5 Cordage Types for Your Bug-Out Bag
By Frank Bates
When we talk about what belongs in your bug-out bag, we often focus on things such as food, water, clothing and first-aid items. But if we look at the essential tools that helped everyone from early humans to pioneers survive, it’s clear they also mastered the use of another important item – cordage.
These people used cordage for everything from hunting to fishing to sailing. They wove nets and ropes from plant material, even using animal fibers such as sinew or catgut for making bows and arrows. Making cordage is essential to survival.
In the context of modern survival strategies, cordage is a blanket term that includes everything from nylon string to hauling rope. While you’ll find cordage on most bug-out bag lists, I want to discuss the specific types you’ll need and situations where it will come in handy. Here’s a brief rundown of five essential types you should consider including in your bug-out bag.
You’ll want to have a length of rope in your bug-out bag for dragging heavy items like game back to your campsite. Yes, rope is bulky, but you can easily fit a decent length (say 50 feet) in the bottom of your pack, or even strap it to the outside.
While plain old braided rope is cheaper, climbing rope is more durable. In addition to hauling stuff, you can use it for navigating steep terrain or hoisting up a food bag at night to keep it away from critters.
Parachute cord (a.k.a. Paracord or P-Cord) is lightweight but very strong. Look for military-grade P-cord with 550-pound test strength. A decent-sized spool of 50 feet or so only costs a few bucks, and will easily fit in your pack.
You can use it for any number of tasks, from binding logs to making a splint to lashing a tarp to a tree. P-cord is so strong when braided together, it’s even been used to pull vehicles out of ditches and snow banks.
You’ll want at least a spool or two of nylon string as part of your mobile survival kit. It’s cheap, and can be used in a wide variety of situations. For one, you can use it to mend your clothes (just remember to also pack a few sewing needles). Beyond the obvious, however, nylon thread also has several other key uses.
They include binding shelter rafters together, making animal snares and fishing lines, or bundling firewood and kindling. In an emergency, you could even put together a kite to help rescuers find you by using some string, duct tape and a bit of brightly colored rain poncho or tarp. Fishing line or monofilament provides added durability if you want to spend a few extra dollars.
In some cases, metal wire is preferable over nylon string, such as tying up meat to roast over a fire. We’re talking about steel baling wire or floral wire here, not the copper stuff used for electrical wiring that’s insulated with plastic.
Thin metal wire is also useful for making trip wires, small game snares or even small repairs. You don’t need a huge length here, only a couple dozen feet or so.
Duct tape is an all-purpose material that can be used as cordage, even if it isn’t technically cordage. For example, you can use duct tape to make a sling, handcuff bad guys or string up lights. Duct tape has about a zillion other survival uses, of course, but that’s a whole different discussion. The best part is you don’t have to pack an entire bulky roll of it – you can just wrap it around your water bottle and tear off a bit when you need it.
Even if you don’t need or know how to use all of these items, they can be useful for bartering or helping you strike up a partnership with others attempting to survive. You never know just what you might need in a bug-out situation, but you can be sure that having a variety of cordage types will make your life easier.
Frank Bates, founder of 4Patriots LLC, is a contributing writer to Patriot Headquarters, a website featuring hundreds of articles on how to be more independent and self-reliant. He also offers Food4Patriots, a supplier of emergency food suitable for long-term storage, survival and emergency preparedness.