If you love the wilderness – be it camping, backpacking, cycling, RVing or any other outdoor activity, you just can never have enough rope. Whether you are building a shelter, securing your gear or pets, or making an emergency splint, having a reliable rope or cord is a must in the backcountry. A paracord is one such type of rope.
Paracord, short for parachute cord, is one of the best types of rope that you can use for camping, survival or emergency preparedness. It is lightweight yet durable, weather-resistant and versatile. But not all paracords are created equal and you have to ensure that you pick the right one for your needs.
So which is the best paracord for camping, backpacking, and survival?
In this article, we look at answering exactly the same question and share some of the best paracords available in the market. We would primarily focus on survival-grade 550+ lbs. cords and not the flimsy ones. We will also summarize some of the factors to consider while picking the best paracord and share our top picks. Finally, we would list resources to check out for interesting paracord gear and projects.
List of the best paracord for camping, backpacking and survivalThe best paracord for outdoor activities are listed below:
|Tough-Grid Type IV Paracord||- High-quality, best-selling 100% nylon 750-lbs. paracord made in the US by a military contractor. |
- 3.96 - 4.76mm. (5/12" to 3/16") in diameter. The cord has 11 triple strands and is un-spliced. UV and abrasion resistant.
- True Mil-Spec. Includes a tracer or marker strand to associate the cord with the manufacturer.
- Available in lengths ranging from 50 feet to 1000 feet with 20+ color combinations.
- A newly designed, Tough-Grid 700lb Reflective Paracord is also available that glows when charged.
|X-cords Type IV Paracord||- Made in USA, 850-lbs. 100% nylon paracord. Made in the US by government certified contractor.|
- 8-strands with triple weaving. 4-5 mm. thick with a 30% elongation. UV and abrasion resistant.
- Has Kevlar-strand cord option also available, with a single Kevlar strand.
- Available in 15+ colors and 20-100 feet length.
- Comes with an easy-wound and quick use plastic spool.
|Golberg G Type IV Paracord||- Another high-grade 100% nylon 750-lbs. paracord made in the US.|
- 4-5 mm. in diameter. The cord has 11 3-ply strands that are UV, weather and abrasion resistant.
- Available in six different lengths ranging from 25 feet to 1000 feet with 20+ color combinations.
- A Type III, Golberg G 550 Paracord is also available from the same manufacturer.
|Titan Type III SurvivorCord||- A patented, made in the US 100% Nylon, 550-paracord with additional survival features. Best-selling product from a Vet-owned business.|
- 5mm. in diameter with seven triple-ply nylon strands.
- Has additional strands also included - waterproof waxed jute fire tinder, monofilament fishing line and a conductive wire.
- True Mil-Spec. A tracer strand with manufacturer markings is also present in the cord.
- Backed by a lifetime warranty and 100% satisfaction guaranteed commitment from the manufacturer.
- Available in 20 colors and 100 and 500 feet lengths.
- A cheaper, standard Type III Titan WarriorCord is also available.
|Paracord Planet Type III Paracord||- Hugely-popular, commercial 550 lbs. paracord made in the US by government certified contractors.|
- Seven strands with two or three yarns interwoven. 3.2-3.9 mm. (1/8" - 5/32") in diameter. UV and abrasion resistant.
- Maximum color combinations and buying options - 200 colors and 10-1000 feet length.
- Cheaper than most other options, but not true Mil-Spec.
|BoredParacord Type III Paracord||- Made in the US, 100% nylon 550-lbs. commercial paracord.|
- 3.2-3.5 mm. lightweight cord with seven 2-ply strands with 100% nylon sheath. UV and abrasion resistant. Not Mil-Spec.
- Available in over 300 colors and 1 to 1000 feet length.
- A genuine, costlier Mil-Spec Type III paracord, with 3-ply strands, is also available from the same manufacturer.
|Paracord Hero Type III Paracord||- Another budget, made in the US 550-lbs. commercial paracord. Not Mil-Spec.|
- 3.2-3.5 mm. lightweight cord with seven 2-ply strands. Weatherproof Nylon sheath that is UV resistant.
