Paracord is a nylon rope, thin in diameter but very strong, being among the strongest ropes on the market. It is easy to work with, nimble enough to tie strong knots while also being lightweight, perfect for a variety of uses. Its versatility makes it the most important tool in anyone’s backpack. I carry at least 50 yards at all times and I frequently use it whenever I’m traveling.
Some common uses for paracord in outdoor situations:
1. Tie a boat to a car
If you’re like me, your canoe or boat is frequently the focal point in your outdoor lifestyle. Boats are great and allow for greater exploration into landscapes but driving a boat anywhere can be a hassle. Their large and bulky size means the method for strapping it to the roof of a car must be as secure as possible.
Hand tying a boat to a car is the strongest and most effective way of affixing it to the roof. Paracord is the strongest and most flexible tool that can be trusted to perform this procedure. Its rope shape and polyester outer layer slips easily against itself, pulling knots tighter than a traditional rope.
2. Hang a bear bag
Being outdoors in wild spaces almost guarantees a bear encounter. Bears are large omnivores and have an appetite for everything from berries to hot dogs. Hopefully, the only bear encounter you have is from a safe distance, hanging bear bags will ensure this is the case. It is best to think of bears as giant raccoons, only interacting with humans when food is within easy access. Bears have excellent sense of smell, 100x stronger than humans. Hanging all food items from trees to prevent bear attraction is a method known as bear bagging.
Compile all food and edible materials, placing them inside a bag that is fully sealed. The next step is to throw a rope into the branches of a tree, hoisting the bag out of the reach of bears. When throwing the rope into a tree, the lightweight paracord makes the perfect tool for the job. It is easy to throw, and even easier to work with. The impermeable nylon promises strong knots, even in the rain. Because paracord is lightweight and thin in diameter, it can be easily compressed. This makes it perfect to pack and carry into the backcountry, where bear habitat exists.
3. Reinforce a tent
During storms and inside high wind environments, tents can be bent and crushed because of wind speed. The same materials that makes tents lightweight and versatile, are also their inherent downfall. In high winds, tents share more similarities with a kite than a shelter. By using paracord, additional anchor points can provide more strength to the structural integrity. The paracord is strong enough to hold in any wind, and when failures occur, it is because the anchor was pulled from the ground, not the paracord breaking.
Recreating in remote areas, the equipment used incurs a high probability of breaking. Backpacks and shoes are the most likely casualties, both can be mended with paracord. A sewing needle and thread can fix many clothing issues in the backcountry but some jobs require a stronger solution. This is where paracord can be your best friend. When a backpack is ripped beyond the repair capabilities of sewing, paracord can hold it together. By cutting small holes into the fabric the paracord can be used like an oversized needle and thread, holding the backpack together.
More of a problem on long distance hikes, shoes will far apart after a certain amount of miles. The sole will come unglued, the sides will blow out, and the shoe will literally fall apart at the seams. I have personally tied my shoes together with paracord and had greater success than expected, putting over 100 miles on the pair.
The amount of creativity that can be had with paracord makes it a must have tool. Attaching a boat to a car, hanging a bear bag, and repairing gear in the field, highlights its incredible array of uses. Paracord has a place in every outdoor and survival situation. I highly recommend carrying paracord and using it in all outdoor activities.
The following video you can see yet another example to the versatility of paracord.