Pacing Beads and Compass

Ranger beads are a set of 14 beads used to calculate the distance traveled between 2 points. They can greatly improve your travel accuracy when used in conjunction with a map. This useful navigation tool that can be used to create a map of coordinates when no map is available.

Using Ranger Beads

Ranger beads consist of 2 sections commonly used as such, 9 beads for meters and 5 beads for kilometers. Each time you travel 100 meters a bead is moved. Once you reach 1 kilometer you pull down a bead on the kilometer side and reset the meter beads. Ranger beads can also be used to calculate distances traveled in a vehicle using a time and speed formula. 

Below I’ve outline step-by-step instruction on how you can make your very own set of side-by-side ranger beads.

What you’ll need

CAUTION: Melting and then touching any nylon, like paracord, can burn the skin. Use caution and safe handling when melting paracord.


  1. Measure out 60″ of paracord, when finished I had about 5″ of extra. You can always remove extra cord at the end, but you’ll never be able to add any on.
  2. Remove the inner strands from the paracord.
  3. Cut diagonally across one end to make a point.
  4. Lightly melt the paracord ends to keep them from fraying.
  5. String all 13 beads on the strand.
  6. Now double back on the strand and restring them so the cord runs through each bead twice. 
  7. Cut the point off and lightly melt.
  8. Even up the ends.
  9. Starting with the loop end, tie an overhand knot about 1.5 inches from the end.
  10. Slide 4 beads to the knot.
  11. From these beads tie another overhand knot about 1.5 inches away.
  12. After that knot make a loop by doubling over and tying an overhand knot.
  13. Add another knot 
  14. Slide remaining 9 beads to that knot.
  15. Tie another overhand 1.5 inches from the beads.
  16. Trim ends and lightly melt
  17. You’re ready to start using you newly crafted ranger beads.
  18. Enjoy