I almost always hike with a length of 1/8th-inch diameter utility cord. Also known as parachute cord, p-cord, paracord, or 550 cord, it's an inexpensive, lightweight, useful, and surprisingly strong piece of all-purpose survival gear. Its potential uses are almost limitless. Here are 10 fun, helpful, and useful ways I've used it over the years. How about you?
"Utility cord" is the generic term. Other terms actually refer to more specific standards, though are commonly used interchangeably with the more general utility cord.
- Food and gear hangs. I've hoisted more than 40 pounds of food and gear from a length of cord I hung from large rough branches.
- Tent and tarp guy lines. Works well, though adds noticeable weight if you use as guy lines for the entire tent.
- Replacement shoelaces. Multiple times.
- Mesh water bottle pocket repair. They're always the first thing to blow out from hard use.
- Replacement pack strap. Ever blow out the plastic buckle on a strap?
- Clothesline. For drying out wet clothes and gear.
- Extra sled lashings. For winter ski-hauling trips with lots of gear.
- Crampon lashing to deal with a broken strap. Short-term fix got us back to the trailhead.
- Lantern Hang. Cabin and short hike-in camping destinations.
- Survival essential. Create a shelter with an ultralight emergency tarp/space blanket.
I've always used the utility cord from REI, which used to come in a 1/8th-inch diameter. Now it comes in a 3mm version from PMI, which is slightly smaller in diameter. I'm sure it's sufficiently strong and durable for most uses; it can hold up to 400 pounds of weight. You can buy 50 feet of it (4 ounces) for $4.50, though you can easily carry less than half of that to meet for most field needs.
“Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.
Labels: Hiking, Safety, Tents