How Long Does Paracord Last Outside?

If you’re into adventure, outdoors, bushcraft, preparedness, etc., you must love quality paracord.

You’ve likely owned some for years now.

But you may wonder how long paracord is designed to last, especially when it’s kept outside.

Paracord can last between 7 and 8 years with proper use and storage. This durable utility tool is designed to withstand outdoor elements such as heat and moisture exposure. However, prolonged exposure to moisture or extremely high heat can significantly reduce its lifespan.

Want to understand paracord better? 

Keep reading as I’ll discuss how to care for your paracord to maximize its shelf life. 

I’ll also explore the things that can affect the durability of your paracord.

How To Maximize Paracord Shelf Life

Paracord is designed for heavy-duty utility purposes (in comparison to size), making it an essential part of any survival kit, outdoor gear, and preparedness supplies.

But even the most durable item has limits, and paracord is no exception.

If cared for incorrectly, it can rot or become brittle, making it useless.

So how exactly can you prolong the life of paracord? Here are some tips:

Ensure Paracord Is Dry Before Storage

Paracord can be used for all sorts of things, from hanging a hammock to fishing.

It’s designed for outdoor use, meaning they can withstand getting wet to a certain degree.

There’s no need to worry if your paracord gets wet from rain or when using it for your boating or fishing trip.

However, you must dry your paracord thoroughly after using it and before you store it.

Even if you don’t keep paracord in a closed container, such as a utility box, storing it in a coil or loop can prevent the paracord from fully drying.

Aside from drying your paracord, ensure to store it somewhere dry.

Storing wet paracord makes it prone to rotting but will also make it smelly.

So make sure to clean your paracord when it gets wet with something prone to causing bad odor.

Keep Paracord Away From Extremely High Temperatures

Another tip to prolong your paracord’s life is to keep it away from very high temperatures.

Using your paracord in the sun is not the same as exposing it to steam, fire, or very hot air (think of a heat gun). 

That’s because paracord is made of nylon, which can disintegrate with prolonged exposure to high temperatures.

Furthermore, paracord can combust if exposed to fire. You should keep your paracord away from any open flames.

When paracord is wet, let it air dry. Don’t use a hair dryer to dry the paracord because the hot air from the hair dryer could affect its longevity, especially if done frequently.

Store the Paracord Properly

Don’t do this!

Aside from keeping your paracord dry, it’s also important to store it properly.

Doing this will prevent unnecessary wear and tear that can affect its lifespan. Here are some ways you can store your paracord:

  • Use the fast rope method (long and short hank). This method is quick and ideal for longer paracord.
  • Store the paracord in a plastic water bottle. Create a hole on the cap to let loose end through. This method is great if you want extra protection for your paracord.
  • Use the hand wrap method. Doing this makes your paracord into a sturdy bundle that’s easy to grab and fit in your backpack.
  • Wrap the paracord around a spool. This method is easy and requires practically no knowledge of tying knots.
  • Form the paracord into a keychain. This method is best for shorter paracord.
  • Form the paracord into a donut-like shape. This method is great if you want a nifty paracord donut that’s easy on the eye.

Don’t Leave Paracord Outside for Too Long

While paracord is designed for outdoor use, you can stretch its lifespan by not leaving it outside for too long.

Prolonged exposure to the elements weakens its material, making it less durable.

Sure, you can use paracord to fix a hammock in your backyard and keep it there as long as you like.

But you’ll likely see some wear on it and even rot (if it rains a lot) soon enough.

If you want paracord to last for more than 7 years, always store it properly after every use.

Things That Damage Paracord

If you want your paracord to last, it’s important to watch out for things that can potentially affect its material and make it less durable.

Remember to keep these away from your paracord. If exposure is inevitable, limit it as much as possible.

Prolonged Water Exposure Will Cause Paracord To Rot

It’s normal for paracord to shrink after the first water exposure.

You don’t have to worry about using it outside when it’s raining or even on a fishing trip.

For example, a quick dunk in a river is not a problem because the material allows it to air dry pretty quickly.

However, keeping paracord soaked in water for a prolonged period is a big no-no because water can cause it to rot.

High Heat or Fire Can Cause Paracord To Disintegrate or Combust 

Never use paracord anywhere close to an open flame or very high temperatures.

The nylon in the paracord is susceptible to high heat and can cause it to become brittle, disintegrate, melt or even combust.

If you’re camping and using your paracord to hang up a hammock, do so a good distance away from a bonfire, stove, or grill. Just like you would anyways.

Prolonged Sun Exposure Will Weaken Paracord 

You can’t avoid UV rays and heat from the sun when you’re outdoors, and that’s okay.

However, you mustn’t leave your paracord under direct sunlight for days.

That’s because UV rays can weaken the paracord’s material and cause it to prematurely weaken.

Exposure to Harsh Chemicals Makes Paracord Brittle

If you dropped your paracord somewhere muddy or in stagnant water, give it a good rinse with water alone.

If it’s particularly grimy, you can use a mild detergent to clean it out. But never use harsh chemicals like bleach. 

Bleach, motor oil, and other chemicals can make paracord brittle or cause its material to break down.

Mold Growth Will Disintegrate Paracord Over Time 

You’ll likely see mold growth if you don’t store your paracord properly.

Mold growth can cause paracord to rot or disintegrate, especially if the growth is widespread and left for a long time.

Most paracord is highly resistant to molds, but it’s always best to stay on the safe side.


Paracord is a very strong, durable material that has a wide range of uses and is a must in every survival, utility, or outdoor kit.

Strong as it is, though, it can still be damaged if not used, cared for, and stored the right way.

Cody Martin

With over 18 years of federal law enforcement, training, and physical security experience, Cody focuses his time nowadays on both consulting and training. He regularly advises individuals, groups, multinational corporations, schools, houses of worship, and NGOs on security threats while conducting customized training as needed.

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