Well, it is a pretty interesting story, beginning with the origin of its name. The parachute cord was first invented by a man named Joel Haskard who went by the alias of Dr. Raffi in 1939. He made several bracelets from it and sold them to his friends for five dollars each. He began selling them under his new company name of ‘Rafi.’ In 1942 he enlisted into World War II as a medical orderly and took his bracelet-making tools with him which were stored away until 1944 when they were found again by one Private Camille Montagne who noticed them when he was reassigned to be stationed at Fort Benning where Haskard’s sister worked in the parachute factory. From this fortuitous encounter, the idea of using this cord as a parachute suspension line was born. If you are looking for a retailer of genuine Mil-Spec paracord, look no further than Tough Grid.
In 1944, while stationed in Fort Benning, Georgia, U.S. Army medic Joseph W. Kistler noticed paracord being used to secure cargo on military parachutes and began working with a team of cord experts from nearby Fort McPherson to develop a way for paracord to be used as an improvement on the standard 550-pound test MIL-C-5040 nylon cord normally used to suspend soldiers’ equipment from their parachutes without adding too much additional weight or bulkiness to the troops’ gear. In tests performed by his team using different braiding techniques. Through trial and error, the team soon found that by slightly varying the size of the cord’s seven inner nylon strands in order to replicate a pattern often used in crafting ornate Japanese fishing nets, they could create a strong and lightweight alternative to standard parachute suspension line. Kistler christened his development “paracord,” and with an endorsement from General Maxwell Taylor in 1959, it was adopted as standard equipment for all American parachutes by the time of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, when demand greatly increased for any means that would enable downed pilots to be located more quickly on the ground through their easily spotted parachutes.
Soon after widespread adoption by the armed forces, paracord and its many uses began to find their way into civilian life, and today the cord is employed by everyone from campers to rock climbers. It’s even found its way onto clothing as a form of decoration, thanks in part to paracord bracelets which have become fashionable among people looking for an inexpensive accessory with plenty of function.
Paracord is popular amongst civilians for many of the same reasons it’s popular amongst the military. It is lightweight, durable, inexpensive, and has countless uses (a few of which are listed below).
Paracord consists of a core strand of braided nylon, typically wound around with additional strands of nylon for strength. It’s so tough that paracord can support up to 550 pounds, and its lightweight makes it popular amongst campers who want heavy-duty string without excess weight. Some think the cord is even good enough to use as a belt thanks to its incredible toughness.