A survival bracelet is an incredibly useful tool that’s also super easy to keep on hand at all times–literally. Learning how to make a survival bracelet for yourself is a great way to guarantee it serves its intended survival tool purpose and fits perfectly.
Also called “paracord bracelets,” these bracelets are made of many feet of paracord wound and knotted in an intricate way so that the final result is just long enough to fit comfortably around your wrist. A paracord survival bracelet could be taken apart and used to build a trap, go fishing, dry your clothes, and many more things in an emergency situation.
Choose the Best Cord Type
When you make a survival bracelet, you’ll want to choose the best materials to work with. You’ll need quality cord in order to successfully build snares, tie tourniquets, and even make splints for injuries from your bracelet.
Be sure to purchase a type of cord called “paracord.” Any other kind of rope or twine won’t do the trick. Rope is often made of materials that may cause skin irritation and will degrade when exposed to too much water, while paracord is made out of nylon, which is a type of strong, flexible plastic.
Paracord was originally used for parachutes (parachute cord), so its durability can be trusted. Each piece of paracord is made from seven slimmer threads wound together. In addition to unwinding the bracelet for emergency uses, these seven threads can also be taken apart and used for tasks requiring a skinnier cord, such as fishing, sewing, and repairing gear.
Decide on the Length
How much paracord should you start with? Does the final desired bracelet length factor into this decision?
Wrists come in a variety of sizes, and yes, the length you want the finished bracelet to be, decides how much cord you need to start with. You’ll need a little over one foot of cord for every inch of wrist circumference, plus one additional foot total. The extra foot covers the extra length needed to knot the ends while leaving enough to be tucked in when finished and to be sure the bracelet doesn’t end up too tight. The equation looks like this: 1ft X (x inches) + 1ft.
To find x inches or the number of inches, take a piece of paracord or any type of string you have nearby. wrap it around your wrist and make sure the string is as tight or as loose as you want your final bracelet to be. Then either mark or cut the string where the other end touched it when it was wrapped around your wrist.
Take this length of string and measure it against a ruler or tape measure. How many inches long the string is, equals your x inches. Be aware that the length is usually much longer than you’d expect for the circumference of your wrist.
So if it’s five inches, then you’ll need 5 ft + 1 extra ft or 6 feet of paracord. If it’s 9 inches, you need 9ft + 1 extra foot or ten inches of paracord. Once you have the correct length of paracord, you can start tieing it into a bracelet.
How to Tie the Cord
Before you begin tieing the cord, check the ends of the piece you will be working with. If you are using the same amount of length that you bought, then the ends are probably already melted or fused together in some way. But if you cut it yourself, there is a risk of your paracord fraying. To prevent this, use a lighter to burn the tips of the threads at each end of your paracord together.
Then, you’ll need to choose which type of bracelet you’d like to make, and there is a wide variety. We’ll explore a few of them here.
- Begin by folding your measured length of paracord in half so that you can find the midpoint of the cord. Slide the loop of the midpoint of the rope through the slot in the female end of the buckle (the end that has a rectangular hole).
- Holding the buckle so that the inside surface is facing you, push the loop through so that an inch or two of the loop is on the outside curved surface of the buckle. Make sure the two halves of the rope are still the same length.
- Slide the two ends under the inside surface of the buckle and through the loop. Then pull those ends so that the loop makes a firm knot against the buckle.
- Next, slide both ends through the male part of the buckle. They should pass through the inside curved surface first, exiting on the outside curved surface. Then slide the two sections of rope further through until the distance between the two pieces of buckle is decreased.
- Ensure that the distance between the two pieces is the circumference of your wrist plus one inch. The extra space will be needed soon. Go ahead and wrap this distance around your wrist and see how it feels. It’s better to err on the side of too long than too short at this point, as the next steps will take up more rope.
- Now, lay the length of paracord between the pieces of buckle so that the inside curves are facing downward and the male end is farther away from you. The female end should be right in front of you.
- Your loose pieces of paracord should be through the male end and laying on either side of the bracelet. Take just the left piece of loose cord and pass underneath the bracelet, then over the right piece. You’ll then lay the left piece down where it is and take up the right piece. Pass the right piece over the bracelet and through the loop the left piece made in the previous step.
- Now pull that knot tight. Congratulations! You’ve completed the first knot. It may all sound a little overwhelming, but it is really simple from here.
- Your next knot is basically the same but in the opposite direction. Forget the original names of the strings. The one that is now on the left is now the left string and vice-versa. The first step is still to go under the bracelet, but you use the right side to do that this time. So take the right side under the bracelet and over the left piece, then lay the right piece down.
