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PARACORD NOTES AND LOAD RATINGS
REAL 'paracord' is so-called
because it has been the US military standard line for parachute shroud lines.
These are the many lines that run down between the parachute itself and the
harness worn by the paratrooper. It is also known as "550 cord" because it is
rated to 550 pound pounds breaking strength (250kg).
As for real para cord carrying your weight... it's NOT climbing rope! It WILL support 550 pounds as a STATIC load. That means a load that doesn't bounce, swing or move around. A 150 pound person can exert a thousand pounds of force on a line by bouncing or other activity that adds momentum to the weight equation. This is why climbing ropes have "static load" ratings numbered in the thousands of pounds, but have "working load" ratings of maybe 200-400 pounds.
When used as shroud lines in parachutes, you have a couple dozen paracord lines running down to the harness which equally distribute the many thousands of pounds of force exerted when the chute deploys.
Therefore, you should NEVER attempt to use para cord as a primary climbing line! It WILL break as soon as your weight shifts or bounces, and thus multiplies the static load by exerting momentum. As an example of this effect, if you carefully rest a cinder block on your foot, your foot will easily hold that weight. Now drop that same cinder block on your foot from a few feet... presto... broken bones! You've multiplied the weight exerted by the cinder block to that sufficient to cause damage. Same principle goes for ropes and cordage. Always make sure you know whether you're looking at a 'static load' or a 'working load' rating, and the difference between them!
The easy way to tell REAL paracord from FAKE paracord is to cut it open. On the real cord, you'll find 7 white inner strands nestled inside the colored sheath. Each of these inner strands is about 50 pound test cordage (static load). The outer sheath adds the final 200 pounds of strength.
Knowing this, if you replace your boot laces with 6 feet of genuine paracord for each boot, you can harvest 84 feet of 50 pound test line if needed... that's a lot of snares, fishing line, shelter bindings, etc. And you'd still be left with very strong boot laces (the outer sheathing). I've done this with all my boots. Whether or not I ever have to dissect my laces for cordage, the paracord makes for some very durable laces.
There are also some very good paracord belts out there. They cost a good bit of money (or take a long time to make), but they contain a LOT of cordage. Probably not a bad investment for those who frequent wilderness areas... or you could simply wear a normal belt and carry a decent hank of para cord in your kit!
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