Introduction: Ultimate Survivor Paracord Belt With Emergency Pack Buckle (Under $20)

The paracord belt. What a sublime piece of equipment, but how expensive to buy. Not Anymore! In this instructable, I'll show you not only how to hand-make a paracord belt, but how to make a survival pack buckle from an Altoids Smalls tin and household items. Don't skip, this 'ible could literally save your life. And I put all this together for under 20 dollars!

Up front, I should give a few shoutouts. First, Kipkay's "$1 Pill Bottle Survival Pack" taught me not only how to create blister packs with straws but inspired me to figure out how small I could make my own survival pack. Youtubers Bored? Paracord!, and Weavers of Eternity got me started with paracord, and though I've taken a sharp turn away from their particular methods, I would not have felt inspired to create this brainchild project without their tutorials. One last mention goes to YouTuber Burnham Paracord. While I changed up his design quite a bit, his video was the most instructive I found when making my first paracord belt. Enough said. Let's get to it.

This paracord belt comes with over 120ft (36.5m) of paracord as well as a dynamite survival pack that also works as a buckle. After completing mine, and while working on this 'ible, I've been wearing mine for almost a week. It's the most comfortable belt I've owned.

You can follow along for how to make a paracord belt, how to make your own buckle, or how to make your own survival pack that fits in an Altoids Smalls tin. I'm splitting this 'ible into those three categories and I hope at least one of them speaks to you.

Even if you are happy with your current non-paracord belt, please consider making just the emergency pack. It can fit in your backpack or purse and it might just save your life, especially during the harsh winter months when motorists are stranded and help takes awhile.

I've split this Instructable into three "steps" with multiple parts to each "step." Step one talks about how to make the survival pack itself. Step two discusses how to convert this pack into a belt buckle. Step three delves into weaving the actual belt itself.

One last word: this is a weekend project. Even with all my materials gathered, it took me a total of 9 hours to get everything together. It's worth it, and you can watch TV or whatever while working on the belt itself, but this isn't an instant gratification process. And I won't be sad if you only look into one of the three parts of this hydra.

With all that said, let's start crafting!

Step 1: The Emergency Pack

This pack will form your buckle. If this part of the 'ible is the only part you complete, you are still heads and tails above the average person in terms of preparedness. If all you come away with is a little tin you can put in your glove-box or bug-out gear with items that could save your life, then I am happy I wrote this.

If you look at the first picture carefully, You'll notice that isn't an Altoids tin. It's the smaller cousin, the Altoids Smalls. The regular tin would allow for more gear. Heck, you could fit a full on blade in there and a map. No, this is much smaller, and more reasonable for a belt buckle for everyday wear. I always have a pocket knife on me, and I think if you are going far afield, you should have at least a pocket knife to accompany you with this kit.

I know many people will think survivalists are kooks, waiting for the zombie apocalypse, but actually, most of us are realists who have felt the effects of events like Hurricane Katrina, the tornadoes of Joplin, Missouri and Perkins, Oklahoma, or even the political games resulting in the embarrassing tragedies of water supplies in Elk River, West Virgina, and Flint Michigan. In all of these cases, the government relief organizations, including FEMA responded, but for some it was too little, too late. When your house, and all you have, has been leveled, you might only have your wits and a few carefully planned items to survive. This belt buckle could be one of those items.

Personally, I wear it whenever I shoot. Photos. I am a wildlife photographer, and sometimes that means being in the wilds when a sudden storm or unexpected event throws me through a loop. When that happens, even if I catch my bearings quickly enough to get back to the Camry in time, it's good to know that I have a backup plan, some things and ideas to help me get back to base rather than become ravaged by the nature from which we emerged.

I designed this buckle pack with three factors in mind:

* First, it must contain enough items and the right items to get your through your first few nights provided you have basic survival skills. After those nights, you can survive by the things you collect, or connect with larger society.

* Second, it must be comfortable to wear every day.

* Third, it must be fashionable enough to wear in normal circumstances, without calling too much attention to itself.

Without a doubt, I succeeded on the first and second accounts. We'll see on the third.

