Chums Smokey Paracord Bracelet & Vortex Carabiner Review

A double review of useful gear from Chums: Smokey, a paracord and fire starter bracelet, and Vortex, a line of large carabiner clips.

Chums Smokey Paracord Bracelet review

Paracord survival bracelets have been a staple at outdoor outfitters for years. They’re a practical piece of outdoor apparel: a paracord bracelet, when unwound, yields a length of high-strength parachute cord that can be useful for survival.

The Chums Smokey isn’t just another parachute cord bracelet. Chums added innovation to the typical paracord bracelet, constructing the clasp from two metals that, with some pressure and patience, become a fire starter.

Atlanta Trails: Chums Smokey Paracord Fire Starter Bracelet Review

The Smokey’s construction is sturdy and simple, comprised of the metal firestarter clasp and a 16 foot length of braided 550lb parachute cord. The layers of braiding creates bulky bracelet: while it’s incredibly useful, and it’s seen lots of trail time on my arm and in my backpack, it’s a bit too bulky – to me – for everyday wear.

Atlanta Trails: Chums Smokey Paracord Fire Starter Bracelet Review

After a few initial attempts, using the fire starter is fairly simple. The two-piece clasp, when scratched together with pressure, flings small sparks toward fine, dry tinder to start a fire. To light an emergency fire, assemble fine tinder in a mound, scratch the washer firmly down the firestone, and direct the resulting spark toward the tinder. Backpacking with wet (or forgotten) matches? No problem.

I love the Smokey’s double-duty usefulness as a length of high-strength parachute cord and a fire starter. It’ll be on my arm for many miles to come.

Chums Vortex Carabiner review

As a photographer and outdoor writer, I carry a lot of “stuff” on the trail. Some of it’s expensive (like camera gear and GPS gear) and some of it’s irreplaceable (like car keys, when I’m parked on a remote gravel forest road without mobile phone reception).

Atlanta Trails: Chums Vortex Carabiner Review

I find carabiners incredibly useful in keeping my gear accounted for on the trail. Whenever I stop to rest, hydrate, snack or shoot photos, I make sure that all of my gear is either in my pack, clipped to my pack, or clipped to my clothes, so when I depart, I can just grab my backpack and go. Why? I admit – I’ve lost, or almost forgotten, plenty of small stuff on the trail.

Chums offers their Vortex Carabiners in assorted configurations, all with a wide gate clip capable of grabbing a 3/4” diameter. I’ve tested four varieties: the double gate, the brew claw (bottle opener + single gate), the utility wrench (carabiner plus multi-wrench), and the bottle keychain (single gate carabiner with a fabric keychain and bottle opener).

Atlanta Trails: Chums Vortex Carabiner Review

All four Vortex Carabiners all well-constructed of sturdy, rigid steel. My favorite? The double gate, for its double clip, which allows me to attach one end to an exterior loop on my backpack, and the other to, well, just about any gear with a small-diameter loop or handle. The double gate has been making regular trail appearances, clipping my dog’s often-wet Ruffwear Bivy Bowl to the outside of my backpack.

Atlanta Trails: Chums Vortex Carabiner Review

Chums Smokey and Vortex: Bottom Line

Chums combined craftsmanship and utility in the design of the Chums Smokey Paracord Bracelet and its line of Vortex Carabiners. After several hundred miles of use out on the trail, I recommend both.

So Where Can I Get One?


While we were provided with sample Chums gear to test, all opinions above are our own, and based on our own, trail-tested experience.

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Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, online magazines that cover the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.