The paracord survival belt is a must-have tool for every survivalist and one that is fairly easy to make. Even better, you can make a durable paracord belt for relatively little expense. Since it is a wearable form of survivalist gear, it adds nothing to what the survivalist has to carry.
It is a practical accessory for hikers, hunters, fishers, cyclists, campers, and individuals who spend a lot of time in the wilderness or enjoying outdoor adventures.
What’s So Special About Paracord Anyway?
Not all cordage is the same and paracord is a type of cordage that stands above all other rope in terms of its quality. Before you even want to invest in the materials to make the paracord belt, you might want to consider how such a belt can benefit you in a survival situation.
A paracord belt is not just a wearable accessory, which makes it highly tote-able and easy to transport, but it is a wearable belt made with high-quality 550 or parachute cord. The 550 reference comes from the actual weight the cordage is suited for when in use. For more ideas on paracord uses, do check out our earlier article on this important topic.
The paracord is made of a light type of nylon kernmantle rope which has a protected core. A special mantle or sheath protects the core of the kernmantle rope so the material proves ultra flexible, durable, and strong. The mantle of the kernmantle rope or paracord is what keeps the core fibers within protected from abrasion and damage.
Get Prepared to Start
Step 1: Choose the Right Type of Paracord
Make sure you get the correct type of 550-paracord quality cordage for the best possible finished product. Even more importantly, make sure you are getting genuine paracord and not a cheap imitation.
Some online sellers are selling polyester or nylon rope materials and market it as a paracord product, but such products lack the interwoven strands inside the rope and the braided cordage that makes up the protective sheath. If it is not genuine paracord, it will not be as flexible, dependable, or versatile.
Five types of paracord exist, of which two types are ideal for a survival belt: Type III and IV. Bear in mind, Type IV cordage is more expensive than Type III.
Below we described the types of paracord and information on the differences in type:
|Type I||Type II||Type III||Type IV|
|Strength Rating||Can handle up to 95 pounds.|
There is also a sub-type IA cordage. It is good for up to 100 pounds and is absent of a core strand.
|Can handle up to 400 pounds.|
Type IIA cordage is good for up to 225 pounds. It is absent of core strands.
|Can handle up to 550 pounds.||Can handle up to 750 pounds.|
|Core Strand Count||1||4 to 7||7 to 9||11|
|Acceptable Usage||Crafts, light duty, decorations||Rarely found.||Excellent in quality and price, this type of cordage is most often chosen for use as survival gear and accessories.||The strongest type of paracord on the market. It can be used for a whole host of projects and survival tasks, but it has a price tag that is 50 to 100 percent higher than the 550 version.|
Keep in mind: You should make sure that the cord you buy meets the standards established for military paracord. This means the cords have an internal core made up of three kinds of nylon strands while the sheath is also made or durable nylon.
If you get a commercial brand of paracord, you could be buying something containing polyester materials in the sheath and the core materials made of two different yarns. Thus, there is often that clear difference in quality that should be of great concern to the survivalist who should demand top of the line paracord quality for survival situations.
Step 2: Determining Cord Needs
The amount of cordage you require to make the belt will be based on the actual size of your waist. If your waist is about 32 inches in circumference, this will allow for a belt that is made up of about 50 feet of paracord.
The belt is made of flexible material so it will stretch an inch or too, allowing for any mild increases in size. If you have a waist greater than 32 inches in circumference, you will have to invest in additional paracord material so you can complete the belt since this type of homemade survival accessory does not have size adjustable options.
The cord you choose can be in any color you desire. There are actually more than 300 colors of paracord you can choose from when you are ready to buy! Many outdoor enthusiasts demonstrate a preference for black and camouflage cordage, but some prefer the brighter colors so the paracord is easily visible.
Step 3: Gathering the Necessary Materials
- 550 Paracord: You can buy it in a 50-foot bundle and if you are not sure if you will need more, you can also get in a 100-foot roll.
- Belt Buckle: You will have to invest in a belt buckle for the paracord belt you want to make. This buckle is available in a range of colors, styles, and designs. The buckles also come in set sizes including 3/8 inch, 1/2 inch, 5/8 inch 3/4 inch, and 1 inch varieties. You can get buckles that perfectly match the color of your paracord too. To make the buckle extra useful in a survival situation, you can get a buckle with a small built in whistle. Buckle choices are flat or contoured and they release from the side when you pinch the small insert piece together.
- Lighter or Matches: This is to burn the ends of the cut paracord to ensure that the cord remains intact and does not fray over the course of time or through repetitious use.
- Scissors: You will need to cut the paracord to length. Bear in mind the scissors you buy must be extremely sharp. If you are using scissors you own, then it is wise to sharpen them before cutting the paracord. You do not want to ruin the weave of the paracord sheath or the core fibers inside the cord with a poor cut.
If you want to forego using scissors, you can use a utility knife and a soft piece of material underneath the cord for an easier cut and to protect the razor from damage. Experts often recommend a soft piece of wood. Finally, other alternative for cutting the paracord is an Xacto® knife or a sharp pair of side cutters.
