Ray Mears is a survival instructor of uncommon ability and here he shows how to make perfect cordage from stinging nettles, in his own clear and concise way.
I’ve been a fan of Ray Mears for quite a long time. His shows on television are very well produced and his ability as a teacher is unparalleled. Here he displays that ability in an easy to understand and easy to follow demonstration on how to make excellent cordage from stinging nettles.
Mears picks a batch of tall nettles and strips them with ease, without receiving so much as a minor sting from the plants. He handles them with the confidence of experience, and shows how you too can make outstanding cordage from their fibers.
Cordage, of course, has myriad uses. From binding things to fishing line and net making, the uses are practically endless.
And Mears is right, handling stinging nettles safely does require some firmness and confidence. I have found that those who are ginger and unsure with nettles tend to get stung more frequently.
His rolling of the plant fibers on his trousers is rhythmic and sure, and if you practice the technique no doubt you too can achieve the same confident repetition.
Take it slow at first, but do try to build your speed as you progress, because it takes a lot of nettles to make a substantive amount of cordage. The quicker that you can perform the action and the more fluid you become in your motions, the less time it will require of you to amass a significant amount of cordage.
Also, your cordage will be stronger and more uniform throughout. Nettles make a surprisingly durable cord, which can be further strengthened by braiding the separate cords together. This is a basic bushcraft or survival skill that every outdoorsman should know, and the technique transfers from nettles to other fibrous plants quite handily.
Stinging nettles are of course a great plant to harvest for nutritional needs as well. In early spring pluck the tender shoots, steam or boil them to eliminate the sting, and use them like spinach or in a traditional nettle soup.
Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.