The Best Paracord for Prepping and Survival

Paracord is so insanely versatile that it’s no surprise when it shows up on every single survival kit checklist. Parachute cord first became available to civilians after WWII as surplus. Hikers, outdoorsmen, and (of course) survivalists have all come to embrace paracord for its many uses. Since its first MILSPEC construction, there are many more types are on the market ranging from recreational Type I 95-pound paracord to heavy-duty Type IV 750-pound paracord. The ever-popular Type III paracord hits the sweet spot of cost and function, so that is what we reviewed the most when we were looking for the all-around best paracord for survival.

There are plenty of brands and types to choose from when it comes to paracord. This is where we come in. We’ve researched the best paracord, tested each of them, and the results are in: the overall best, a budget option, and an upgrade option. If you need paracord that will hold its own in a survival situation, one of our suggestions will help keep everything in line.


Contents (Jump to a Section)


TOUGH-GRID Paracord 550lb MILSPEC

The Best Paracord

TOUGH-GRID Paracord

Small, Loud, and Effective

This tough cord doesn’t skimp on spec- braided inner lines and USA quality make it hard to beat.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

Rugged, solid, made-in-the-good-ole-USA paracord right here. Get yourself a spool of this in a muted color and you’ll have plenty of cord for all of your kits and more. Of course, you could pick from any of the other 17 colors they got going on if you need to splash in a high-vis option. Besides spools of 500 and 1000 feet, you can get bags in increments all the way down to 50 feet to help fit your budget.

The TOUGH-GRID paracord is 550-pound minimum strength like all Type III paracord and is made according to the original military spec along with three braided interior lines. Like all paracord, it is lightweight, easy to handle and tie, and strong enough to handle most jobs. There is no excuse to not have this in your survival kit.


Atwood Rope Mfg Paracord

Budget Paracord

Atwood Rope Mfg Paracord

Cheap, Strong, and Dependable

Dependable cord that will work anywhere you need a line to get the job done.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

Hailing from Ohio, Atwood Rope Mfg is made right here in the heart of the USA with exacting quality standards. While you can get some straightforward paracord from these guys, they also mix it up with over 100 color strands and 1000 patterns. They even offer kevlar, glow-in-the-dark, and reflective options if you want something extra fancy.

Getting some solid Made-in-USA parachute cord for $10 on 100 feet is not a bad pickup, and gets the job done. Atwood Rope Mfg Paracord gives us a solid budget option without breaking the bank to get it in all of our kits. It is Type III 550 lb cord making it more than capable of holding up a tarp, tying down gear, or improvising in a survival situation.


TITAN SurvivorCord Paracord 620 lb

Upgrade Paracord

TITAN SurvivorCord

Strong, Dependable, and Versatile

Insanely versatile, this paracord pushes the limits of what rope is expected to do.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

When this first came out several years ago, we had to pick it up to see what it was about. The concept is cool but the execution is even better. This stuff holds up on conventional applications for years and still is ready to go if you need to break it apart for the internal components.

TITAN SurvivorCord really changed the game when it came to versatile cordage. The three unique internal strands are made up of:

  • Monofilament 25lb fishing line
  • Waxed jute firestarter
  • 30 AWG multi-purpose wire (snares, antennae, wraps, etc)

Those strands pair up with your normal 3-ply braided 7 strands to give you a whopping 620lb test (Type III) paracord. If you have integrated paracord on any of your equipment, we highly suggest swapping it out with the ever-versatile SurvivorCord and getting this stuff in your survival kits and EDC.


Everything We Recommend

TOUGH GRID paracord 550lb MILSPEC

TOUGH-GRID Paracord

This tough cord doesn’t skimp on spec- braided inner lines and USA quality make it hard to beat.

Where to Buy

$16* at Amazon (100′ Bag)

*at time of reviewing

Atwood Rope Mfg Paracord 550 lb 7 strand

Atwood Rope Mfg Paracord

Dependable cord that will work anywhere you need a line to get the job done.

Where to Buy

$10* at Amazon (100′ Bag)

*at time of reviewing

TITAN SurvivorCord Paracord 620lb

TITAN SurvivorCord

Insanely versatile, this paracord pushes the limits of what rope is expected to do.

Where to Buy

$30* at Amazon (100′ Hank)

*at time of reviewing


The Paracord We Compared

Our research narrowed the field down to the several paracord brands and types that we tested: TITAN, Paracord Planet, Atwood Rope Mfg, TOUGH-GRID, Werewolves, Gear Aid, ‎Sona Enterprises (SE), and more.

There are a lot of brands that make paracord these days with a wide range of prices and quality/durability. In a survival situation, you want your paracord to be dependable, so we focused quite a bit on durability and quality. You can see our full list of review criteria below in the what to look for section, with an explanation for each.

We obviously steered clear of cheap recreational cords, because the performance and the durability are not going to be where we need them. Anything that didn’t fit the standard ‘Type’ rating of paracord (more on that below), we didn’t consider because it is probably not paracord at that point. There were still plenty of options to consider in the outdoor survival space.


What to Look For

The best paracord has several important features to look for.

  1. Value
  2. Strength
  3. Elasticity
  4. Durability
  5. Versatility

When you get the right blend of these, you can find a reliable paracord that will pull its weight in an emergency. Below, we break down what each of these features means for truly dependable survival paracord:

Value: Cost vs. Benefit

The amount of money you spend on something like cordage shouldn’t blow out your budget. Having one is better than having none, but the same applies to other tools and gear you may need for an emergency. Budget according to your risk and your needs rather than just spending lavishly.

