Ranger Beads: The Step By Step Guide

Ranger Beads

What Are Ranger Beads?

Ranger Beads
Ranger Beads

Ranger beads also known as pace counting beads (or pace count beads) are simple tools that are used by military personnel or survivalists to count śteps and measure walking distances.

Both popular among soldiers. orienteering enthusiasts and backpackers. They offer a great and quite efficient way to keep an eye on the distance you travel on foot.

Ranger beads consist of a rope or paracord string and as the name suggests beads, that are attached to the piece of rope.

Ranger beads usually have two sections. The first section has anywhere from three to five beads and the second section has nine beads.

The first section, which has the lesser count of beads, is used to count the kilometers you have traveled and the second section with nine beads is used to count the meters (each bead is 100 meters).

How To Use Ranger Beads?

As I said ranger beads are used to keep track of how far you have gone- measure the distance you have walked.

This is done by pulling down a bead every time you have walked a certain distance. Usually, every time you have walked 100 meters.

But how do I know that I have walked 100 meters? You do this by counting your steps.

So before you start using your ranger beads you have to measure out how many steps it takes you to walk 100 meters.

Its a rather simple task. Measure out 100 meters using any measuring tool you might possess, or use something as a reference that you know is roughly 100 meters long.

Then simply walk the measured distance a few times while always counting how many steps it takes you.

When you have done this for a few times, calculate the average steps it took you. And there you have it, now you know how many steps it takes you to walk 100 meters.

Note! If you are using the ranger beads while wearing heavy gear or a backpack you should count your steps with some weight on you! Because adding weight and gear will affect the length of your steps.

So let’s go through the process of using your ranger beads!

While walking you count your steps, to know when you have walked 100 meters.

For every 100 meters you walk, you pull one of the beads down (from the section with nine beads- your meter section)

When you have all 9 beads pulled down from the meter section and you reach the 1000 meter mark (1 km) you pull down one of the beads in the kilometer section.

When you have pulled your kilometer bead down, just simply push all the meter beads up again and start counting your next kilometer.

And that’s it, it’s that easy to use! It might be a simple tool to use but its actually really efficient.

How To Make Ranger Beads?

You can buy ranger beads on amazon or at some military or hiking stores, and they aren’t really that expensive, ranging from 5 to 20 dollars. But you can also make your own. It doesn’t take too much time nor supplies, and is super easy.

Making ranger beads is super easy and doesn’t really require much. All you need is a few household things, some paracord or rope, and beads. And about 10-15 minutes of time.

Next lets take a step by step look at how to make ranger beads.

How To Make Ranger Beads Step by Step Guide

Ranger Beads
Ranger Beads

Supplies needed

Supplies needed to make ranger beads
Ranger Beads Supplies
  • Lighter
    You need a lighter (or matches) to burn the ends of your paracord (fuse them) so they wouldn’t fray.
  • Scissors
    Scissors or any other cutting tool is used to cut your paracord/ rope
  • Paracord
    I recommend using paracord for this but any kind of rope will do. You will need about 20 inches (around 50 cm) of paracord/ rope. Classical 5 mm paracord will do nicely, but you can use thinner paracord as well. The paracord will be used for the body of the Ranger Beads.
  • Beads
    You will need at least 12 beads (12-14, depending on how many kilometer beads to you want on your Ranger Beads). Any kind of beads will do, the hole in the beads should be at least 5 mm. The hole’s size depends on how thick paracord/ rope you are planning to use.
  • A match
    A match is used to help you push the paracord through the beads. You can use a piece of string or wire if u prefer

Step 1

Step by step guide to making ranger beads. Step 1
  • Cut a roughly 20 inch (50 mm) piece of paracord, this will be the body of your ranger beads
  • After you have cut the paracord, use a lighter to burn the ends of the paracord (fuse them). So they wouldn’t start to fray.

Note! If the double paracord is too thick for your beads you can pull out its inner strands. or use a single strand, not double!

Step 2

Step by step guide to making ranger beads. Step 2
  • Fold the paracord in half
  • Do a simple knot at the end of the folded (double) paracord. Any knot will do. This will be the end of your ranger beads. Also, this will keep the beads from falling off the body of the pace counter.

Step 3

Step by step guide to making ranger beads. Step 3
  • Now take nine of your beads. These will be the meter part of the pace counter.
  • Push the paracord through the hole in the bead. Now slide it to the end.
  • Continue this until all 9 beads are through the rope.


Note! Use the match (or any other stick/ tool) to push the paracord through the bead. You can also use a piece of string or wire to pull the paracord through the bead.

Step 4

Step by step guide to making ranger beads. Step 4
  • Make a second knot in the paracord around 1-2 inches from your last bead. This will be the end of your meter section.

Step 5

Step by step guide to making ranger beads. Step 5
  • Take the rest of your beads. You will need at least 3. (the amount of beads you choose depends on how large you want your kilometer section to be)
  • Pull or push the paracord through all of the beads.

Step 6

Step by step guide to making ranger beads. Step 6
  • Make a final knot, around 1-2 inches from your last bead. This will keep your beads from falling off.
  • The loop that is left on the end of the ranger beads can be used to attach your beads on your gear or clothing

Note! You can attach a carabine at the end of your pace counter to make it easier to attach to whatever you want.

Finished Pace Counter

Finished Ranger Beads

And there you have it, your finished ranger beads. Now you are ready to go out on the trail and start testing them out.

In Conclusion

Ranger beads are effective and super easy to use tools that can. And its a good idea to keep your pace counters at hand while going for a hike. Whether its to help you keep on your track or measure your walking distance so you don’t get lost, or miss a turn.

Ranger beads aren’t a substitution for a modern GPS or a compass, but they do come in handy while working with a map while hiking. They are effective and super easy to use tools to use.

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