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Saturday, October 30, 2021

Survival Lanyard: How to Make One From Scratch

The other day I watched an episode of “I Shouldn’t Be Alive” where a man was riding his ATV and lost control of it. He was thrown from the vehicle only to have it land on his back and legs, pinning him to the ground. 

Ironically, he had a lot of emergency supplies strapped to the ATV but due to the circumstances, he could not reach them. However, he did have a necklace or lanyard, with a few items on it. The primary item was a signal whistle, but it looked like there may have been a few other items on there as well.

This got me thinking about survival lanyards and I thought it would be a worthwhile topic to discuss as well as how to make one. 

What is a Survival Lanyard?

A lanyard is a piece of cordage that hangs around the neck and serves a purpose other than aesthetics. You are probably most familiar with seeing ones that display a company employee’s badge. 

Instead of displaying a badge, a survival lanyard has emergency supplies on it, which provides quick and easy access to those items. 

Survival Lanyard: Pros & Cons

When it comes to a survival lanyard there are some good things and some not-so-good things about them. I always like to start with the good. 


  • Access. Items on a neck lanyard provide quick and easy access.
  • Hidden. The lanyard can be worn on the outside of clothes or tucked underneath if you want to carry them discreetly. 
  • Organization. A lanyard provides a way to keep several critical items organized.
  • Availability. Even in extreme situations, some emergency gear will always be with you and within arm’s reach.  


  • Uncomfortable. The comfort of a lanyard will depend on the type of items on it, how many items are on it, and your comfort wearing a lanyard. 
  • Bulky. Again, this will depend on the type and number of items placed on the lanyard. A few small items will not be noticed all that much but it is easy to quickly overload a lanyard. 
  • Safety. The location of the lanyard requires special consideration regarding the type of cordage and hardware used. If this is ignored, then there is a real possibility of strangulation. 

Making a Survival Lanyard


The lanyard can be as simple or as complex as you like in both the items and cordage used. Any old piece of cordage can be used if it is strong enough to support the items. 

A popular cordage option is 550 paracord because it is strong, comes in an assortment of colors, can be braided into custom designs, and the cordage itself is a useful item. 

Since the lanyard will be hung around the neck, the paracord poses a safety risk due to its strength. Hardware such as plastic clasps or break-away clasps must be used to limit this safety issue.

Another popular option is a beaded chain like that used with military dog tags. Its clasp and design allow it to break away when needed. 


Once you have picked out the cordage, it is time to add some gear. The lanyard can be customized to your preferences but here are a few suggestions of critical gear that most people can agree are good to have.

  • Small Flashlight. Nobody likes being in the dark and lowlight conditions can be dangerous. A flashlight is also an effective signaling tool for alerting others to your position.
  • Signal whistle. This is one item that I believe needs to be on the lanyard. An emergency signal whistle is easy to use and incredibly loud. It can be extremely effective at getting other people’s attention. 
  • Signal Mirror. A signal mirror is another good option to have on a lanyard because it is easy to use and can be seen from a long distance.  
  • Neck knife. A knife is one of the most important and useful tools that you can have. A neck knife is a small, lightweight knife that is designed to be worn around the neck. It allows the user to always have this important tool nearby. 
  • Fire. The ability to make fire allows a person to stay warm, to signal for help, cook food, boil water, etc. A few tool options are a butane lighter with a keyring attachment, a ferrocerium rod, an electric lighter, or stormproof matches in a watertight container. 
  • Compass. The purpose of any survival situation is to stay alive and to get out of the situation. To get out, it is helpful to know which direction to go and a compass will help point the way. 

Putting it All Together 

When I have worn lanyards, I prefer them to hang at a minimum halfway down my torso or even down to my belly. This is partly because I find it to be more comfortable, I do not like a bunch of items close to my neck face. 

However, a longer lanyard does have better functionality because the items can be used easier or without having to remove them from the cordage. This is why I generally use a piece of cordage that is at least two- and one-half feet long.

After cutting the cordage it is time to put the emergency supplies on it. A lot of gear nowadays has a lanyard hole in it so attaching items to the cordage is as simple as sliding it on. If you would like a different means of attaching items, small carabiners or shackles could be used but they will add to the overall weight of the lanyard. 

Once the supplies are on the lanyard it is time to add any applicable hardware that will help to secure the lanyard around your neck. With the hardware installed, your lanyard is now done!

My Picks

I have worn lanyards that have just a few items on them or many. In terms of comfort and usefulness, I prefer a lanyard that has just a few items on it.

Those items are a small flashlight, a neck knife, a lighter and a ferrocerium rod, and lastly an emergency whistle.

Here is a lanyard that I made about one year ago out of 550 paracord. It is primarily a neck knife lanyard for my CRKT Minimalist Knife, but I have added other gear to it.

As you can see, I used two different colors of paracord. I did this to give the lanyard a unique design and it also allows me to carry extra useful cordage.

I would also like to point out that I used orange paracord, which is not a terribly popular color. I did this because it stands out, which allows me to easily find the lanyard if I take it off or for someone to see me if I need to be found. 

Wrap Up 

Well, there you have it, an easy way to make a survival lanyard. Please remember that a survival lanyard is not a replacement for a proper loadout of gear. It is simply a way to always carry a few items on your person and to have quick access to those items.

I hope you enjoyed this article, thanks for reading, and stay prepared!

Do you have a survival lanyard or thoughts on them? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know!

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