Survival

95 Ways Preppers Can Use Duct Tape for Survival

duct tape

Whether you’ve always called it “duck” tape or “duct” tape, this waterproof adhesive tape has existed since the early 1940’s. First manufactured by the Permacel division of Johnson and Johnson, to meet the needs of the military, it was called “DUCK” tape because of its waterproof feature.

But by the mid-1940’s, “duck” tape was being used to seal leaky aluminum duct joints used in central heating. By the mid-1940’s its legendary stickiness, ability to adhere without drying out like other tapes, along with the fact that its adhesive was non flammable, made it the perfect seal for leaky joints in aluminum ducts needed for central heating.

Since then, duct tape has gained the reputation of being able to “fix” just about anything, it has been used to lift a car, and there is an annual duct tape festival as well as duct tape creation exhibits and contests. It has been manufactured and sold under several different brands over the last six decades or so.

Shelter & Shelter Repair

1. Repair a hole in your tent by covering the area with duct tape on both the inside and outside.

2. Reinforce Damaged Tent Poles by wrapping with duct tape.

3. Screen Repair

4. Temporary Fix for a Broken Zipper by using duct tape to keep your tent closed.

5. Repair Siding temporarily using duct tape to prevent further water damage to the structure underneath until it can be replaced.

6. Secure a Broken Window by taping the broken pieces of glass back in place.

7. DIY Roof Shingle by wrapping a damaged shingle, a piece of plywood, or even cardboard to temporarily repair a leaky roof

8. Patch a Ripped Tarp (Tarps have many uses themselves, by the way.)

9. Add Layer of Insulation to House or Cabin by using duct tape and garbage bags, plastic sheeting, or other materials.

10. Block Light in Windows by covering with duct tape when you need to hide light from potential intruders.

11. Seal Doors and Windows Against Threats in the Air (Smoke, Radiation, Chemical, Pathogens, etc.) by using duct tape to seal off any openings.

12. Add Loops to Emergency Space Blanket using duct tape so you can hang it as a tarp or curtain.

13. DIY a Blanket from Found Materials by laying sticks, leaves, grasses or other materials in a blanket formation and wrapping with duct tape.

14. Make a Hammock from duct tape and poles or sticks.

Medical Uses for Duct Tape

15. Alternative for Medical Adhesive Tape can be made by covering the wound with gauze and wrapping with duct tape

16. DIY Steri-Strips or Butterfly Bandage to pull edges of lacerated skin together until medical attention is available or it heals on its own.

17. Create a Sling for an Injured Arm

18. Pull Out a Splinter or Thorn from your skin by applying the duct tape to skin and then peeling it off quickly.

19. Substitute for an Ace Bandage to provide support for an injured ankle, knee, or wrist

20. Protect Against Blisters by placing a piece of duct tape over your heel to prevent it from rubbing against your shoe.

21. Remove Warts with duct tape by covering the area for up to 7 days. Replace when it gets wet but wear continuously. The duct tape essentially smothers the virus that causes warts.

22. Padding for Crutches can be made by wrapping some type of padding over a y-shaped branch.

23. DIY Eye Patch out of duct tape can work in a pinch

24. Wrap Injured Ribs with duct tape to provide support until they heal

25. Make a Stretcher using duct tape and poles or saplings with duct tape in a criss cross formation between them:

26. Create a Water Resistant Bandage Cover for Injured Animals by using gauze wrapped with duct tape or even slipping a sock over the injured limb and wrapping with duct tape.

Duct Tape for Survival Clothing Needs

27. Mend Broken Glasses.

28. Reattach Shoe Sole with duct tape to keep cold and water out.

29. Fix Ripped Gloves

30. Insulate Boots Insoles by wrapping them with duct tape

31. Patch a Hole in Boots

32. Shorten Pant Legs by folding them up and securing with duct tape

33. Use as a Belt

34. DIY Camouflage by using earth tone patterned duct tape to create a hunting blind or cover your clothing or tent.

35. Mend Ripped Clothing

36. Make a Hat with duct tape when other head coverings aren’t available to keep your body heat from escaping in cold or wet weather.