- Available in over 100 colors and 10-1000 feet length.
|The Friendly Swede Type II Paracord Bracelet Kit||- Popular DIY paracord bracelet kit with 350 lbs., 3 x 12 feet - Type II paracord, buckles and shackles.|
- Also included are fire-scrapers, firesticks and adjustable shackles to make three multi-color survival bracelets. A carabiner is also included to make a keychain.
- Backed by a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.
|SpeedyJig Pro Paracord Bracelet Kit and Jig||- A made in the US paracord bracelet kit with the best-selling Speedy PRO bracelet jig, paracords and buckles.|
- The jig is made of powder-coated steel with anti-slip rubber bumpers.
- Comes with 3 multi-color paracord hanks and 4 buckle clasps.
- Backed by a lifetime warranty on the jig and 100% money back commitment.
What is paracord and what are its benefits?
A parachute cord, or paracord as it is commonly known as, is a lightweight, durable and versatile general-purpose utility rope for outdoor use. Originally developed to use in suspension lines of parachutes, the paracord has found a lot of uses in camping, backpacking, and other outdoor activities and has undoubtedly become the go-to cord for these adventures.
Early paracord strands were made of silk, but during the World War II, when silk availability became an issue, silk was replaced with nylon. Modern paracord is now made of nylon.
A typical paracord kern consists of anywhere from 1 to 11 core strands, each with multiple yarns interwoven together. Paracords are generally classified based on the standards set up by the US Military into Type I, II, III or IV.
- Type I Cord: This type of paracord has an optimal tensile strength of 95-100 lbs. Type I paracords consist of a single core strand and are generally the thinnest, lightest (950-1000 feet per pound) and cheapest option. Except for probable use as shoelaces, tent guy lines or some decorative accessories, Type I paracords do not have a very widespread use in survival situations.
- Type II Cord: A Type II cord has anywhere between 4 to 7 core yarns. It is heavier than the Type I cord (260-270 feet per pound), but still pretty light when compared to the other types of ropes. With a breaking strength of 400 lbs., this is a popular cord type for paracord bracelets, necklaces and keychains.
- Type III Cord: The Type III paracord, or the 550-cord as it is also sometimes called, is where the things start getting serious. A Type III cord has 7 to 9 core strands, each with 2-3 yarns interwoven together (commercial cords have 2 yarns while Mil-Spec cords would have 3-yarns per stand). A typical Mil-Spec Type III cord would provide a nice balance between strength and weight, with approximately 225-230 feet per pound. Type III cords would serve most of your rope needs for camping, backpacking and cycling.
- Type IV Cord: If you are looking for the best-grade cord for wilderness camping and survival then Type IV cord is the best choice. With 11 core strands per cord, a genuine Type IV cord can carry 750+ lbs. of weight and can last for a pretty long time. It is also the thickest (4-5 mm.) and heaviest (160 -180 fee per pound) paracord for commercial use. Moreover, Type IV cords are the costliest too – there is a premium of 30-50% over the price of Type III cords.
Some of the key features of paracord over other types of ropes that make it so useful are listed below:
- It is lightweight and has an excellent strength-to-weight ratio.
- It is pretty weatherproof and can also withstand UV exposure. (Though, the cord would lose its strength after prolonged exposure to the sun).
- It is flexible and elastic with a possible elongation of 30-40%.
- Despite being costlier than regular rope, the paracord is still reasonably affordable for the quality it offers.
- It is available in a wide range of vibrant colors and strand combinations.
A paracord can be used for a multitude of tasks in the backcountry. Some of the common purposes for which you can use a paracord are:
- As a guy line for tents or tarps. (Avoid using it for hammocks as paracords are not tree-hugging)
- For hanging food and clothes.
- For setting up traps and snares.
- For repairing your gear like tents, sleeping bags, etc.
