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What is a knife lanyard?

Written by:
Aleks Nemtcev
Updated:
March 14, 2024
leather knife lanyard

A lanyard is a loop attached to the handle of a knife or other tool. The accessory appeared in the XIV-XV centuries, when the complex of military equipment of professional equestrian warriors was actively formed. The lanyard was made from strips of leather, silk and woolen threads. It was fixed in a hole on the head of the hilt of the sword or tied around its handle. During the battle, the loop was worn on the wrist.

knife lanyardsThe history of lanyards

First, a little etymology for the knife enthusiasts out there: “Lanyard” is a nod to the French term “lanière,” which elegantly translates to a strap or thong. But don’t let its delicate name fool you. Lanyards have been the silent heroes in many a tight spot.

Picture this: Rugged sailors aboard wooden ships, battling the elements, with lanyards keeping their essential tools – marlinspikes, bosun’s pipes, and, of course, trusty knives – within arm’s reach. These lanyards weren’t just for convenience; they were vital for adjusting ship riggings and ensuring a sailor’s prized possessions didn’t end up at the bottom of the ocean.

sailors lanyard

Then we have the brave soldiers. From the formidable Napoleon and his Cuirassiers showcasing lanyards as symbols of prestige and style to World War II officers, both British and American, who found lanyards invaluable for securing pistols, whistles, and even firing cannons. These weren’t just functional; they were badges of honor, signaling qualifications and allegiance.

Let’s tip our hats to the cowboys of the Wild West. To them, a lanyard was a lifeline, ensuring their knives stayed close during high-octane rodeo rides or while herding cattle under the blazing sun. And lest we forget the climbers, whose very lives depended on lanyards keeping their gear secured while navigating precarious peaks.

cowboys knife lanyard

Culturally, the significance of knife lanyards runs deep. East Asia, with its rich tapestry of traditions, sees lanyards as more than just tools. In regions like Japan and China, they’re revered as talismans, believed to ward off malevolent spirits and usher in good fortune.

What are knife lanyards used for?

Many people do not know what a lanyard is, although they have probably seen it more than once. True knife lovers to decorate their custom knives often use lanyards. An accessory attached to the knife handle attracts the attention of others. It demonstrates the interests and tastes of the owner. Lanyard – a great gift for any man. Especially if it is handmade. Now lanyards most often perform a decorative function, but many hunters, tourists and outdoor enthusiasts use them for their intended purpose.

knife lanyard

Knife lanyard purpose

The lanyard performed several main functions:

  • prevent the loss of weapons in case of accidental loss from the hand;
  • help to quickly release the hand without dropping the weapon;
  • protect against injury from stabbing;
  • take on part of the load during chopping blow;
  • increase the amplitude of swing movements;
  • allow to quickly change the grip without stopping the fight;
  • help store weapons;
  • decorate pocket knives;
  • divert the enemy’s attention;
  • allow to find the lost weapon quickly (thanks to the bright coloring).

A lanyard was an indicator of status, rank, and belonging to a particular military unit. They were awarded to distinguished fighters.

leather knife lanyard

How to use a knife lanyard

Today, hunters, hikers, anglers, climbers, high-altitude climbers, butchers, cavers, divers and athletes, use the accessory in the same way. They fix it on knives, axes, ice axes and other necessary tools. Thanks to the lanyard, the knife can always be at hand. You can take it out of your pocket in seconds. If necessary, the hand is released without the risk of dropping and losing the knife. Not only tools, but also other necessary things – keys, flash drives, and flashlights are decorated with lanyards. Accessories that act as key rings are made both in the form of a loop and in the form of a cord.

paracord lanyard with bead

The benefits of knife lanyards

Here are some of the features and benefits of  knife lanyards:

Safety: A lanyard can increase the safety of using a knife, especially for heavy-duty or slippery tasks. A lanyard can prevent you from losing or dropping your knife, which can cause harm or damage to yourself or others. A lanyard can also help you maintain control and stability of your knife, by providing an extra grip or leverage. For example, a lanyard can be helpful for splitting firewood, pruning branches, or working on a boat.

pocket knife lanyards

Grip: A lanyard can extend the grip on a knife, especially for small or compact knives. A lanyard can give you more surface area to hold onto, which can improve your comfort and dexterity with your knife. A lanyard can also help you adjust your grip position, by allowing you to move your hand closer to or further from the blade. For example, a lanyard can be helpful for carving, whittling, or slicing.

knife lanyard grip

Accessibility: A lanyard can provide easy access to your knife, especially for large or deep-pocketed knives. A lanyard can make your knife easier to reach and draw, by creating a visible and accessible handle that you can grab quickly. A lanyard can also help you store your knife securely and conveniently, by allowing you to hang it from your neck, wrist, belt loop, or backpack. For example, a lanyard can be helpful for hiking, camping, or hunting.