On the flip side, you don’t want to go too cheap. Type I 95-pound paracord you might find in a premade survival bracelet won’t hold a candle compared with our budget pick. Don’t get stranded in the wild with paracord that can’t hold a tarp down in the wind.

You never want to spend too much money on one resource, especially something like paracord. It’s better to diversify your tools and preparedness gear to make sure you are covered for a wide range of scenarios. There is a sweet spot where you get high value out of the best features with not-to-high of a price, which is where our top pick sits.

Strength

In the paracord world, strength is described by a designated Type. There are other factors that go into each ‘Type’, but the minimum strength for each is:

  • Type I = 95 pounds (43 kg)
  • Type II = 400 pounds (180 kg)
  • Type III = 550 pounds (250 kg)
  • Type IV = 750 pounds (340 kg)

These are minimums, so while our upgrade pick is rated at a higher strength than our other picks, it still is categorized as a Type III paracord. Higher strength can make it bulkier, but also increases its potential applications and uses in life-contingent scenarios.

Elasticity

To be rated as a ‘Type’ of paracord, it needs to have at least 30% elongation. This stretch is a key characteristic of paracord and is one reason it is so easy to work with.

If you want more elasticity, you’re looking at bungie cords or shock cords (which have over 100% elongation).

Less elasticity and you’re looking at twine, like tarred bank line- another survivalist favorite.

Durability

The construction of the paracord lets you know about the quality and durability of the line. Paracord is made of a woven nylon ‘jacket’ of strands with 7-9 strands running through the center (for Type III). The center strands are made of 2-3 twisted or braided lines, typically. Braided offers better durability, and is what separates our top pick from our budget pick.

You may find some polyester paracord out there, but those are not going to be rated as a ‘Type’ and are usually to add unique colors and patterns to ‘decorative’ paracord.

Versatility

When your paracord is stronger and has more strands, you get some increased versatility out of it because you can use it in more applications. Our upgrade pick pushes this boundary, by replacing some of the internal strands with a useful variety of lines.

It’s been imitated a few times, but nobody has come close to pushing the versatility quite like TITAN. With their SurvivorCord, FireCord, and ShockCord they’ve given us a lot of versatile options with different strengths.


How to Use Paracord for Survival

The many, many uses for paracord often end up being a type of inside joke in the prepping and survival community. Besides hanging tarps and lashing tools to your bag, you can figure out how to do pretty much anything with paracord.

The inherent stretch makes it forgiving when tying knots and allows it to be easily reusable. The strands that make up the paracord let you take it apart to make it even longer or thinner. These are a few of the reasons why it caught on for ‘survivalist’ bracelets.

While the uses for paracord might be limitless, Craig Caudill has fun here showing us 101 ways to use it:


Who Needs Paracord?

Everyone can use paracord. It has endless uses in the outdoors and is pretty handy inside as well.

Paracord is so versatile, it’s no wonder it shows up in almost all of our survival kit checklists.

We consider paracord essential for these kits:

We highly suggest putting paracord in these kits:

Paracord is useful beyond emergencies and survival kits too, of course. It can come in handy while you are camping, on the road tying gear down, organizing tools- the list is practically endless.

How We Review Products: We research thoroughly before selecting the best products to review. We consult experts in the field for a better understanding of what makes the gear great. Hours on end are spent field testing gear in stressful conditions. We assign performance criteria and impartially rate each tested item. You can support us through our independently chosen links, which can earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. After our review process, some of the items reviewed end up in our giveaways.

Sources and References

All of our experience and the testing we do to determine the best paracord is useless without listing our research sources and references. We leaned on these for the book knowledge that we paired with our hands-on testing and practical military and prepping experience:

Bennett, D., Hampson, K. & Yngente, V. (2001). A noose trap for catching a large arboreal lizard, Varanus Olivaceus. Herpetelogical Review (St. Louis). Volume 32, Issue 3, Page 167. (Source).

Epple, H., Garber, W., Jones, J., Okubo, S. & McClow, J. (1972). Load Measurements in Parachute Cords. Defense Technical Information Center. (Source)

Bequette, B., Kragh, J., Aden, J. & Dubick, M. (2017). Belts Evaluated as Limb Tourniquets: BELT Study Comparing Trouser Supporters Used as Medical Devices in a Manikin Model of Wound Bleeding. Wilderness & Environmental Medicine. Volume 28, Issue 2, Pages 84-93. (Source)

MIL-C-5040H Paracord Military Specification:


The Final Word

Parachute cord was there for the greatest generation dropping in behind enemy lines on D-day and we’re lucky to have it available to us for our own survival needs. It isn’t the only cordage you can use for survival, though: Beyond Paracord: 8 Other Cordage Types You Need to Know.

To go along with cordage you should also consider a few other tools that can help you keep things put together:

We presented quite a lot of information, but as always: if you have any questions let us know and we would be happy to help. Our research and testing found that the TOUGH-GRID Paracord is the best option given the value, strength, elasticity, durability, and versatility. If you take our suggestion and grab one of our paracord picks- make sure you get used to it by learning how to use it.

Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.


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The Best Paracord for Survival and Prepping

Rusty Collins

I am an engineer by day, but a prepper 24/7. I am an Air Force veteran that developed emergency and disaster plans as an emergency manager and responded to many attacks and accidents as a HAZMAT technician. I have been exposed to deadly chemical agents, responded to biological incidents, and dealt with natural disasters worldwide. Check out my full story here: Rusty's Story

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