Resourcefulness is one trait we in the off-grid community easily develop. We learn to improvise and make do with the barest essentials, refusing to dispose things that can serve functions other than their intended use.
One ordinary item that can provide a surprising variety of uses is the pantyhose. The cheap, lightweight nylon legwear, usually discarded by women after just several uses, shouldn’t be thrown away so quickly. They serve a multitude of uses in an emergency situation, and won’t take up much space in your survival cache.
The pantyhose – as well as their knee-high and thigh-high cousins, the stockings – have the elasticity, durability and quick-drying features no other fabrics possess.
There are several ways you can use them in off-grid situations: in the wild, in your garden, or even just at home, if you’re going to be every bit resourceful:
1. Leg warmer and protection. Pantyhose not only provide thermal protection for legs and arms, but they also protect feet from blisters. Wear them underneath your socks during long hikes – yes, even if you’re a man. They’ll keep your feet warm, safe from trench foot and frostbite. They’ll also keep ants, ticks, chiggers, spiders and other creepy-crawlies at bay. When out swimming in the sea or wading through a pond or swamp, they protect you from jellyfish and leeches.
2. Cordage. Can’t find rope or bungee cord? Use pantyhose to tie things together, strap gear on the bike or car rack, or hang supplies to your bug-out bag. Twist the nylon tight and turn it into a belt to hang small tools around your waist. When building shelter, use it to tie tree branches together to make a cross joint.
3. First aid. Use pantyhose as a tourniquet or to hold in place a splint or bandage pad, or to secure a hot or cold pack.
4. Food storage and all-purpose pouch. Hanging fresh produce in nylons will aerate them and help keep away from flies. It also makes onions and garlic stay fresh longer, especially if you separate them in sections by tying knots between each one. Stockings can be turned into a carry-all pouch when you’re out foraging for nuts and berries. At home or when camping, they can serve as containers for small objects like coins, pill boxes, safety pins, nuts and bolts.
Put some rice in the toe end, tie it up and it’ll function as a desiccant in your rifle bag. Place fragrant dried flowers or cotton balls dipped in your favorite essential oil, and it becomes a potpourri sachet for your drawers.
Story continues below video
5. Water and air filter. Use pantyhose to filter debris from your rain barrels, or add it as another layer to your emergency rock-sand-and-charcoal filtration system. Anytime you encounter a sandstorm, strong winds or heavy dust or ash, use hosiery to protect your eyes, nose and mouth. Alternatively, you can screen crevices in the doors and windows of your home with them or add them as another layer to your car’s air filter.
6. Fish net. Stretch a stocking over a forked stick or a looped vine, and you have an improvised skimmer to catch small fish, frogs and crawdads with. If you want crabs, place a bait and a small stone in the toe and dangle it in shallow water. Crabs will try to go after the bait and get tangled in the mesh.
7. Hunting tool. Good at aiming and throwing? Place a heavy stone or two at the end of a hose, tie it up, and fling it like a bola to catch small animals and wild fowl.
8. All-around rubber band. The nylon’s waistband is a strong elastic, and can be used to hold or secure anything a garter or rubber band would: a ponytail, a bundle of kindling, a sling shot. It’s been said to have worked as a temporary fan belt! It may not last long, but it can probably hold up until you make it to the nearest garage.
Story continues below video
9. Dryer and strainer. Hang herbs, spices and tea leaves in stockings to dry out in the sun. (When camping, it’s also a good way to dry tinder.) Use it as tea bag to steep those same tea leaves in.
Preparing fruit jams and tomato sauce at home? Nylons should make a good seed strainer. Just make sure you use new or well-laundered ones, though.
10. Soap saver. Hanging soap in pantyhose will keep it clean, dry and allow you to get the most out of every mushy remaining bit. It’ll keep bigger chunks from quickly melting off, too. Tie up the loose end, cut off the excess nylon and turn the bundle into a bath sponge or scrubber.
11. Glare deflector. Block reflective glare off of your binoculars, rifle scope or camera with a stretch of nylon on the lenses. It would keep you from giving away your location when out hunting, doing wildlife photography, or just keeping a stealth position in the wild.
12. Gardening help. When potting plants, lay a piece of mesh at the base of the planter. It will drain out excess water but keep the soil in the pot intact. For sprouting seeds, put the desired amount in a hose, hang it and wet twice a day or as needed.
Stockings also can be used to stake plants that need support: tomatoes, peas, cucumbers and other vines, as well as bind ones with heavy fruit, like gourds and squash, to a trellis.
Are deer, rabbits and rodents stalking your garden? Put hair clippings in a few old pantyhose and hang them around the perimeter of your garden. The scent of human hair will ward them off, as would cat or dog hair.
Finally, stockings also can be used to repel insects from your fruit trees. Unlike plastic or paper wrappers, nylon allows rain, air and sunshine to penetrate the fabric while keeping insects and worms from nesting and burrowing on your ripening fruits.
Do you know of other survival uses for pantyhose? Do you have any advice on the uses listed above? Share your thoughts in the section below: