Thursday, March 28, 2013

Paracord Manufacturer Review - E.L. Wood Braiding Co.


Now that the “Basics of Paracord” has been introduced, I'd like to introduce a paracord manufacturer that has clearly demonstrated consistency and quality in their products.

E.L. Wood is known for their color selection.
These are just some of the colors they offer.
E.L. Wood Braiding Co., Inc. was founded in 1995 and is currently located in Marathon, New York. They are family owned and operated, manufacturing millions of feet of rope and braided cordage each year. All of their products are U.S. Made, which they will proudly stand behind. Plus, they are an official U.S. Government Contractor, supplying the U.S. Military with all sorts of rope and cordage.

E.L. Wood prides itself in being at the fore-front of developing and manufacturing new and custom products to meet the ever-growing, ever-changing demands of the market. They are able to do this by continuously updating their technology to support higher quality materials, equaling higher quality products. Their facilities are run 24/7, with employees working around the clock to ensure that timelines are met and orders are fulfilled, with excellence being key. (These people just don’t sleep!)

Their products can be found around the globe in industries such as marine/boating, fishing, hunting, defense, military, apparel, camping, pet/equine, police and aerospace. The materials that they use in their products are incredibly diverse. Their fibers include Nylon, Polyester, Poly Propylene, Kevlar, Spectra, Dyneema, Vectra, Technora, Teflon, and few other secrets in their stash.

E.L. Wood also has a great selection of patterns,
with new patterns coming out every few months!
They manufacture twine, over braiding, double braids, solid braids, diamond braids, flat braids, Kernmantle braids, shock cord, 325 Nylon Paraline, 650 Nylon Paraline, accessory cord, Mil-C-5040 Type III 550 Military-Spec Paracord, Type III 550 Commercial-Spec “Survival” Paracord, or any other braid that you could possibly request. The braid diameters can range between products, all being packaged in various lengths and forms.

Not only does E.L. Wood make REAL Type III 550 Commercial Paracord, they are the largest supplier in the United States! They have over 150 colors and patterns, with an ever growing list thanks to their development team and customers’ custom requests. They're kind of a big deal. You can find a bunch of their colors here, including reflective and glow-in-the-dark!

To be quite honest, out of all of the brands that I have worked with, touched and seen, I have a bit of a crush on E.L. Wood. The quality of their 550 Paracord is unmatched when it comes to consistency and vividness. Whatever color they may dye their cord, all of their colors have the same texture, flexibility, and brightness as the last batch that they made a month or eight months ago. They seem to have a certain zeal for matching their dyes from batch to batch, which makes me wonder if they have a factory full of Oompa-Loompas each assigned to their own color. They’d be like the Willy Wonka of Paracord (the Gene Wilder one, not the creepy Johnny Depp one).

Even if they don’t employ cute little singing carrot men, E.L. Wood’s 550 Paracord is great for all sorts of applications. I’m fairly confident that the list goes beyond a bazillion uses. The most popular use as of late seems to be “Survival Bracelets”, followed by several other crafts. In regards to E.L. Wood’s performance, they stand out among the rest based on the softness and flexibility of their cord. When working the cord into a bracelet or lanyard (or anything else for that matter), the pliability aids in the progress and final look of the product. The softness results in a less abrasive feel against the skin. Like a baby’s bottom, only not.

So, in conclusion, E.L. Wood is like Willy Wonka.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Welcome to Paracord Blog - What is Paracord?

With this blog, I hope to introduce you guys to the amazing world of Paracord.

For those who do not know, Paracord is a staple item when it comes to outdoor survival and general preparedness. Think of it as duct tape for the outdoorsman. It's about the thickness of a shoe lace, but can support up to 550 lbs of static weight!

History

550 Paracord was originally used in rigging parachutes during World War II. The paratroopers that used it found it useful for other tasks. The military quickly adopted it as an all-purpose cordage. When veterans came back from the war, they brought with them the desire to use that same multi-purpose cordage in civilian applications, thus the availability of Paracord.

Composition

Type III Paracord has 7 internal strands and a colored outer sheath.
Paracord has a specific composition, and that's what gives it its strength.

Paracord in and of itself is a lightweight nylon kernmantle rope. It has an inner core (kern) and an exterior sheath (mantle) woven over it. There are many types of Paracord available, varying by the amount of internal strands and their sheath structure. The composition of a given type of paracord changes its strength and diameter, which allows you to choose which cordage is more useful for a given task.

The chart below shows the specifics behind the most commonly available types of paracord.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parachute_cord
The most commonly available cordage is Type III, although Type I and Type II are growing in popularity.

