Before I learned to use the natural cordage available in the jungle I used to fret that I hadn’t brought in enough paracord when camping. Not anymore; now, if I run out of paracord, I can easily find natural cordage to supplement or replace it.

Like many junglecraft skills, knowing how to find cordage if you need it gives you peace of mind that, should things go wrong (e.g. you lose all that lovely paracord), then it isn’t that big a deal…just as someone competent at friction fire lighting won’t worry about losing their lighter (or it breaking, or running out of gas), but someone who isn’t, will.

I also find that I enjoy making ropes from natural fibres – there’s something relaxing and satisfying about the process – and, the next time you get snagged by rattan, you remember that this is a plant that can be a friend in time of need (well, in time of cordage need at least).

In this video I look at some of the mainstays of cordage in the jungle, of which the undisputed king of cordage is rattan; this amazingly strong stuff can be split to size and length and is used extensively by tribal people in the jungle.

Perhaps an equally important cordage source comes from the Terap tree and the Orang Asli have found a multitude of uses for the inner bark of this tree – from making clothes and string to gaskets for their fire pistons.

Most people instinctively think of lianas when the topic is cordage in the jungle – these hang down from the canopy as if they are on display at a well-stocked, mountain climbing shop; ready for you to browse and make your selection.  Liana is simply a general term for the free hanging stem of woody plants up in the canopy and some are stronger and thicker than others, so, like a fussy bell-ringer, you should pull and test each one before you make your final choice.

The skin of bamboo and bemban are convenient sources of cordage that are often used in shelter construction for short lashings….often nothing more is needed.

…and then there is paracord.  I like paracord (550) and carry it with me in the jungle despite all the natural cordage around me.  It’s light, thin and strong and always useful in an emergency when you don’t have the time or energy to use natural cordage…I just don’t carry as much of it as I used to.

But more about paracord in the next video…