- Then you’ll take the left side and pass it over the bracelet and through the loop created by the right side. Then tighten that knot.
- Continue with the pattern of left under, right over and through, and then right under, left over, and through, pushing each completed knot as far up as it will go toward the male end in order to maximize the number of knots that will fit. Once you’ve reached the female end and no more knots will fit, it’s time for the next step.
- You should be down to just a few inches of cord left. Slide them through the part of the female end that the midpoint of the cord is already through. This will result in the ends being on the inside of the bracelet instead of the outside.
- If more than an inch and a half or so is left, trim the ends shorter and melt the new tips with a lighter as you did at the beginning. Now tuck those ends through the closest knots until the ends are buried within the knots. You may need a pair of tweezers to help with this.
- And there you have it! Your paracord bracelet is complete.
- To make a survival bracelet with an adjustable strap instead of a buckle, you will follow most of the same steps with just a few alterations. Go ahead and measure your wrist as you would for a buckle bracelet. Cut your cord to the right length using the equation above, and melt the ends so that they don’t fray.
- Then fold the cord in half and set the midpoint curve of the paracord toward you and let the loose ends go away from you. Find the point down the loose ends that is the length of your wrist circumference plus one inch away from the midpoint.
- Mark that spot with a paperclip or tie a piece of thread on both pieces so that you know where that spot is. Then you’ll bring the loose ends back toward you so that one rests on either side of the bracelet. Now, treating the paperclip-marked spot like the base end of the male part of the buckle, slide the loose left side under the bracelet and over the right side. Then slide the right side over the bracelet and through the left side’s loop. Make sure this knot is firm, but leave enough of the two curves that the paperclip is marking so that two pieces of paracord will be able to pass through later.
- Then switch sides so that the right goes under the bracelet and over the left, and the left goes over the bracelet and through the right’s loop. Repeat until you reach the midpoint curve and only one more knot will fit.
- Then, instead of tieing another knot, slide one loose end through that midpoint loop from the front, and slide the other from the back. Now, slide one end through one of the loops marked by the paperclip, and slide the other end through the other loop. You can remove the paperclip now.
- With the bracelet hanging at the back of your head, bring the two loose ends through your fingers so that they are laying over the palm of your hand. You should have one finger in between the two ends.
- Now, create a loose loop with the bottom strand and lay it over the top strand. Then pull that bit of top strand through the loop a little, creating another loop. Take the end of the top strand and slide it under the bottom strand, then bring it over and send it through that second loop that you created by pulling a little of the bottom strand through the first strand.
- Pull this knot snugly around your finger. And there’s your first knot. Do this knot two more times to complete the bauble end of the bracelet. Now the loose ends that are on the opposite side of the bauble from the bracelet you will need to get rid of. Cut those off close to the bauble, and then use a lighter to melt them together.
- Now that bauble at the end will allow the bracelet to fit more loosely if that’s more comfortable for you. You can wrap it around the little part of the bracelet or loop it through to make the bracelet a little tighter.
- The steps are virtually the same, just slightly different since you’ll be using keyrings instead of buckles. You’ll need two keyrings per chain. Following the equation from earlier, to make a four-inch-long keychain, you’ll need five feet of paracord.
- Fold the paracord in half so that there is a midpoint loop. Run that loop through one of the keyrings. Then take the loose ends and slide them over the keyring and through the loop. Tighten this knot.
- With that piece close to you and the loose ends facing away, run the loose ends through the other keyring until there is about four inches of distance between the two key rings. Then with the loose ends coming through the top of the keyring, lay one piece on either side so that those loose ends are coming back to you.
- Then it’s the old left under the keychain and over the right, right over the keychain and through the loop. And then the right under the keychain and over the left, and the left over the keychain and through the loop until you get to the other keyring and can’t tie any more knots.
- If there’s more than a couple of inches of cord left, cut the loose ends down to an inch and a half or so. Using tweezers to make it easier, tuck those ends into the knots on the keychain until you can’t see them anymore. And you have your keychain! Feel free to experiment with various lengths and knots.
Personalize Your Survival Bracelet
To personalize your survival bracelet, there are a variety of colors of paracord to choose from. There’s even glow-in-the-dark paracord available. Explore the ways to make your paracord items more unique and you’ll have the coolest, yet practical survival bracelet the next time you go hiking with your friends.
We wish you the best of luck as you buckle on your survival bracelet and attach your survival keyrings to your gear! Hopefully, you’ll never need to use your survival bracelet or keychain in a survival situation, but it’s there, ready if you need it.
If you’ve used your survival bracelet in a survival situation, let us know what you used it for and how effective it was.