- As a fishing line.
- As an emergency splint, tourniquet or making a stretcher.
- As a tow line.
- As an emergency pet leash or collar.
- As fire tinder or sewing thread.
- As an extra rope for any other purpose.
In the next sections, we will look at the major factors to consider while picking the best paracord for camping, backpacking or survival and share our top picks.
How to pick the best paracord for camping, backpacking and survival?
With so many options available in the market with everyone claiming the best quality, picking the best paracord can be a challenging task. Not everything that is marked as “Mil-Spec” adheres strictly to the military specifications.
Some of the major factors that you can keep in mind for separating the grain from the chaff and picking the best paracord for camping, backpacking and survival are summarized below. And if you are ever in doubt, consider picking up one from our recommendations:
- Primary purpose of the paracord
- Building material and quality
- Additional features in the cord
- Miscellaneous Considerations
Primary purpose of the paracord
Before selecting the right type of paracord, you have to think about the primary purposes for which you are seeking such a rope, as it governs the type of paracord you should opt for.
If you are looking for a paracord for making an EDC bracelet, necklace, keychain with occasional outdoor use, then you can consider getting a Type II paracord. It is lighter and cheaper than higher types of cords.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a more serious tactical survival use and a cord that can support a sizeable weight, then you should go with a Type III paracord. Genuine Mil-Spec Type III cords are costlier than the commercial Type III cords. The commercial paracords offer a nice balance between utility and cost and work reasonably well in the field.
And finally, if you are looking for a cord to carry in your car or RV and do not mind the extra weight, then you can pick a Type IV paracord. Most Type IV paracords are extremely durable and would last a lifetime. Our top pick, the Tough-Grid Type IV Paracord is an example of such a Type IV paracord. Some paracords, such as the X-cords Type IV Paracord even claim to exceed the Mil-Spec requirements.
So, depending upon your primary purpose, pick the right type of paracord you are looking for.
Building material and quality
Not all paracords are created equal and a “Mil-Spec” rating does not always mean that the paracord is truly tested as per the military specifications. So the building material and quality of the paracord is an important consideration to keep in the mind.
The best paracords are made of nylon. Any cord with polyester sheaths or strands is not going to be durable. Generally, a 100% nylon, made in the US paracord is an optimal indication of the quality of the cord. Having a tracer strand with the manufacturer-specific color coding is also a good indicator of a genuine, high-quality paracord (having a marker strand is mandatory for Mil-Spec Certification). In our picks, we have kept these considerations in mind before recommending the best paracords.
Check the building material of the paracord and the strength rating before picking the most suitable choice for your needs. You can generally find some useful feedback from other buyers in the Q&A and review sections. As an added recommendation, always buy the paracord directly from the manufacturer or authorized seller to avoid any counterfeits.
Additional Features in the cord
In addition to the normal nylon strands, some paracords include a couple of tactical strands for use in emergency survival situations. These additional
Some paracords even have a jute strand to be used as a firestarter, monofilament fishing line, even conductive copper wire to make traps and snares.
The presence of these additional strands, along with standard core strands of the paracord, is also something that can sweeten the deal. The patent-pending Titan SurvivorCord is one such tactical paracord to check out.
Check out all these additional features, if any, while picking the best paracord for your requirements.
In addition to the major factors discussed above, there are some other miscellaneous considerations that can make a particular paracord a preferable buy over other cords.
One such consideration is the different color combinations in which the cord is available. If you are looking for a discreet, stealth cord then you need a cord that is available in camo or other tactical military colors. Similarly, if you are looking for something that is more vivid even in fading light then you need a reflective neon or other reflective color cord. Most of the options that we listed are available in over 20 color combinations, so you have a lot of options to pick from. You would generally get more color options in commercial paracords such as Paracord Planet and BoredParacord, which both offer over 200 color combinations.
