Bank Line vs Paracord: Which is Better for Survivalists?

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Have you ever wondered what is the best type of rope to pack for bushcraft? This is usually a common concern among most survivalists.

Whether you like camping, hiking, or hunting, some situations will require you to use a paracord or bank line while out there. From weaving to tying a clothesline and making bracelets, there are countless ways to use your rope.

Bank line and paracord are among the most commonly used ropes for bushcraft and they are used for varied purposes.

Some adventurers and survivalists prefer packing paracord for their adventure trips while others prefer bank line, and there are reasons for that.

However, paracord is the most popular cordage used by many people in the bushcraft community. But this doesn’t mean that it’s better than the bank line as both of them have their benefits and serve different purposes.

This article (Bank Line vs Paracord) will help you understand the differences between paracord and bank line and learn how to use them in bushcraft.

Bank Line vs Paracord

A bank line is a twisted polypropylene twine that usually comes tarred for weather resistance. It’s designed to perform most things a paracord can do, but is quite light due to its smaller diameter.

The bank line name is derived from trotline fishing whereby it’s used on the bank of a waterway to catch catfish.

You use it by tossing out a strong mainline baited with several hooks and come back hours later to check what your line has caught.

The bank line comes in various diameters and strengths and it can be immensely handy in the bushcraft world and wilderness survival.

On the other hand, paracord, also known as parachute cord or 550 cord is a lightweight nylon kernmantle rope that was originally used to suspend parachutes. Today, this rope is used as a general-purpose utility cord.

The all-nylon construction used when making paracord makes it quite elastic with a relatively smooth texture. It comes with a smoothly braided sheath made up of 32 interwoven strands.

Paracord and bank line differ in many ways including their strength, grip, weight, compactness, price, and uses.

Let’s discuss their properties to see their differences and find out what rope fits best for certain situations in bushcraft.

  • Strength

Being a heavier rope, paracord is stronger than a bank line due to its sturdy materials and robust construction. It has many yarns twisted into strands and covered with a smooth and sturdy sheath.

If you want to cut the weight from your backpack, you will need to ensure a balance between the need for strength with the weight issues of the rope. This is because the bank line may be light but unfit for some applications since it’s not as strong as paracord.

  • Grip

Bank line offers better grip than paracord and it can be used to tie a knife to a stick to make an effective spear for hunting. The knife will be more secure when a tarred bank line is used instead of a paracord.

Moreover, knots seem to hold better with the bank line compared to paracord as revealed by survival experts. You can use a bank line to make almost all kinds of knots used in bushcraft.

  • Lightweight and Compactness

Looking for an easy way to cut down the weight of your backpack? You can pack a bank line instead of a paracord.

The bank line is usually lighter and more compact than the paracord. It’s very handy if you have a small backpack or have more supplies to take with you as it leaves you with more room.

  • Affordability

In most cases, the price of a product is determined by how it’s made and the materials used in its construction. Paracord uses a complex construction and is made to be stronger, hence it may be a bit pricier than the bank line rope.

Bank line is quite cheaper than paracord and it comes in a variety of colors to choose from, ranging from blue, green, black, multi-colored, and neon variations and more.

Paracord’s price remains higher than that of bank line as it’s also more expensive to manufacture.

  • Water-Resistance

With proper tarring, bank line rope repels instead of absorbing liquids. This makes it more suitable than paracord for some specific applications in bushcraft.

Depending on your situation in bushcraft, a bank line can be a better option as it doesn’t absorb water.

Nonetheless, paracord doesn’t rot or fade even when used in extreme weather conditions.

You might also wonder whether paracord can float or sink immediately when put on water. The truth is that paracord will float for a little while, but sink once saturated.

It may take hours for the paracord to get saturated with water, depending on how tight the sheath is. If the cord has a loose sheath, it absorbs water easily and then sinks.

This isn’t the case with the bank line since it’s water-resistant and won’t absorb any water to submerge. With a bank line, you won’t have to worry about the problems moisture or water can cause in a paracord.

Bank Line Usage

While both paracord and bank line can be very handy in bushcraft, one may work better than the other in certain situations.

The bank line is mainly used for fishing to make hooks and baits periodically along the river bank. Here are other bank line uses:

  • Making a fishing line
  • Setting traps and snares
  • Rigging equipment
  • Making nets

If you are working with a tarred or braided bank line, you can also use the smaller strands as a sewing thread. It’s thin and fine enough to sew or repair your equipment.

Paracord Usage

Paracord is mainly used in the ex-military and survival communities. There are six different types of paracord as specified by the US military, but the Type III cord is the most popular one is bushcraft and wilderness survival.

With the rising popularity of the 550 cord, commercial variants have emerged from different manufacturers.

The best thing about paracord is that you can use it for countless applications while in the wild. Here are some of the ways to use paracord:

  • Making wearable survival kits
  • Making survival bracelets
  • Building a tarp shelter
  • Making baits or trotline for acquiring food like catching fish
  • Starting a fire in an emergency situation
  • Making a strong monkey fist for self-defense
  • Making tripwire with the inner threads
  • Hauling heavy weights like prey or carrying firewood

Bank Line vs Paracord: Which is the Best?

Before you head to the store to buy a rope for survival, it’s important to know which type is the best for you. This is because you want to purchase a rope that you can count on while out there.

Depending on your bushcraft and survival needs, you need to buy a rope that is reliable, versatile, and can last longer.

While the bank line is cheaper and lightweight, most survivalists go for the 550 paracord since it’s stronger and resistant to abrasion. It also has a good amount of stretch and resists mildew.

However, paracord might be way too expensive if you just want a rope for easy tasks like making a fishing line and tying secure knots.

Final Thoughts

Paracord and bank line are some of the most useful ropes on the planet not only because of their strength and knot holding ability but also for their versatility.

When it comes to bushcraft, both bank line and paracord are very useful for various tasks while out there as discussed above.

The best type of rope for you will depend on a variety of factors including how you intend to use the rope, your budget, and the space you have in your backpack.

Bank line is a cheaper option and you can still use it to perform most tasks done with paracord. Hence, it’s the best one if you are looking for a cheaper, lightweight, and compact rope for bushcraft.

If you want to use your bushcraft rope for complex tasks like hauling heavy weights such as firewood and making tripwires, then paracord is your best bet.


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