Paracord is a thin rope that is made up of a woven sleeve wrapped around several inner strands. While it may come in many varieties that differ vastly both in terms of length as well as in how much weight they can handle, the most popular type is probably the 550 paracord. It’s so called because its break strength is around 550 pounds. When it comes to this particular item, there is a very large difference between commercial and military grade cords. The military grade will obviously be unmatched in how durable it is, but will also cost you a bit more than the more common commercially available types of paracord, meaning that you will have to decide between economy and sturdiness.
If you want to make sure that you are using only the best quality paracord and that the one you have is real 550 paracord which is military grade, there is a very simple way to find out, but it will mean damaging a part of it, or all of it if you aren’t careful. Whether you want to take that risk or not is entirely up to you, but here is what you have to do if you do plan to go through with the test. Real 550 paracord contains 7 to 9 internal yarn strands, each of which will be tightly braided out of 3 smaller nylon fibers, and it can hold 550lbs of weight, as mentioned before. This easily puts it’s durability in a completely different category from any non military variety. Seeing as how the test is basically just binding out the number of yarn strands and nylon fibers, you will need to unravel them enough to find out exactly what kind of cord you are working with. Luckily, it’s durable nature will keep it together well and there won’t be any danger of you ruining it unless you rush or are extremely careless.
After you’ve found out what kind of paracord you’re working with, you will probably want to know what you can use it for as well. The most applied use of the paracord is in either survival or more common camping situations. Its flexible and weather resistant characteristics make it perfect for trapping or putting up shelter, its inner strands can work well as a thread to repair cloth, and the smooth inner nylon strands can be used as improvised sutures in the case of a medical emergency. There are also other uses for it that range from fishing to hunting, but regardless if you will need it if ever a dire situation comes up or just as a way to hold your tent up and suspended between two trees, the paracord is an excellent multi purpose item.