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34 Ways to Use Duct Tape for Survival

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I have always claimed – and not altogether jokingly – that you could build a house with Elmer’s glue and Duct Tape. Both items are readily available, relatively inexpensive and easy to tote around. I will set aside the Elmer’s for another time, though. Today, I thought it would be fun to look as some of the practical uses of duct tape around the house, camping and of course, in a survival situation.

As an invaluable resource, duct tape is easy to carry around and with that it is equally as easy to use. With its durability and many uses it probably stands on its own unlike other building, construction and repair products which you might need practice, training or advanced online degrees in engineering or architecture to use safely and efficiently.

First a bit of history

This miracle stuff was created during World War II when the US military needed a flexible, durable, waterproof tape to use making repairs in the field. A strong tape was created by Permacell, a division of Johnson and Johnson for this purpose. As the story goes, the GIs called it “duck tape” because it was waterproof – like a duck’s back.

Enough of the boring details. Just how can you use this miracle tape?

34 Uses of Duct Tape for Survival and Emergencies

Repair a tent: You open your tent at the campsite and oops — a little tear. No problem as long as you’ve brought your duct tape along. Cover the hole with a patch; for double protection mirror the patch inside the tent. You’ll keep insects and weather where they belong.

Make a rope: Twist one or several lengths of duct tape into a cord or rope. Of course paracord would be a lot better and you do have some of that, right?)

Make a clothesline: Twisting a long piece of Duct tape makes a great piece of rope to use as a clothesline.

Hold the feathers in your sleeping bag: If you have a hole in your down sleeping bag, you can patch the hole with duct tape. No more feathers flying out all over the place.

Reseal packages of food: Use duct tape to seal up partially opened packages of food. Fold over the top of the package and seal it tight with a piece of duct tape. Works for cans, too. Simply fashion a lid out of duct tape.

Hold your tent closed: A damaged zipper could leave your tent door flapping in the wind. Stick the door shut, and keep the bugs and critters out.

Splint a broken tent pole or fishing pole: Tape a stick to the broken area of your tent pole or fishing rod, and you might just get one last adventure out of it.

Catch pesky flies: Roll off a few foot-long strips of duct tape and hang them from a branch or your tent or cabin rafters. The DT serves as flypaper and when you depart, you can roll up the tape to toss it in the trash. No need to use nasty chemicals, either.

Repair your water bottle: Have a cracked water bottle or a pierced hydration bladder? A little strip of duct tape to the rescue. Be sure to dry the surface before you try to tape your patch in place since most forms of duct tape don’t stick to wet surfaces. You can also wrap plastic water bottles with duct tape to prevent cracking and leaking.

Make a spear: Strap your knife to a pole and you have a trusty spear to fend off beasts, or make one into your dinner.

Create a shelter: With some trash bags and some duct tape, and you have a survival shelter roof, or sleeping bag cover, a wind break, or well, there are kits of possibilities.

Wrap a sprained ankle: If you trip and sprain your ankle, wrap the ankle with duct tape to give it some support.

Make butterfly bandage strips: Cut two small strips of DT, and add a smaller strip across their centers (sticky side to sticky side) to create a makeshift butterfly suture.

Make a sling: Fold a length of DT down the middle, so that it is half the original width and no longer exposing a sticky side. Use the strap to make a sling for a busted arm.

Affix bandages: Place a sterile dressing over your wound, and strap it in place with DT.

Blister care: Cover the blistered area with a bit of cotton gauze, and tape over the cotton. Make sure that the duct tape fully covers the cotton and doesn’t touch the blister at all.

Create a splint: A broken ankle or leg can be stabilized with ample splint material, padding and duct tape. Pad the crotch of a forked branch with some cloth and duct tape to fashion a quick crutch to go with your splint.

Make a bandage: Fold tissue paper or paper towel to cover the wound and cover this with duct tape.

Make a temporary roof shingle: If you have lost a wooden roof shingle, make a temporary replacement by wrapping duct tape in strips across a piece of 1/4-inch (6-millimeter) plywood you’ve cut to size. Wedge the makeshift shingle in place to fill the space. It will close the gap and repel water until you can repair the roof.

Fix a hole in your siding: Has the stormy weather damaged your vinyl siding? A broken tree limb tossed by the storm, hailstones, or even an errant baseball can rip your siding. Patch tears in vinyl siding with duct tape. Choose tape in a color that matches your siding and apply it when the surface is dry. Smooth your repair by hand or with a rolling pin. The patch should last at least a season or two.

