Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"Made in the USA" Gear Review: LifeView Outdoors Mil-Spec 550 Paracord

Paracord (Parachute cord) is a cheap, yet important piece of gear that everyone should carry in their pack. It has a multitude of different uses, far too many to list in this review, but a few that stand out are lashing together shelter poles, making a ridge line for a tarp, and separating the small inner strands from the outer sheathing to make snares, traps or even fishing line. For a more in-depth writeup about the history and uses for paracord, check out this excellent article by Scott Wickham at WoodsMonkey.com called "The Many Uses of Paracord."

One thing I've noticed recently is a decrease in the quality of paracord sold at both online and brick and mortar retail stores. In particular, the sheathing seems to be flimsier than what I've seen in the past.

I'm by no means an expert on paracord, but I've been carrying it in my kit since the 1980s, so I know what quality paracord is when I see it. Finding good paracord has become more difficult lately, so it was a great relief when our new sponsor LifeView Outdoors sent us some high quality paracord to review for our "Made in the USA" series. It was genuine MIL-C-5040H Type III certified 550 paracord.

To give an idea of what low-quality paracord looks like compared to the stiffer, higher quality Mil-Spec stuff that LifeView sells, I took the comparison shots below. The orange paracord was bought from a well-known internet seller of survival supplies, while the coyote brown cord is the LifeView Outdoors US made Mil-Spec paracord. Note how the orange paracord is more flat than round. It's because the sheathing is flimsier and lower-quality.

(click to enlarge)

LifeView also provided us with a copy of a test report that's included with each of their orders, showing just how thoroughly this paracord is actually tested.
(click to enlarge)

We were also sent a 100 ft spool of Type I "micro-paracord" that comes from the same manufacturer. This paracord has a break strength of 100lbs vs 550lbs for the larger Type III paracord. It's smaller size and lighter weight make it a great choice for ultra-lite packs or to stash in tiny places where the larger 550 cord might not fit.

A nice trick with the Type I micro-paracord is to cut up an old credit card, punch a small hole in one end and use it as a spool to hold the cord for your survival kit.

So if you're tired of the flimsy, low quality paracord being foisted on hapless bushcrafters, check out LifeView's high quality, certified mil-spec paracord. It's affordable and you can find it at the links below. Don't skimp on quality,  your life may depend on it some day.

To buy certified LifeView Outdoors Mil-Spec Type I micro-paracord, visit www.lifeviewoutdoors.com/hiking-and-camping-gear/cordage-tape-and-accessories/type-1-paracord-mil-c-5040.html

To buy certified LifeView Outdoors Mil-Spec Type III 550 paracord, visit www.lifeviewoutdoors.com/hiking-and-camping-gear/cordage-tape-and-accessories/mil-spec-550-paracord.html

About the author
Jason Schwartz is the founder and senior editor of Rocky Mountain Bushcraft. He is a former Red Cross certified Wilderness & Remote First Aid Instructor, and has taught bushcraft and wilderness survival techniques to the Boy Scouts of America, interned with the US Forest Service, and studied wilderness survival, forestry and wildland firefighting at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, Colorado. Jason has also written for magazines such as The New Pioneer and Backpacker, including writing the "Tinder Finder" portion of Backpacker's "Complete Guide to Fire," which won a 2015 National Magazine Award (NMA). Email him at rockymountainbushcraft @ hotmail.com (without spaces)


  1. At first glance I was skeptical about a review of 550 cord but you raise a great point. I'm still working through the surplus that left the Army with me so I haven't encountered this yet and I appreciate the heads up. Thanks

    1. Thanks for the comment Al. I was spurred to write this review after buying paracord from several well-known internet and local retailers. One of the local stores I go to sells Army surplus and has always had good mil-spec paracord. Now, even the stuff they carry is flimsy crap, probably made overseas. Tried the internet and got burned there too. Was glad to run across the good stuff by accident through LifeView.



  2. Yeah like a lot of stuff. Imitators are never as good as the real deal.