Thanks. Now I have a mental image of Osama bin Laden standing by an open window, madly trying to unravel a colorful paracord bracelet as the Seal team entered the building.
I don’t get the appeal of these bracelets. You just always want to have eight feet of paracord on your person? If you’re in any of those situations, are you not virtually always wearing a backpack in which you can store a roll of the stuff?
And if you’re backpack free, is it not an extremely improbable situation that can be saved with only a bit of string? I’m not saying it’s useless, but aren’t we talking about a fashion accessory here?
This and the SAS pocket survival manual are a perfect gift for kids. Even though the ferrocerium buckles are not the best firestarters, and a bit of a pinch hazard, the kids have gotten good at making fires especially if they can get dryer lint or seed fluff.
For kids especially it is a confidence inspiring accessory, also imagination inspiring. They cant buy a tent but they could build a tent with some old parachute cloth and shroud lines, or maybe a hut with some palm fronds and lashed together with para cord.
You I like.
It started as a sort of trench art with the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. They basically started making these things out of boredom and open accesses to excessive amounts of paracord. Along with lanyards, belts added grips for knife and shovel handles and a dozen other things. Paracord macrame is basically the modern US (and presumably other nations) military version of scrimshaw or engraved shell casings or whatever. As troops filtered home to started to gain broader popularity along with all that other military inspired “tactical” and survivalist nonsense. So at this point its basically friendship bracelets for butch manly types.
I have some basic ones my brother made me while in Afghanistan, a lot like the first couple he made himself during the first couple of months of Iraq. That style typically uses a button clipped from a pair of fatigues and a simple loop as a closure. Later, as he got more bored, things got more complex. I think he cribs his buckles from worn out backpacks and other equipment. He’s got a few that contain handcuff keys embedded in the buckles; can openers, money, fish hooks and other tools embedded in the braid (you unwind it to access); and he tends to use the hollow paracord and thread a wire saw or steel fishing leader through the center before tying the bracelet. I like the things remind me of these:
Which we pretty much always had as kids, growing up in a fairly nautical place (yar!). All the tchotchkes and features are kind of fun, though many of them are completely ridiculous. Its nice to see it actually get redirected more towards what it is. A fun crafting project. But its popularity is as simple a thing as I can imagine. Military adopts thing (in this case paracord), soldiers like thing while at war and adapt it to their own use, soldiers keep using thing when they come home, thing becomes fashionable for civilians. Just like t-shirts, shemaghs (for a while anyway), bomber jackets, combat boots, wrist watches and countless other things.
Coincidence? You be the judge.
And the go-to book, the Ashley Book of Knots
Paracord bracelets go back further than that. As an Air Cadet in Canada around 1980 or so, we used to make them up from 550 cord (the OD paracord) or from the white version when we could find it. No plasitc buckles, mind you. I certainly saw them around again in the mid '80s when I joined the reserves.
In fact, the braiding method looks almost duplicate to that used by the RCA (Royal Canadian Artillery) at least since WWII. See the image at the top of this page(canadiansoldiers.com)
They go back as far as paracord does. my grandfather says the AF pilots and airmen he worked with in the 50s used to use parachute lines for bracelets and macrame. He still has a monkey’s fist keychain he tied from scrap cord in the 60s. And the idea, designs used go back farther. Anyone working with line got up to this shit. But it’s current popularity is directly tied to the really broad adoption of the hobby by US and British troops in the most recent Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
I don’t doubt those guys are talented and big in whatever “scene” has devoloped around paracord these days. But I would neccisarily give anyone like that credit for popularizing these things with the broader pop culture. It’s fundamentally decorative knot trying, which has been around forever. I learned some of this stuff during rainy days in a boating class. A popular interest in this kind of thing started to burble almost the minute troops hit the ground
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