:
- Make a loop at the end of the paracord
- Snake the cord round to make an 8
- Pass the tail back through the loop you made in step one
#3 – The Lanyard Knot
The lanyard knot is quite complicated at first, you will need to watch the video below to see a demonstration as it’s hard to put into words.
It forms a really tight knot that can be used to stop items from moving up and down the cord. It’s often found tied around a knife Lanyard, hence the name.
The video below takes you through the steps to tie a Lanyard knot. Basically you need to:
- Make a loop at one end of the cord
- Pass the other end underneath the loop and tie a Carrick bend
- Pass the end around the outside and up through the center
- Repeat with the other end and tighten both ends
#4 – The Slip Knot
Slip Knots are quick and easy to make with just one end of a paracord and are used as stopper knots. They are great for beginners because they are easy to make, and you just need to pull the end to release it.
The video below takes you through the steps to tie a Slip knot. Basically you need to:
- Make a loop near one end of your cord
- Prepare a bight in the short end
- Push the bight through the loop and tighten
#5 – The Clove Hitch Knot
If you have a stick, pole, or any similar item that you want to attach your paracord to, a Clove Hitch is the knot of choice.
It is prone to slipping with it’s pulled up or down the pole, but will hold secure if the pressure is applied against or to the pole.
The video below takes you through the steps to tie a Clove Hitch Knot. Basically you need to:
- Pass one end of your cord around the pole
- Follow the cord back over where you passed the pole a second time
- Thread the cord under itself and though
- Pull tight to form a secure Clove Hitch Knot
As I mentioned earlier, there are endless practical uses for paracord too. A lot of which can, and probably will come in handy at some point while you’re backpacking.
Check out some of these survival uses for paracord and see how many you wish you knew at one time or another.
Repairing Torn Clothing
You can use your paracord as a makeshift belt, to replace shoelaces, or even to repair clothing if you’re handy with a needle and thread. The inner strands of a paracord can be pulled out and used as thread.
A Makeshift Tow Rope
If you buy a good brand of paracord it’s going to be 550 grade. This means it can handle a minimum of 550 lbs of pressure before snapping. More than enough to do anything you would expect from a cord, and more than enough to be used as a tow rope should you get a vehicle stuck.
Securing a Hammock
Ever wondered what people use to secure a hammock between two trees or poles? Paracord will do the trick. Use one of the knots listed above to make a secure and safe grip, jump in the hammock and relax.
Hanging Pots and Pans While Cooking
If you’re cooking over an open fire you can use a little imagination and set up a pole with pots and pans hanging near the flames using your paracord. Obviously it’s not fire resistant so keep a sensible distance away from the flames.
Making a Fishing Line
The inner strands of a paracord are a lot thinner and still incredibly strong. You can use them as fishing line if you fancy a spot of fishing and find yourself without any fishing reel.
Tying Things to Your Backpack
Run out of space in your backpack? No problem, you can tie items to any hooks or loops on the outside of your pack using paracord.
Making a Ladder or Rope Stretcher
If the situation calls for it, you can weave paracords to make rope ladders. You can use these as ladders or as a method to carry things. I’ve even seen people being carried on makeshift stretchers using this method.
It’s really interesting to see, check the short video below to see a paracord rope stretcher.
Hanging Tools from Your Belt
Do you have a habit of losing things or never having them close to hand when you need them? Use your card to attach items to your belt. Just keep safety in mind when doing this, you don’t want too many items dangling down that may get in your way.
Securing Your Tent Tighter
It can get a little scary when gale force winds are hitting the side of your tent and it feels unstable. Paracord is just as good as your tent ropes. Reinforce some of the ropes or use it to add extra peg points around your tent for more stability.
Setting up a Trip Wire
You can set up a trip wire around your camp area and hang some cans to make a noise if anyone trips the wire. More an idea for fun rather than safety I hope, but an interesting use of cord.
Making a Sling
Should you be unfortunate enough to injure yourself having some cord handy to make a sling might make a big difference to how you recover, and the amount of pain you’re in. Use some clothing to form a stable sling and the cord to tie it to limit the amount of movement until you can get some medical help.
Making a Tourniquet
Staying on the medical theme you can make a tourniquet to stop blood flow to a limb and stem the bleeding. I hope it never comes down to this, but if it does you’re going to wish you had some paracord close to hand if you don’t have anything else.
Pretty good stuff right? Any questions? If you need the tools and gear head over to the Survival Roost Store where you will find everything you need.