What is 550 Paracord & How Can It Save Your Life? – Paracord Basics

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Paracords are no stranger to adventurers, survivalists, and tour enthusiasts. Among various types, paracord 550 is the most popular and widely used. It’s strong, versatile and offers the most value. There’s a brief history behind its naming. These ordinary-looking ropes are actually quite the opposite and can save your life in many cases.

Paracord 550 is a rope made of nylon and used for various purposes. You can tell by the name, that it has other models. It can be life-saving in adverse conditions like if there’s no food, or if you are stuck in a blizzard, or need to cross a turbulent canal, etc.

Having a paracord 550 can be worth it in many situations. Knowing what is 550 Paracord, when to use it and how to use it can aid you in dire life and death situations. In this article, I am going to explain what the 550 paracord is and how it can save your life. 

What is Paracord 550?

These types of ropes are called ‘kernmantle’ ropes. It is a German term; ‘kern’ means core and ‘mantel’ means sheath. Its popularity is because of its relentless strength and durability. It is named paracord because it was first used in military parachutes. And 550 refers to the enormous 550 pounds that it can hold.

There are other paracord models like type I, type II, 750 cord, etc. They offer variable strengths. There are stronger ropes than the paracord 550. But the paracord 550 is in the sweet spot considering various factors, hence the popularity. 

The paracord 550 is made of seven inner strands. Each of those strands are made of three strands. All of these are held together by an outer mantle. Just by looking at its anatomy, you can tell that it is super strong. Paracord 550 is the Holy Grail for the likes of adventurers, campers, tourists, and so on.


  • Stands: 7 inner strands
  • Diameter: 4mm
  • Weight capacity: 550 LBS

Materials Used to Make the Paracord 550 

Speaking of materials, paracords are made of mainly two materials. Some are made from nylon while others are made from polyester. However, people who know a thing or two about paracords usually prefer the nylon version.

This is the case for everyone actually. The nylon paracord feels better in the hand. They feel far more natural. Polyester as you may know if you have handled anything made from it feels very plasticky. 

This feeling is not really the best for paracords. Apart from the feel, nylon is elastic and, of course, durable as well. The elastic nature makes it much easier to tie knots and less prone to snapping. 

How Can The Paracord 550 Save Your Life?

Paracord can come to your aid in various extreme situations. Here I’ll be discussing some of the ways it can be useful in life and death situations. 

Aid in Snakebite or Bleeding

A snake bite can be lethal. If you have antivenom at your disposal, then this shouldn’t be a headache. If not, some quick first aid treatment must be undertaken to save your life. The most important part of the first aid is tying a knot right above the wound to prevent the venom from spreading. Paracord will sure come in handy in such situations.

A penetrating wound is a part and parcel of any adventure or survival scenario. No one can guarantee to go unscathed. Applying Band-Aid and tourniquet can ease up the victim. Paracord ropes are a great way to make tourniquets. In case of broken arms or legs, paracords can be used to make a sling for the arm or splint the injured leg.

Making Stretchers

A stretcher shall come in handy to carry anyone severely wounded. While there is an abundance of tree branches and whatnot, tying them together can be a headache. You can use vines or creepers like plants but they won’t ensure the stretcher’s loading capability. If it’s torn down while carrying the patient, the injuries could deteriorate.

With paracord 550, you can tie up the stretcher easily without any second thoughts. They are strong and resilient. So, you can carry anyone injured or any child, miles after miles without worrying of it coming apart.

Making Traps or Tripwires

Using Paracords you can catch any small games for food or an evening barbeque. There are many types of traps for different animals. All of them require some sort of bondage. Paracords can be your best friend in such cases. 

Setting up tripwires is one of the key survival skills to adopt in the wild. You can make this by using paracords. Tripwires will alert you of any possible intruders or wild animals. Thus, it will ensure the safety of you and your loved ones.

Start A Fire

Paracords are made from synthetics that are highly flammable. These are usually made from nylons and sometimes polyester. These components help you make fire. Some manufacturers add extra flammable materials to ease things up for you. You can light up one side and use it as a candle as well.

If you are completely out of things to burn, you can burn the paracord itself. Cut them into pieces and gather them like dry leaves or drench the entire bundle in gasoline and start the fire. Either way, they will work wonderfully to make fire. All you need to do is light the match.

Save Someone from Drowning

The paracord 550 can carry 550 pounds which is a lot more than the average human being. Although they are not advised to be used for rock climbing, they can be easily used to save someone from drowning. 

At least in emergency conditions, you can make a loop and throw it in the water to pull someone out.

Build A Shelter

Paracords can be used to make a makeshift tent during a survival situation. In case of an emergency like nightfall or harsh weather, you can put together blankets, clothes, etc., and tie them with the paracord to make a shelter.

Catch Fish

Paracords are made of thinner strands. Those strands can be picked apart and easily used as fishing lines. Also, you can make fishing nets or bags using paracords. Although the latter requires more expertise.

As you can see when it comes to surviving extreme conditions paracords can greatly aid you and boost your chances of survival. 

A Better Type of Paracord 550

Another popular variant of the paracord 550 is the Mil-Spec paracord 550. Paracord 550 or paracord type 3s that are Mil-Spec certified are made with tighter quality control and must also follow strict military regulation. 

The specifications are made by the US Army and these cords are more durable compared to normal paracord 550s. They are smoother and also much more tightly made. They are tested rigorously. In fact, Mil-Spec paracord type 3s go through 14 different tests. 

Mil-Spec paracords have an identification strand. It is quite hard to miss. The strand is usually golden or yellow colored. If you see this color of strand, then you can be sure that this is a Mil-Spec paracord. 

It is generally recommended for demanding outdoor activities. We would also recommend if you are planning to take a hike or go on a camping trip, a mil-spec paracord 550 is the way to go. Just check for the identifying strand and you should be all set.


It’s highly likely that you have used paracords at some point before reading this article. These super-efficient ropes are a ‘must’ for any explorers, adventurers and survivalists. These can save your life in situations that you couldn’t imagine in your wildest fantasies.

I’m sure that after reading this article you’ve learned what is paracord 550 and how it can save your life in dire situations. I hope you have found what you were looking for in this article. Wishing you good health, farewell. 


Shanna is the 2nd half of Top Outdoor Survival. Like Forest, she has a passion for guns and knives. They love to go on a survival trip at least once a year. They love to go camping, hiking, and traveling.

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