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A survival essential. (Photo: Tim Tomkinson)
A survival essential.

Parachute cord, also known as paracord, the world’s most versatile survival tool. Amid a silk shortage during World War II, the U.S. military began using four-millimeter-thick suspension lines made from nylon, a recent DuPont invention, to connect a parachute’s canopy to a jumper’s pack. P-cord is now the go-to item to repair torn clothing in the field, bind together tent poles, or construct webbing for makeshift hammocks and snowshoes. Pull apart the inner strands and you have fishing line, dental floss, or thread that’s good enough to suture a wound.

In 1997, astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery famously used p-cord to repair damaged insulation on the Hubble Space Telescope. The latest application is the p-cord bracelet, a wearable survival multitool with built-in implements. “They’re easy to make, so everyone and their grandmother is making them,” says Dustin Hogard, who claims that his company, Wazoo Survival Gear, was the first.


  1. If you believe survivalist bloggers, p-cord can save your skin in all kinds of scenarios. 
  2. Stem bleeding with an improvised tourniquet.
  3. Set up a trip wire to alert you to intruders.
  4. Hang a makeshift hammock when fire ants raid your campsite.
  5. Jury-rig a knife into a spear to fend off feral pigs.
  6. Repair a fishing net using the cord’s inner fibers.

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From Outside Magazine, August 2015
Filed To: Survival
Lead Photo: Tim Tomkinson