Frequently Asked Questions about Paracord

Posted by Luke Quanbeck on Nov 14th 2018

Frequently asked questions

Why Is Paracord Called 550 Cord?

If you see a number before paracord, it denotes the amount of weight that cord can hold before failing. 550 cord is paracord that can hold a static 550 lbs. This is the most common type of paracord. It is often called Type III paracord. Not all paracord that is labeled as "550 paracord" can hold 550 lbs., however. Make sure to buy paracord from a trusted source—especially when using it for survival.

Who Invented Paracord?

The inventor of paracord would have been someone in conjunction with the creator of the material nylon: Wallace Carothers for DuPont. Paracord was first used for parachute suspension lines in WWII. More about that here: Paracord: What is it?

Paratroopers

Are Paracord Bracelets Still Popular?

They actually are. At the writing of this list, paracord bracelets are still widely popular. They have somewhat evolved from their initial popularity boom, however. While the classic military-esque "cobra" bracelets used to be the extent of bracelet designs, now there are countless colors of paracord and countless styles of bracelets. Some paracord bracelets are hardly recognizable as paracord at all.

Are Paracord Bracelets Useful?

That depends. If you have to ask that question, they might not prove super useful for you. Paracord is often used as an emergency preparedness item. Paracord bracelets are widely used by military personnel and survivalists/preppers, but more recently they have caught on as a style item among urban populations. If someone has a basic knowledge of knots, there are countless uses for paracord in emergency and everyday circumstances. Check out our blog for inspiration. Especially our practical posts.

Survival Straps has some pretty cool stories about how their bracelets have been used in emergency situations. After reading about them, head over to our bracelet tutorials and find out how you can easily make your own.

Are Paracord Bracelets Waterproof?

Yes and no. Paracord will shrink the first time it gets wet. Other than that, no adverse effects will be had by getting your paracord wet. A word to the wise: If ANYTHING is dunked in stagnant lake water, it will retain a certain smell unless well-rinsed in clean water afterward.

Can Paracord Shrink?

Yes, most paracord will shrink when exposed to a combination of heat and moisture. To avoid the problem of your bracelet shrinking and becoming too small, you can shrink your paracord before you craft it. Do this by soaking it in hot water for about 20 seconds. Sometimes, shrinkage is desired to tighten the weave of handle wraps, bracelets, etc.

Pile of paracord

Will Paracord Rot?

Everything, given enough time, will rot and decompose. However, paracord is very resistant to rot. It is made of nylon—a kind of polymer/plastic. Do not discard your used paracord on the ground. That is considered littering just as much as if you had left your plastic McDonalds straw on the ground. I repeat, discarding paracord at your campsite is considered littering; don't do it.

Can Paracord Be Dyed?

No. Genuine paracord cannot be dyed after it is manufactured. This is a limitation of the nylon that paracord is made of. Multi-colored paracord still exists, but this is because the individual strands of nylon were colored when they were originally made. Each strand can only be one color. Then they are braided with other colors of nylon. Paracord Planet does sell a color of "paracord" called Neon Rainbow, which is dyed multiple colors However this product is not made of, nor advertised to be, nylon.

rainbow
Dyed "rainbow" cord
Undyed paracord
Undyed true paracord

Will Paracord Burn?

Not recommended. If left in a flame too long, paracord will indeed ignite. It is not a good source of fuel, however, and produces and acrid smoke if allowed to burn for more than a couple of seconds. If you frequently burn the ends of your paracord while heat-sealing, try holding the cord near the flame instead of directly in it.

Will Paracord Stretch?

Yes. Not only does paracord stretch, it was designed to stretch. If you look at the original regulations for paracord (MIL-C-5040), you will see it says that paracord had to stretch by at least 30%. This still holds true when you buy quality paracord today.

Will Paracord Hold a Hammock?

Yes, a single strand of paracord will support an average sized adult in a hammock for a short time, but you will likely want to double it up instead. A single strand of paracord subjected to a load for an extended period will stretch irreparably (This quality is called "creep"). You don't want to wake up to your back hitting the ground.

Hammock with paracord

Can Paracord Support body weight/hold a person?

Yes, if you are not moving and do not weigh 500 lbs. However, if you are moving or falling, a single strand of paracord will definitely break under the weight of an average sized adult. For climbing, it is recommended that the climber use a climbing rope that is rated to 10-15 times their weight to account for the added force of a fall. Conclusion: Don't trust your life to paracord unless your life in greater danger by staying put.

Can Paracord Be Used for Rappelling?

See answer to "Can paracord support body weight?" Attempt to use paracord for rappelling only if you have been trained in proper technique and only if your life is in danger by NOT rappelling to safety. This is only a last resort—and not a good one at that.

Rapelling Blog Post

Where Is Paracord Planet Located?

Our headquarters is in Fargo, ND, USA. If you are in the area and want to pick up an order in-person, you are welcome to. However, our store is only shoppable online.

Which Paracord Is Best?

That entirely depends on what you need it to do. Does "best" mean strongest? Highest quality? Most colorful? Most likely to make you look cool? The answer will vary depending on these things. If you want to find the best quality 550 cord, look for mil-spec that is made in the USA, and research the seller to find out if they carry the real deal. If you want to learn more about the different kinds of paracord, check out our post on Paracord Strength, Sizes, and Types.

Paracord Types

How Is Paracord Made?

Paracord is made similarly to any other braided kernmantle rope. Industrial rope braiding machines take spools of nylon threads and weave them around a twisted nylon core. They are mesmerizing to watch!

Where Is the Best Place to Buy Paracord?

That depends. Buying paracord online will usually get you a better price than at a local hardware or sporting goods store. Beyond that, different websites will get you different things. We're so confident that you will find our products, prices, and service superior that we aren't afraid of your other options. If you want to read a more in-depth look at this topic, read Where to Buy Paracord

Where to Buy Paracord

Regardless of where you buy paracord, we want to supply you with reasons to love paracord crafting. Find more inspiration and answers to your questions in the Paracorner.

Have a question we didn't answer? Ask it in the comments below. We read every single one!

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