Why is Paracord So Important & How Can it Save Your Life?


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 Bug Out Bag, emergency kit or on your next camping trip?

The answer is simple…

Paracord gives you many more options for improvising in a survival situation.

Let me explain…

Take a look at standard 150lb test weight nylon cord, next to a length of Type III commercial grade, 550 parachute cord.


The 550 means that the paracord is rated with a minimum breaking strength of 550 pounds or about 250 kilograms. Let me point out that this stuff is strong, but it’s not rated for climbing or things like that.

So just in its load-bearing strength, we already we know that our Type III 550 paracord is over 3 times stronger than the nylon cord… and alone, this is enough for me…

But That’s Not All…


The real genius of the parachute cord, is how it’s engineered with an outer casing and  ours has 7 internal yarns. Each yarn in OUR paracord is made of 2 individual strands.

NOTE: We use high quality, U.S. Made commercial grade Type III 550 paracord that has 7 yarns and 2 strands per yarn. However, Genuine MIL-SPEC MIL-C-5040 Type III Paracord has 7-9 yarns and 3 strands per yarn. The problem is that Mil Spec paracord can be expensive and hard to find. So for our purposes and budget the U.S. made, commercial grade 550 paracord we use is fine. However, if you plan on jumping out of a plane, I suggest you use Genuine MIL-SPEC MIL-C-5040 Type III Paracord 🙂

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 keeping 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 foot or 30 centimeters of paracord is actually 8 feet or about 2.4 meters of usable cordage when you pull it apart. This means that 100 feet or 30 meters of paracord… that weighs only around 6 ounces or 170 grams… gives you up to 800 feet or 243 meters (well over two soccer or American Football fields) of strong usable cord when you pull it apart. How cool is that?

So you simply pull the casing off…


And now you have this rugged outer casing that has many uses alone… including: making a great boot lace, a tie down and thousands of other uses… AND there are 7 pretty tough individual YARNS inside that are often called the guts…

These tough little guys are suitable for sewing, a fishing line, net making, shelter building, bushcraft, snares and traps, and any other use you can dream up when you need to improvise to stay alive.

paracord paracord paracord

So we’ve just taken a look at some paracord basics and why paracord is generally a better choice for survival and emergencies than regular nylon cord.


12 Responses to “Why is Paracord So Important & How Can it Save Your Life?”

  • There are some outdoor and wilderness survival skills that you should know that could really save your life. Then again, there are outdoor skills that can really help you out that aren’t necessarily about survival.These skills are really very much essential in some extreme cases.

  • Jack


  • That cord you say is mil spec. Is not real mil spec 5040c type III as you say it is. For one the real stuff has 7 to 9 inner yarns that have 3 strands each and for two the real paracord has one inner strand that is a different color I’m not sure why but that’s important to skydivers to see breaks or something. But I’m not saying it isn’t good paracord just letting you know that it is not real military spec paracord. And for all you doubters out there just look up what real mil spec paracord is made with and how it is made on google. It will support my statings in this post. Just to let u know to not call this stuff mil spec. So many companies say it is mil spec cord when it is not. So when looking for the real stuff remember 3 strands per one inner yarn and one has to be a different color that is what makes it military specification.

    • Carin

      Good comments! We couldn’t verify about the colored strands, but you are right regarding real mil-spec cord having 3 strands. We’ve modified our article to reflect this info. Thanks!

  • Dave

    good read. 55o cord is kernmantle rope. the sheath (mantle) and the stands of innercore, not yarns. I wouldn’t use the innercore for shelters because it only has about 50 – 70 lbs of tensile strength. the sheathing alone has about 200 lbs tensile strength. needless to say the stuff is awesome.

  • Vince

    should I still buy nylon cording for other stuff

    • Carin

      David: Sure you could still buy nylon cordage. If you were going to buy nylon cordage, I would recommend what is called bankline or troutline, usually found in the fishing section of your local WalMart or retail store. Bankline is used extensively by bushcrafters because it’s extra strong, coated with a tar-like substance which makes knots grab nice and strong and adds to the overall strength – plus, with #18 or 24 bankline you will get a LOT of cordage (several hundred feet) in a very small spool.

  • Kregg

    I’ve replaced the shoe strings on all my boots with 550 cord. Never have to worry about them breaking and you always have some extra cord with your for emergencies. I’ve wrapped my tomahawk handle with 550 cord and my sheath knives have 550 lanyards.

    Each of my bug out and boom bags have extra cord in it.

    This is the best stuff ever!

    Don’t be fooled by the cheap stuff out there. Make sure you are getting 550 para cord made in the USA.

  • DuxDawg

    Good old fashioned garden twine does everything paracord does and for pennies on the dollar. Paracord’s primary use is seperating fools from their excess money.

  • Val

    Great article. I’m really happy with the fact that you clarified and distinguished the types/qualities of different paracord.

  • You should see the paracord machines in action making the stuff. Its mesmerizing!

  • Megan

    Para cord does something interesting, I’ve noticed. It’s design keeps a very strong knot, if there is applied pressure; yet at the same, the knot is easy to undue, when you apply slack.

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