Duct tape has long been heralded for its many uses around the house, on a boat, and in the car. The inexpensive yet durable bonding item also boasts a multitude of survival uses as well.
Here are 19 survival uses for duct tape:
1. Arrows. Duct tape can be used as survival arrow fletching. The fletching is the portion of the arrow that stabilizes the weapon aerodynamically. Cut (or tear) off several 5-inch long strips of duct tape. Add a long edge of one of the strips to the arrow shaft (can be a straight piece of wood stripped with a knife) then repeat this same process at least two more times until a typical “feathered” fletching look is achieved. Trim away any tape ravels and the survival arrow is ready to capture dinner.
2. Bandages. Use duct tape to make butterfly sutures by cutting two small strips and placing them on top of the wound. Now cut or tear another yet smaller strip and place it across the centers of the two initial pieces of tape.
3. Leg Splint. Stabilize a broken or sprained ankle or leg with duct tape. Use two small yet sturdy branches or similar piece of wood as the brace for the splint. If the victim is not wearing pants, carefully place some cloth around the leg to reduce friction and to keep from making the wound worse. Tape the splints around the leg snugly. Use whatever cloth is handy to pad the inner point of a forked branch and craft a crutch to aid the victim while walking to safety.
4. Water Bottle Repair. A strip or two of duct tape around a leaking water bladder or water bottle should prevent the loss of more life-saving liquid. Wipe the leaking container as dry as possible before firmly applying the duct tape.
5. Canoe Repair. Although it is not known exactly how long firmly placing strips of duct tape on both the interior and exterior of a canoe hole will keep the little vessel afloat, I have been assured that it has been accomplished with at least a modicum of success.
6. Duct Tape Tourniquet. Place cloth over bare skin, if possible. Simply take the start of the roll and loop tape tightly around the wound about three times, making sure that there is no slack in the roll as you work.
7. Cordage. Pull at least a foot of duct tape loose from the roll and twist is tightly to craft makeshift cordage to accomplish a plethora of survival tasks, such as constructing a shelter or crafting a trap or lasso.
8. Arm Sling. Pull about two feet of duct tape away from the roll, and fold the strip down the middle until the adhesive side is no longer exposed. You now have a strap that can serve as a temporary sling to keep a broken arm from moving during the trip to safety. Make sure to cut the duct tape long enough that it can be maneuvered around the broken arm and have the ends meet at the opposite shoulder for tying.
9. Restraints. Duct tape can be used as a makeshift set of handcuffs. If the need arises to subdue a bad guy, or even a person from your own group who is panicked or otherwise needs a time out – simply have another hold the individual’s hands together and wrap duct tape multiple times around their wrists.
10. No-Sew Closures. Use strips of duct tape to hold shirts, jackets and pants in place if buttons or the cloth are torn. The tape can also be used to mend socks and gloves; just make sure to place tape over the holes on both the inside and the outside of the fabric. Staying warm becomes extremely important during a survival situation; even small holes can allow valuable body heat to escape.
11. Glasses Repair. Wrap duct tape around broken glassed to temporarily repair them and prevent injury from walking around during an emergency.
12. Temporary Shelter. Use strips of duct tape to attach tarps, trash bags, small plastic bags cast away as litter, and even leaves and branches together to construct an emergency shelter.
13. Spears. Tape a knife to the end of a sturdy branch or found pipe to make a spear for hunting and self-defense.
14. Hat Making. Use any materials at your disposal to create a cap to cover your head, attaching them all together with duct tape. If you have a typical ball cap with mesh backing at your disposal, line it with cloth, plastic or leaves, to insulate it from cold night air or dropping temperatures. Conserving body heat to ward off hypothermia, frost bite, or simply exposure to the rain is not too large a task for duct tape.
15. Drinking Cup. Patience is required for this duct tape survival task. Cut two one foot strips of duct tape and affix them together, stick sides facing. Cut two six inch strips and affix them together in the same manner. You now have cup sides and a bottom. Bend the larger strip into a cup-like shape and use an additional piece of duct tape to attach the bottom of the cup. The strip should be long enough to come nearly to the top of the lip of the cup. To make the cup extra sturdy, place at least four such strips from the bottom to the lip of the cup. It won’t hold water forever and may drip, but a duct tape cup will enable you to get a drink multiple times before it gives.
16. Trail Markers. Wrap duct tape around a tree or branch to mark your path to prevent circling around aimlessly or to blaze a trail for others.
17. Tent Repair. Duct tape can be used to temporarily repair tent poles, patch holes, or to keep a flap closed when a zipper breaks.
18. Bug Catcher. Instead of buying “pest strips,” hang strips of duct tape in areas where there are flying insects. They will stick to the tape.
19. Make a Blanket. Gather all the insulator material you can find: cloth, leaves, branches, plastic, newspapers and pages torn from books and magazines. Make an emergency quilt by laying the found items onto the ground and affixing them together in a blanket shape with duct tape. Once you have covered the “blanket” in multiple strips from top to bottom, go around the edges and cap them in duct tape to sturdy up the survival covering.