Your trusty pack...
…it contains your whole life when you’re out on an adventure.
what’s on the outside of your pack might just one day save your life.
Whether you’re carrying a daysack, containing only what you need for a hike in the hills (and that much-needed cup of tea, coffee – whatever hot beverage you prefer) or a full military Bergen, carrying everything but the kitchen sink (possibly even that in some cases); your pack is, arguably, the single most important piece of kit you have. Not because you can take shelter inside it, or cook with it, or use it to keep you warm; rather because you use it to carry the things you need to achieve those goals.
While what’s inside your pack comprises the most critical equipment in your inventory, what’s on the outside of your pack might just one day save your life.
With that in mind, it can make a lot of sense to utilize the exterior of your pack to carry that most versatile of all items: cordage!
Paracord: quite possibly the single most utilitarian cordage in the world! With a breaking strength of 550lbs (250kg) and 7 strands comprising its centre core, Paracord is useful through and through; for everything from shelter and trap building, to fishing… or even just making a simple washing line on which to dry your clothes.
Paracord is widely regarded as “the WD40 of cordage,” and it’s as difficult to carry too much as it is easy to carry not enough.
If you simply clip cordage to the outside of your pack (for example, in hanks) you run the risk of it becoming entangled on obstacles found in the great outdoors, such as branches poking out from trees.
So, rather than allowing the exterior of your pack to become festooned with hanks of the various colours and kinds of cordage you may choose to take with you – running the risk of becoming a victim of your own unintentional snares – there is a simple way to attach useful cordage to your pack.
Not only can this method reduce the risk of the dreaded “spaghetti junction,” composed of the once neat and tidy hanks on your pack; rather it can form a utilitarian improvement to your pack itself.
The Paracord Grab Strap Wrap
While the name explicitly includes the term “Paracord,” I’d like to begin by pointing out that you can use a wide variety of cordage types to achieve the same approach; however Paracord is widely known for its near-infinite variety of utilitarian applications, and is therefore the natural choice for this purpose.
“Fire Braid” is another useful cordage. Known for its abrasion and friction heat resistance, as well as extreme breaking strength of over 1000lbs (450kg), “Fire Braid” is so-called for its known application in various fire lighting techniques such as the “Bowdrill”.
“Fire Braid” can also be used to perform the Grab Strap Wrap.
Within reason, virtually any cordage can be used to form the Grab Strap Wrap, but it is worth considering that thinner cords (such as, for example, bank line or monofilament fishing line) while still suitable for this purpose, would take a significantly longer time to wrap, and may be uncomfortable when carrying your pack by any strap you wrap.
For the remainder of this article (and the included video) the presumption will be that you are using 550 Paracord. You may have to adapt the method to better suit any different type of cordage.
How can a "Grab Strap Wrap" improve my pack?
I mentioned before that this method can serve to improve your pack, and you may be wondering how.
In addition to providing carriage for cordage with a lower profile than attaching hanks to the exterior of your pack, a Grab Strap Wrap can serve to provide comfortable padding to your straps.
Some smaller day sacks, hydration bladder bags, single-shoulder packs and other “small” packs only provide a thin grab strap. While this strap may be more than adequate in terms of strength, it can – in many cases – dig uncomfortably into your hand when utilizing the strap to carry the pack.
The Grab Strap Wrap displaces the weight of the pack’s contents over a larger surface area in your hand, reducing discomfort. Certainly an improvement!
How do I do a "Grab Strap Wrap" on my pack?
Fundamentally, a Grab Strap Wrap is nothing more than a weave of cordage around the grab strap of your pack. Quite possibly the most simple, most common, and most comfortable weave to use for this purpose is the Cobra Weave.
The video demonstration carefully illustrates how to perform the Cobra Weave, as well as how to calculate accurately how much cordage you require (to eliminate cord waste by under- or over-estimating).
Now that you know why a Paracord Grab Strap Wrap can be useful on your packs, the video (below) will teach you step by step how it’s done.
With the lilly suitably gilded, please enjoy this video tutorial on how to tie a Paracord Grab Strap Wrap.
- To calculate how much Paracord you need for a single wrap: (strap length + strap width + 0.2″) * 20
- To calculate how much Paracord you need for a double wrap: (strap length + strap width + 0.2″) * 40
- The weave demonstrated in this video is known as a Cobra Weave. Other weaves can be used, but the cordage length calculation may be different to that used for the Cobra Weave.
- Grab Strap Wraps enable you to carry additional “emergency cordage” on the exterior of your pack in a discrete and integrated manner.
- Grab Strap Wraps serve the additional purpose of padding the strap, making hand carriage more comfortable.
- Virtually any strap on virtually any pack can be wrapped in the same way.
- Using different colours and patterns of cordage can serve to add a decorative effect to your pack (if you’re into that sort of thing, anyway)
Hopefully you have found this article (especially the video) useful, and you’ll find Grab Strap Wraps to be a useful and welcomed addition to your packs.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. You can leave a comment either on this article, or on the YouTube page for the included video.