I also made sure to cover the following needs in the pack:

Shelter, Water, Fire, Food, Navigation, and Medical Needs. Hopefully it will become apparent how this kit meets all those needs, but if you need me to go into more specifics on any of it, let me know.

Okay, so the first step in making this pack is to buy the tin. Any similar sized tin will do. Now, I want to say up front that what I put in this pack is ideal for MY environment. If your needs are different, you'll want to branch out into your own items. But here on in, I'll tell you what I put in my pack, and hopefully that will give you an insight into what you might put in yours.

Please look at the pics and the annotations in the second one particularly. Then read on.

What I put in this pack had to follow two rules:

1. It had to add to getting shelter, water, food, signal for help, or help navigate the user to safety.

2. It had to serve at least two purposes. Except the flint, I succeeded in this.

Also, it had to be small enough to fit, but I think that goes without saying.

So I live in Nebraska right now. I travel to Ohio on occasion by car. I really don't advise bringing this belt through the airport by the way. I shoot mostly in the prairie or forest, and make camp on fed lands that aren't too far out. Anyway, I'm subject to mostly prairie, farm, and forest situations, in both the summer and winter. So that's what I had in mind when putting this pack together.

I decided on the following items. I'll start with the things you may not include if you just use the instructions for the pack itself, and transition to the pack by number 6:

1. A length of wire (scavenged). This could serve many purposes, but mostly for fishhooks and connectors, fasteners.

2. Gorilla Glue fabric tape (part of a roll. approx 20 cents). They do not sponsor me in any way, but if you are still using duct tape, I advise you to try the Gorilla brand. Anyway, the tape can be used for field bandages, patches in clothing or waterproofing living quarters, and many other things.

3. The nuts and bolts and washers (less than one dollar): They not only help establish the fashion, but they can be used to attract attention to yourself from other humans. Also, the rubber washers can be used as emergency fire starters. I would only recommend this as a last-ditch effort, but it's better than trying squats all night because your fire won't light. Also, the eye-hooks could be attached to a hole in a nearby overhanging branch and used to stow left-overs away from the reach of bears and most raccoons. Squirrels, that's a different story. Speaking of, the acorn nut provides a shiny for signaling and also style, so people find you eccentric, instead of weird, which is a really important distinction these days.

4. Paracord ($12). The belt consists of over 120ft of paracord. Paracord itself consists of the outer layer and several inner strands. I won't go too much into it, but suffice to say you could make field dressings for wounds, fishing line, supports for a lean-to, slings, and many other tools from this rope. I DO NOT recommend it for climbing or repelling for all but emergency needs, but if you do use it for such, DO NOT use 550 as the weight requirement. Use 110 as this is the typical drop value for paracord. So if you weigh 170, at least double up the rope before making a make-shift harness. For non-Americans, 550 paracord supports 249kg, but only 49/50kg drop weight. Yes, it was used for parachutes in WWII, but there were many strands per chute, so, plenty for a one-time drop stress.

5. The Tin ($3). It has two sides, and infinite uses. Two uses: first, I shined up the inside of the tin using a buffer and some Tripoli. This can be used to signal as well as a mirror for, well, really basic purposes. Second, the tin can be cut and unfolded to make a scraper for the flint.

Okay, now onto the stuff from the pics:

6. The bag (scavenged). It can be used to capture water from plants or to make a solar still. It consists of half a bag you can get complementary from a grocery story veggie section. Be nice and grab some broccoli, a super-food, while you are there, but double bag and save the bag.

7. The blister pack straw lengths (scavenged). There are three of them in my buckle. One holds a cotton ball. Using a darning needle, I was able to seal one end of a straw length and force in one cotton ball before sealing the other end. Cotton wadding can be used for starting fire or for other purposes. The second straw is filled with petroleum jelly. This can be used for adding to cotton to make fire, or for wounds. The third straw is filled with bleach for purifying water. A few words about purifying water with bleach. First make sure to add two drops per liter or quart. There are roughly four quarts or liters per gallon, so that should give you a visual. After cutting open the straw, the bleach drips out slowly if you slowly squeeze. Second, treat not only the water but the cap and anything that touches the water. Third, wait one half hour after treating before drinking. If you've never tried this method, let me tell you, it's not Dasani. I recommend, if possible, to leave the water out in the sun in a clear container as well in order to take advantage of the natural UV filter the sun provides. I selected a bright pink straw, also for signaling.