Neck Knife Lanyard

Decoration: A lanyard can add personality and style to your knife, especially for plain or simple knives. A lanyard can make your knife more attractive and unique, by adding some color, texture, or pattern to it. A lanyard can also help you customize your knife to suit your preferences and tastes, by allowing you to choose the material, length, color, and knot type of your lanyard. For example, a lanyard can help collect, display, or gifting knives.

custom beads for sale

What should I look for when choosing a knife lanyard?

Here are four things to consider:

Length: The length of your lanyard should match the size and purpose of your knife. A longer lanyard can help you keep your knife safe and easy to reach. A shorter lanyard can help you hold your knife better and make it look nicer.

Material: The material of your lanyard should match the quality and durability of your knife and the environment of your use. A paracord lanyard is a good choice for outdoor knives that need more strength and versatility. A leather lanyard is a good choice for indoor knives that need more elegance and sophistication.

Color: The color of your lanyard should match the appearance and personality of your knife and yourself. A bright color can help you find your knife quickly and make it stand out. A dark color can help you hide your knife discreetly and make it blend in.

3 color paracord knife lanyard

Knot type: The knot type of your lanyard should match the function and style of your knife and your lanyard. A loop knot is a simple and effective way to secure or access your knife. A fob knot is a decorative and fun way to grip or adorn your knife.

snake knot knife lanyard

Paracord knife lanyard

knife lanyard paracord

If earlier the lanyard for a knife was woven mainly from leather and natural threads, today it is given preference to artificial cords. The most suitable lanyard material is nylon paracord. Paracord is used in the manufacture of parachute sling. It is valued for its lightness, incredible strength (up to 240 kg without rupturing), and resistance to moisture and microbial attack. A paracord knife lanyard can be untwisted at any time to use the cord for other purposes – hanging a bowler hat, securing a safety carabiner or equipment, or tightening a limb to stop bleeding.

Here’s a simple way to make a knife lanyard with paracord

Materials:

About 2-3 feet of 550 paracord
A knife with a hole/lanyard hole in its handle
Optional: A bead or fob for decoration

Steps:

Fold the Paracord: Start by folding the paracord in half, so you have a loop on one end and two free ends on the other.

Thread Through Knife Hole: Insert the looped end into the lanyard hole of your knife, from the backside to the front.

Secure the Paracord: Pass the two free ends through the loop to create a cow hitch knot, pulling tightly.

Braid or Knot: There are numerous techniques and knots you can use to braid or knot the lanyard, such as the snake knot, cobra stitch, or a simple overhand knot. Choose one based on your aesthetic preference and functional needs.

Add Decorative Element: If you have a paracord bead or fob, you can thread it onto the paracord before tying the end knot. This can give your lanyard a unique look and additional functionality.

lanyard beads

Tie Off & Trim: Once your lanyard is at the desired length, tie an overhand or other securing knot at the end. Trim any excess paracord and use a lighter to melt the ends, preventing them from fraying.

Remember, the length and design of your lanyard are up to you. Some prefer a short, simple loop, while others enjoy longer, decorative lanyards. Choose what’s best for your needs and aesthetics.

Top 3 Easiest Paracord  Lanyard (video instruction)

Video credit: CbyS Paracord and More.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the point of a knife lanyard?

A knife lanyard enhances knife retention, accessibility, and personalization. It prevents the knife from falling when dropped, makes retrieval from a sheath or pocket easier, and can extend the grip for better leverage. Additionally, it serves as a decorative accessory allowing for personalization, aids in identifying knives, and enables hands-free carrying when attached to a belt or pack. In outdoor or tactical scenarios, it can prevent the loss of the knife by keeping it tethered to your body or gear, making it a useful accessory for various situations.

What exactly is “550 paracord”?

Ah, the classic 550 paracord! This is your best buddy in the wild. The “550” denotes its breaking strength of 550 pounds. Think of it as a nylon powerhouse: it’s got a multi-strand core surrounded by a woven sheath. Sturdy, versatile, and a favorite for many knife aficionados.

How much paracord will I need?

Typically, 2-3 feet will do the trick for a standard lanyard. But here’s a pro tip: always keep a bit extra on hand. It’s easier to trim excess than to bemoan a shortage.

