By Kahryn Ragsdale, naturalist intern
Survival bracelets, or paracord bracelets, have become very popular recently. You can see them on many people’s wrists. But one question many people ask about these bracelets is why exactly are they called “survival” bracelets? I think the best way to explain why exactly they are called survival bracelets is to start with a little background on the cord they are made from.
Back in World War II, paracord was used for the parachutes. Soldiers found that it was very durable and discovered that it was very reliable for many other uses. They used the cord for securing cargo, pitching tents and more.
Because of its versatility, reliability and durability, the cord became common in the states. People found that they wanted an easy way to transport the cord with them everywhere they went in case of an emergency situation in which they needed to use it. That is when someone thought of the idea of braiding the cord into a bracelet.
A common braid is the Cobra braid; this is the braid that we use when teaching survival bracelets classes at TOC. Many people also make accessories such as belts, watches, dog collars, leashes and much more. The possibilities are endless!
There are many different types of paracord. The most popular type of paracord nowadays is known as 550 paracord. The “550” refers to the minimum break strength of the cord. The difference between the minimum break strengths of the cords is found within the colorful outside covering. If you cut a piece of paracord, you will find many small strands of cord within the covering; the more strands there are, the larger the minimum break strength is.
If you decide to take up the hobby of making your own survival bracelets or paracord accessories, there are a few things you will need to keep in mind. Since the cord has become so popular and open to the public, retailers have created a synthetic material for making the bracelets. If you are looking for the authentic paracord, you will need to be sure that it is specified as being 550 paracord. If it does not list that it is 550 paracord, it is not the same type of cord and does not have the same functions as true paracord. The authentic cord will be a little more spendy, so if you are looking to make something out of the cord solely for fashion, then the synthetic material will be perfect. But if you are looking to carry the cord and use it for emergencies, you will want to make sure that it is the true 550 paracord.
So if you ever find yourself needing to use the cord from your bracelet for any outdoor uses, all you have to do is undo your bracelet, and you will have a few feet of cord right there for you to use at anytime, anywhere!