How to Tie Different Paracord Knots

How to tie different paracord knotsHow to tie different paracord knots

There are a variety of paracord knots that can be used in bushcraft, each used for different situations and purposes.

In this guide, I will attempt to run through the most useful and widely used paracord knots for your bushcraft needs.

What is the easiest paracord knot?

The easiest paracord knot to tie has to be the overhand knot which we detail below.

With that being said, you can easily master many different knot types through practice, so don’t be overwhelmed.

Start with the overhand and then move on to the more advanced ones.

You will soon become a paracord master!

Rope terminology

Good quality paracord is supple and can be tied into a variety of knots very easily. It is therefore ideal for securing items and providing support.

There are various paracord knots that you can use, depending on what you are aiming to achieve.

Before we begin though, there are a few terms that we need to understand.

  • Working end: this is the end that you are tying the knot with.
  • Standing end: this is the opposite end to the working end.
  • Standing part: any part between the two ends.
  • Bight: a section of cord that is formed into a U shape, without crossing over the standing part.
  • Loop: formed by turning the working end back on itself and crossing the standing part.
Paracord length with working end to the right
Paracord length with working end to the right
Paracord bight
Bight in cord

Now we have the terminology sorted let’s move on to a selection of paracord knots that will cover most situations in the field.

Overhand Knot

 Overhand knot paracord
Overhand knot (double)

One of the simplest and probably one that most people already know is the overhand knot.

It can be tied on one piece of rope or cord or used to tie two pieces together in a parallel fashion.

One use for the single overhand knot is to tie a stopper knot, to keep something in place on the cord.

Another is as a distance aid if you want to measure the distance you have travelled during navigation.

A simple overhand knot in a piece of cord every 100m will aid you when you come to total up the distance covered at the end of your walk.

The overhand knot is also very good for joining two pieces of paracord together, should you want to make a lanyard or form a loop of cord, as shown in the image above.

How to tie overhand knot:

  1. Take the section of cord that you want to tie a knot in and form a loop.
  2. Take the end of the cord and pass it through this loop and pull tight.

Simple!

The Reef Knot (Square Knot)

Reef knot square knot - paracord knots bushcraft
Reef knot

The reef knot, sometimes known as the square knot, is also well known.

It is a useful knot for tying two pieces of cord together for simple tasks and also provides a flat surface, which comes in useful if using it in certain situations such as first aid.

There are better and stronger knots available if you are looking to tie two pieces of cord together and put them under strain, which we will cover later.

Indeed, you certainly shouldn’t be using a reef knot for any type of load.

However, for a simple and quick knot for securing items, such as binding down equipment, etc, the reef knot is a valuable one to know.

How to tie a reef knot:

  1. Hold one end in your right hand (working end) and the other in your left hand (standing end), with both ends facing upwards
  2. Take the working end and pass it over the standing end, then tuck underneath and bring back up – both ends should now be on the opposite side to where they started.
  3. Then take the working end (now on left) and pass it over the top of the standing end, tuck underneath and bring back up.
  4. Pull together to form the knot.

Remember the adage: right over left and under – left over right and under.

Following the above will ensure that you tie the reef knot and not the less useful granny knot.

The Prusik Knot

Prusik Knot Paracord
Prusik knot

Designed by Austrian mountaineer Dr. Karl Prusik, the prusik knots original purpose was to allow a climber to ascend a rope in an emergency (or unplanned) situation.

More on this here.

However, aside from climbing, the prusik knot is also very handy for bushcraft and outdoor purposes.

One of the most common bushcraft/survival uses is for stringing out and tensioning a tarp whilst using a ridgeline.

How to tie a prusik knot:

  1. Create a loop, known as a prusik loop, by tying two of the paracord ends together. You can use a double fisherman’s knot for this or similar.
  2. Next, take the opposite end to the knots and form a bite.
  3. Assuming your chosen pole/branch/rope (that you want to tie onto) is laying horizontally, take your bite end and place over the top of this and then back underneath, so that your bite end and knot and are on the same side and pointing towards you.
  4. Take the knot end and place through the bite end.
  5. Dress towards the pole/branch/rope.
  6. Take the loop that is on top (that was the bite) and take it back over and around again, mimicking the first step.
  7. Again, take the knotted end and place through the loop.
  8. Dress this down to create the prusik knot. You should be able to count four wraps in total.

How it works:

When loaded, the knot tightens securely around its subject. It does this as it is a friction knot.

This allows the user to tighten and secure against this knot, allowing them a fixed point to secure to.