In addition, the straws, after use, can be reunited with some of the tape to form a drinking straw.

8. Whistle (scavenged). The whistle comes from a dog toy. When I wrap my pinkie around the opening and make a fist and then blow through my fist between my thumb and forefinger, the whistle makes a piercing noise louder than the loudest "survival whistle" I've ever encountered. I recommend that! Old dog chews for the win!

9. The light and batteries ($1). What a god-send, a light! I opened up this one-dollar light I found at Menard's and scavenged the light strip and the batteries. The strip even indicates which side is positive and which negative. Simply press the leads to the correct sides of the batteries and BOOM, light enough to scare away predators or attract helpful humans flying by night. Also, you know, to see things when it's dark. I don't know what kind of lights these are. But the batts with them add up to 6v. There are four lights, as Captain Picard might say. Nerd joke. But really, there are four, and I'm not sure if they are LED or what, but they are flat and they all respond brilliantly to 6 forward volts.

10. Black marker paper (scavenged). I owe this hack to Grant Thompson, AKA The King of Random on YouTube. If you black out paper, it catches fire much more quickly than if it is white. Black absorbs light whereas white reflects it. Knowing this comes in handy in life. You cannot rely solely on black or white. You need both, and all the other colors in between, to have a full life.

11. Razor (20 cents). It is wrapped in the black paper. It can be used for cutting fine objects as well as getting into those straw blister packs. You can also heat it with a flame to sterilize it and use it for medical purposes.

12. Magnifying lens (scavenged). I took this primo piece of glass from a broken camera lens I dissected. You can find small mag lenses wherever kids toys are sold usually. But if you live near an Electronics Goodwill, I suggest buying their cheapest cam lens or VHS camcorder and harvesting for parts. Anyway, when used on the black paper, the mag lens caught the petro cotton on fire within seconds on a day that was in the 20s Fahrenheit. The real challenge is finding dry wood after a snow, but this lens is quick and amazing. I had to knock it out of the plastic housing it was in with a cork and hammer. It can also be used to pick out splinters with the needle, and other tasks that require a close look.

13. Neodymium magnet (10 cents). If the needle has lost its charge, you can recharge it with the magnet. Even more, you can use the magnet to find any of the other parts if you lose them in the grass, including the needle. Simply place the magnet on one of the tin sides and run it along the grass/wherever. It should pick up what was lost.

14. Magnetized needle (10 cents). It will always point to magnetic north, so it can be used for navigation, even when it's hazy outside. At the very least, if you use this to sight your path, you'll keep from going in circles. At the most, if you have a map, this will get you where you want to go. It's not as great as a lensatic compass, but it will get you where other people are. Also, it's a needle. Used with the inner-strands of the paracord, it can be used to repair rips and tears in clothing. After I magnetized it, I marked it with some nail polish to indicate north. Remember that magnetic north needs to be adjusted for map north.

15. Cork (scavenged). Trust me, I thought a lot about this. True, you can suspend the needle from a twig and it will still point mag north. But suspending the needle in the cork in some still water is much easier. Cork can also be used as a floater when fishing. I wonder about this though. I might choose to hammer out a middle section of the needle and cut it with a metal punch in the exact center so I can use thread to get north and save the space of a cork when I make the next one. I go back and forth on this.

16. The flint-stone (scavenged). This bad boy is pretty small, but packs a wallop, as you saw if you watched the vid. I found it in a lighter someone littered. What some people throw away... Anyway, this is the only item for which I can only imagine one type of use, but it's an important one. It helps start fire if you don't have full sun. Hold it with pliers and strike against the grain where it has been worn in a bit.

I'm sure I missed something. Please comment if you notice something missing.

Step 2: The Buckle

The buckle imitates the older style of belt buckle where you pass the belt though the buckle and push a peg on the body of the buckle through a hole on the belt. I was able to use a bolt head for the peg, and a wire hanger for the hinge part of the buckle.

