The Art of Survival Bracelets

Summer Scout Camp for our troop is less than two weeks away.  As the PLC works through sorting out equipment needs, meal planning and duty rosters, I’m gathering up things we can do while hanging out around camp.  More specifically, stuff for lashing and whittling contests or Stick-Pull and Tug-o-war games.  We have also re-directed the boy’s energy through other means as well.

One year, someone brought up spools and spools of Gimp (vinyl lace) in every color.  The boys had a great time braiding all kinds of different boondoggles.  The most complex one they worked up to involved 16 strands! 

The next year, someone packed a roll of industrial sized shrink wrap.  You can imagine how much fun we had with that!  Even our assigned Camp Friend got wrapped (pictured left). 

Last year, I bought 800 feet of different colored paracord to make survival bracelets… it was interesting to see what they came up with in combinations of color, style and creative adaptations.  It became a craze once we got home – everyone who saw these wanted one! 

The boys have been asking me lately if I was planning to bring paracord again this year.  Absolutely!  I just picked up 1,000 feet in a variety of colors!

If this sounds interesting, here’s some info that might help you do this with your troop.

The Cord

We went with the cord rated at 450 pound strength (3-4 strands inside its core).  You could use the cord rated at 550 (7 strands inside its core), but there’s usually a cost difference between the two strengths.  While these bracelets *could* be used in a rare “survival” scenario, I doubt they will ever be applied as such.  We just see them as something the boys can work on that looks cool on their wrist.

The Cost

The best price I found for the 450 cord in my area is $.07/foot.  However, every local youth group and scout troop knows about this place so they sell out fast.  The next best price I found was online at $.085/foot (when purchased in 100’ sections).  I’ve placed several orders through The Barre Army Navy Store in Vermont, who also has the 550 cord for the same price.  If you shop elsewhere, just watch out for over-priced product.  I’ve seen standard paracord as much as $.15/foot, which I think is a complete rip-off!

If you want to get fancy and make these with a buckle, I would recommend or use their eBay store.  We’ve ordered 100 buckles through them on two seperate occations with a great customer experience and excellent pricing!  Depending on how many you buy at a time, the cost per buckle is anywhere between .16 each (100-pack) to .40 each (10-pack).  We went with the 3/8″ size that come in all sorts of colors.

The Instructions

There are so many styles of braid you can tie for these bracelets – some are pretty simple and others very complex.  Attached is a one-page printer-friendly version of the most basic braid to get your boys started.  From there, let them use their imaginations to see what they come up with on their own.  When you’re ready for more challenging ones, check out TIAT’s videos.  Talk about some pretty impressive tying!

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3 Responses to The Art of Survival Bracelets

  1. Bob says:


    I’ll send you a link to the updated article via your contact page when I have it up. Many thanks.


  2. Bob says:

    Hello. I was browsing for articles in which groups like yours have used paracord as an activity, whether making the bracelets for fun or fundraisers, and wondered if you would mind me adding a brief mention of your Troop’s activities and a link to your post here. I’m a huge advocate of getting families, kids and groups to do more things together and to promote creativity, and I believe this is a great example of how simple and fun it can be. Thanks,


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