There are 29 uses for Paracord that I think are useful. This cord or cordage is a great tool to keep in a bug-out bag because it is flexible and used in many survival scenarios.
The most common uses for Paracord in a bug-out bag are for shelter building, but it has many more benefits. With some paracord, a survival knife, and found materials, make just about any tool or convenience needed in a survival situation: from shelter building to making camp furniture.
What is Paracord?
Paracord, Parachute cord, or 550 cord was initially used for suspension lines in parachutes. Today, 550 cord is multi-purpose cordage used by outdoorsmen, bush crafters, and survivalists. The packaging is typically marked with a number, i.e., 550, which denotes the breaking strength. 550 cord will hold up to 550 lbs before it fails.
Ok, let’s get down to what you came here for to find out the best uses for Parcord in a bug-out bag.
Separate the Paracord into strands and use it as fuel for starting a fire. This isn’t one of the best uses for paracord, but you can use it in an emergency. You are better off having a fire starting kit and tinder to start a campfire.
#2 Hanging Food (Best Uses For Paracord)
If you camp in an area with black or brown bears, you know how important it is to keep food off the ground. This is at the top of the list of uses for paracord. If you have seen what a bear can do to a camp, you know food is what draws them in.
Keep Bears From Getting At Your Food (6 steps)
Keep your food bag at least 10 feet from the tree trunk (bears can climb) and 15 feet off the ground. If you have an extra stuff sack for food, use that bag; if not, use your bug-out bag.
- Tie Paracord to a rock or heavy stick
- Throw the stick over a tree branch
- Untie the stick and tie it to the food bag
- Pull the other end of the Paracord to raise the bag towards the tree branch.
- The ideal height of the food bag is fifteen feet up and 10 feet from the tree trunk.
- Tie the other end of the line off to the tree to keep the bag suspended
Make sure it doesn’t come back down and hit your head when you throw the stick over the branch.
Growing up, we camped, backpacked, and canoed in The Boundary Water Canoe Area (BWCA) in Northern Minnesota. Over the years, we had black bears roam the camp at night (scary), looking for the food they could smell. When we started cleaning up after cooking in camp and hanging food bags, we had fewer issues with black bears.Scott, Ready Squirrel
Paracord isn’t ideal for making snares, but it works. Let’s take a look.
#3 Snares (Poachers or Slipnot)
In a survival scenario, a paracord snare traps game animals around the neck. Typically loops are made from wire, so this isn’t one of the best uses for paracord, but it works. Place a paracord snare in a heavily traveled area like a game path with droppings or the opening to a den where the brush flattened. Also, look for trails and animal tracks around natural water sources and water access areas.
5 types of paracord snare
- Paracord neck snare
- Spring snare
- Spring pole fish trap
- Squirrel pole snare
- Deer snare
To learn more about bug-out bags, read the Ready Squirrel article, What is a bug-out bag?
Let’s look at another use for Paracord.
#4 Use Paracord for Fishing Line
Disassemble a strand of Paracord and use the interior strands as a fishing line. When it comes to uses for Paracord, this isn’t one of the better uses, but it will work in a pinch. Consider keeping a coil of fishing line in your emergency kit so you won’t have to rely on 550 cord.
Best Type of Fishing Line For a Bug-out bag
A braided synthetic fishing line is ideal for a bug-out bag because it is the most robust fishing line you can get, 10x the strength of steel.
Also, You can use Paracord as part of your bug-out first aid kit.
#5 Splint Tie
For broken fingers, use the Paracord to wrap the damaged finger to the finger beside it, or use it to tie a splint for a broken or dislocated arm or leg.
Use a cut sapling or straight stick and tie it to the broken limb for support.
Parachute cord also makes a good emergency belt and can be used with found materials to create a rain poncho. Cut a head hole in the tarp, stick your head through and tie 550 cord around the waist Rambo-style.
#6 Eye Glass holder (sunglass-holder)
Use a piece of Paracord like a sunglass strap to keep your glasses from falling in the brush or water.
#7 Shelter Building (Best Uses For Paracord)
Set out a tarp ridgeline and other configurations to make a tarp shelter. Also, used to ad natural materials and framing to a survival shelter.
#8 Drip Lines (hammock or tarp shelter)
Tie drip lines onto the guy lines of tents and shelters, so condensation drips onto the ground instead of the tent or tarp, which causes condensation inside and makes for some uncomfortable sleeping.
Another excellent use for Paracord is as a zipper pull.
#9 Extended Zipper pulls (Best Uses for Paracord)_
Tie small pieces of Paracord to zippers on your bags and pouches for easier purchase of zipper when opening and closing. If you want to get creative, use different colors of paracord code on zip-pulls for pockets with a specific type of gear like first aid or fire starting tools.
Combine a piece of Paracord and a stick to make a tourniquet to slow or stop bleeding. Use this method with caution.
#11 Frogging Gig (spear)
Make a frog gig with a paracord, a survival knife, and a 6-foot stick.
- Find a 6 ft branch 2″ in diameter.