My requirements for the buckle were that it had to 1. work as a buckle, 2. be small enough to be comfortable and not stand out too much, 3. hold some great survival items, and 4. be waterproof.

Thanks to foothillbilly, I'm adding this overview for clarity:

So there are four holes involved in my design, two on one of the long
sides and then two going from the top to bottom, centered width-wise and on the opposite end of the other holes. Eyebolts go in the holes on the side, and a bolt goes through the other one. The bolt head goes into the bottom and comes out on top. The head of the bolt is what catches on the belt, going through the spaces in the weave, so you can adjust it. The only other important thing to remember is to be sure to seal everything so that there are rubber washers pressed against each hole on both sides of the hole.

And please never drill through something you are holding with your hand.

In order to make this buckle I used:

1. A 1 1/2" 5/8-18 bolt, 3 hex nuts, acorn nut, and both flat and rubber washers. This forms the peg of the buckle. I ran this bolt through both sides of the tin in order to make it more stable, so that the bolt wont tear though just the one tin wall over time. While you could certainly use a thinner bolt (I just used the best one I had lying around) it should be long enough to run through both walls and have enough left to accommodate a rubber washer, a hex nut, and enough space between that and the head to go through the belt. Mine has a quarter-inch between where the hex ends and the head of the bolt. This works great. There should be enough lip on the bolt’s head to catch the belt material. There’s just a 1/8” lip on my bolt head all the way around and that works fine.

2. Two Eyebolts, four hex nuts, rubber washers. I bought the smallest ones I could find which turned out to be 3/16. I trimmed them down from their original length of 1 1/2” with a hacksaw to fit. I used two for the same reason I ran the bolt all the way through: stability.

3. A piece of rubber. You can buy sheets of rubber wadding at the home improvement store. I used these to cut my rubber washers. It’s a lot cheaper than buying rubber washers.

4. Beeswax. I coat the rubber washers in beeswax before putting them in place. This just provides a little bit of lubrication for them as well as helping them to seal to the tin. You could use a chapstick that is principally made of beeswax.

5. A coat hanger. I used a coathanger to make the hinge part that connects the buckle to the belt and also where the belt runs through. If I had a vice, I might have used 5/8 welding steel. However, I have to say the hanger is super strong. I hasn’t given at all. So if all you have is a hanger, go for it!

6. A soup can lid. I put this on where the two ends of the hanger buckle hinge meet.

7. Gorilla tape. You can use duct tape.

8. A strong hard wire (optional). I salvaged this hard wire from the cork cage from a champagne cork. It can be used to make a fishing hook and other things.

*The reason I used the wire is to have something to wrap around the threads that the belt will sit on so that the bolt doesn’t eat through or damage the paracord. You could, instead, file down the bolt there.

9. The following tools: Pliers, drill, metal file or heavy grit sand paper.

Be safe. Respect your tools and be aware of your surroundings. Wear eye protection and drill into something that isn't your lap.

Before starting, remove the lid from the bottom of the tin by twisting out the tin flaps in the bottom that are used to form the hinge. You can nip these off or fold them in. We won't be needing to reattach the lid on the hinge.

First, you'll need to drill four holes in the tin. Use a ruler to mark for a hole near far enough from the lip of one side, in the center of that side, to accommodate the washers you'll use. Then place the hex nuts you'll use for the eyebolts in the bottom of the tin against the wall that is opposite the side you want the big bolt to be. Space out the hexes as far as they go before they start to turn with the curve of the tin. using a pen, mark through the holes of the hex nuts.

Now that three of your holes are marked, use a hammer and nail to give yourself a hole punch. Now it's time to grab the drill. Drilling through this tin is fiddly work, so please take advantage of what I learned. Start with your smallest bit, drill in reverse first. Work through the bit sizes, always drilling in reverse first, and going slowly when drilling forward. The tin will want to grab the bit and take a ride right on up to your hand. Don't yank it off or you'll destroy the tin. Instead, put the drill back in reverse.

Make these holes just as big as they need to be to accommodate your bolts.

Once you've worked through the two small holes and the one big hole, put the lid back on and mark through the large hole straight down. That's the last hole you need to drill.