37. Patch a Leaky Raincoat

38. Protect Against Ticks and Other Insects by wrapping duct tape tightly around the hem of your pants.

39. Fix a Broken Pack Strap

40. Keep Snow Out of Boots by wrapping duct tape around your pant legs at the top of your boots.

41. Repair a Hole in Pocket Lining by placing a patch of duct tape on either side of the hole.

Using Duct Tape for Survival Cordage

42. String a Clothesline

43. Secure gear to your pack

44. Make a dog leash

45. Make a small game trap

46. Hang a tarp

47. String or Hang Lantern or Other Lighting

48. Repair or replace shoelaces

49. Lashing for Temporary Furniture

50. Hang Tin Can Perimeter Alarm

51. Make a Lanyard to Hang Glasses or Other Gear On Your Neck

Use Duct Tape for Auto Repairs

52. Fix a Leaky Auto Hose by wrapping it with duct tape until you can replace with a new hose.

53. Secure Broken Headlight or Taillight using duct tape to hold it in place.

54. Expand Vehicle Storage by using duct tape to attach supply containers to the roof or sides of your vehicle.

55. Temporarily Patch a Tire by sealing the leak with duct tape. For a puncture, you may be able to make a plug by wrapping duct tape around itself and pushing it into the hole.

56. Repair a Broken Rear Axle on Car using duct tape and something rigid such as broken rattan furniture or any other rigid material. It won’t hold forever but it may get you to back home or to a repair station.

57. Fix a Broken Hood Latch with a piece of duct tape.

58. Temporarily replace a fan belt or alternator belt on your car by taping the ends together or by wrapping the broken belt with duct tape to repair it.

Additional Ways Preppers Can Use Duct Tape for Survival

59. Hide Prepper Supplies from prying eyes by duct taping them under tables, nightstands or shelves.

60. Hang Meat and Food Away from Animals using a rope made of duct tape.

61. Seal Food for storage using duct tape if other methods aren’t available. You can even wrap food containers or zip lock bags in duct tape for additional protection against the elements.

62. Add Extra Protection to Ammo Boxes by sealing the lid and other seams with duct tape.

63. Patch Your Canteen or Water Bottle

64. DIY Flystrips by cutting strips of duct tape and hanging them sticky side out outside of your tent or around your campsite.

65. Fix a Leaky Bucket temporarily with duct tape on the interior and exterior of the hole.

66. Handcuff an Intruder using duct tape in a pinch

67. Color Code Boxes of Supplies and Gear using different colored pieces of duct tape such as red for ammo or other flammable materials.

68. Repair a Fishing Pole using duct tape so you can still catch dinner.

69. Make a Boat Paddle using a forked branch wrapped with duct tape.

70. Temporarily Patch a Leaky Boat using duct tape on both the exterior and interior of the hole. If other materials are available, sandwich it into the hole and seal on either side with duct tape.

71. Fix a Broken Crossbar on Canoe with duct tape until you can make proper repairs.

72. DIY a Spear using duct tape by attaching your knife or a sharpened rock to a long sapling or pole

73. Use Duct Tape as Trail Marker by attaching it to trees or other objects along your path so you can find your way back

74. Send a Signal to rescuers by using fluorescent or brightly colored duct tape.

75. Wrap in Bird’s Nest Formation and Use to Carry Water or Coals for short distances. If using for coals, make sure you have a high quality tape rated for up to at least 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

76. Make a Cup or Straw for Drinking by wrapping duct tape sticky side out around a rock or stick. Your final piece of tape should be sticky side down. Remove the object from the inside before using.

77. Fill a Water Bob-Hands Free by duct taping a tube or piece of pvc between the faucet and the spout of the water bob. It beats having to hold it while it fills.

78. Temporary Replace a Lost or Broken Container Lid with duct tape by wrapping it over the top of the container.

79. DIY Knife or Hatchet Sheath out of duct tape to protect your blade from damage.

80. Repair or Replace a Rifle Sling using duct tape until you can obtain a proper replacement.

81. Alternative for Arrow Fletching can be made by using strips of duct tape along one end of your arrow shaft:

82. Make a Blowgun by rolling duct tape into a cylinder to blow darts or other small projectiles through.

83. DIY a Temporary Boat out of duct tape and wood, pvc pipe, or saplings:

84. Ramp Up Your Shotgun by using duct tape to fix a light or even extra ammo to the side of your gun.

85. DIY Magazine Coupler for Efficiency to keep additional ammo at the ready..

86. Make a Sign or Leave a Note by writing on a large piece of duct tape or using the duct tape to spell out S.O.S in large letters.

