Survival uses for duct tape

Did you Know About These Survival Uses for Duct Tape?

Do you remember the days when you could use electrical tape to fix everything from sink drains to frayed wires?  Since duct tape is stronger, cheaper, and comes in a larger number of options, I have actually found it far more useful than many other quick fix options.   Read on to find out more about the survival uses for duct tape and why it belongs in every bug out bag, on every homestead, and in every bug out location.

What is Duct Tape?

Originally, duct tape or “Duct Tape” was designed in World War II by the Johnson & Johnson Company as a sealing tape for ammunition crates. The tape is usually polyethylene coated and features a strong, cloth backed waterproof adhesive that is pressure sensitive.  Originally duct tape only came in the color green.  Modern duct tape is available in everything from silver to pink with white polka dots.

Duct Tape


Medical Uses of Duct Tape

According to Dr. James Hubbard, “Someone recently asked what is my number-one essential supply I’d keep in my medical kit, and I answered duct tape.”  The following are some uses of duct tape mentioned in his book, Duct Tape 911: The Many Amazing Medical Things You Can Do to Tape Yourself Together

  • As a bandage to wrap sprained wrists and ankles.
  • Arm slings to help demobilize broken or sprained wrists or arms.
  • Brace broken ribs
  • Butterfly bandages
  • As an outer dressing for bandages
  • To make a tourniquet to control blood loss
  • Cover blisters on your feet or other parts of your body
  • Make a crutch by lashing pieces of wood or metal together, and to make the crutch pad
  • To make splints
  • Removing splinters
  • Wart remover
  • Medical restraints to control individuals.

 How to Use Duct Tape to Make and Repair Weapons

To make cords or rope, tear long strips of duct tape and twist them onto themselves.  If you need a stronger cord, braid the smaller cords together.  Once you have cordage, you can make spears, arrows, and many other weapons.  For example, to make a spear, you can take a knife or a metal/stone spear point and use duct tape cordage to attach the point to a shaft.


Make arrows with duct tape

If you want to make arrows with duct tape, start off by making a wood shaft.  Take a piece of wood, cut or strip it
down to size, and then cut one notch on each end of the shaft.   To make the fletching from duct tape:

  • Cut six pieces of duct tape five inches long.
  • Add one of the strips long ways along the shift.
  • Next, take another piece of tape so both sticky sides are facing each other and press together.
  • Continue to do this until you have three equally spaced feather like fletching on the arrow shaft.
  • Put small tape wrappings in front and behind the fletching to add more strength to the fletching.
  • To attach the arrowhead, put it in the front notch and wedge the arrowhead into the shaft.
  • Use a very small piece of cordage to tie the shaft closed tightly. Remove any excess tape strings to finish up.

Cord Slings

Follow the cordage instructions above to make a cord about three feet long and ½ inch wide. Tie a knot at one end of the cord, then tie a small loop at the other end of the cord.  Next, fasten a pouch to the middle. The pouch can be made of duct tape by folding it in the middle of the cordage to make a 4×4 inch pouch. This is where the projectile is placed.  You can use a duct tape sling in the same manner that you would use a sling made from other materials.


Use the above instructions on how to make cordage. You will need three pieces of cordage about 36 inches long and about ½ wide, and three rocks about three inches in diameter. Tie one rock to one end of each cord.  Now make all of the cords equal in length and tie them together at the other end.  In order to use duct tape bolas (and others), you can use the following as a general guide:

  • Swing the bolas overhead a few times.
  • After it has gained enough momentum, release the bolas in the direction of the animal you are hunting.
  •  If you aim right and everything works, one or more of the rocks will hit the animal. The remaining two rocks and cord may entangle the animal and cause it to trip or fall.  This gives you time to close in and kill the prey with some other weapon.

Gun Repairs

For temporary repairs of a broken handgun grip, tightly wrap the grips with duct tape. This will keep the grips together until a better repair job can be done.  You can also use duct tape to repair broken rifle or shotgun stocks.  Just make sure that you have all of the pieces in their proper place so that the stock is as strong as possible after you tape it together.


If you need to control an individual or take them, prisoner, wrap the person’s hands and ankles with duct tape. Don’t forget to add a duct tape cord rope to go between the hands and another one to go from ankle to ankle.

 Repairing Your Vehicle and Related Needs

Vehicle repair
Image credit: Rich Nacmias

Because of its strength and ease of shaping, duct tape can be used to seal water leaks in hoses. Simply start wrapping an inch or so ahead of the leak and continue wrappings until you cover two or three inches below the leak. Then, re-wrap the hose 2 -3 times more, or until the leak stops while under pressure.

  • To fix air vent hoses, tightly wrap the air hose without collapsing it. Repeat the wraps 2-3 times to make the seal.
  • Use clear plastic to cover the broken windows and then use duct tape to attach the plastic to the outside of the vehicle. To make a waterproof wind seal, use many overlapping layers of tape. Finish by taping the inside of the window with tape to add extra strength.
  • If your vehicle is overloaded and you need to attach boxes or other containers to the roof, use duct tape by passing it through the open windows and over the boxes repeatedly until held securely.
  • You can also use duct tape to temporary repair cracks and holes in boats.  After the area that needs repairing is dry, put duct tape on the inside and outside of the area to form a waterproof seal.

Make or Repair Equipment and Clothing

Tear clothes repair

To fix holes or tears in pants, shirts, and rain coats, take a strip of tape twice the length you need and double it with
the sticky side out. Next, press the two pieces of material together on the double sided tape. To repair rain coats, put a piece of tape on both sides of the rain coat over the hole.   Here are some other things you can do:

  • Make a belt by putting duct tape around your waist from the back and leave some extra tape on each side. To tighten the belt, pull the left side and secure it under the right side tape. Then pull the right side tape over the left side tape. To open the belt, just pull the tape open.
  • To fix eyeglasses, cut a small piece of tape about three inches long. Fit together the two broken frame pieces and wrap them together with the tape.
  • To insulate boots or fix holes in shoes, add duct tape to each sole to build up layers of insulation. You can also wrap duct tape around the soles and upper part of the shoe if they come apart.
  • Duct tape can also be used to repair rips and tears in tents.   As with other repairs, just remember to put a few pieces of tape on the outside as well as on the inside to make a water tight seal.   If you need to make tent poles or wind breaks, use duct tape to lash the shelter frame together.  You can also use the duct tape to attach plastic bags, tarp, or anything else that you plan to use for shelter.
  • You can also use duct tape as a trail marker, however, try to avoid putting it on trees since the tape may not come off easily and can strangle the tree as it grows.
  • To catch flying insects, just cut duct tape into strips and hang it up near a safe source of light. The bugs will be drawn to the light and get caught up on the tape.
  • Reseal food packages and water containers with duct tape to preserve freshness.


These are just a few ways I have used duct tape over the years. I continue to be amazed by the new and creative ways that people use this tape. What are some ways that you use duct tape? And how do you think you will use it in a survival situation? Please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with us.

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