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Monday, August 2, 2010

Hiking Tips: Paracord 550, a Must-Have Item

For backpacking, parachute cord (also known as “paracord”) is one of the most useful items you can include in your backpack. Lightweight, steely strong and supple, paracord has all sorts of uses – for regular backpacking mode and for survival mode as well.

Olive drab Parachute cord, purchased at a surp...
Image via Wikipedia
Don’t settle for anything but the best: military-grade paracord 550. Why “550”? It’ll suspend 550 pounds, that’s why. This versatile product is made up of several strands of tough nylon plus a soft nylon sheath to contain them. So, you can find all sorts of uses for the whole cord bundle or for any strand.
1. Use it as a fishing line.
2. Lace up your shoes when your shoelaces give up the ghost.
3. Use it as a strong thread to repair fabric. Don’t forget to include a sturdy needle.
4. Tie equipment to the outside of your backpack.
5. Create an effective bear bag system.
6. Make a fire bow.
7. Make animal snares in a survival situation.
8. Make a tourniquet.
9. Make a splint.
10. Floss your teeth.
11. Sew up a wound (aaaurgh!).
12. Hold your pants up when your belt gives up the ghost.
13. Use it to make your tent floor taut and wrinkle-free. Cut 4-foot lengths and tie them to the peg loops on your tent floor. Fasten the other end to a tent peg or to a rock or to a small tree to stretch your floor out in all directions. A taut tent floor will go a long way to keeping your tent from flapping in a stiff breeze. You’ll sleep much better without the noise.
14. Make a clothesline to dry your weekly wash.
15. Set up a protective tarp in the place of a tent.
So, make sure you include at least 10 yards of 550 paracord when you pack your backpack next time. You can buy the real stuff at any army-navy store or online. Here are a couple of sites that sell it: Supply Captain, Amazon.com.
Right along with duct tape, paracord 550 is a must have. And leave a reply if you can think of any more uses. I’ll post them.
by Richard Davidian, Ph.D.

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