Paracord Monkey Fist: All You Need to Know

Today we will cover everything you need to know about the paracord monkey fist. We’ll take a look at the supplies you’ll need along with step by step instructions on how to make one for yourself. You could also buy handmade ones that are ready to use from the market or online even.

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Monkey fist paracords are now mainly used as key chains or zipper pulls on bags, but it does have its uses when it comes to self-defense and survival. It’s basically a monkey fist knot made using paracord.

Now if you’re a beginner, you probably did not get what a monkey fist knot is or what a paracord is. You’re probably wondering what this whole thing has to do with monkeys or why it’s called so. Let’s start with the basics so everyone is on the same page.

What Is Paracord?

Before we move any further let’s first try to understand what paracord is.

It’s also known as a parachute cord because it was used by US soldiers as part of their parachutes during World War II. The main thing is that this cord is very lightweight yet durable because it’s made of nylon. This made it perfect for use in parachutes.

What Is Paracord

Another plus is that it’s quite strong which makes it useful for a variety of purposes. It’s used a lot in the fashion industry nowadays. You could make different kinds of bracelets, belts or other decorative pieces for clothes. It is also used to bind or secure objects and even to perform first aid. You could use it stop a wound from bleeding until you are able to seek medical attention.

You can also separate the threads of the cord and use as fishing lines. So you could use it as part of makeshift fishing gear when in an emergency. The threads don’t break off so easily so you could surely rely on them.

The list of uses actually just goes on and this cord can be considered as one of the most useful types available now. Like we said, it does not break easily and does not wear out over time too. This makes it quite useful when designing gear that is meant for survival.

Today it’s available in a variety of colours and can be purchased at 50 feet, 100 feet or more length as per your need. You could buy them online or from nearby hardware stores. They are that easy to get.

What Is A Monkey Fist?

A monkey fist is a type of knot that is tied at the end of a rope so that it becomes a little heavy I order to act as a weight or anchor of some sort. It’s also called a monkey’s paw and got such a name because it looks like a person’s fist. So now you know why it’s called monkey’s fist. It doesn’t have much to do with monkeys after all.

It’s made by placing a small weight at the centre. You could use marbles, wood buoyant materials when you want your knot to float on the surface of the water. The thickness would depend on the rope you use and the centre of your knot.

Monkey fist

It’s also not necessary that you create these knots using paracords. However, we would be specifically discussing details about the monkey fist knot made from paracord. Simply because it’s quite interesting to know how strong a small knot could be.

It was quite popular among sailors at earlier times, as lifelines that could be thrown from one boat to another. It is also used in parachutes nowadays. This kind of knot again has many benefits when you’re in a survival situation.

How to Create A Monkey Fist Knot

It’s not that easy to make these knots and you may need some practice before you start creating perfect ones really quick, but it can be interesting to learn the whole method. Patience is the key here. Once you know what to do, you could probably make yourself small goodies like keychains or bag charms to start with.

Like we’ve already discussed, the paracord is quite a strong rope which makes a monkey fist knot made with paracord, a very durable and useful combination. There is even special gear that is available in the market, that lets you create these knots with ease. It’s called a monkey fist jig.

We’ll go through the main uses of the knot after we go through details of how you could create it yourself. Let’s start with the things you’ll need to make your monkey fist using paracord:

  • Paracord of the desired length
  • An object to be used as the centre or the core of your knot. A marble would be ideal
  • A source of heat to melt the ends of the paracord

Before you start making your knot, it is preferable to melt the ends so that you do not end up pulling out individual strands of the paracord while you’re busy with the whole process. This is very likely to happen if you’ve cut your paracord. You must, however, be careful not to burn it.

Now let’s learn how to make the knot. There are actually two ways of creating it – The Three loop and the Five Strand Method. The Three loop knot is discussed first.

  • You start by holding the centre object between your index finger and middle finger
  • You then wrap the cord around both these fingers three times, also covering the centrepiece
  • You then wrap horizontally making three wraps again
  • To finally tie and secure the knot, you must pull the cord through a small hole that you could make near your middle finger. It should come out through the other end.
  • Take the end up this time near your index finger.
  • You must continue till you have three wraps on both sides
  • To tighten it you must hold the end where you started your knot and pull the loose parts around this knot to the other side

Now for the Five Strand Knot

  • You must wrap the cord five times vertically instead of three
  • You must wrap it five times horizontally just as with the three loop knot
  • Wrap the cord five times vertically once again
  • You must be careful to cover the core as you finish making your loops
  • Finally, just as with the three loop knot, you must tighten this one too

The difference between the two methods is only the number of loops you make and also that you’ll need a longer cord. The five strand knot is also likely to be a bit thicker than the three strand one.

Five Strand Knot

We suggest that you use the tree loop method if you’re just looking to make key chains or other simple pieces of craft.

