Long a staple of preparedness kits, paracord is cheap and versatile. It can be used to make an impromptu shelter, to create makeshift tools or even an emergency toolkit. The most appealing aspect of paracord is that it’s easy to create your own gear – or add it to existing equipment to make it more versatile. Paracord, as the name would imply, was originally designed to suspend a parachuter from a parachute: it’s smooth, strong and durable. Civilian use includes homemade bracelets, dog leashes, lanyards, belts, watchbands, rifle slings – even bullwhips. The utility of paracord isn’t limited to Earth – it was used by astronauts Mark Lee and Steven Smith to make emergency repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope in 1997. Do-it-yourself projects made with paracord range from the trivial to the relatively complex – though any homesteaders who are knitters or crocheters should have no problem. We know at least one homesteader who makes a few dollars on the side offering custom pet equipment from paracord, including harnesses and dog collars.As useful as it is, why not make that paracord even more useful by making it double as kindling? Although more expensive than the mil-spec version, outfits like Fire Cord and Live Fire incorporate a single strand of petroleum-infused cord in addition to the standard nylon strands within the outer sleeve. The concept is that in an emergency situation, one would unravel the cord and use the tinder cord with a firestarter to make a fire quickly and easily. The SurvivorCord brand takes the concept a step further, adding a thin brass wire and a monofilament fishing line to the tinder cord. As much as we love traditional paracord, it makes me uncomfortable to have something that could ignite for an article of clothing – and the firestarter cord has a strong odor that doesn’t make it appealing to wear. Still, wrapping an axe handle or bug-out bag handle in a firestarting paracord gives “bonus” functionality to an existing piece of survival gear.