What is Paracord?
Paracord is a lightweight nylon rope that was originally used in the suspension lines of US parachutes during World War II. Paracord (otherwise known as parachute cord, 550 cord, and type III cord) gets its name from the fact that it was originally designed for the suspension of lines in parachutes.Soldiers, however, found that this miracle rope was useful for far more than their paratrooper missions. In the ensuing years, both the military and civilians alike have found hundreds if not thousands of uses for paracord. It made of nylon, and due to its legendary strength-to-weight ratio and fantastic versatility, paracord caught on with other military units, then in time with civilians as well.
A regular nylon or polyester rope, even if marketed as paracord (like unscrupulous sellers, especially on eBay, often do), does not meet the criteria of being paracord if it does not have a braided sheath with a varying number of interwoven strands within it. Typical nylon or polyester rope does not have the versatility that paracord has, and when your life is on the line, you’ll find this distinction especially important.
The core difference between standard nylon cord and paracord is flexibility.
There are 4 notable types of paracord. When survivalists discuss paracord, they are almost always referring to type III paracord/550 cord, due to its ubiquity as the middle child of the strength-to-price ratio. Bang for buck, type III paracord is a survivalist’s perfect fit. If you encounter genuine paracord in day-to-day life, it’s almost guaranteed to be type III/550 cord paracord.