Survival bracelets

Paracord bracelets at camp

These paracord bracelets were a hit at girls camp. As you can see, even some of the male camp leaders joined in. I got the idea from Stormdrane at Instructables.com. His tutorial is excellent, but although the site pictures two-color bracelets, he doesn’t explain how to make a two-color bracelet. I wanted to keep it simple for camp anyway, so we made one-color bracelets. However, a few innovative girls at camp figured out one way to make them, so I’m passing the info on to you. I also improved upon the final step to better prevent the bracelet from unraveling. This bracelet takes about 45 minutes to make.

Survival bracelets at camp

By the way, paracord bracelets are also known as survival bracelets. They’re a convenient way for soldiers and hikers to always have eight feet of 550 parachute cord (which easily supports many times one’s own body weight) literally on hand. Check out Stormdrane’s Blog for more amazing paracord projects. I’m planning to make the adjustable paracord watch band myself.

UPDATE 10/2011: Check out the fabulous video tutorials for making other survival bracelets, keychains, and sinnets at TyingItAllTogether’s YouTube Channel. Thanks to Austin for sharing this information!

How to make paracord bracelets

Supplies and tools

  • 550 parachute cord from Supply Captain
  • 1/2-inch curved side-release buckles from Creative Designworks
  • lighter (I used $1 barbecue lighters from Walmart)
  • ruler, yardstick, or tape measure
  • sharp scissors
  • needle and thread

measure wrist

1. Start with Stormdrane’s step 2: Measure wrist. Skip step 1 because his measurement is off. He says to use about 1 foot of cord for every 1 inch of bracelet length, which I discovered is not enough. Add one more foot to that. So, if your wrist is 7 inches, then you’ll need 8 feet of cord. And because we are making a two-color bracelet, you’ll need half of that in each color.

cut two pieces

2. Assuming your wrist is 7 inches, measure and cut two 4-foot pieces of parachute cord.

burn the ends

3. Burn the ends with a lighter to keep the cord from unraveling. Don’t burn it so much that you get a big blob of plastic because it won’t fit through the buckle. Just burn it enough to keep the inner strands in place.

stitch the ends together

4. Overlap the end of each color about 1/4 inch and hand stitch several times to secure. Tie it off as you normally would by stitching through the loop of thread a couple times. Trim the thread.

loop through buckle

5. Continue on to step 3. For two colors, pull the end of each color up through back of the buckle.

make the loop

6. Pull the loop tight and place the seam at the back against the buckle.

end of the knots

7. Continue with step 4: Finding the bracelet length. Stormdrane recommends that you add an inch to your wrist length, which makes for a snug fit. I prefer to add 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches to avoid the buckle pinching my skin when I put it on. Continue with step 5 and step 6. When you reach the end, it will look like this.

loop to the back

8. In step 7, Stormdrane says to either cut the ends and melt them or tuck/pull the ends under the last couple of knots. I prefer to do both. Start by loosening the very first loop you made, then tuck both ends through the top and out the back. Pull tight.

view from the front

9. This is what it will look like from the front.

tuck again in back

10. Flip it over to the back. Loosen the next closest stitch, then tuck both ends under it. Pull tight.

bend back and cut

11. Bend the bracelet back, and trim the ends close to the loop they’re tucked under.

burn the ends

12. Burn the ends to keep them from raveling. It’s ok if you melt them to the loop next to them a little. They will be that much more secure.

view from the back

13. The back will look like this.

finished paracord bracelet

14. The finished bracelet, from the front.