What Is Paracord?: Origins, Uses & Paracord Basics

Paracord bundles of various colors

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Paracord has a long and storied history, but you may not know much about the popular, versatile product. What is paracord exactly? You've probably seen someone wearing a paracord survival bracelet. Or maybe a friend who is into crafting has talked about using paracord in their latest creation. Those are just a few of the uses of paracord that people have uncovered.

If you are interested in learning more about the origins and uses for this unique type of cord, keep reading to discover all the paracord basics.

What is Paracord Made Of?

Paracord, also known as parachute cord, is a strong, durable type of cord made from nylon. There are many different commercial and personal uses of paracord. The high-tech paracord material and construction allow it to be tough while still remaining compact and lightweight.

Paracord is a kernmantle cord, meaning it has both a core and an outer sheath, or mantle. Different strengths of paracord will contain different numbers of strands. For the most popular paracord, 550 cord, the core consists of seven strands, with each strand made up of two or three smaller strands. The outer mantle is made up of 32 woven strands. The inner strands can be removed and stretched out to create hundreds of feet of usable cord, making it an essential tool for many outdoor enthusiasts.

A colorful bundle of paracord

How Strong is Paracord?

There are several different types of paracord, but the most popular one is known as 550 paracord, meaning it has a tensile strength of 550 pounds. Other types of paracord may offer different tensile strengths and weights.

Paracord is designed to withstand any challenge you or Mother Nature can throw at it. Since nylon is a synthetic paracord material, it is resistant to rot, mildew, abrasion and UV fade.

Paracord History

To understand paracord basics, it's important to know its roots. Paracord history can be traced back to the 1930s when an inventor working for DuPont created nylon. The manufactured fiber became popular for use in toothbrushes and especially in women's stockings, but it found new life during World War II when the U.S. military needed a new kind of cord to be used on its parachutes and parachute cords. Originally, parachute cords were made with silk. However, silk had to be imported from Japan, which posed a serious issue during World War II. Nylon served as a readily available synthetic replacement for silk as war-time production ramped up.

While the cord served its original purpose, the U.S. paratroopers quickly discovered many new uses for their parachute cords, like securing tarps, running fishing lines and repairing fabric.

Eventually, paracord was declassified and released to the public, and its usage has grown in the decades since.

A black and orange paracord bracelet

What Is Paracord Used For?

Although its origin is tied to the Armed Forces, Paracord's strength and flexibility have made it popular in a wide range of civilian uses. Some of the uses of paracord include:


Crafting enthusiasts have found many uses for the synthetic cord, including bracelets, lanyards, jewelry, keychains and more. Some creative crafting artists have even gone as far as using paracord for more large-scale projects such as hammocks, chairs and steering wheel covers.


While it may not seem like one of the most obvious uses of paracord, fashion circles have taken to the material through the years. Its many colors and strength have made it popular for bracelets, belts and more. It also can be used as elastic for making your own face masks.


Paracord's durability and strength have made it extremely popular with outdoor and survival enthusiasts. These uses of paracord include making fishing lines, constructing shelters, designing traps, replacing boot laces or tying gear to backpacks. Many outdoor enthusiasts make paracord bracelets as a storage and transportation method so they always have some of this versatile product with them in case of emergency.

Now That You Know Paracord Basics, Find What You Need at Atwood Rope

So, what is paracord? It's exactly what you need for your next adventure. Atwood Rope carries a wide range of paracord in a variety of colors and strengths. Our products are made from high-quality paracord material with colors that won't run or fade. Whether you need our thinner micro cord, the popular 550 paracord rope or our super-strong battlecord, Atwood Rope has what you need for your next project. Check out our website and discover the wide range of paracord and accessories we offer.

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