Cordage is one of the most useful items ever invented! Man’s use of cordage spans every age and every location. From the earliest hand twisted, natural fiber cords to the latest high-tech, high-dollar synthetic climbing ropes, cordage enables us to do things that otherwise are impossible.
In this blog post I would like to focus on one particular type of cordage, Paracord.
It connected the actual parachute to the harness worn by the skydiver, paratrooper, or unlucky pilot. Due to the requirements of parachute construction (light weight, high strength, compactness, and reliability) Paracord is ideal for all kinds of outdoor activity.
Paracord is usually made from nylon material; however other materials, such as Kevlar, have also been used. Paracord is constructed in a kernmantel configuration that is, it has an outer sheath and seven inner strands. You will find that some cordage advertised as paracord, in fact does not meet this description.
My opinion is “Buyer Beware”! Paracord is also referred to as 550 cord, this comes from its, generally accepted, breaking strength of 550 lbs. That said the accepted standard when it comes to breaking strength vs. working load is 5/1. This means that in a situation where you need a rope to lift 500lbs it needs to have a breaking strength of 2500 lbs.
With the knowledge needed paracord can be adapted to situations ranging from first aid to shelter building, one example that I read about told how a man repaired his atv suspension with a length cord and some basic know how. Also the construction of paracord lends itself to versatility. The kernmantle design, of an outer sheathing and an inner core, means that you can separate the two parts and use them separately. The seven inner strands in a length of paracord have a breaking strength of 30lbs apiece. The size and weight of paracord stands out as well, 100′ of paracord takes up so little space it’s ridiculous not to carry it.
You don’t need to know many, as few as three is a good start. I believe that you should know how to tie a secure loop, how to join two cords together, and a simple binding knot. My preference for these three is the bowline knot, the sheet bend, and the simple overhand knot. All of these knots, once learned, can be modified as needed. The bowline knot is a secure, easy to tie, loop knot. I will attempt to illustrate its tying.