Paracords are extremely functional ropes commonly used by military and emergency responders. These cords’ high strength and longevity enable them for both indoor and outdoor use. Now, this begs the question: How can one choose the best paracord?
Tips when Choosing a Paracord
When selecting a paracord, the most important thing to remember is how you will use it or for what purpose it will serve. As one might notice, each kind of paracord has a number on it, such as 550, 230, and so on. These numbers represent the weight that these cords can sustain. For starters, a 550 paracord will carry up to 550 pounds of weight.
You should use a 550 paracord or higher if you’re looking for a heavy-duty paracord for difficult work. However, keep in mind that these cords have their limits, and if used on something heavier than they can handle, they can snap and break. To prevent such issues, one must be fully conscious of the weight that must be supported and use the required, best paracord for the job.
Types of Paracords
As established, there are different types of paracords, usually based on the weight they can support.
Type I Paracord
Type I Paracords are the most common paracords, which are highly affordable in most hardware stores. People use these cords for dummy cording and decorative purposes. Moreover, they can only carry up to 95 pounds of weight, making them unsuitable for heavy-duty work.
Type II Paracord
Type II paracords are a little more challenging to come by, but they can carry up to 400 pounds of weight. Since they are uncommon, experts usually advise avoiding them and instead opting for Type III paracord.
Type III Paracord
Another popular paracord that you can find in almost any hardware store is Type III paracord. They can hold up to 550 pounds of weight and are suitable for various survival and outdoor activities. This paracord is also incredibly flexible and can be used for almost anything.
Type IV Paracord
The Type IV Paracord is the most costly type of paracord, which can cost twice as much as Type III paracord. They can carry up to 750 pounds of weight and are an excellent choice for those looking for a durable rope.
How to Test for Paracord Quality
Looking at what makes true military paracord so unique compared to commercial paracord that is sometimes labeled “mil-spec” is the best way to gauge the varying consistency of these paracords. The outer shell of a mil-spec paracord is 100 percent nylon, as is each inner strand, which gets made up of three 100 percent nylon yarns. The nylon in the cheaper commercial paracord often gets replaced with polyester, and the strands are frequently two instead of three. While this is still good, a mil-spec paracord is superior in terms of quality.
Moreover, completing these two tasks is the only consistent way to determine how similar the paracord purchased is to military specifications:
- First, look at the number of yarns the inner core strands contain, whether they have two or three. If it has three yarns, the paracord is closer to mil-spec.
- Second, try joining the inner yarns with some nylon by burning the tips and fusing them to decide if the inner strands in a paracord get made of nylon or polyester. Nylon bonds well with nylon. Polyester, on the other hand, will not bond with nylon but will bond with itself. If the paracord has polyester inner strands but a nylon outer layer, creating a super line from all the strands could be difficult, as the inner yarn would not bind with the nylon outer layer no matter how hard one tries.
Furthermore, field test the paracord to determine its quality. Simply test it for whatever one might need to use it for in the wilderness. Make shelters with it, for example. Create traps with it. To see how much it can withstand, subject it to unreasonably high levels of stress. Take it apart and use the outer shell to secure a knife to a stick so you can practice using it as a spear.
Doing so ensures that they are getting the best paracord available and that it will be suitable for their needs while also strengthening their bushcraft skills through practice: a win-win situation.
To conclude, the best paracord is one that suits an individual’s specific needs. Depending on the situation, one can opt for the cheapest, least durable paracord or the most expensive, most durable paracord and still get the best paracord either way.