Tape a broken window: Before removing broken window glass, crisscross the broken pane with duct tape to hold it all together. This will ensure a shard does not fall out and cut you.

Mend a screen: Have the bugs found the tear in your window or door screen? Thwart their entrance until you make a permanent fix by covering the hole with duct tape.

Repair a trash can: Plastic trash cans that are blown over by a storm or frozen in an ice storm often split or crack along the sides. Repair the tear with duct tape. Just be sure tape over the crack both outside and inside the can.

Make a belt: Run a piece of DT through your belt loops and stick it to itself in the front. Overlap it about 4 or 5 inches and you’ll still be able to peel the belt apart when nature calls.

Repair your glasses: If your glasses break while you are out in the wilderness, tape them up. You might look a bit nerdy but at least you will be able to see.

Fix your rain gear: Keep the dry stuff dry, and keep the water out, by mending your ripped rain gear with a few strips of duct tape.

Repair your clothing: Repair rips and tears in your clothing by slipping a piece of tape inside the rip, sticky side out, and carefully pressing both sides of the rip together. The repair will be barely detectable.

Add extra insulation in your boots: Make your winter boots a little bit warmer by taping the insoles with duct tape, silver side up. The shiny tape will reflect the warmth of your feet back into your boots.

Hem your pants: No time to hem your new jeans? Fake it with a strip of duct tape. The new hem will last through a few washes too.

Make handcuffs: Create handcuffs for the bad guys by taping their hands together around a tree to prevent them from becoming a danger to themselves or others.

Mark a trail: Use duct tape to blaze a trail or signal for rescue, especially if your DT is brightly colored or reflective.

Make emergency repairs on your Bug Out Vehicle: Repair leaking hoses, broken tail lights, windows that don’t stay and even bullet holes with strips of duct tape.

Hang perimeter or security lights: String lights around your camp with a rope make of duct tape.

Make a disguise: Using trash bags and leaves, fashion a disguise then hold it all together with duct tape so that you can hide in plain sight.

The final word

For the past 70 years or so, duct tape has been considered somewhat of a miracle worker. For the fix-it-yourself types, duct tape has become indispensable and has been used for things that I am sure the original developers of the stuff never imagined.

Who is to say that it can’t go on for the next 70 years?  Do you use duct tape for any other reasons?  We want to know!  Comment below!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


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  • Mariowen says:

    Of course, you can use it to tie up the intruder that breaks into your home! He won't get away, and it will hurt like crazy when the police have to remove it!

  • Fred Keefer says:

    I wonder if anyone ever considered using duct tape to seal heating and air conditioning ducts?

    • Highpockets says:

      Yes, it works but doesn't last as long as the aluminum based "duct" tape does. It dries out really bad in the attic and destroys the insulation when you do try to take it off.

  • Tom says:

    1st one has to subdue the burgler by using your gun you have in your dresser drawer then after you shoot him you then can proceed to Duct Tape him and wait for the police you have not called yet as the storm knocked out all the power and cell towers. So he or she will lay there for several days stinking so you can stuff him or her in a large thick yard leaf bag and then duct tape the top of the bag very good so no smell gets out, still waiting for the police but the power is still out its raining outside and you are all alone. In the distance you can hear sirens but you decide to get a bowl of all grain cheerios instead as you have done what was needed and you have not eaten for 2 days so beware of others who wish to break into your house during this storm knowing you are all alone and helpless so don't forget to reload and eat regular its the very best thing for you and take your vitamins and you will know you have done the right thing. After all you are a HERO and you have a bag full of feces in your living room on the floor and you have sprayed a special spray to reduce the smell of dead meat, so you OK now if the Damm electric would come back on you could rid yourself of the large leaf bag and its contents and then and only then you could heat some long awaited water and clean and sanitise the mess.
    Think this is a very good use of Duct Tape don't you. Tom

  • Madonna Kinne says:

    Have a wart? Cover it with a piece of duct tape. Keep this up until the wart goes away. It really works.

    • pgrogger says:

      I had a wart on my finger. The dermatologist tried liquids, ointments, freezing, laser, nothing worked. Then I put on duck tape. After a month of this treatment the wart was gone. It works!

