A rope is easily one of the most valuable assets a camper can have. Parachute cord, commonly called paracord, has had many uses in the typical overnight camp. It has thousands of applications, and in many cases, only a good piece of sturdy cord will serve the job.
Firstly, you need to be proficient in knots. Most knots work by using the friction of the line used, while others may use many ‘turns’ around the line, followed by a stopper knot if the line is slippery or doesn’t bind well. Knots in themselves can be an extremely in-depth study, but for the infrequent camper, one should be versed in only a few simple knots; the overhand, which is the most basic of knots, the figure-eight knot, the reef knot, and the slip knot. Familiarity with this shortlist of knots can improve successes in working with line, and allows you to apply your knowledge practically.
A line can be used for multiple purposes, from lashing makeshift tent poles together using a figure-eight pattern of winding around the joint to using a rope to lift foodstuffs off the ground in bear country. This is done by selecting a low branch on a tree and tossing the line over the branch so that there is a line hanging from both sides of the branch.
At this point, the food would be affixed in a bag or sling on one end whilst the other end is pulled to hoist the load out of reach. The hoisting end is then tied around the tree with a simple slip knot. This can drastically improve camp safety in regions where bears harass campers and steal carelessly stored food.
Further uses of rope in a camping situation include creating temporary shelter using a tarpaulin and a few lengths of rope. Four trees are selected that are in a roughly square or rectangular pattern and are spaced properly in relation to each other.
The tarpaulin is tied to the trees with the rope and slung between them to create a makeshift roof. In survival situations, you can loosen and adjust the tarpaulin so that is sags slightly in the middle like a large pliable bowl, which can then be punctured at the lowest point to collect fallen rain and dew for drinking water.
Elaborate shelters can be created using only rope, and wooden poles lashed together to create wall panels, which are then joined together to form rooms. You can also use a rope to create many forms of trap snares if you need to for survival. In this vein, a camper in a starvation situation can use short pieces of wood and rope to create small wooden traps to snare prey.
The continuing concept is that you are limited only by the length of rope/cord that you have and your imagination. A camper who worries of uninvited intruders and has lots of rope might consider a perimeter strung tautly around the camp with the loose ends tied to a pot sitting in a pan near the tent, ensuring that any tugging or shaking of the rope will rattle the pans and alert the camper of an intruder.
Likewise, a camper who wished to do so could erect complex shade systems using ropes and boughs to offer ’round the clock shade for his camp. The sky is the limit once you realize the millions of things you can do with a simple rope and creativity.
More down-to-earth options are much less extravagant. Two pieces of rope that are slightly longer than the height of the camper, and several shorter lengths, a comfortable hammock can be fashioned using simple overhand knots to connect the short “slat ropes” to the longer “beam ropes” offering a comfy napping place to laze away the day.
As you can see, the rope has many uses in camp, but it also has another use that few campers consider; practicing knot tying is both a great survival skill and a great way to pass the time. Why not pick up a book on how to tie different knots and see how many different knots you can learn?