Paracord is a versatile, multi-purpose tool that plays an essential part in any outdoor enthusiast’s kit – whether you’re a hiker, camper, hunter, or survivalist.
They come in different sizes, lengths, and strengths, with so many variations that you can quickly get confused about which is the best for your job.
In this article, we’ll lay down the paracord size chart and cover the basics of different paracord sizes to help you decide which size suits your needs.
- How paracords came into life
- How are paracords different?
- Different types and sizes of paracord
- Most popular paracord sizes and their use cases
- What’s the most universal size of a paracord?
- So, what’s the best paracord size for me?
How paracords came into life
Paracord (aka parachute cord) roots in World War II, when nylon came into use for parachute lines. Soon after American soldiers were dropped into hostile areas, they realized ample extra paracord rope uses. Ever since, it’s been known as inherent to survival gear.
And what about paracord bracelets?
Paracord survival bracelets are a newer invention. While huge chances are they existed long before our modern era, it was roughly 2006 when their mass production started.
Paracord bracelets aren’t a panacea for survival scenarios, though their versatility, portability, and use as fire starters are unquestionable. They’re indeed a valuable addition to your EDC kit or bug-out bag.
How are paracords different?
Paracord is typically made from nylon or polyester yarns twisted together in a sheath-and-core structure. The core contains one or multiple strands, determining the paracord’s size.
The more strands, the more tensile strength (or break strength) the paracord has, and vice versa – the smaller the core, the thinner and lighter the paracord will be.
Today, many add-ons to paracords exist, like glow-in-the-dark or color-changing.
Different types and sizes of paracord
Standard paracord sizes range from 95 to 850 Paracord plus involve extra options like Micro, Nano, or Coreless Cord. Numbers in the paracords’ size options usually reflect their tensile strength, i.e., 550 Paracord can hold up to 550 pounds.
Here are some basic paracord sizes:
- Nano Cord: 0.03″ or 0.75mm diameter, 35 pounds tensile strength
- Micro Cord: 0.05″ or 1.18mm diameter, 100 pounds tensile strength
- 95 Paracord: one internal strand, 0.07″ or 1.75mm diameter, 180 pounds tensile strength
- 275 Paracord: five strands, 0.09″ or 2.38mm diameter, 275 pounds tensile strength
- 325 Paracord: three strands, 0.12″ or 3mm diameter, 325 pounds tensile strength
- 425 Paracord: three strands, 0.12″ or 3mm, 425 pounds tensile strength
- 550 Paracord: seven strands, 0.16″ or 4mm diameter, 550 pounds tensile strength
- 650 Coreless Paracord: 0.20″ or 5mm diameter, 650 pounds tensile strength
- 750 Paracord: 11 strands, 0.16″ or 4mm diameter, 750 pounds tensile strength
- 850 Paracord: eight strands, 0.18″ or 4.5mm diameter, 850 pounds tensile strength
- Dyna-X Cord: three strands, 0.16″ or 4mm diameter, 1250 pounds
- Battle Cord: seven strands, 0.22″ or 5.6mm diameter, 2650 pounds tensile strength
- 1/4″ Para-Max Cord: three internal strands, 0.25″ or 6.35mm diameter, 1200 pounds tensile strength
- 5/16″ Para-Max Cord: three strands, 0.31″ or 7.94mm diameter, 1200 pounds tensile strength
- 1/8″ Shock Cord (Bungee Cord): 12 strands, 0.125″ or 3.175mm diameter, 100 pounds tensile strength
And here’s a paracord size chart for easier reference:
|Number of inner strands||Diameter||Tensile strength|
|Nano Cord||0||0.03″||35 lbs|
|Micro Cord||0||0.05″||100 lbs|
|95 Paracord||1||0.07″||180 lbs|
|275 Paracord||5||0.09″||275 lbs|
|325 Paracord||3||0.12″||325 lbs|
|425 Paracord||3||0.12″||425 lbs|
|550 Paracord||7||0.16″||550 lbs|
|650 Coreless Paracord||0||0.20″||650 lbs|
|750 Paracord||11||0.16″||750 lbs|
|850 Paracord||8||0.18″||850 lbs|
|Dyna-X Cord||3||0.16″||1250 lbs|
|Battle Cord||7||0.22″||2650 lbs|
|1/4″ Para-Max Cord||3||0.25″||1200 lbs|
|5/16″ Para-Max Cord||3||0.31″||1200 lbs|
|1/8″ Shock Cord||12||0.125″||100 lbs|
Most popular paracord sizes and their use cases
Now, let’s see some famous, quality paracord options in more detail.
Most versatile: 550 Paracord
It’s the most used paracord that perfectly combines strength and flexibility. It’s a go-to cord for multiple uses, from crafting bracelets and maintaining clothing to hunting and fishing. For campers, it’s a perfect add-on to camping gear.
Being the thinnest paracord of all, the nano cord still retains some strength and functionality. It’s suitable for crafting jewelry, paracord lanyards, or other intricate projects where weight needs to be kept low.
Paracord necklaces and laced-cobra bracelets are examples of projects for which this cord works well. It’s a little yet powerful cord.
It’s a flexible cord thicker than a micro cord and has a bit bigger tensile strength. It’s used for countless projects such as macramé, bracelets, wind chimes, and many other weaving projects.
This is one of the most rigid paracords out there, made of five strands tied together in a way that keeps this cord less elastic than others. It’s a go-to choice for crafting and repairing and serves well for smaller projects like kids’ bracelets, keychains, and lanyards.
It’s a sweet spot between micro and popular 550 cords. Goes well for projects where strength and thinness are needed, like boot laces, bracelets, keychains, belts, and leashes.
It’s a thinner alternative for 550 Paracord, suitable for cases where 550 is simply too thick.
It’s the most rigid tactical paracord available. A bit thicker than 550 paracord, it’s a go-to option for projects like belts, leashes, emergencies, and heavy-duty cases.
This one is no joke – a super tough with seven strands that each have 340 pounds tensile strength, all totaling 2650 pounds. It’s good where not too much stretch and flexibility are needed.
1/4 Para-Max Cord
The biggest and burliest cord, which is one of the most robust options on the market and a vital add-on to an emergency kit. Serves well for projects like towing, hiking, hunting, pet toys, and horse halters.
1/8 Shock Cord
Also called a bungee cord, it’s best known for its elastic traits and integral strength resistance while extended. They’re for bungee straps, cargo nets, hammocks, and boxes and are also suitable to serve as an elastic core for a traditional paracord bracelet.
What’s the most universal size of a paracord?
550 paracord made its cut as the most universal, standard type of paracord with its blended versatility, reliability, and strength. It’s strong enough for outdoor activities like camping, hiking, and survival situations, yet still lightweight and doesn’t take up much space.
It’s also widely used in crafting, as it’s firm to be tied together into paracord lanyards, handles, knots, keychains, bracelets, crafts, ladders, and more.
So, what’s the best paracord size for me?
It all comes down to what you’re going to use paracord for – crafting, survival, jewelry project, or, perhaps, bushcraft? After all, you’ll never be wrong choosing 325 or 550 paracords, universal options suitable for many people.