Having been widely used for parachute applications during the WWII, the prefix "para" was added to the "cord" to give it its name. However, it has found its use in other areas outside the military field. It is now used by virtually all other armed forces, including the police, forest guards, scouts, and all other troops you can think about. It is also available commercially for home applications and other uses like camping.
There are no specific standards when it comes to the civilian markets; however, this is not the case with the military varieties. The military cord is distinctly marked as MIL-C-5040 Type III with a rating of 550 pounds. The military cord must have 7 inner yarns, each coming with 3 separate strands.
The same cannot be said of all the civilian varieties. In some cases, there are only 5 cords instead of seven or two strands per cord instead of 3. This might compromise their strength. However, depending on what purpose it is to be used, these varieties still good enough to serve for many applications.
Both the military variety and the commercial variety come in many colors, hence there are many options depending on an individual's own preferences. In addition to colors, it comes in several lengths to choose from. One can also be cut to smaller sizes for specific purposes as demanded. However, after cutting one, the ends must be burnt to avoid fraying.
There are several benefits associated with this cord; one being strength. Just an eighth of an inch in diameter, the cord has a massive 550lbs breaking force. This means that it can support the weight of humans. Once bought, its durability is also impressive. It can be used countless times without being compromised in flexibility.
In addition to this, the cord is very flexible and light in weight. A cord that is 225 feet, weighs less than 1 pound, a factor that makes it the cord of choice for campers, climbers and other operations that call for carry many tools. Today, it is commonly used to build tents and for other support activities.
There are also wide areas of application such as the use as cloth lines, towlines, survival kit, and even life line. The inner strands can also be used as fishing strings, dental floss, trapping-snares, and even shoe laces. The important factor is to choose a good cord that can serve the purpose.
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