Here is the tensile strength breakdown of Type III Paracord:
Outside Sheath - 305 lbs
Inner Strand - 35 lbs each x 7 strands
 ---------------------------------
Total Strength - 550 lbs

The 550 lb. strength of Type III Paracord is why it is commonly called 550 Paracord or 550 Cord.

Mil-Spec 550 vs. Commercial-Spec 550

Mil-Spec Paracord is generally limited to basic colors.
Now, if this wasn't confusing enough, there is also a difference between Mil-Spec Paracord (aka MIL-C-5040) and Commercial-Spec paracord. The difference is mainly in the quality control and type of internal yarns used. Mil-Spec cord uses 1050 denier, 3-ply nylon yarn and there are 7 of these yarns/strands in each strand of 550 Paracord. There is also a piece of ID cord in each strand of Mil-Spec Paracord to identify which manufacturer the cordage came from. Mil-Spec Paracord must go through rigorous testing, from raw materials to the final product, in order for it to be certified for U.S. Military use.

Commercial-Spec cord, can use a single-ply, double-ply, or 3-ply, internal nylon strand. There are usually 7 of these yarns/strands in each strand of Commercial-Spec 550 Paracord. There may or may not be an ID tag in Commercial-Spec Paracord.

If you're wondering what denier means, it is a measure of the thickness and weight (linear mass density) of the strand of fiber that you're measuring. The denier formula is: 9000/(denier value) = Meters of yarn equal to one gram

Commercial-Spec Paracord has a larger variety of colors.
8.57 meters of 1050 denier nylon equals one gram. As a reference, a single strand of silk is 1 denier, meaning that it takes 9 kilometers of silk to equal 1 gram! This might be a bit too much detail than you really wanted, but this is the Paracord Blog after all! :) We're here to give you information that you'd be hard-pressed to find in other places.

Mil-Spec Type III Paracord, along with Commercial Type III Paracord are both rated to 550 lbs. The difference is that Military Paracord is rated to be used in parachutes and other military applications, where your life may depend on the quality of the cordage, while commercial is meant to be used in less life-critical application. For all civilian intents and purposes, Commercial-Spec cord is every bit as good as Mil-Spec cord. As long as you're not jumping out of airplanes, you won't notice a functional difference.

There are many advantages to using Commercial-Spec cordage in applications other than parachute rigging. Possibly the biggest advantage to commercial cordage is the price. Commercial-Spec cordage costs about half as much for basically the same performance. The color selection on commercial cord is also much greater than on Mil-Spec cord. Mil-Spec comes in a handful of select colors: Black, White, Olive Drab (Camo Green), Foliage Green, Coyote Brown, Tan 499, Red (Medic Red/Drab Red), Solar Orange (Safety Orange/Drab Orange), and only a few other basic colors. However, Commercial-Spec cord can come in literally hundreds of colors and patterns.

Reputable Manufacturers

Not all Paracord is made the same, irrespective of the difference between Mil-Spec and Commercial-Spec, there are differences between the quality of cordage produced from various manufacturers. To start off, you need to make sure that your Paracord is U.S. Made. We should support U.S. companies whenever possible and U.S. made cordage is of higher quality. Some top-quality U.S. manufacturers include E.L. Wood and Gladding. I'll make sure to show you guys the quality of E.L. Wood and Gladding in future blog posts. I am also going to be testing out paracord made by Franklin Braid soon.

As far as vendors, a vendor that I have had good experience with is Survival-Pax. They can be found at www.survival-pax.com.

Common Uses

Like I mentioned at the beginning, Paracord is like duct tape. There are so many uses. The fact that it is so strong and relatively inexpensive makes it a commonly available piece of gear that many people use when out in the woods or even around the home. You can use it in most applications where you'd use cordage.

If you're looking to increase the amount of usable cord available to you, you can "gut" your paracord, meaning you can remove the internal strands, essentially increasing the amount of cordage that you have by eight. You can still use the outer sheath, which is rated at 305 lbs strength and use each inner strand (rated at 35 lbs.) for tasks that require a thinner cordage. The inner strands would work great for sewing thread, fishing line or even dental floss.

I should have mentioned this earlier, but if you ever do cut the cordage, BE SURE TO MELT THE ENDS! Paracord is a synthetic cordage made out of nylon. If you cut it and do not melt the ends, it will unravel over time, which will make your cord useless, or at the very least frustrating. A cigarette lighter, a match, or even a glowing coal, is enough to singe the cord end to keep it from unraveling.

Conclusion

And that's it, a somewhat brief introduction into the wondering world of Paracord. Let me know what uses you've found for Paracord in the comments below.