There are a few things in life that offer incredible versatility and don’t cost very much. Two of the best examples of such products in off-the-grid living are Ranger bands and duct tape.
Leave it to one of the elite military forces of the world to develop such a simple and effective tool to accomplish a job that just wasn’t getting done with the available items. It was originally designed as a subsidy to the Army Ranger’s gear to keep loose and rattling items quiet, specifically things like loaded M-16/M4 magazines. Perhaps they knew when they designed them, or perhaps they didn’t: these little things are incredibly useful even outside of their role as a glorified rubber band.
As a fire starter they are excellent, saving liquid fuel; as a grip-enhancing add-on they are perhaps unmatched, but there are also first aid uses and clutter reducing tendencies within their range of use. Used on a knife handle they have anti-slip properties; they can hold gauze or other first aid implements in place securely, start wet tender relatively easily, keep awkward items attached to a pack in place, and much more.
You can buy them premade for relatively little, but with just a few minutes you can make hundreds of the things for just a few dollars. Making a Ranger band is simple.
- Use a new or “retired” bicycle inner tube, and cut out any damage sections
- Cut two-inch sections (or any segment length that you deem usable) from the inner tube. Essentially you are cutting rings off the inner tube. You will eventually have several (many) “rubber bands.”
Several fixed-blade knives without finger guards can be made safer with Ranger bands to rubberize the handles. A few good examples would be the Coldsteel Bushman or the Mora knife line (two incredible survival type knives which are under $25).
A couple of Ranger bands around a Bic lighter will actually help the high altitude performance a bit and provide a small footprint fire starter for wetter weather as well. The rubber Ranger bands will burn for some time while you work to get wet or damp tinder started.
Ranger bands are also great for organizing stuff in the pack or in the garage like paracord and loose zip ties. These things can help out a lot with clutter and other random loose items.
Tying two of them together could also function outside of a piece of cloth as a tourniquet for big injuries or snake bites.
You can use the grey stuff to “manufacture” just about anything, which is part of what makes it so famous, but there are some specific things that it can do that can also get you out of a pickle when in an awkward situation. For instance, several yards once made a splint for a badly broken leg on a friend with the help of a few straight branches. It allowed him to essentially “walk/limp” out of a gorge where he had fallen with little assistance from other members of his team. The duct tape immobilized his leg to keep the pressure off of the break and allowed him to get back to safety without further damage to the bone end.
Slings and tourniquets are common place with duct tape, and if it hadn’t been made specifically for sealing ducts, it may have been called emergency tape. Holding large gauze pads and securing lesser bandages are just a few of the normal daily tasks for duct tape as well. Some say duct tape can remove warts, calm hotspots, or protect blisters by reducing friction for the covered area.
It can have excellent results as a makeshift pulley point or abrasion-prone contact area covering if you double it up and put something hard underneath the base layer (like thin bark perhaps).
Many a water hose on a car have been temporarily mended for short term travel to safer ground, and in a pinch, just about anything can be made water resistant with a couple of strategically placed layers of duct tape. As long as the adhesive isn’t applied to something that is wet at the time of adhesion, there is a good enough contact that some water pressure can be contained.
A person could easily be restrained with duct tape when used in large quantity, and it’s even possible to make those restraints less uncomfortable (where it would make sense) by using two layers applied adhesive to adhesive as the base layer before applying the bulk layers of the restraint.
It can be used to secure gas valves, water faucet tips, handles, and other do-not-use areas to prevent concerns with a larger group during an emergency.
Cold weather shoes could be made out of some of your truck upholstery if your engine gives out in a cold area before you make it home. Some foam insulation, seatbelt material, and duct tape may be enough to keep you from getting frostbite in such a situation. Using duct tape as a fire starter is also a potential usage—it burns very well.
Taping the tip of your muzzle with a few warps can keep out the mud and grit while on a hunting trip, but be careful on high-end gun finishes as the tape adhesive does contain some acidic qualities and can damage high gloss bluing with extended usage.
Niche specialty brand names like gorilla tape do seem to have even more impressive rip strength and adhesion, as well as abrasion resistance, despite higher costs. Certainly if you have experience with duct tape and are looking for its “big brother,” the 150 percent cost premium is likely worth a try.
The old saying that if it moves but it shouldn’t then use some duct tape, is appropriate. There are few things that can’t at least be temporarily mended in the “field” with this tape.
Duct tape and ranger bands give more versatility to the bug out bag, the toolbox, and the field backpack for times when you might need a bit more help. These are two items that I never go without, regardless of where I am. There are a supply in every bag I own, every car trunk or truck toolbox I have access to, and every backpack I use while in the back country. It has saved me a few times, especially from a first aid perspective with cuts and breaks, but also when things started to turn for the worse with weather and transportation. In a pinch I once used three ranger bands and ten feet of duct tape to secure a hole in a radiator hose and maintain water pressure for a 250-mile trip home from Las Vegas to Southern California. As I traveled, the 105-degree heat in Death Valley, California, helped to fuse the rubber ranger bands to the hose and helped me make it home safely without damage to my engine. My Toyota Landcruiser and my wallet were eternally grateful.
There are two important things to remember when it comes to using these items.
- Actually having them on hand to use
- Not limiting yourself in your creativity for their uses
If you think it can work with these two items, it probably can, because more than likely someone has already made it work with one or the other or both.
©2012 Off the Grid News