Is it just my imagination or are an awful lot of folks on the trail, at the shooting range, and at hunting camps wearing some kind of parachute cord bracelet nowadays? What started a few years ago as a practical way for soldiers, firefighters, and outdoor adventurers to carry some extra 550 cord has mushroomed into a multi-million dollar business serving fashion-conscious urbanites and true wilderness aficionados alike.
Since bracelets and jewelry were invented, they have been worn mostly for looks. Decorative wear typically doesn't usually do anything. But a few years ago, Survival Straps came into the market. Standing apart from most bracelets in human history, these bracelets actually do stuff, and the company has grown from a family business which began at a kitchen table in Florida to become an industry leader in survival bracelets and a staunch supporter of the Wounded Warrior Project and American law enforcement, fire, EMS, and military personnel.
As with any good idea, imitators soon began to sprout like mushrooms, flooding the market with their own version of the survival bracelet. But unlike the cheap, foreign-made knock offs, Survival Straps stands behind their products. If you use the bracelet in an emergency, just send them your story and they will replace your Survival Strap for free.
Paracord bracelets serve many purposes, whether unravelled or kept intact, and the hardware can come in handy, too. Here are my favorite uses for a paracord bracelet.
Survival Bow and Arrows
If you're stuck in a survival emergency without food, a bow and arrow is a great way to take small game animals. You can build your archery equipment with a sharp fixed blade knife, a paracord bracelet, a flexible sapling, a few tree shoots for arrows, and a few feathers. Select a dead, dry hardwood stave for your bow; and pick some shoots or sucker growth for the arrow shafts. Select an intact section of 550 cord for your bow string. You'll also need to remove some of the 7-strand core from a cut piece of cord to fletch the arrows. Cut the arrow shafts to your preferred length, cut a nock in each, sharpen the arrow to a point and fletch with "same side of the body" feathers. String your bow, see how it bends, unstring it and do some tillering work, carving the belly of the bow to make the limb bending match. Survive any wilderness situation with these critical tips.
Setting traps can be a useful backup strategy for nourishment in a survival situation, and it frees up your time to accomplish other tasks. The cord of a Survival Strap can be deployed for snare nooses and triggers. The inner strands of cord can be used for smaller trap parts, such as the string on a Paiute Deadfall. The shackle can be employed as a trigger mechanism in many ways, like as an "eye" for a tripwire style trigger as shown.
Make A Fire
The cord of a survival strap can make a suitable bow string for the bow-and-drill friction fire method. Because of the slipperiness of 550 cord, I like to use two strands of cord twisted around each other for my bow string. This gives more traction on the drill and helps with the operation of the kit. Select dead, dry softwoods, such as cedar, paw paw, or willow for your drill and board. You can use part of the shackle in your bow drill kit by imbedding the curved bar with the Survival Straps logo into a deep hole in a block of softwood. This becomes your bearing block for the top of the drill, and it offers a smooth surface in which the drill can spin.
An intact paracord bracelet used on a wrist or lower leg, or a section of strap cord used on the larger part of a limb, can and has been used in a tourniquet to stop severe bleeding.
Unless you have a backpack full of duct tape, you'll need some strong material to fabricate a splint for arms or legs that need support. From sticks and branches, to rigid bark strips, there's rarely a shortage of stiff splinting material in the wild. But strong lashing material can be hard to come by. To do a proper splinting job, you'll need to create padding around the area to be splinted, add the stiffening supports, and tie the cord securely. The cord of a Survival Strap can be unraveled to give you 15 to 20 feet of 550 cord, which should be enough to get the job done.
Boot Laces, Belts and Suspenders
An unravelled bracelet can serve as a quick field replacement for a broken boot lace—or a burned boot lace for that matter, as one San Diego fire fighter discovered while fighting a brush fire. And in a pinch, the cord can also make a belt or a set of suspenders to keep your britches up.
While a thick, white fishing line will rarely hook a crafty fish in clear water, you may have a chance in murky water using one of the strands in the core of a strap cord. Stink bait, a sharp hook and a strand of 550 core line might just land you a catfish or some other "non-picky" eater.
Keep critters out of your backpack, cooler, or wherever you store your food by using the shackle of your strap as a lock. I've been backpacking in areas where the raccoons can unzip backpacks without leaving a scratch on the bag. Using the shackle to pin two zippers together on a pack, or locking the lid on a cooler, might just give you the upper hand in thwarting these pesky bandits.
Another way to get use out of a paracord bracelet is to tie up a shelter with it. Whether you forget to pack your tent guy line, or you are improvising a tarp shelter from a scrap of parachute or sailcloth, 20 feet of strong cord--five feet on each corner of the shelter roof--should just about do it. If you pull the core out of the 550 cord, then you'll have many strands with which to perform shelter tying jobs. In the event that you don't want to dismantle your bracelet, you could bend down a sapling tree and use the intact bracelet to clip it to the base of another tree or bush. This hoop would serve as the backbone of a quick tarp shelter. Then you can reclaim the strap when you are ready to move on.
Mend Your Gear
Sternum strap buckle broke on your backpack? Steal the fastex buckle off your Survival Strap. Aggressive beast ripped a hole in your tent? Pull the core from some of your strap cord and stitch it up. Buckles, shackles, 550 cord sheath, and core material can provide you with the raw materials for a multitude of repairs in the field.