87. Create a Small Torch using duct tape by wrapping it around one end of a stick and lighting it on fire.

88. Start a Fire using duct tape and char cloth with your fire striker

89. Snake Bite Protection using duct tape wrapped around your shoes and pant legs for an added layer of protection in case a snake strikes.

90. DIY Animal Snare from duct tape can help you put food on the table in a survival situation.

91. Pluck Feathers from Poultry using duct tape to make cleaning that turkey or pheasant go quicker.

92. Build Snow Shoes using duct tape and willow saplings or pine boughs to make walking in deep snow easier.

93. Reinforce Windows Before a Hurricane by using duct tape in an X or even a star formation to brace the glass and prevent it from shattering.

94. Cover Your Tracks with duct tape on the treads of your shoes to stop your shoes from sinking into the ground and make it more difficult for someone to track you.

95. Protect Against Snow Blindness by fashioning makeshift sunglasses from duct tape. Leave a slit for each eye so you can see out.

What’s your favorite brand of duct tape for survival use? Have you used duct tape in a survival or emergency situation that we didn’t include in our list? Let us know in the comments below.

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Megan Stewart

About Megan Stewart

A mother of four and grandmother of six, Megan is living the lifestyle any prepper would want. Gardening, homesteading and constantly planning for emergencies big and small, she's a beacon of knowledge in the prepping community.
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7 thoughts on “95 Ways Preppers Can Use Duct Tape for Survival

  1. Megan,

    Your suggestion #93 about reinforcing windows before a hurricane is not a recommended procedure anymore. All it does, if the window shatters, is provide larger and more dangerous pieces of broken glass to fly about and cut people up. If you can’t block the windows with plywood or other sheeting (preferably on the outside), you’re better off not bothering with anything. Shelter in a windowless room, if you can.

    I am a Floridian and have been through a bunch of hurricanes, trop storms, and in my military days, typhoons. I’ve also treated people who have been caught in a flying broken glass storm. You will be busy for awhile and you will go through tons of 4×4 dressings or other absorbent material.

    1. Zulu 3-6,

      Your suggestion #93 about reinforcing windows before a hurricane is not a recommended procedure anymore.

      That also applies to tornados for the same reasons. Sheltering in a windowless room at the core of a building, or a below ground room or basement and covering with blankets, mattresses or other padding is the recommended procedure.
      In a pinch some have been known to survive in bathtubs.

      1. TOP,

        Both of my bathrooms are interior and windowless. But, the master bath has large glass shower doors. The second bath does not and is very suitable for a storm hideout. In a hurricane, it will have a WaterBOB in the tub, but I can manage.

        1. Zulu 3-6,

          Both of my bathrooms are interior and windowless. But, the master bath has large glass shower doors. The second bath does not and is very suitable for a storm hideout. In a hurricane, it will have a WaterBOB in the tub, but I can manage.

          We have only a single bath with no shower door, just a curtain. In a pinch it might work; but, it’s fiberglass and would I suspect not fare as well as one of those old cast iron, claw foot monsters of yesteryear.

  2. I know it’s difficult to come up with nearly 100 uses for anything; but, how many of these have you actually tried?
    Some of these seem to be somewhat contrived, just to hit a number, and while the idea is not bad, some of these really need more thought or actual trial and error to test viability.

    But by the mid-1940’s, “duck” tape was being used to seal leaky aluminum duct joints used in central heating. By the mid-1940’s its legendary stickiness, ability to adhere without drying out like other tapes, along with the fact that its adhesive was non flammable, made it the perfect seal for leaky joints in aluminum ducts needed for central heating.

    This statement is generally true; but, HVAC in the 1940’s and for the most part even today was (is) not using aluminum for the ductwork; bit, galvanized steel sheeting or the more modern duct board. Also, keep in mind that a lot of ”Duct” tape today is actually a metal based tape that works much better than the old cloth tape for HVAC purposes and will not work for quite a few of your listed uses.