Once the holes are drilled, file around the holes to get off any sharps. Then use a mallet or a hammer, or something flat to flatten the holes if they have been deformed in the process.

Put in your eyebolts with washers and all to test for fit. Hack off any excess bolt as it will affect how much stuff you can fit in the pack.

Carefully snip and cut out the side of the lid where the eyebolts will sit to accommodate for your washers. You don't want to snip so much that there is an opening between the side wall and lid, just enough so that the lip of the lid doesn't set your washers askew and ruin the water-seal (see pic).

Place a wall of Gorilla tape over the side where the eyeholes are. Cut out the holes with a hobby knife. You will do this at this point because you won't have a chance later. You can place the outside rubber washer under the tape if you like.

Place the eyebolts back in, in the following order: Eyebolt, hex, flat washer, Gorilla tape, rubber washer (because they are so close together, I found it easiest to make one washer with two holes), tin wall, rubber washer, flat washer, hex nut. Do this on both sides. Hand tighten using the eyes of the bolt rather than the inside nuts as they are sitting on the bottom. Tighten just a hair past snug.

Either put a wire in the threads of the large bolts to cover 1/4" of the bolt or file off the threads from this part of the bolt. If you use a wire, cover the wire with one layer of Gorilla tape.

With the lid set aside, put in the large bolt through the back of the tin in the following order: Bolt, 1/4" gap (wire or filed smooth), hex nut, rubber washer (if your bolt is large enough, you can skip the flat washer here, as the hex nut can hold the washer to the tin. Otherwise, place a flat washer between the nut and the rubber washer), tin wall, rubber washer, flat washer, hex nut. Then place as many flat washers as it takes until they hit the lid when you close it. Then add a rubber washer. Leave the tin lid off for now.

Side note: If you have a welder, you could weld a steel washer to the steel bolt, and have just a flat washer and a rubber washer between the bolt head and tin instead of the hex nut.

Stuff the tin full of all the things, along with plastic or cotton wadding to make it as compact as you can. You don't want things rattling around in there.

Close the lid. I chose to put a layer of Gorrilla tape over the whole lid. I did this by placing it over the lid, directly on the bolt and cutting a hole for the bolt with a hobby knife. The purpose of the Gorilla tape is to water-seal the space between the lid and base. So if you want to, you can do this to the sides up to the lid, but leave most of the lid uncovered. You could show off that it is an Altoids Smalls tin if you like. Personally, I feel more comfortable with the logo hidden and more useful tape in its place. So do this step or skip it, based on your preference.

Put the last rubber washer on the bolt, followed by the last flat washer, and finished up by the end bolt. I went with an acorn nut. I have a rounded end nut too. This is up to your personal style, but whatever you use, make sure to tighten it firmly. If the lid bows, then you need more flat washers inside against that wall. If it bulges, you have too many.

Once you've got that snug, run a strip of Gorilla tape all along the edge. The strip should be just wide enough to come up slightly onto the front and back.

Now you've got your pack sealed and ready to use as a buckle. It should look like the second two pictures.

The hinge:

All we need now is the hinge. The hinge has two important features. First, it connects the buckle to the belt. Second, it is large enough to let the excess belt pass through it.

Measure the distance between the two eyes of the eye bolts. That will be side one of your trapezoid. Now allow for an inch and a half for the three other sides. Add a half inch just to be sure. Now, using pliers with sturdy wire cutters, cut that length of wire. The split will come on the side that connects the belt material, so divide that 1 1/2" into three quarters. That's your first bend. After 1 1/2" is your second bend. Then place the buckle on the hinge before making the third bend after the distance between the two eyes (this part is fiddly). Then make your last bend. Don't worry too much about the angles until you finish bending. Then you can go back and adjust here and there.

Make sure the two ends overlap in a straight line, then trim the excess so that the ends meet in the middle. Use a metal file to make them sit flush. You should just have created a trapezoid ring with the buckle on it.

Test that the belt can pass through the hinge or if you haven't done the belt yet, test that there is an inch's worth of clearance. If you haven't woven the belt yet, you can skip the next paragraph.

