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Word War II was an epic military conflict on a global scale that changed history in ways that are still being sorted out.
It also gave us instant coffee, duct tape — and 550 parachute cord.
All three wonders of 20th century American industry are essential items for the go-bags and bugout kits that contemporary survival geeks assemble while hoping they never need to be deployed in earnest.
Of those three eminently useful items, one has become a fashion statement.
Waterfowl hunters were among the first to adorn themselves with paracord, crafting call lanyards out of the stuff. You see them at Ducks Unlimited banquets as well as in duck blinds. That’s an outdoor subculture. The proliferation of the braided paracord survival bracelet indicates the mainstreaming of preparedness chic.
These items have gone from “tacticool” to everyday cool. Their popularity has proliferated a rainbow selection of paracord colors beyond basic olive drab, sage and coyote brown. You can have survival bracelets in school colors, pro team colors or simply favorite colors.
Regardless of color scheme, these bracelets possess a hidden utility. When unraveled they yield from 10 to 25 feet of cordage that, if truly MIL-SPEC material, possesses a minimum breaking strength of 550 pounds.
American paratroops in WWII are credited with being the first of countless U.S. servicemen and women to use this stuff in the field. After surviving jumps on The Longest Day, many of them cut lengths of the suspension lines off their chutes, coiled it up and stuffed it in their packs. The ends were routinely melted with a match or Zippo and crimped to keep the outer woven sheath and inner core threads from unraveling.