    9. Add Layer of Insulation to House or Cabin by using duct tape and garbage bags, plastic sheeting, or other materials.
    While you may be able to add some layers of vapor or air infiltration barrier, adding any useful amount of insulation is highly unlikely, except perhaps in a small field expedient shelter.

    10. Block Light in Windows by covering with duct tape when you need to hide light from potential intruders.
    This could work; but, using a little tape to tape up cardboard or trash bags would be a faster and more economical use of the tape.

    11. Seal Doors and Windows Against Threats in the Air (Smoke, Radiation, Chemical, Pathogens, etc.) by using duct tape to seal off any openings.
    This is standard procedure; but, one also needs to keep rolls of visqueen on hand and have done some forethought and practice.

    15. Alternative for Medical Adhesive Tape can be made by covering the wound with gauze and wrapping with duct tape
    This could work; but, make sure you fold back the edges to make removal easier, since you don’t need to be tugging on a wounded body part trying to wrestle the tape loose.

    19. Substitute for an Ace Bandage to provide support for an injured ankle, knee, or wrist
    See #15 above.

    20. Protect Against Blisters by placing a piece of duct tape over your heel to prevent it from rubbing against your shoe.
    I carry mole skin for this purpose; but, tape could work, after you take a couple of piece and attached them together by their sticky sides. You don’t want’t the tape stuck to your heel, socks, or shoes.

    28. Reattach Shoe Sole with duct tape to keep cold and water out.
    I have done this one, more than a few times.

    31. Patch a Hole in Boots
    This one also, especially my high top muck boots.

    32. Shorten Pant Legs by folding them up and securing with duct tape
    I shorten them all of the time and don’t need the tape; unless, you are sealing them against bees, ticks, or other stinging or biting critters.

    38. Protect Against Ticks and Other Insects by wrapping duct tape tightly around the hem of your pants.
    See #32 above.

    40. Keep Snow Out of Boots by wrapping duct tape around your pant legs at the top of your boots.
    See #32 & 38 above. Variations on a theme.

    Using Duct Tape for Survival Cordage
    Have you actually ever done this? I have and it’s the reason I always have paracord, twine, and bank line with me in the field.

    45. Make a small game trap
    Can we have instructions please? It might be better to know how to make a spring trap or a figure 4 deadfall if you really need such a thing.

    48. Repair or replace shoelaces
    I don’t know what you wear for shoes or boots; but, I’ll stick with the cordage I carry, since I cannot imagine duct tape doing this.

    49. Lashing for Temporary Furniture
    Once again, cordage and knowing how to lash and frap will I think give you a better outcome than trying to build some wobbly thing with tape & sticks.

    58. Temporarily replace a fan belt or alternator belt on your car by taping the ends together or by wrapping the broken belt with duct tape to repair it.
    Very temporary, as in the first time you try to start the engine.
    I don’t see this working; but, have seen old panty hose do the job.

    63. Patch Your Canteen or Water Bottle
    With the metal tape perhaps; but, one would also have to determine what the adhesive would do to the potability of the water.

    64. DIY Flystrips by cutting strips of duct tape and hanging them sticky side out outside of your tent or around your campsite.
    While duct tape is sticky, I don’t see it holding insects like fly paper and have actually tried to stick wasps with the stuff with no joy, since it’s just not sticky enough.

    66. Handcuff an Intruder using duct tape in a pinch
    This could well work; but, you must live in a really bad neighborhood. If I were expecting to need handcuffs, I’d probably use tie wraps (zip ties) that are at least as handy as duct tape.

    70. Temporarily Patch a Leaky Boat using duct tape on both the exterior and interior of the hole. If other materials are available, sandwich it into the hole and seal on either side with duct tape.
    This is why one needs to have some Flex Seal on hand. I know it would do the boat repair.

    75. Wrap in Bird’s Nest Formation and Use to Carry Water or Coals for short distances. If using for coals, make sure you have a high quality tape rated for up to at least 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
    This would have to be the metal tape.

    77. Fill a Water Bob-Hands Free by duct taping a tube or piece of pvc between the faucet and the spout of the water bob. It beats having to hold it while it fills.
    I’ve never had to hold mine; but, I suspect this would work if your’s needed to be held.