What is the purpose of a knife bead?

A knife bead adds aesthetic appeal and functionality to a knife or its lanyard. It allows for personalization, improves grip and retrieval, helps in identifying knives, and can slightly alter the balance of a lanyard. Additionally, it aids in managing lanyard length, and provides a tactile reference point for a proper grip, especially in the dark or high-stress situations. Knife beads are simple accessories that enhance both the look and usability of a knife.

Can I customize the look of my lanyard?

Absolutely! The beauty of a paracord lanyard is that it’s as unique as its owner. With various braiding techniques, colors, and even beads or fobs, you can craft a lanyard that’s a genuine reflection of your style. Dive deep into the world of knots and braids, and let your creativity shine!

lanyard bead

Can I buy a pre-made paracord lanyard?

No shame in that! While crafting your own lanyard can be a satisfying project, there are plenty of expertly-made, ready-to-use lanyards out there. Check out your local outdoor or knife specialty store. And who knows? You might even get inspired to try your hand at making one down the road!

What is the best brand of Paracord?

The term “best” can be subjective, as it depends on the specific requirements you have, like color availability, strength, durability, authenticity, and price. There are several reputable brands known for producing high-quality paracord, especially the 550 type. Here are a few of the most recognized brands in the paracord community:

Titan Paracord: They claim their product is made with the same nylon used by the military and has the true 550 lb strength. It also includes a strand of jute for fire starting and a copper wire strand for tasks like snare setting.

Tough-Grid: Known for their high-quality 550 paracord, they often get accolades for the strength and durability of their product. They also offer a 750 lb type for those needing something even stronger.

Bored Paracord: Popular among crafters, this brand offers a wide variety of colors and patterns. While they may not be as recognized for survivalist utility, their range is often appreciated for crafting purposes.

Paracord Planet: This is another favorite among crafters due to the wide range of colors and patterns available. They also offer multiple sizes and types of paracord, making it a versatile choice.

Atwood Rope MFG: They’ve been in the rope and cord industry for a long time and are known for producing reliable paracord products.

custom knife lanyard

In Conclusion

Let’s put a fine edge on it, fellow blade enthusiasts: the paracord knife lanyard is not just a fancy trinket for your knife. It’s a marriage of utility and aesthetics, a union so harmonious that it would make any knife purist nod in approval. Whether you’re trekking through the dense underbrush or simply want to add a dash of personality to your favorite EDC, the paracord lanyard stands as a testament to practicality meeting panache. Its origins from the rigors of wartime parachute riggings only bolster its legacy. So, the next time you flick open your knife and feel that familiar weave of paracord against your wrist, take a moment to appreciate this small but mighty ally in your toolkit. Because, in the world of knives, it’s often the subtle details that sharpen our love for the craft.

Author: Aleks Nemtcev | Connect with me on LinkedIn

References:

5 Reasons to Add a Lanyard or Fob to a Pocket Knife blog.knife-depot.com

Lanyard en.wikipedia.org

An Overview of the Historical Use of Lanyards lanyardstore.com

 

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  • Aisha

    Why would I want a lanyard on my knife? Hmmmm

    Noblie

    Ah, a great question to kick things off! A lanyard isn’t just a snazzy accessory – though it can definitely make your blade stand out. A lanyard can help you retrieve your knife quickly from your pocket, prevent it from getting lost in the wilderness, and give you some handy cordage in emergency situations. Plus, there’s just something about the tactile feel of paracord wrapped artistically around a knife handle that many enthusiasts (myself included) can’t resist!

  • Samuel Kim

    What if my knife doesn’t have a lanyard hole?

    Noblie

    Some knives don’t come equipped with a lanyard hole, but don’t fret. If you’re really keen, you can visit a knife smith or specialist to drill one for you. Otherwise, some creative folks attach their lanyard around the knife’s clip or use other inventive methods to secure it.

  • Liam O'Connor

    How durable are these lanyards?

    Noblie

    With the resilience of 550 paracord, you’re looking at a lanyard that’s as tough as nails. It can withstand wear and tear, weather changes, and the accidental tug and pull. Just remember: like any tool, treat it well, and it’ll return the favor.

  • Clara Rodriguez

    What does the name Paracord mean? Thanks.

    Noblie

    “Paracord” refers to “parachute cord” and the most commonly used type is the 550 paracord. The “550” refers to its breaking strength of 550 pounds. This type of cord is made of a multi-strand nylon core surrounded by a woven nylon sheath, making it both strong and flexible.

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