- Wooden Skewer: This is used as a simple tool for the paracord weaving process. Instead of a wooden skewer, you can use a Number 2 pencil, a Chinese chopstick, a screwdriver, a small, round file, a crochet hook, a latch hook, or a dowel if you have one.
Helpful Hints for Project Completion
First, you will be working with loops as you weave this belt. Every time you make loops, there is the chance that the loop cordage will twist. To make a quality looking belt without issues, one easy to take apart later on, you need to untwist the cord as you continue to weave. By untwisting the paracord, you will give the belt a unified look in terms of the weave you create.
When pulling a loop through other loops, do not over tighten the loops. Just make sure the weave is snug. You need to be able to get into between each loop you make to weave the next section. Pulling the loops too tight will make this next to impossible to achieve.
Note: To make the survival belt, you will be learning to weave the cordage to the length of a belt. The weaving is done in such a way that the belt can be pulled apart quickly, and can remain a fully intact rope of 50 or more feet.
If you are making the belt out of 50 feet of cordage, you will not have to cut the cordage to do so. If you are using more cordage than the initial required 50 feet to make a 32-inch belt, you will have to cut the excess cordage.
Making The Belt
Note: The most difficult part of making the paracord belt is mastering the weave maneuver. Once you get the first weave down, the rest is all repetition. The project will move along quickly once you have learned how to weave the loops together. The length of time it takes to complete this project will therefore depend on your ability to master the initial weave maneuver.
The method of weaving shared here is but one technique for making a paracord belt, so there are other weave patterns you can try if you do not like the one presented here.
- Step 1: You will be looping the cordage to form a belt out of one continue piece or paracord. Before you begin, use the lighter to burn the end of the paracord. The cord end will melt a bit and this will help in preventing the cordage from coming apart or fraying when you use it.
- Step 2: For this step, you will need your plastic belt buckle; using one side of the buckle, slip the burnt end of the paracord into the belt buckle bar and tie a knot close to the burnt end to keep it secure.
- Step 3: You will start making loops that wrap around the side edge of the belt buckle. The first loops you make will number four and will cover the side bar on the belt buckle. The loops are fairly tight and next to each other so that as each loop wraps around the buckle is snug, but not so snug that the cord is immoveable. You will need to be able to squeeze paracord between each loop in the next step of the project.
- Step 4: This step will allow you to start weaving your paracord belt. The weaving portion requires you make through loops. Essentially, you are making loops and pulling them through pre-existing loops to weave your belt. Take up the end of the paracord that remains connected to the spool. Make a loop out of the cord that is about a 1 1/2 long and hold it between your fingers. The loop is now pushed underneath the first four loops you made on the belt buckle bar: This loop will be used to start the new layer of loops with the paracord.
- Step 5: Make three inch-long loops by pulling the paracord up through the spaces where the paracord meets initially. This is where the skewer or wooden accessory comes in and will help you fish out the paracord from in between each initial loop on the belt buckle bar.
- Step 6: When you are done with this step, you will have one side loop and three more additional loops for a total of four loops. It is now time to take up some more paracord at the end of the row and create a fifth loop.
- Step 7: Using this fifth loop, take it and drag it through the first four loops you made. Make sure you leave a new single loop when you reach the end of the opposite side of the belt buckle. Pull the cord snug. You now have one large loop remaining.
- Step 8: You will have to repeat these weaving steps until you have a belt at the length you want it, so repeat steps three through seven until the belt is long enough.
Finishing Off Your Paracord Belt
Once you get the belt to the desired length, you will be adding the other half of your belt buckle to finalize the belt. Here is how:
- Step 9: The first thing you need to do for your final repetition is to draw up a final loop and three additional loops so you have a total of for one inch-loops.
- Step 10: Slip all four loops under the side bar on the edge of the belt buckle. Draw up a large through loop and pass it through all four of the loops to create a closure.
- Step 11: If you have excess cord, cut it. Tie a tight knot in to secure the loops in the belt buckle. Burn the end of the paracord for additional security and fraying prevention.
Couple videos for you to give a visual example of the work process:
A Survivalist’s Must-Have
A paracord belt is something no survivalist should ever be without. While it is easy enough to carry about eight feet of rope in a backpack, it is just as easy to put on a survivalist belt made of paracord materials and instantly you will find yourself carrying up to 50 feet or more of rope without overstuffing your backpack or adding to your gear-carrying burden.
Once you find yourself in need of the paracord in the belt, you can easily deploy the accessory. Using a sharp knife or similar tool, you can cut off the small knot you used to secure one of the belt’s buckle ends to the paracord belt. Save the buckle for the future, as it will allow you to reweave the paracord into a belt again when you have the time to do so. To find out the different types of outdoor ropes you can choose from, see our earlier piece for more options.
Once the belt buckle is removed, just pull the paracord apart and the simple weave will release the cordage. To disassemble the belt, it should take no more than 20 seconds. Having woven the belt in this way, you have just made it easy to carry a lot of rope around with little hassle, and in the form of a woven belt, you get instantaneous access to the cordage you require for survival.
See more ideas on what to bring on your next camping trip by checking our our must-read article on this topic.