Why Are There So Many Paracord Sizes?
In case you didn't know, there's more to paracord than just 550 cord. We currently sell over a dozen varieties of paracord, all with different diameters, strengths, and primary uses. This doesn't even include all the different sizes of shock/bungee cord that we carry.
Being confused as to which cord is used for what is understandable. After all, larger diameters don't always mean a cord is stronger. Below is a list of all the varieties of paracord that we sell—at the time of this blog article's writing. The selection may vary in the future depending on demand and availability. We'll start with the most popular, 550, and then work our way up from the bottom with the smallest cord.
Paracord is known by many names, para cord, parachute cord, 550 cord, and mil-spec 5040 just to name a few. Most of the time, when people talk about paracord, they are referring to 550 cord.
Paracord generally has a number of inside strands surrounded by an outer sheath, both made of nylon.
The numbers (like "550") refer to the amount of static weight in American pounds a single cord can support. This does not mean that it can be used as a climbing rope by anyone who weighs less than 550 lb. Climbing ropes need to be rated to over 10x the weight of the climber in case of extra inertia from jerking and falling. Instead, about 30 parachute cords suspended each paratrooper from his parachute during WWII.
Since then, it has become popular as a multi-use utility rope both in the military and out. It is most commonly used to make survival bracelets but has exploded in use due to people's wild creativity and ingenuity. Join our Facebook group to see some of the ways people are creative with paracord.
Not one of the original paracord sizes, nano cord consists of only a few threads of nylon. It is good for small crafting projects and is available in a small variety of colors. A cobra bracelet made of nano takes forever but can be a dainty alternative to a clunky 550 cord bracelet.
Micro cord is primarily used for weaving designs into 550 cord bracelets. It comes in most solid colors and adds a nice accent to many projects. Paracord at this size does not have inner strands.
This is a slightly stronger version of micro cord. Its main benefit is that it can be purchased in different lengths. Micro and Nano are only available in one length spools.
This is the smallest of the original military-commissioned paracord sizes. It has 1 inner strand and is considered "type I" paracord by the military. It's very lightweight and compact—great for backpacking and lightweight utility. Like micro, it can also be used to weave into paracord bracelets.
275 is a stiffer paracord. As a result, it is harder to tie knots in. It makes a great knot practice rope and works well for children's bracelets.
This cord looks very similar to both 275 and 425. It is softer than 275 and works well for certain kinds of laces, such as figure skates, or children's shoes. It is also very useful for other children's projects like bracelets and crafts.
This cord is just slightly smaller than 550. If you are making bracelets and 550 won't fit through a bead or piece of hardware, you can downgrade to this smaller size.
We covered regular 550 at the beginning of this list, but there are other varieties of it too.
This cord has a 10lb fishing line hidden on the inside.
This cord has a strand of jute twine on the inside. Jute is very dry and burns with only a few sparks.
Dyna-X is made out of polyethylene, so while it has the same diameter as regular 550, it is a very different cord. It has over double the weight rating of 550 with 1250 lb of strength.
Coreless paracord is very useful for handle wraps, cable sleeves, and other decorative applications. Because its core has been removed, it CANNOT hold 650 lb. It appears flat, but the inside can accommodate small cables for a variety of electronics projects such as drone building and computer customization.
This is essentially a beefier version of 550 paracord. It is nearly the same diameter as 550, but doesn't knot as tight, as it is a stiffer rope.
We carry two sizes of cord that have passed military specifications: 550 and 750. This is the "original" kind of paracord. If you think you will be using your paracord in potentially life-threatening situations, you may want this higher quality cord. Watch out for fakes; many brands will claim to be mil-spec cord but are really commercial grade. Commercial grade cord is sufficient for most applications. Read more here:
We carry two sizes of cord that have passed military specifications: 550 and 750. This is the "original" kind of paracord. If you think you will be using your paracord in potentially life-threatening situations, you may want this higher quality cord. Watch out for fakes; many brands will claim to be mil-spec cord, but are really commercial grade. Commercial grade cord is sufficient for most applications. Read more here:
Wilderness cord is 550 paracord that is packed with all sorts of survival extras. It has a 625 lb weight rating due to its core consisting of 7 strands of twisted nylon, waxed jute fire starter, 10 lb fishing line, super strong Dyna X cord, and 900° heat tolerant nano Aramid cord. Not ideal for most paracord crafts, but great for survival and backcountry emergencies.
Battle cord is the beefiest "tactical" paracord. It boasts a 2650lb weight rating, while still being relatively thin and flexible. If you dissect this cord, each of the 7 inner strands can hold 350 lb.
Para-Max's larger width makes it ideal for situations causing extra wear and tear. It has a 1,200 lb weight rating and has 3 inner strands.
This bigger size of Para-Max is the strongest paracord available. It can hold 3,000 lb with its beefier 6 strand core. While its weight rating is impressive, this rope should not be used as climbing rope. However, it is suitable for some towing and lifting.