Saturday, January 16, 2010

"Handy Hundred" - Good Alternative to Paracord


Cordage is one of those great, inexpensive, multi-use items that we're always glad we've packed when we've needed it. It's great for bear bagging, adding extra guy lines to our tents, rigging tarps, replacing shoelaces, and a whole host of repairs. I wouldn't be caught dead without it.

In my early years of backpacking, I always carried a 50 ft. length of the standard paracord you can find at REI (because that's what everyone told me I should carry). While it's great stuff, I eventually realized how bulky it was and started searching for something more compact. I settled on mason's line for a while. It's thin and strong; however, it tangles easily since it's so pliable. Plus, the cut ends are difficult to cauterize with a lighter to avoid fray. Ever since, I have been on a mission to find something that had the thinner diameter of mason's line with the properties of paracord and have finally found it.


Handy Hundred is basically anorexic paracord. It looks & feels just like regular paracord, but is a lot thinner; meaning that you can reduce the bulk by about 1/3 for the same functionality. Even though it's significantly thinner, it still handles well. The strength is 100 lb. test--more than strong enough for typical camp duty. The best part? It's $1.99 for a 100ft. spool. That means I get 2 usable lengths for 1/4th the cost of the heavier, bulkier standard paracord. And, it comes in a variety of colors. I got mine at my local army surplus store but you can find them here if you can't get it locally. 50 ft. weighs 1.1 ounces and it's rigid enough to inhibit tangling. NICE! Have you tried this stuff? What for you carry for cordage?
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15 comments:

Heber said...

That REI junk isn't real paracord. I've used that stuff and I don't like it. Real mil. spec. paracord can be bought at Cabela's and Army surplus stores.

Having said that it sounds like this "handy hundred" might be better for many backpacking applications. Thanks for the tip!

severenz said...

I prefer throw lines that arborists use. I have rolls of Dynaglide, Fling-It, and Zing-It. I prefer these over most cordage because it's lighter, doesn't stretch, is waterproof, comes in bright colors, and is coated so it prevents snags.

I use it for my bear bag throw line, guy lines, fishing stringer, and survival neck lanyard. I also replace most heavy zip-lock cords in stuff sacks with it.

It's ironic that this post came up, because I've been meaning to visit my local military surplus store to pick up some paracord for around-the-house uses.

Timecheck said...

In REI stores in the climbing section they have cord that you buy by the foot. I get what I think is 3mm cord in various colors and it is fine for tent cord, clothes lines, etc. I can't break it by hand - must be at least 100 lb strength.

Thunder In The Night said...

I'm currently carrying a 5m length (no need for bear bagging here) of a product called Nomex cord (a DuPont product I think) that my brother, who works in the aviation industry, gave me on a 100m spool. It's 2mm in diameter and 150lb test. The 5m length I carry weighs 9g (0.3oz). The only thing it doesn't do well is cauterize with a lighter. I'm not sure how that compares with what others are carrying (there are a lot of variables to get your head around!) but it works for me.

Anonymous said...

Neat find. One of the nice "features" of paracord is that the nylon sheath can be removed leaving you with 7 light-weight strands, each rated at 35-pounds (as I recall, the sheath itself is rated at 300-pounds without the inner strands).

Thus 50-feet of paracord can yield 400-feet of less strong cordage if needed.

Do you know if the Handy Hundred can be similarly disassembled? Its not a deal-killer, but it would be nice to know. I sure like the cost, size, and weight!!!

Jason Klass said...

Anon-
Yes, it looks like it can be unsheathed. It has a similar core to paracord so it would probably work.

Izzy G. said...

I prefer to use legit Mil-Spec 550 Paracord. I got a hank of this Handy Hundred in Blaze Orange years ago. It melted on the dashboard of my car in the sun. It's very, very low quality poly-based material. It actually catches fire and doesn't "singe." Maybe they've changed it lately.

Brian said...

I recently bought some 2.2mm solid core Dacron braided line. It sound exactly like the cord you are describing except this has a 250 pound breaking strength and came in a 1,640 feet spool for $20. I also really like using CountyComm's "tether cord". It's a 3/32" cord also sometimes called "Sensitive Item Securing System". It's used throughout the military to secure smaller things like strobe lights, compasses and knives. Both of these are great alternatives to the bulky para cord.

If you want to get really technical and go for the maximum strength and lightest weight, I'd recommend looking for somewhere that stocks high strength 725# flat weave Spectra cord. At a total weight of 1 ounce for a 40 foot length and a breaking strength of 725 pounds, this is the only line you need to take on the trail.

Jeff said...

I use Kelty "Triptease" guyline. It's made out of Spectra and has a breaking strength nearly double that of "Handy Hundred," (188 lbs.) and weighs slightly less at 1 oz. per 50 ft.

Matt DeWitt said...

Brian I just checked out that site with the 3?32 teather cord. What that stuff looks great and love the small tools they offer. I am going to have to pic up some for work.

Ryan said...

I just ordered some of that 3/32 cord Brian mentioned. I really looks great for ridge lines and such.

Erick Fry said...

All of these tips sound like really good substitutes for my bulky paracord. Brian, do you know the weight of the 3/32 (say 50ft)? I can't find the Handy Hundred anywhere locally and the R&W site will only sell it to me in bulk.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jason,

I like your blog and "youtubes" LOL.

I went to the cord manufacturers webpage but couldn't find a link to make a purchase.

I e-mailed them with my request.

Looks like good stuff. I'll try it out if I can get it.

Thanks,

Paul Whallon
"pwhallon" on You Tube.

Brian said...

Erick, I don't have the spec weight for 50ft of the 3/32 (2.4mm) tether cord handy, but I have a couple of spools of it here someplace that I could cut up some lengths of to weigh it for you.

Scott said...

Sash cord from dead Venetian blinds is wonderful stuff and if you have friends in marine/rescue places ask them for extra "shot cord" the thin paracord that's used to fire lines from ship to ship and other uses. The latter frazzles a bit but is very strong.