Survival Straps: The (Stylish) Watch Strap That Might Just Save Your Life

We love the camper style watch that's been popular for awhile now but we were looking for something a little more...badass-ey. That's when we found the Survival Straps paracord watch strap.

In the last year or two, camper and expedition watches have become stylish to wear outside of the campsite. Paired with some shorts at a barbecue, these simple-faced watches with earth tone canvas bands create a casual, but sophisticated look.

Even J.Crew has one — albeit at $150, for a Timex watch with a canvas strap.

I love the style, but thought we can do better on the price.

In my searches, I found Survival Straps, a brand that offers a watch strap that isn't only better on the price, but completely functional.

By functional I mean, it could literally save your life one day.

Beyond merely holding your timepiece to your wrist, the Survival Strap watch strap is made of  up to 13 feet of military spec paracord that can be unraveled in an emergency. And they're made right here in the USA, something we love to support here at Primer.

Paracord was developed for US Paratroopers in World War II. This nylon rope was used for the suspension lines of their parachutes. Once on the ground however, the soldiers found the rope to be very versatile for many other tasks. Used by astronauts and civilians alike ever since, this light-duty rope can be used to drag things, attach equipment to harnesses, secure a tent, or even be used as fishing line when dismantled.

Perfect for wearing when you're out hiking, camping, or performing commando raids for sure, but the Survival Straps watch strap looks great at the beach or your boss's barbecue just the same.

Perhaps even better than the strap's function is the Survival Strap guarantee: If you have to use your paracord, just send them a picture and the story, and $5 shipping, and they'll send you a new one for free. Now there's no guilt on whether to undo your watch strap when you're not sure if that bone sticking out of your arm needs a splint or not.

Each strap is made to order, so you'll have to measure your wrist size and the distance between the pins on the watch you'd like to use. For mine, I finally got to make use of a free watch I received when I subscribed to some magazine, but was unwearable because of its cheap rubber strap.

No watch to use? Check out a thrift store or Ebay. You'll be able to find a decent Timex or similar for nothing too damaging to your wallet.

While Survival Straps recommends not adding any size to your wrist because they'll accommodate for comfort, I found my strap to be just the right size. Any smaller and it would have been too small. So I recommend adding a quarter of an inch to your measurement. The strap comes with shrinking instructions, but if it's too small you're out of luck. (Mark in the comments notes when he sized up his was too big, though shrinking made it wearable. You'll have to use your judgment when ordering. Thanks Mark! – Andrew)

The clasp on the watch also has three size options. The watch closes by inserting a pin through the clasp and screwing it into the other side. The Survival Straps band comes with a breakaway pin, so if your watch gets caught on something while you're riding your motorcycle through the brush, it will snap, instead of ripping you from your ride. However if sacrificing your watch isn't an option, the strap also comes with a standard pin.

I found the strap to be light and comfortable. I've been wearing mine for a couple weeks, and really like it. You can choose from over 30 colors of paracord and can even have two different shades in the same strap. I chose the green OD to match the camper style look I was going for.

Pick one up at for $34.95.

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.


  • Reply July 12, 2011


    I really like the watch in the first image could you ID it, or something with a similar face?

  • Reply July 12, 2011


    That’s pretty sweet, I’ll have to try making one of those. When you undo them, they do have a ton of rope – I make and sell paracord bracelets on Etsy:

  • Reply July 12, 2011


    you say to size UP 1/4″ but the website says;

    If you are in between sizes, round DOWN to the nearest size. You can easily expand the Watch Strap by about 1″

    ….I am about 6.25″ so what size do you recommend I order?


  • Reply July 12, 2011


    Hi Alex,

    Thanks for reading and for the question. I took a look at the sizing info on their site and they appear to be using new clasps since that was written. The pictures on their site use two rope hoops to close with the pin, which the sizing info suggests can be adjusted. But mine has a second metal piece that the pin goes through and no hoops. This piece has three holes in it, which allows you to choose one for best fit. However I have to use the loosest, so no way to go bigger if it was too small. The strap did come with shrinking instructions however, so that, combined with the clasp adjustment led me to the idea of sizing up slightly.

    That was my experience, you may want to check with them before ordering if you’re unsure.

  • Reply July 12, 2011

    Kevin Z

    Absolutely love survival straps. I actually cary one of their keyfobs and have been for about a year now and love it. It’s also a great conversation starter! Such a great company to support!

    Thanks for showcasing them. I too like Tanner would be really interested in knowing more about the watch you had on or a face like it, very simple and clean!

  • Reply July 12, 2011


    Tanner and Kevin,

    The watch in the picture was actually a free gift I got for subscribing to a magazine. However, here are some affordable Timex’s that might look nice with the strap (though I don’t know firsthand if the’ll fit):

    The goal is something not too dressy, so it doesn’t look out of place with the casual strap. Simple gives a nice vintage look.

  • Reply July 13, 2011


    it’s a very nice watsh…For me, they are the best gift we can give to our loved ones…Thanks for sharing this post!!!

  • Reply July 13, 2011


    FYI…if you’re more a do-it-yourselfer type, a quick google search will show you how to make one (for a lot less than $35).

  • Reply July 14, 2011

    Brena Fint

    Great post here!!!Can’t wait to see your next blog…

  • Reply July 14, 2011


    The Survival Watch Strap is one the coolest innovations I’ve seen for a timepiece in a while, Andrew! I am a wrist watch enthusiast and I’m also an active outdoors man, so this product definitely caught my eye. I can’t recall how many times I’ve been in situations that require a good sturdy rope, which I often leave at home because they are not the most convenient to carry around. Fortunately for me, this strap serves me both in style and function. I have Oris and Tag Heuer sport watches so I hope the straps will fit them, otherwise I will have to go get a Timex. Thanks for suggesting some watch models that look good with the strap.

  • Reply July 16, 2011


    i have that exact timex camper watch and there is absolutely NO WAY the survival strap works on this watch….

  • Reply July 16, 2011


    btw, i know it wont fit because my survival strap just came in the mail today…

  • Reply July 17, 2011


    Thanks for the heads up Alex, I’ve removed the link.

  • Reply July 24, 2011

    Cher Shives

    They are awesome watches!! Is this for sale??I want to have one of it…

  • Reply August 15, 2011


    I would recommend following the sizing information on their website. I followed your advice Andrew and sadly the watch strap is a bit too big. If an edit is made to this article, others may be saved from this fate as well. Shrinking involved boiling which was tricky as I already had the watch on the strap. At any rate, I found it didn’t shrink as much as the guide indicated.

    Regardless, the strap is wearable and I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far, great article!

  • Reply August 15, 2011


    Hey Mark,

    Thanks for the follow-up. Glad ultimately it worked out and you like the strap. It seems there may be some inconsistencies with sizing. I’ll add a note in the article.

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