Six months ago, I didn’t even know what a Paracord Survival Bracelet was. I didn’t know they were made out of paracord (or what the heck paracord was for that matter). I had seen people wearing them. Most of the people I noticed wearing the Survival Bracelets were cops or military people.
Then, one day I was at a Boy Scout meeting with Pookie, and the activity was make-your-own-survival-bracelet. I learned that the Survival Bracelets were made from Paracord, a really strong nylon rope. The kind of paracord we used was 550 pound strength paracord. We used around 8 feet of paracord for each bracelet, give or take a little. The length of the paracord needed to make a bracelet mostly depends on the size of the wrist you are making it for.
If you use different weave/knot patterns or bracelet styles, some survival bracelets are made with 20 feet of paracord! The guys who were leading the bracelet-weaving lesson had a few homemade wooden jigs that made it a lot easier to make the bracelets than if you were to do it with just the paracord and the buckles.
It took some trial and error to figure out the proper way to weave the knots. By the end of the Scout meeting, we had finished our bracelet and gotten pretty confident that we could duplicate the process. Shortly after that, we ordered some supplies and I got to work building a bracelet-jig. We built several paracord bracelets and did some research online on different strategies. One thing that was cool to learn was making a two-colored bracelet.
In this post we will start with a simple one color Paracord-Survival-Bracelet. You will need the following tools and materials to get the job done:
- 8 Feet of Paracord
- 1 Plastic Buckle (2 pieces that lock together)
- A Pair of Scissors
- A Lighter
Optional tools & materials:
- Measuring Tape
- Homemade Bracelet Jig
If you would like to make your own survival bracelet jig, I will be writing a separate blog post with the step-by-step instructions – check back soon!
Start out by measuring the wrist of the child (or adult) that you’re making the bracelet for. It’s recommended to add one inch to the actual wrist size. If you don’t have measuring tape, you can just use the paracord to measure and estimate an extra inch. For most children, the bracelet will need to be somewhere between 6 or 7 inches. 8 feet of paracord is usually just right to make a 6-7 inch bracelet using the weaving system we will use.
If you are making the bracelet for an adult, you can add an additional foot to the overall paracord length.
Once you have cut the cord to the proper size, you can use the lighter to briefly burn the frayed end of the paracord. If you have pliers, you can use them to flatten the melted end of the nylon rope (as pictured) to keep it neat and help it fit through the buckle slots.
Once you have the length measured, you can get your buckles spaced out properly. If you have a jig, adjust it to the correct size.
Fold your paracord in half. Pick one of the buckles and feed both ends of your paracord into the buckle slot. Pull the cord ends through the buckle and loop the other end of the paracord over the 2 loose ends. Pull the cord until its snug, and then put your 2 loose ends through the other buckle and pull until you are left with 2 strands of taught paracord between your 2 buckles.
The next step is the beginning of our weaving. The pattern that we will be using to weave the bracelet is known as a cobra knot. The easiest way to describe the knotting/weaving process it is that you will tie a knot on one of the loose strands of paracord. This will help prevent us from getting the 2 strands confused. Take the strand with a knot on the end, and form it into a tight number “7” over the pair of strings.
The other loose end goes over the top of the “7” and then under the double strings, and pops up and is pulled through the triangle. You then take the knotted end, make a tight “7″ on the side that it is on. When making your “7″, it will look like a backwards 7 when the knotted string is on the left side of the double paracord lines. I took lots of pictures and even some video so that you could get a feel for how to do this. It’s confusing and doesn’t make much sense at first, but once it finally clicks, it should be smooth sailing from that point on.
From this point on, it is pretty much just repetition. Make sure to pay close attention, it’s very easy to get mixed up on which strand of paracord to “7” and which one to “over/under/through”. After every several knots, you can push the braided section back to make sure the bracelet does not have any holes, gaps, or it’s not overly loose.
When you get to the end, you should have a small amount of extra paracord on both strands. You can cut this off about ¼ of an inch from the knot and then burn/melt the frayed edges. Use your scissors or pliers to flatten the end (as shown). This step is very important because it prevents the bracelet from unraveling.
Once you have the ends flattened, you are done. Allow a minute or so for the nylon to cool after melting before you try the bracelet on.
If you made a mistake with your measurements and the bracelet is too big, you CAN make the bracelet shorter if need be. The bad news is you would have to completely unravel every single cobra knot that you just braided. If the bracelet is too small, there really is not much you can do to fix that. You could just find someone with a smaller wrist to give the bracelet to, or use it for something else entirely (zipper pull, keychain, etc).
The Survival Bracelets are the most popular product made from paracord, but you can also make belts, dog collars, zipper pulls, key chains, and more. It’s pretty easy to make as many bracelets as you could want after you get the hang of it (we made and gave out a bunch as Christmas gifts last year) and it is a great activity that allows you to spend some quality time with your kids.