  • pfwag says:

    If you live in a dry climate store the duct tape in a plastic bag to help keep the glue from drying out.

  • Harry says:

    All you need to do to add to this is put out copies of the Red Green Show. Now that's a show that will teach you skills with duct tape. Good article.

  • JJM says:

    Business use for Offshore work (5 to 90 day jobs)for quick mob and demob:
    Bundle items together for transport.
    Secure outdoor cables (1-2 wraps or more).
    Install antennas (2 strips of 6+ wraps).
    Secure small equipment in place by tape around or creating double sided sticky tape; ex, 12" length folded over sticky side out with ends overlapped, 2 lengths laid out in an X.

  • Doc says:

    Kind of gross, but we have Spring invasion of Stink Bugs. If grabbed with a piece of tissue, etc. they do their STINK thing. I use a small piece of D-tape and cover over the bug, which sticks belly side up. I simply fold it over and toss in the trash....it works great! 🙂

  • Clair says:


  • Harvey Stanich says:

    I use duct tape to cover over extension cords that are strung across floor spaces where they could be tripped over. Stretch a length of tape over the straightened cord and tape with two or three lengthwise layers of tape. Useful for temporary short distances runs.

  • Mike says:

    if u run out of rubbers....wrap some around your penis, and then no one will want to have sex with you....problem solved. duck tape works wonders

  • Irene C says:

    I have used my duct tape to repair the front end of my car when an accident knocked my headlight covers loose. Worked great. Kept it on there until I traded the car in. Dealer did look at it weird.

    As for duct tape for handcuffs, I was involved in the wrong end of a robbery at a restaurant I worked in during my much younger days. The robbers taped my hands and feet together using duct tape. Yep, it works and yep, it hurt like heck when the police removed it.

  • JD Moon says:

    The collapsible stock on my AR-15 has a joint where the hard plastic pieces of the stock comes together which has a tendency to pull on my beard. A piece of duct tape of the appropriate color covers this seam and no more whisker pulling!

  • A. Dufas says:

    Wrap the water hose to the car raderiator

  • Michelle says:

    lol my 11-y-o son upon seeing the title of the article quipped, "start by taping Obama's mouth shut!" I love that child!

    • star says:

      good-one, smart child lol

    • Wayne says:

      I like your son's imagination!!! BUT let's go a little further.....Also tape Obama's asshole shut(I'm not talking about Joe Biden here),then he just becomes a walking shit balloon waiting to explode. What a promising demise of a dick tater!!!

    • Maxilyn says:

      Thanks for a good laugh! I love that child, too.

  • Tom says:

    I have seen it used to replace a Nascar racecar's windshield. It held it on the car at racing speeds 180+MPH.

  • CJ5 says:

    Used duct tape can be saved to start fires in a survival situation. Burns good.

  • Jeff says:

    WD-40 also has a lot of uses (look them up... or perhaps the author can post an article about it. Duct tape is great great stuff! An old saying goes: "If it doesn't move and it should, use the WD-40. If it moves and it should NOT, use the duct tape."

  • Ray says:

    Gorilla tape is twice as strong as duct tape and it has a greater "sticking" power.

  • Duggy Dugg says:

    big roll bought cheap binds bundle of branches pruned off tree...yeah , i could use twine ...D tape works well and is quick ...i can tie bowlines in twine and stick the loose end thru the bowline and cinch the bundle tight ..then knot the loose end to itself ...i like D tape better ....i'll use twine if it is available and D tape is not ....

  • Leonard says:

    I've found two uses for duct tape not specifically mentioned here: In the southwestern US deserts there are many species of cactus (mostly prickly pear varieties)that have very fine, almost hairlike needles (called glochidia) that once stuck into your skin are hard to grasp with forceps or anything else--and are a source of misery for weeks until they work their way out. Duct tape, applied to the skin will stick to and removed these aggravating tiny needles (works to a degree with exposed slivers, too). Once, when my Everlast heavy punching bag began to dribble sand from around the bottom stitching, I found white duct tape and applied it to the leaking areas. 15 years later, it's still holding to the canvas, and because it's the same color, it's not very noticeable from across the room...

  • trent says:

    Duct tape works wonders if you have cockroaches. Just leave strips upside down along the edges of the walls and corners when you turn out the lights. In the morning pick up and dispose of. It is funny watching them lift their legs up one at a time before setting it doown and lifting a different one.


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