Another related consideration is the length in which the cord is available. Thankfully, most popular manufacturers offer a wide range of paracord lengths ranging from a few feet to spools of 100 or more feet. You also get a spool holder with these large paracord lengths. We recommend that you go for a smaller length, multi-color paracord option instead of getting a large spool of a single color.
Finally, one of the most important additional consideration is the warranty offered on the paracord by the manufacturer. The longer the warranty period, the more durable the cord it would be. Top-rated manufacturers such as Titan and Tough-Grid offer lifetime warranties on their paracords, so you can be assured of their reliability and durability.
You can look at all these features to determine if they make a paracord a better choice for your needs.
Which are the best paracord for camping, backpacking and survival?
If you are looking for an all-purpose paracord that you can use of some serious heavy-duty tasks such as building a shelter or a tow-line for your car or kayak, building a raft or just provide some emergency protection in your car or RV, then look no further than the true Mil-Spec, Tough-Grid Type IV Paracord. This Type IV paracord has been the favorite of campers, backpackers and survivalists for years and there is a good reason for that.
The Tough-Grid Mil-Spec Paracord is made of 100% nylon (both strands and sheath) and rated at 750-lbs. It is manufactured by a genuine US military contractor and includes the manufacturer marker strand in the cord as a testimony to the superior quality and true Mil-Spec specification. It has a standard elasticity of 20-30% (meaning that the cord would not elongate beyond 20-30% even in the heaviest stress).
The Tough-Grid Type IV Paracord has a diameter that falls in the range of 4- 5mm. (5/12″ to 3/16″). The cord has 11 core strands, each with three yarns each. In order to maintain the quality, the cord is never spliced. The outer sheath is UV and abrasion resistant and designed to withstand rain, snow and other weather elements. Only a prolonged multi-year exposure to the sun would affect the tensile strength of the cord.
The Tough-Grid paracord is available in lengths ranging from 50 feet to 1000 feet and about 25 color combinations. The color availability is of-course limited by the Mil-Spec certification ( those vibrant funky color cords are not true Mil-Spec). It is available in coiled, tube-wound or spool-wound depending upon the length. A plastic spool would have been a big bonus, but we can live without that.
The Tough-Grid paracord is backed by a 100% satisfaction guaranteed commitment. The manufacturer also offers a standard 550-paracord. And if you are looking for a glow-in-the-dark reflective cord then check out the Tough-Grid 700lbs Reflective Paracord that glows when charged with a flashlight. The glowing cord is, however, not Mil-Spec.
If there is one 550-paracord that you can never go wrong with, it is the Titan Type III SurvivorCord. Manufactured in-house by a Vet-owned, US small business, this paracord is not just a paracord – it is a true survival cord and a perfect option for survivalists and preppers.
The US-patented, Titan SurvivorCord is made with 100% nylon and has seven three-ply core strands. In itself, the paracord is true 550 lbs. Mil-Spec with a marker/tracer strand also present in the core strands. It is tensile tested at 620 lbs. so you can be sure of its reliability in the field.
The Titan SurvivorCord has additional strands that differentiate it from the other paracords – a waterproof wax-coated jute strand to act as a fire-starter, a monofilament 25lbs.-strength fishing line strand and a conductive copper wire to make snares and traps. (You would have to interweave the wire to make a real snare!).
All these strands increase the diameter of the cord to about 5 mm. but that is a small price to pay if you want these useful survival features. These extra strands do not make the cord any difficult to cut, in case you were worried about that! Still, if you are looking for a standard 550-paracord, then you can check out the popular, Titan Type III WarriorCord.
And if you are looking for a Type IV paracord, the newly released is an option to look at – this next gen paracord is essentially a crossover between the Type IV paracord and SurvivorCord and has a tensile strength of 1026 lbs.
If you are looking to make some fashionable paracord accessories such as bracelets and keychains for EDC and are not looking for those heavy-duty, survival tasks then you can check out the Friendly Swede Type II Paracord Bracelet Kit.
