The use of parachute cord, otherwise known as Para Cord is a very widely used and functional piece of equipment which has been around since the birth of the parachute for military use in World War II. This lead to multiple applications such as survival bracelets and the application of webbing and suspension lines. Since its adoption by the military and becoming surplus, stores around the world have been selling parachute cord for civilian use.
Web-Tex para cord is a variation of 550 para cord but is designed to be a cheaper solution for use in military and civilian camping solutions. It is worth mentioning that this cord is available in multiple colours and is not limited to what you see in the pictures in this review.
The Web-Tex para cord roll is roughly 100 metres in length which allows for multiple applications before requiring the purchase of more and is ideal for camping and bushcraft. It is however not recommended for climbing and use with heavy equipment weighing over 50 kgs. This is one of the first differences in performance between this para cord and that of 550 para cord.
The thickness of the cord is also much smaller than 550 at 3mm diameter give or take slight expansion due to moisture and the level of water retention. Unlike 550 para cord, the outer woven nylon strands are interweaved in larger strands and has an inner core of multiple hairline threads. There are over 20 hairline threads within the core and are colour coded in bronze, blue and white. Other than colour, there is little difference in the properties of each strand.
As mentioned previously, the Web-Tex cord is 3mm thick and is interwoven on the outside whilst the inner cores are not woven together at all. Where the cord is cut, you can see the inner cores in their three different colours. The outer layer of para cord feels slightly squishy as the inner cores are not compressed very much, allowing for a minor amount of stretch and bend across the cord.
The cord texture does not have much grip and does not maintain the same thickness when stretched. The colour of the para cord is the same hue and tone throughout and only changes to a darker hue when wet.
There are not many claims for the function of this para cord other than to offer multiple functions for bush craft, camping and other applications. Web-Tex para cord is very much capable of being used to set up a tent and to create lines for hanging equipment and tarps with little issue.
Normally when cutting the end of a line of para cord, it is recommended to prevent the ends from fraying by burning them. Due to the material that para cord is made from, it is quite easy to melt the ends together. A flame test was performed to test if the para cord is flammable and whether it would retain the frame for longer than ten seconds. The results of this test have shown that the para cord is not easily flammable and melts as expected, giving a hardened texture which closes up the threads on one end into a charred bulb.
Because this product is designed to be used outdoors, we also decided to take it through a water retention test to see how much water it can retain by weight and for how long it retains that water at room temperature. As you can see from the pictures below, a 5 metre length of para cord weighs at around 14 grams when dry. After being soaked in tap water and left to naturally drain for a few minutes, the cord increased by 85% of it’s original weight. The cord eventually returned to being fully dry in just under an hour (be aware that this time span can change depending on the single length of para cord).
Another interesting finding that may be relevant in future use, especially near ponds and ravines is the fact that Web-Tex para cord floats even when retaining its full capacity of water. This is very useful for situations in which it is necessary to avoid the cord from submerging itself in flood or applications involving the need for buoyancy.
The inner cores are capable of working like fish wire however are too thin to be applied without easily tearing under load. It is not recommended to try and use the inner cores on their own as they are not strong enough to be applied in such scenarios were some weight is involved. The inner cores are however useful for stitching and small forms of make shift bandaging or knitting.
Web-Tex para cord is actually quite a durable cord considering it only has the capacity to hold the weight of 50 kg or less. It has been able to carry a load of up to 65 kg before showing signs of stress along the outer layers. As mentioned before, it is not recommended for this product to be used for any duration on any activities where the strength of the cord is crucial.
The outer layer of threading is not easily susceptible to fraying when brushed against bark, metal objects and other materials. It is however not resistant to sharp objects cutting the outer strands. If a partition of the outer layer frays, that area becomes a weak point which can slowly loosen the threads of the rest of the outer layers, leaving the inner cores exposed.
When used to tie knots, the para cord is thin enough to make the application easy and due to the flexibility of the outer layer to the inner cores, creates a tight end result to the knot. Because the texture of the outer layer does not have too much grip, it is not too difficult to untie the knot after application and reuse the length of cord afterwards.
Para cord is widely used in the outdoor community and is shared across both military and civilian applications. It is true that the Web-Tex Para Cord is thinner and cheaper than the 550 para cord that is used for heavier application, however there is very little difference in pricing when bought in small quantity.
The Web-Tex variation finds itself cheap and more effectively priced when bought in very large quantities for tasks that don’t require a vital function from that of the cord. Web-Tex para cord is on average, 40% cheaper than 550 para cord per metre, at the cost of quality and durability but can be negated if the application is feasible for it.
If you are thinking about getting some para cord but are not intending to find a heavy application for its usage, Web-Tex para cord is ideal for learning and finding multiple different ways to apply this to camping and other such activities. It is a cheap and cost effective product which allows for practice and training without the worry of costing money on mistakes made with lengths of cord.
It is worth noting that this cord is no substitute to heavy application such as parachuting and rock climbing. It would be very dangerous to trust the load of a human being with this product as it is not fit for purpose. There are other applications that involve the inner cores that may also not be very effective with this product, however that is determined based on the application and not the product itself.