- Wrap the Paracord around the branch 6 inches below the top of the stick (this will keep the stick from splitting beyond the paracord wrap in step #3.)
- Split the top of the stick by buttoning, and place a small stick in the crack.
- Work the stick down the crack to spread the split.
- Sharpen each split side with a knife, and voila, a frog gig.
#12 Water Crossing
Paracord works as a guide for crossing small bodies of water by tieing one end of the Paracord on either side of the water. Send the strongest person across first, find the easiest path, and tie the Paracord to the tree.
To do a SAS-style river crossing (on top of the rope with a leg dangling), use rope because Paracord is painful to cross this way. However, it will hold up to 550 pounds.
#13 Trail Marker
When bushwacking through unmarked trails, use small pieces of colorful Paracord to mark your path.
Do not mark the trail if you are traveling through an unpermissive environment and trying to stay hidden. Instead, rely on navigation equipment in a bug-out bag such as a compass, ranger beads, and topographical maps.
#14 Trotline (Best Uses For Paracord)
A trotline is a top fishing line with smaller baited lines hanging off it.
What you need to make a Trotline
- 550 paracord
- Fishing hooks
- Barrel swivels (Optional barrel swivels keep the line from getting tangled)
- Braided Synthetic Fishing Line (Optional)
How to make a paracord Trotline
#15 Emergency Rifle Sling
Paracord will work as an emergency rifle sling to replace or repair a broken one.
Using one strand of Paracord for a rifle sling will be uncomfortable, but it will work in a pinch. If you are looking for a functional paracord rifle sling, it is possible to make one with multiple strands
#16 Bag Hangar
Place a sizeable piece of Paracord onto the top of the bug-out bag when you roll into camp, and tie the bag to the tree at chest level, so it’s easy to get to gear for setting camp.
#17 Game Lift (game hoist)
Use Paracord to hang a game like a deer or a rabbit for processing or sun-drying fish.
4 Steps: Paracord Game Hoist
- Tie a rock or heavy stick to a long piece of Paracord
- throw the stick over a substantial tree limb
- tie the back legs of the animal to the Paracord
- Lift the animal to chest height for processing
#18 Suture Wounds
Use Paracord by pulling the inner strands apart to suture wounds. Each strand has a breaking point of 50lbs and will fit through the eye of a needle so learn how to disinfect wounds and the why and how of suturing to avoid causing infection or additional injury.
#19 Fishing Net
Use Paracord in a long-term survival scenario to make a fishing net.
Another popular use for Paracord is rigging a hammock between two trees. You can also use Nylon strapping and carabiners.
#21 Shelter Ridgeline (Best Uses For Paracord)
Paracord is used to make a ridgeline for poncho and tarp shelters and the construction of shelters built from natural materials. This is probably the most popular use for paracord. Most survivalists that build tarp tents use paracord to tie a ridgeline between two trees.
Read the Ready Squirrel article, How To Build a Survival Shelter.
#22 Rescue Line
Paracord can be used to make a weighted rescue line. Tie the Paracord around a rock and throw the rock over the person’s head you are rescuing so they can grab the line.
The rescue line typically has a loop at either end so both persons can grasp it in a water rescue scenario. Also, the line is weighted so you can throw it regardless of the weather or wind.
#23 Bushcraft Items (cooking)
Paracord can be used to lash together a tripod for cooking, camp chairs, and shelter frames.
#24 Lanyard For Tools (Best Uses for Paracord)
Make lanyards for essential tools like a Ferro rod or survival knife. This is another great use for paracord. I like to use a Kukri to cut down saplings. I lost my first one in the leaves, so I tied a fancy paracord lanyard to the end of the handle so it’s easy to find if I lay it down.
We’ve all done it, laid a knife or other small tool in a brush pile, and then couldn’t find it. To remedy this, tie a piece of orange Paracord onto each critical piece of equipment. Lay a tool on the ground, and the bright orange paracord will draw the eye. Problem solved.
#25 Carry Strap
Make a carry strap for the gear you use to navigate, like ranger beads and a compass. A lightweight compass hung around the neck with a long enough piece of Paracord that you can take bearing without taking the compass from around your neck.
#26 Knife Necklace
Tie a piece of Paracord to a survival or bushcraft knife with a snap-on sheath and hang it around the neck for instant access.
#27 Clothes Line
Sweating like a pig all day, get to camp, rinse your clothes in a natural water source and hang them on a paracord clothesline to dry. This is one of my favorite uses for paracord because I avoid wearing wet clothes when I’m hiking.
#28 Boot Lace
Use Paracord to replace boot and shoe laces. A new paracord shoelace could be a lifesaver if you are in a rough country. It beats walking around with one boot or shoe; in some terrain, it would be impossible to walk with a show coming off.
Cut three saplings to length and use Paracord to tie them together at the top. Hang a pot over a campfire or a lantern for reading or working.
Another use for Paracord, make two tripods and tie a piece of 550 between the two tripods for a clothesline or to hang gear.
Ok, that’s it, folks. If you can think of other uses for Paracord, let me know in the comments, and I will add them to the list.
Keep on prepping.