A Monkey Fist Jig

If you own a monkey fist jig, then you could use that to wrap the cord instead of your fingers. You can purchase this tool online or make one by yourself with a few items. A monkey fist jig allows you to create the monkey fist quite easily and quickly.

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The base of the jig is usually made of wood. It has holes drilled according to specific measurement which would let you adjust the size of your monkey fist knot. If you plan to make one at home you will need the template that you would use to create the holes, a block of wood and of course a drill.

Monkey Fist Jig

If you feel you would create these knots quite often and in bulk, you could probably get one of these. It allows you to create knots of different sizes as well. It’s completely optional because with a little practice you could do the same with your fingers.

What You Could Use It for

The monkey fist knot made of paracord is very popular due to its easy availability and great strength. It’s not used by sailors like the old days, but it is put to a number of good uses nowadays.

Paracord monkey fist for defense

Let’s quickly take a look at them:

  • It’s used in rock climbing in order to break rocks so that you can find space to hold on and get a grip
  • It’s used in skydiving as the handle for the parachute. It’s stronger and more durable than the usual parachute handle
  • Simpler uses would be as keychains or toys for your pets
  • Most of the other uses come after you unravel the cord, especially in survival when you are outdoors

Where Does The Strength Come from?

The strength of this combination is not the core of your knot.  It mainly comes from the amount of strength you apply when deploying it. It also depends on the distance. So even if you use a small piece of marble, you might be able to create a small dent in a rock.

See also: Types of Rope for Outdoors: Revealing The World of Ropes

It also depends on the thickness of the rope to an extent. According to the strength and purpose of your paracord and monkey fist knot. You’ll need to choose the amount of thickness you’d like your rope to have.

Paracord monkey fist

The Type III or 550 paracord is the one that’s suitable for most purposes and is even used in survival tools. It’s not expensive either and so is the most popular of all types.

Type I is the thinnest and is mostly used for decorative purposes.

Type II is also quite good and can be used for a variety of purposes. The issue is that it’s not easily available.

Type IV is the thickest but is also the most expensive of the lot.

Along with all this, it’s also important that you tie and secure your knot tightly enough so that it remains firm and doesn’t allow the core to loosen up. Only then will you be able to throw it across your desired distance and get good results.

The Monkey Fist Knot as Part of Survival

When it comes to survival, this knot made of parachute cord is used as a weapon. When you’re stranded in a potentially unsafe area, you could use this tool to protect yourself from any sort of attacks by animals or even humans for that matter. Please note that we are not persuading you to use violence of any sort but when you are in an emergency, it’s good to know.

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You can also use the paracord to start a fire, as a rope or even as a clothing line. Like we have discussed before, it can also be used to stop a wound from bleeding when you’re in a dire situation. Again, it’s individual strands can be pulled out to act as fishing lines in case you need to catch fish to eat. You can also see our must-read review of the best paracord bracelets for your survival needs.


In short, a paracord made monkey fist knot can serve as your all round survival tool in most situations. It would be great if you could carry one when you are out on an adventure. It’s very lightweight so you wouldn’t even know it’s there. When the need arises, just this one tool would help you meet all your survival needs.

Monkey Fist Knot as Part of Survival

So now you know what a monkey fist knot is and why it’s so great when it’s made of paracord. It’s an interesting hobby if you’re into making key chains and toys because you could ultimately start selling them even.

If you’re just looking for something for self-defence and protection you could make one but the best option would be for you to purchase one from a store. In such cases, you don’t need to learn and practice how to make one just so that you can keep it in your survival kit. If you’re really keen on it, you could do it, though.

We hope you’ve got all the info you need about monkey fist knots and paracords and what a great combination they are. For those of you who are going to make one by yourselves, we hope you have a great time learning and finally creating one in the end.

Check out our must-read piece on the many survival uses of the paracord for your reference.


Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.


  • One of their original purposes, in simpler times, was to help bring boats into dock, however, they are not as common today as outboard motors have rendered them unnecessary for most sailboats. Though they are still handy to have on board when sailing as they can be used to throw a rope to other boats or shore, particularly useful in the event of a mechanical failure or when docking in awkward spaces.

    • Now that you’ve said that, it just shows how this is used in tough jobs makes it a really worthwhile skill to learn. A paracord monkey fist got more uses than one so it is highly recommended to be one of the new things to learn for a new year, especially if you’re new in the paracord utilization scene.

  • I have been carrying a paracord monkey fist when hiking and backpacking for almost 15 years. Though they can prove to be a great piece of kit for survival, I find they’re also great to have for self-defense. I typically don’t carry a firearm and my pocket knife is only 4″ long. However, having this with me offers a little extra peace of mind, especially when traveling through unfamiliar and potentially dangerous countries.

    • Yes, especially on the self-defense part. This item may look harmless, until it strikes the target and inflicts a painful blow. A great addition for defensive items you bring outdoors, and it also gives better reach than pocket knives.