    81. Alternative for Arrow Fletchings can be made by using strips of duct tape along one end of your arrow shaft:
    I have not bow or crossbow hunted in a while; but, fletching needs to be placed with precision or they will alter the trajectory of the arrow, so just slapping on duct tape may not fix the problem.

    82. Make a Blowgun by rolling duct tape into a cylinder to blow darts or other small projectiles through.
    Have you actually done this? I have several blowguns, and the precision of the tube is critical and unlikely to be copied for smooth wall and straight alignment with just duct tape.

    88. Start a Fire using duct tape and char cloth with your fire striker
    In the lead in to the article you mention:

    along with the fact that its adhesive was non flammable, made it the perfect seal.

    This is the case where you really need the less expensive cloth tape, since the metal foil tape will not work well for fire starting.
    I have used this as large tinder / small kindling since it may be easily lit with a match, lighter, or from your lit tinder bundle.

    89. Snake Bite Protection using duct tape wrapped around your shoes and pant legs for an added layer of protection in case a snake strikes.
    You would need many layers of tape to be effective. When traveling in snake country, heavy leather boots are your only real protection.

    94. Cover Your Tracks with duct tape on the treads of your shoes to stop your shoes from sinking into the ground and make it more difficult for someone to track you.
    Unless you are building snowshoes I don’t see how this would work.

    What’s your favorite brand of duct tape for survival use? Have you used duct tape in a survival or emergency situation that we didn’t include in our list? Let us know in the comments below.

    I don’t have a favorite brand; but, do have various kinds around depending on the intended use.
    When I started reading this article, somehow the Red Green Show came to mind. He said all he ever needed was Duct tape and WD-40 to do anything and if you watch the show (available on YouTube) you will see here to for unimagined way to use duct tape. LOL.

    1. TOP,

      I’m going to add my two-cents worth.

      #15 and 19. Yeah you can use duct tape in place of medical tape or Ace wraps. But removal can be nasty and painful. If wrapping a foot or ankle injury, try to do it over a boot or shoe/sock. BTDT. As a bandage, it can be nasty if the patient has hair around the injury. Medical tape is painful enough, but duct tape is torture. If at all possible, shave the area around where you plan to put the tape. If you can’t shave, oh well.

      #20. Moleskin substitute. No real problem putting the sticky part over the blister or hot spot. I’ve done it many times in the military. In fact, I developed a hot spot on my left heel a couple of weeks ago and it was just easier to rip a hunk of duct tape off than trim down some moleskin. I buy moleskin in rolls too.

      #64. DIY flystrips. I agree. Not nearly sticky enough. We tried this in Egypt. God forgot to take that plague away from Egypt. The flies there are really tough and strong. You have to beat the damned things to death. A single swat doesn’t get it.

      #66. Handcuffing an intruder. Actually, this works. Done it a number of times as a cop when a villain keeps fighting the cuffs and is injuring him/her self in the process. Also good for leg restraints. Also good for taping a drunk buddy down to his rack for a practical joke (or so I’ve heard). What I would not depend on is commercial zip-ties to restrain people unless you reinforce it with duct tape. Zip-ties are not designed as restraints and reasonably strong people can break out of them easier than you might think. Purpose-designed flex-cuffs are much stronger and thicker than zip-ties and I’ve still seen people break them, metal handcuffs too. ALWAYS supervise your prisoners.

      #94. Cover your tracks. I agree. I don’t see how this would work either. It would just make an even more distinct track and easy to pick out if it got mixed with others.

      I don’t have a favorite brand of duct tape, but I am partial to Gorilla tape for some applications. Restraining someone comes to mind, but boy will they be annoyed when the tape is removed.

      Red Green is THE authority on duct tape usage. 🙂 I think Red Green and the Mythbusters kept the duct tape industry afloat.

      1. Zulu 3-6,
        On #15, that’s why I said to make sure you fold back the edges to make removal easier, since you don’t need to be tugging on a wounded body part trying to wrestle the tape loose.
        By folding back some and making a non-stick portion to grip, it’s a bit easier to handle; but, I guess using it to clear off a blister could work also. Ouch!!!!
        I have used it or even packing tape wrapped around cardboard or a boot to stabilize a lightly sprained ankle. It is of course still better to have Coban or Ace wrap with you for such instances.

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