When the knot is unloaded and the tension released, the prusik should loosen, allowing the knot to slide along the rope and re-grip at the next intended point.

This allows the user to move the knot along the rope, to the next required point and then load again.

This allows for a very useful knot, that can be secured and quickly moved as required.

The Clove Hitch

Clove Hitch Knot Paracord Bushcraft Hub
Clove hitch

The clove hitch is used to tie onto a pole or branch and is a handy knot to start a lashing or binding with.

It’s not the best of knots if used on its own, as it slips quite easily and needs to be combined with another knot or lashing to be properly secure – but it is a handy knot to know nonetheless.

How to tie:

  1. Take the end of your cord and place over the top of the pole of or branch that you want to secure to.
  2. Take underneath and back around, so that the working end crosses over the first wrap of cord.
  3. Go around once more and feed the end underneath the ‘cross over’ loop that you just formed, so that the cord runs parallel with the tail end.
  4. Dress together and you will have a clove hitch. This can be confirmed by checking that you have a cross formation, as shown in the above image.

The Bowline Knot

Bowline knot - 550 commercial spec
Bowline knot

If you want to tie a fixed loop at the end of your paracord, the bowline knot is a solid choice.

This knot is great as it locks the loop in place and stops it slipping.

How to tie a bowline knot:

  1. Take the working end of your cord and form a loop in it, where you want the knot to form – the loop should follow an anti-clockwise direction, with the working end should sit on top, and should now be facing downwards, towards you.
  2. Take the working end and thread back through this loop, on the right-hand side, passing it behind the standing end and bringing it back around through the loop again.
  3. Pull tight to form your fixed loop.

You now have a bowline.

The Alpine Butterfly

Alpine butterfly Knot 550 cord green
Alpine butterfly knot

If you want to create a loop in a length of paracord, without having to get the ends involved, then the alpine butterfly knot is a good choice.

It enables you to tie a strong loop that you can tie onto, whilst maintaining the strength of the main line.

This provides a variety of possible uses, one example would be to provide the loops for a trotline, to tie your mono-filament hook-lengths onto.

All in all, a very handy knot to know.

How to tie the alpine butterfly:

  1. Take some slack and wrap the cord around the palm of your hand 3 times.
  2. Take the middle section and tuck it underneath the right-hand section.
  3. Bring it around the front, to the left, and over the original left-hand section.
  4. Take it underneath the other two sections, and bring out on the right-hand side.
  5. Grip the loop on the right and pull the two rope ends to form the fixed loop.

You now have the alpine butterfly.

And now the video run-through of the above…

I hope you find the above article useful for learning and tying your paracord knots. Please let us know how you get on in the comments below.

Thanks for reading

James

Bushcraft Hub

What does paracord mean?

Paracord-Hanked-550-Green

The term ‘paracord’ is the shortened version of parachute cord.

It is used for the suspension lines on military and commercial parachutes.

However, due to its superb strength and other properties, paracord is also widely used for a variety of other applications.

In fact, its potential uses are only limited to the imagination.

Paracord uses

The options are almost endless, but to give you an idea for bushcraft and survival purposes, let’s list out a few common uses for 550 cord below:

  • Erecting shelters: whether stringing out a tarp/bivvy or used as a binding to construct shelter from natural materials.
  • Lanyard: to ensure precious items such as a knife or compass do not fall out of your pocket and get lost in the bush.
  • Bootlaces: some use paracord as their standard lacing system, or it can be used as a replacement if your main laces fail.
  • Animal snares: if absolutely necessary, the inner strands can be removed and used to trap wild game.
  • Emergency fishing line: as above, the inner strands can be removed and used as fishing line.
  • Bow drill cordage: strong, pliable cord is an essential element of a bow drill. Paracord does an excellent job and will help you get that fire going.
  • Equipment repairs: for lashings etc, or for more delicate tasks, the inner strands can be removed and used for sewing.

Make sure it’s real

It must be clearly stated that not all ‘paracord’ is actually paracord. Confused? You’re certainly not the only one!

There are a great many imitations on the market, of varying quality, with most claiming to be the real thing.

Most of this cord is imported from China. This is sometimes known as ‘Chinese cord’.

It may be marketed as 550 cord, but it is usually much cheaper and of a much lesser quality than the genuine, US made article.

It will certainly have its uses for less demanding applications, but you need to know the difference, especially if you are going to depend on it.

Put simply, if you were going to rely on it to jump out of a plane, would you trust the imitation version?

I certainly wouldn’t!!!