Bend the trapezoid by pushing the two ends one up and one down, not pulling it apart. Move the belt carefully from the carabiner you wove it on to the trapezoid. Let it sit up on one of the sides for now. Put the trapezoid back flush.

Quick side note: Instead of a coat hanger, you could use a welding steel if you have the tools to bend and weld it, however, using the hanger gives us the advantage that we don't have to cut the paracord to get to it, which means longer uncut paracord.

Okay, so now that you have your trapezoid, measure the inside and outside length of the trapezoid side the belt will attach to. Using caution, cut a rectangle out of a cleaned soup can lid that is the length of your outside measurement and about one and half times wider than the circumference of whatever you used as a hanger.

Now cut out two panels in the side to trim down the width to just slightly narrower than the inside measurement. But don't trim all the way. Leave an 1/8". Now you should have something that looks roughly like a cut off Tee-shirt.

File all the edges and bend back the bottom edge of the "shirt" by the smallest amount you can grab with needle-nose pliers and flatten it against itself. This will ensure there are no sharp edges to cut our belt. We are going to roll this tin over the hinge where the two ends of the hinge meet. It will cover that gap and make our trapezoid very strong.

Place the T over the wire hanger. Using the "sleeves" as handles, clamp them to the wire so that the fold you made in the far end is facing down. Using your favorite tool for this (I just use my fingers) curve the "shirt" over the wire. If you cut correctly, you should have a nice metal sleeve over the wire with two ends sticking out. Unclamp. Snip off those ends and file the metal sleeve carefully, making sure to get any sharp out.

If you already made the belt, transfer the loops of the paracord onto the sleeve and you're done!

If you haven't made the belt yet, make it directly on the trapezoid where it goes.

Step 3: The Belt

Now comes that big, bad, belt part. You think, this looks hard. I don't know...

Puhshaw! This is the simplest design. It's not a first-time paracord project, unless you've done crochet, knitting, macrame or the like. Then this could be a first paracord project. But if you've never done any of that, let me encourage you to first get comfortable with the most basic paracord weave, the cobra weave. The corbra weave is, very simply, a square knot with two strands inside the knot that just sit there.

So if this is your first time with paracord or knot-tying arts of any kind, watch this first. It's the guy from Bored? Paracord! doing the basic cobra weave. He calls it a " Solomon." I don't know why. I'm not affiliated in any way with him, but it's a good basic primer. Practice the cobra until you get it down. Then come back to this. That's all the basic knowledge you'll need to make this belt.

While I need to note that I came up with this design on my own, I am 100% sure that I didn't invent it. I designed it to be simple but good looking, something that you could wear everyday. Now I made a long ratler's tail on the end of mine, and that might compromise the goal of making the belt something you could wear to a meeting, but you can either not put a rattler tail on yours or just put a much smaller one. That's all up to you.

Okay, now that you have the cobra weave down, let's cover a few of my own vocab words and then get started.

Core-These are the strands in the middle of a weave. They don't move during the weave, but are woven around or into.

Lead cord-This cord does the moving in a basic cobra. It goes under the feed cord, over the core strands, and through the loop created by the feed cord, whereas the feed cord wraps under the other cords. You could reverse this, but that's how I do it. The lead cord forms the "S" in a cobra.

Feed cord- This is the other cord that feeds into the weave. It forms the interlocking sides of the cobra.

Good. Now let's get to work.

1. Choose colors. I made my belt with survival in mind, so I didn't splice cords for color, but you certainly could do that with yours. In any case, you'll need two cords that are about 50' long (15 1/4m) and one that is about 30' (9m). The shorter one will show in the middle. I chose black for my long strands and camo for my short one.

2. Get a board that is as long as the belt. How long should your belt be? It should be just as long as your regular belt (not counting the tail on mine). If you don't have a belt, measure your waistline and add 7" (18cm). Measure on the board the length of the belt.

On one end attach your buckle (the trapezoid) or something else to hold them if you haven't made the trapezoid from the previous step yet. If you just want to make the belt itself and are going to use another buckle, make sure to use the buckle to start as you cannot transfer the belt to an already closed buckle. Maybe you can, but it would be much easier to start with your buckle. On the other end, attach two nails or pegs or something you can run the loops through. I'll just refer to these as "the pegs" from here on out.

