Woods Monkey BLOG

Beginner's Guide: Cordage

By George Nikolakopoulos


In the previous parts of the guide series, I analyzed the items someone should include while building his kit. In this part, I will refer to a truly multipurpose item and a couple of variations; we will discuss cordage. This item can be made with natural material but you have to be knowledgeable about the suitable plants in your area and the method, for processing this. The average outdoorsman doesn’t have that skill, so it is better to carry some type of manmade cordage.

Paracord and bank line.


Types of cordage

Every kit should include some type of cordage. It is an item that has many uses, from shelter building to fire starting. This article, would not refer to types of ropes. Although ropes are also useful, I prefer to discuss cordage, since this is an item that is applied more in an outing.  There are many different types of cordage, but the most common cordage types are paracord, bank line, and jute twine.

Paracord is the king of cordage. It started its career being deployed on parachutes, also known as a parachute line. The inner core of the paracord consists of 7 strands that give a strength of 550 lbs to a single piece of cord. It has many uses and thus makes it versatile. Soldiers used it to secure their gear like pouches, compasses, and similar, even making simple slings for their rifles to replace their boot laces. In civilian use, people create items like bracelets, necklaces, or even belts. In camping life or in a survival situation, a person can use a paracord to make a ridgeline for a tarp, a lanyard for a knife, a string for a fire bow drill, and lashing. It can also be used to create other items like a bore snake to clean a long gun, and secure items like a compass, folding knife, whistle, and others. It can be used in trap-making, too. You can make a fish net and the inner strands can be used for sewing. If necessary, you can even make an emergency bow string from it. As you can understand, the adaptability of the paracord is truly phenomenal!

In the market, you can find a plethora of paracord makers. Some offer a commercial type of paracord, the 250, which is cheaper than the original 550. You can also find a type called nano cord which is thinner than the 550, a version called battlecord which has thicker inner strands, a reflective version, useful for guidelines, and a version called firecord which contains an inner strand that can be used as fire starter. I do have a lanyard of firecord on my knives, for having an extra firestarting source. Paracord also comes in a pallet of colors; you can still find the original OD green color, red, brown, black, different camouflage patterns, grey, neon colors, and many others. Paracord can be bought, in small spools with lengths starting from 20ft,50ft, and 100ft. Some shops might offer the chance to cut any length the customer might ask, for example, 30ft.

An alternative to paracord, and also versatile is the bank-line. Bank line is a nylon-made, tarred braided twine. It has some great advantages and is less costly than paracord. It comes in different sizes from #9-#96. The number indicates the diameter of the twine and its strength. For example, a #9 size, has a diameter of .42 and 80 lbs strength, while a #36 has a .85 diameter and 325 lbs strength. Most of the packages come in spools of 1/4 lb net weight. You can find larger too, but the 1/4 lb is easily placed in any pack or haversack. Because it is tarred, has rot and abrasion resistance properties. It can be used in fishing, trapping, and in camping applications. Most of the time I use paracord for my ridgeline and bank line to secure my tarp on the ground and on the ridgeline, too.

The last type of cordage I would like to mention is jute twine. Jute twine is made from natural material. It is a good item to have around the house and in your pack. It can be used for tying knots, and in gardening. It is strong enough for such uses, and it is not very expensive. The greatest advantage of jute twine is that can be used to make a bird’s nest, which will help you start a fire. I always keep a couple feet of jute twine in my fire kit. To make a bird’s nest out of jute twine, you must separate the strands of the twine. It is not hard to do, just takes some time. Remember that, you need a bird’s nest the size of a softball, to successfully start a fire.

A piece of jute twine that the author had started turning into a bird’s nest in the middle. At the left, another piece will be used to finish that project.


There are many options of cordage to carry, all types offering advantages. I do believe that having a mix of different types of cordage has much more to offer than carrying only one. The weight is minimal but the gain is huge.



George Spent nine years in the Greek Army Raiders where he learned survival skills. Since being honorably discharged, he has been working in the tourism industry. After every season ends, you will find him at his olive field harvesting olives to make oil. In his free time, George loves spending time outdoors hunting, camping, and practicing traditional archery. He enjoys writing articles, sharing his experiences of his trips to the woods, gear reviews, recipes and survival tips. George was a a contributing writer to Self-Reliance Illustrated magazine and has a YouTube and Blog under the name Mountain Raider. 



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