550 Paracord - Green - Hanked
Hanked 550 cord

Mil-spec paracord

Genuine ‘mil-spec’ cord is made in the USA, by trusted and certified US government suppliers.

The U.S Department of Defense extensively vets these manufacturers to ensure compliance.

This ensures that the quality and specification of their ‘mil-spec’ cord meets the Department of Defence’s strict paracord requirements, MIL-C-5040H.

These requirements stipulate what raw materials must be used, down to the exact construction method required.

This paracord is called MIL-C-5040, commonly known as Mil-Spec.

Mil-spec is manufactured in different strength ratings, but 550 (type III) is the most popular, this being 550 pounds in strength.

[table id=1 /]

Most paracord that you see on the market claims to be ‘mil-spec’.

However, unless it has been made in the USA, to the requirements of MIL-C-5040H,  by an approved government supplier, it is not mil-spec.

It is vital therefore that if you are after real paracord, that you purchase it from a reputable supplier.

It is also worth knowing that mil-spec cord will have a coloured strand inside, that is unique to the manufacturer.

This is known as the Manufacturer ID Marker.

The purpose of this is to essentially provide traceability so that the end-user (military) can identify which manufacturer produced the cord, should there be any issues in use.

This presence of this identifier is another way that you can tell if your paracord is mil-spec or not.

The most popular strength mil-spec paracord will be the type III, 550 class.

This is the most commonly available and provides great functionality.

Mil-C-5040H type III specifications:

  • Approx diameter: 3.8 mm
  • Weight: 6.6 g per metre
  • Certified minimum tensile strength: 550 lbs / 249 kg
  • 100% high-quality nylon yarns
  • Sheath structure: 32 Strands
  • 7 core strands, each made up of a further 3 twisted strands
  • Rope Construction: kernmantle
  • Unique manufacturer ID marker inside the cord

Commercial 550 paracord

In addition to their mil-spec cord, US Government approved manufacturers will also usually manufacture a commercial version.

This is known as 550 Type III – commercial spec.

This is almost identical to the mil-spec, but with some subtle differences.

It still consists of 7 core strands, as per the military-grade version, and has the same strength rating, it just differs in its construction.

Instead of using 3 intertwined strands per core strand, as the mil-spec does, commercial-grade 550 uses 2 intertwined strands, per core strand.

It also does not have the internal colour coded core (Unique Manufacturer ID Marker) that the mil-spec does.

Although it varies slightly in its design, it is as strong as the equivalent mil-spec version and a great alternative, should it be made by a reputable supplier as above.

Commercial 550 type III Specifications:

  • Approximate diameter: 3.8 mm
  • Weight: 6.6 g per metre
  • Certified minimum tensile strength: 550 lbs / 249 kg
  • 100% high-quality nylon yarns
  • Sheath structure: 32 Strands
  • 7 core strands, each made up of 2 twisted strands
  • Rope construction: kernmantle

[table id=2 /]

For those looking for genuine paracord for bushcraft or survival purposes, the above (and their strength variations) are the only 2 real options.

Safety

Although it is extremely strong, paracord is not to be used for climbing activities or similar.

The 550 lb / 249 kg rating (assuming you are using 550 cord) is its ‘static load’ rating.

This essentially means a load that is not moving and stable.

When climbing, you are placing what is known as a ‘working load’ on the rope.

This will likely be much, much higher than your actual body weight in a static situation, due to the movement and shock load placed upon the rope.

There is also likely to be abrasion from the rope touching rocks etc under tension.

Serious injury or death could occur, so do not use paracord for this purpose, or anything similar.

Summary

Paracord is essential bushcraft equipment, that has a multitude of uses.

If you are serious about your equipment and want the best out there, go for the ‘real deal’, genuine US made paracord, that has been manufactured by a US Department of Defense approved supplier.

Unless you specifically need a certain type of cord, the two main options are:

  • 550 type III mil-spec or
  • 550 type III commercial-spec.

Mil-spec is more expensive, but this is the exact cord that the US military gets and is, therefore, more expensive to produce, due to the manufacturing requirements.

If you opt for 550 Type III commercial-spec, you are getting an almost identical cord to the mil-spec above but made for commercial use.

Just make sure it is from a supplier who also supplies the military.

The commercial is usually sold at a more competitive price.

Either of these two cords will serve you well.

We use and recommend Clutha paracord. This is US-sourced, from a reputable and US Department of Defense approved supplier.

You can find them here.

Thanks for your visit today! We hope you found this article helpful.

James

Bushcraft Hub