3. Find the middle of the long black strands and attach them to the pegs. Then run them up through the buckle and out toward you (I'm using that blue carabiner for my stand-in buckle). Now I like to weave from the back, so I'm looking at the back of the belt as I weave. If you'd prefer to weave from the front, then pull the strands from the front of the buckle to the back. The reason for this is aesthetic. Whatever you do, do it the same to both strands.

Weave two cobras in each black strand to lock them in place.

4. Find the middle of the short strand and attach it directly to the buckle between the two long strands with a cow hitch. Alternatively, you can add the cord to the first weave or just loop it over, but doing this makes the belt just a smidge stronger. In any case, this strand forms the belt "loops." Just let the camo cords hang down.

5. Take the two inner cords (the camo ones in my case) and split them so that you have strands that look like this from left to right: Outside Black weaving strand1a, black core 1a, black core 1b, camo1, inside black weaving strand 1b || inside black weaving strand 2b, camo2, black core 2a, black core 2b, outside black weaving strand 2a. Or, look at the pretty picture.

6. You are all set up now. If you want, you can take it off the board and go watch TV with your bun as you weave. So for the bulk of the weave, all you are doing is the cobra weave with a third core strand, the camo. Then, every so often, you switch over the camo cord, right to left and left to right. Be consistent with which one goes over and which under, either always left over right or right over left. Your call. Switching once every time does not provide enough space for a large buckle peg. But my bolt-head fits when I switch the cord once every three times, so knot, knot, switch. Once every 4 times provides space for a carabiner (or these) to be inserted, and once every time is stylish and tends to make for the narrowest part of the belt. If you feel up for a design adventure, you can vary it up depending on what part of the belt you are weaving.

7. Believe it or not, that will take you all the way to the end. So just keep at that. There's a lot of cord to pull through, but keep at it. It took me two hours to pull all that cord, but then I kept having to shoo my cat, so i dunno.

8. Once you are to the end, you have some choices. You could run the strands through the hoops, cut and singe, find a convenient place to tuck in the camo and cut and singe and call it a day. This will give you a split tail at the end.

Or you could run the black lead cords through the hole in the opposite feed cords, thus pulling the belt together, tuck in the camo somewhere, and cut and singe. This will give you a square end.

Or you can do what I did to finish.

The rattler's tail:

Quickly, the rattler's tail is good to have, even if you only do three inches. It's good because it serves as a leader while running your belt through your pant loops. But it's not necessary. It also adds a bit of flare.

1. Feed the black leads through the opposite feeds, but not the loops. Leave those open. you should have a square closing with two of the short strands (camo) coming out the end. Cut and singe the black cords. Singe them and smooth them over with flat stainless steel, not textured. These ends run through your pant loops, so it's good to have them smooth.

2. Wrap the short strands around the opposite black loops a few times and then go through them. Pull everything tight. Now you have a tight belt with two loose strands.

3. Measure these strands. You can only get about two inches of rattle per foot of the shortest strand you have left. Trim the cords even if they aren't.

4. Take the strands out to where you would like the tail to end and tie an overhand loop knot. If you don't know that knot, I cover it here.

5. This should look familiar. You have two strands in the middle and two loose strands on either side. Yep, you guessed it! The cobra. pull the cords down around the knot and cobra your way back to where the belt "ends."

Remember, if you want a long tail, you will likely tuck it under, so the opposite side will show as the belt itself. So if you like one side better than the other, make sure that side is on the inside of the belt.

6. Tuck the ends of the rattler somewhere out of the way, cut and singe.

Lift a glass. You've done it!

Step 4: Wearing Your Belt in Style

Now that you have the Ultimate Paracord Survival Belt, wear it with pride. Pull your belt through your pant's belt-loops, through the hinge, and tighten to taste. Then push the bolt head through the camo part. It should catch and hold up your pants all day long.

A few notes: The first few days it might need readjusting as you get used to putting it on. Try not to pity or gloat over the folks with "survival bracelets." Those can be cool too.

Have fun, and thank you for reading!

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