51 Survival Uses For Duct Tape When SHTF

Uses For Duct Tape

There’s a reason why duct tape is so often the single item stars of survival shows are given. It’s a time tested tool with versatility and durability on its side. If given the chose between a weapon and a roll of duct tape, most survivalists would take the latter. It’s just the smarter choice. It just allows you to survive longer.

Besides food and water, there’s no more important item to keep in your survival kit. The list of uses is endless. Even with the finite amount you can keep in your pack, it will save your life time after time. We’ve put together a list of uses, but this is just cracking the surface. With patience and creativity, duct tape can do just about anything.

1. Water Proof Repair

Water Proof Repair

From water bottles, to life rafts, things just tend to spring leaks in the wild. Depending on the size of the hole, duct tape can make a water tight seal. Fixing a raft might use up your whole roll, but that’s your escape. Weigh your options. Duct tape can do the job.

2. Arm Sling

Arm Sling

If you or someone you’re with dislocates a shoulder, immobilization is key. Fold a strip in half so the adhesive is hidden, and then use it like a strap. Either tie or tape it behind the neck, and loop the other end around the arm. It won’t grant complete security, but it will help.

3. Clothing Repair

Clothing Repair

From torn shirts to damaged shoes, duct tape can fix it. No need for needles or thread. Even if the sole comes completely disconnected, your can reattach it. While your clothes don’t need to be perfect, they need to stay functional. That’s especially true in cold weather. Damaged clothing can kill.

4. Shelter


While you’ve probably seen tents made of duct tape, you likely won’t have enough. However, you can use duct tape to attach tarps to trees. It will hold up in most weather. It can even act as extra element protection. You don’t want to suffocate in your tent, but sometimes you need to secure the entrance flap.

5. Arrow Fletching

You can create a make shift fletching out of tape. That’s the feathered piece at the back. It helps stabilize the arrow. A make shift bow and arrow is never the best tool. That shouldn’t stop you from trying to make it better. If nothing else, it gives you something better to hold on to with your back hand.

6. Splint

In a similar vein to a dislocated shoulder, broken bones need to be immobilized. Grab to sturdy pieces of wood or plastic or any material. Place it on either side of the broken bone, and use the tape to secure them. