If you are ever unfortunate enough to find yourself in a real survival situation, having the right kit with you and knowing what it can do when you need it – can help save your life. In this article, Perry McGee our brand ambassador from the National Tracking School gives us a few tips on how one piece of Snugpak kit can be used to help save lives.

These days’, outdoor gear is almost a science and as the technology develops, so does the kit. Such a piece of kit is the ever faithful Snugpak Paratex lightweight poncho. Its uses and are many and are limited only by the imagination of the user. Examples include emergency signalling, stretchers and temporary shelters.

In my world, however; extreme circumstances call for extreme measures and kit, whatever its original purpose, must have multiple uses. So, in this brief article, I intend to illustrate how to make good emergency cordage from a poncho good enough to support your weight or for use outdoors in a real emergency. Don’t worry – I am not going to ask you to cut up your faithful Snugpak kit, but I do want to illustrate what can be done if necessary.

Ask any serious outdoors person, the application and uses for strong bound cordage are endless and examples include rescue lines for crossing water, decent techniques, climbing obstacles water, ground to air signalling to towing a vehicle or escape ladders.

Let me begin with the specifics – Snugpak Paratex dry ponchos are just what they claim to be; they are a light, robust 100% waterproof covering with a hydrophilic polyurethane coating which protects the user from the rain and wind.

Remarkably, it’s manufactured from a ripstop weave which allows it to breathe and has an outer coating that is water-repellent, A fact to which I can attest as in the jungle mine saved me from a drenching on more than one occasion. Indeed, my Snugpak poncho goes with me wherever we deploy and it has never let me down and many of our operatives carry a poncho strapped to the arm of their Bergan.

So, to continue, this technique; originally taught to me by my father back in the seventies has been successfully used to create strong cordage and is easy to learn as follows:

Start by ripping off the front pocket and save it – this is going to be the bag in which the cordage is carried.

Next, cut and tear the entire poncho into 2-inch-wide strip – lengthwise. Painful I know but bear with me!

Next, join two of the strips with a Figure 8 knot and attach the two joined ends to a fixed point.

Then, attach to the opposite end of the strips to a pencil of small stick.

Next, gently tighten and pull both strands whilst rotating each separately and clockwise until each strand has the appearance of thin cord.

Next, rotate and intertwine both tightened strands by passing one over the other and pulling tightly until the cordage has the appearance of thin rope.

When you appear to be running out, simply join another strip to the end with a figure 8 knot and repeat the process until all the strips are used. When you have used them all, simply tie the end off with a crown knot.

When completed, you should have made approx. 45 foot of cordage, which if needed can also be halved and twisted in the same manner to create it even stronger. Luckily, the properties of the Snugpak poncho make the cordage strong enough to make slings, stretchers, throw lines or anchorage for all manner of uses.

So, there you have it, simple and effective cordage made from a Snugpak poncho and even if you don’t need it, you now know how to do it. I hope you never have to use it, but if you do, I reckon those nice people at Snugpak would like to see your images – if not you can send them to me. If you get really professional, the technique can also be practised using lengths of grass, bark, nettles, vines. Believe it or not, one of our operatives is quite adept at making cordage from serviettes!

Anyway, that’s enough from me until next time – good luck – stay safe and best wishes wherever you are in the world.

Perry McGee
Tracking Advisor National Tracking School. NTS UK

Perry McGee National Tracking Links


About the Author:
Snugpak® is a true, pioneering British company, starting out as an original cottage industry in the 1970s, and developing into a worldwide brand. Based for over thirty years in the Yorkshire countryside, Snugpak’s success has endured through passing skills down through generations, while taking on the best that technology has to offer.

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