How to Make a Tow Strap From Paracord

by David Clark
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Tow straps, which are frequently used for general-purpose and short-distance towing, also can be employed in critical rescue situations. When a commercially-made tow strap is unavailable, use paracord as a substitute. Paracord is a strong, thin, lightweight rope originally designed for use as parachute suspension lines. Making your own tow strap from standard paracord is a relatively simple process, but in order for the slender paracords to handle the minimum tow weight of a typical vehicle, a number of lengths will need to be braided together to increase their strength.

Step 1

Determine the maximum tow weight for which the tow strap will be used. Most general-purpose tow straps for cars and pickup trucks have tow strength ratings that start at 10,000 pounds. However, it is always best to overestimate the weight being towed.

Step 2

Determine the strength rating of a single length of paracord. Quality paracords are rated to 550 pounds. Next, determine the desired length of the tow strap. A good, all-purpose size is 18 feet long.

Step 3

Determine the number of individual paracord strands needed to safely tow the desired weight. For example, to safely tow 10,000 pounds, you'll need a minimum of 19 strands of 550-pound paracord (10,000 / 550 = 18.19).

Step 4

Cut the paracord strands to braiding length. According to The Purse Workshop, determine the starting rope length for a braid by taking the desired finished braided rope length, add 1/3rd and then double it. For example, to create a finished 18-foot length of braided rope, add 6 feet (1/3 of 18). Then multiply that total by 2, for a paracord starting strand length of 48 feet (18 + 6 = 24, 24 x 2 = 48).

Step 5

Create a paracord tow strap by braiding the paracords in to a 3-strand braid. Start by knotting all 19 strands of paracord together at one end. Separate the 19 paracord lengths into three groups, two of which will have 6 strands and one will have 7.

Step 6

Begin the braid by laying the left-hand group over the middle group, between the center and right-hand groups. Then, lay the right-hand group over the middle group, between the new left-hand and middle groups. Repeat along the entire paracord length. Knot the other end.

Step 7

Knot an 18-inch overhand loop on one end of the strap. To prevent fraying, wrap several thicknesses of hockey tape around the loop and at least 12 inches down the braided strap. Repeat on the other end of the strap.

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