The Friendly Swede Paracord Kit is a popular DIY paracord project kit. It comes with 3 multi-colored 12-feet Type II cords which have a tensile strength of 350 lbs. Also included with the kit are a plastic buckle and two adjustable metal shackles (one large and one small) to make those paracord bracelets. And a carabiner is also included, in case you are looking to make a paracord keychain.
To add to the utility, the kit also includes 2 fire-sticks a fire-knife and a fire ring. So you can make a total of 3 paracord bracelets using the kit – 1 survival bracelet and 2 standard bracelets.
The Friendly Swede Paracord Kit is backed by a lifetime warranty, just like other Friendly Swede paracord products.
Best Paracord Gear
As discussed above, there are quite a few interesting, multi-purposes ways in which you can carry your paracord. Some of the most popular paracord articles that you can consider are listed below. You can buy these items in the market of weave your own using instructions available online. You can also consult some of the best paracord project books that we list in the next section:
- Paracord Bracelets: Paracord bracelets are a cool paracord utility item that is also an excellent fashion accessory than just a tactical gear ala Mad Max. Each bracelet can hold anywhere from 7 feet to as much as 20 feet of paracord, along with a few additional survival items such as compass and fire-starter. Check out our article on the best paracord bracelets for some of the best options available in the market.
- Paracord Keychains and Necklaces: Another set of inexpensive tactical utility item that allows carrying a small length of paracord is the keychain or necklace. Most paracord keychains are also loaded with additional items such as firestarters. Holtzman’s has a perfect survival keychain set with fire-starter, tinder and fishing hooks, among other things.
- Paracord handles, wraps and watch straps: Many normal outdoor gears such as bottles, knives, hatchets and watches allow you to carry additional cord length through tactical handles, wraps and straps. You can also weave such items yourself.
- Paracord belts: If you are looking for an item that allows you to carry a substantial length of cord with you without adding additional weight, then a paracord belt is an excellent choice. Check out our article on the best paracord belts to find the best paracord belts available in the market.
- Dog Leashes and Collars: If you go on camping or backpacking with your beloved pet, then you can even get or build a paracord dog leash or collar. This would allow you to have a substantial cordage available for an emergency situation.
DIY Paracord Project Books
If you want to try out some interesting do-it-yourself (DIY) paracord projects and are looking for some practical books that can help, you can check out the following options. These four guides provide easy to follow instructions on creating bracelets, belts, lanyards, dog leashes and what not using paracords:
- Paracord Outdoor Gear Projects: A perfect guide for beginners to get started on DIY paracord projects. Covers 12 paracord projects supported by step-by-step instructions and illustrations. Authored by Joel Hooks.
- Paracord!: How to Make the Best Bracelets, Lanyards, Key Chains, Buckles, and More: A detailed beginner primer authored by Todd Mikkelsen – the creator of the popular Paracord 101 blog and YouTube channel.
- Practical Paracord Projects: A compilation of the best DIY paracord projects from Instructables.Com Site. Available in Hardcover and Kindle editions.
- Paracord Fusion Ties – Volume 1 and 2: A two-volume, popular resource for building all kinds of gear for storing paracord. Authored by J.D. Lenzen, the creator of the popular “Tying It All Together” YouTube channel. Available in both Kindle and Paperback editions.
Final thoughts on the best paracord for camping, backpacking and survival
A paracord rope is one of the most versatile rope to have with you in the wilderness. The paracord is lightweight, weatherproof and durable. This simple cord is also one of the most essential survival tools to have with you in emergency situations. But picking the best paracord for camping and survival is a challenging task.
In this article, we looked at simplifying your search and shared some of the best paracords available in the market. We focused on some high-quality, made in the US, Type III and Type IV paracords that you can get as a rope or for some interesting DIY projects. We also shared some of the factors to consider while picking the best paracord for your needs and listed our top picks.
We hope that you found this article useful and it would help you in picking the best paracord for your next outdoor trip. Do let us know your feedback by providing your comment through the form below. Until next time, happy camping!