Paracord: Fashion Fad or Survival Tool?

These days it seems like everyone is selling bracelets and other products made of paracord. I have seen them in locations from gas stations to survival stores to women’s boutiques.  With all the different places I have seen these bracelets it got me thinking about paracord and if these products are just a fad or if these are a real survival tool?

Paracord is actually short for Parachute Cord and is also known as 550 cord. It is a lightweight nylon kernmantle rope originally used in the suspension lines of US parachutes during World War II. Paratroopers found that this cord could be used for a variety of tasks and has since evolved into a general purpose utility cord used by the military and civilians.

If you have ever seen paracord you know it has a nylon outer construction made with a high number of interwoven strands that has a relatively smooth texture. The inside, or the guts, is 7 strands made up of 3 strands each. The reason this cord is also known as 550 cord is because the 7 inner cords have a strength of 50lbs each for a total of 350lbs with the outer layer having a total strength of 200lbs for a total minimum breaking strength of 550lbs, aka 550 cord.

Although Paracord was originally used by airborne units, it is now used in a variety of ways. Many military personnel and outdoor enthusiasts use is for attaching equipment to harnesses, tying rucksacks to vehicle racks, creating outdoor shelters, setting traps, etc. Even “the guts” of the string can be removed for a finer string to be used as sewing thread to repair gear or fishing line in a survival situation. So paracord can be used as a survival tool!

However, I have found after much research and browsing that there are a lot of products using “fake” paracord that is strictly for fashion or non-survival use. If you are interested in buying a product or creating your own paracord products that you intend to use in case of a survival situation, you need to be sure you have the real deal. There is a lot of paracord that is being sold these days that is not the same high quality as real 550 cord. Make sure you are looking for the 7 inner stands. If you want a purely fun fashion accessory, you can find paracord in a wide variety of fun colors, some real 550 cord and some not, but what does it matter if it’s real if you don’t have to survive with it.

The paracord that Going Gear sells is an 8 strand 550 paracord. This cord is straight from a US military parachute supplier, where they use the absolute best nylon they can find to make cord on which soldier’s lives literally depend. You may not need to jump out of a plane into enemy territory in the pitch black of the night, but this stuff will still work great for repairing gear, pitching tarps, or any other task where you might need high quality cordage. Please keep in mind that even though this is the best paracord you will find, it is still not meant to support human weight. The weight ratings are for static weight, not you rappelling down the Swiss Alps.

So, now you know about paracord and how to spot the real stuff. Head on over to, pick up paracord in your favorite color, then check out our paracord project pinterest board for some fashion and survival use inspirations.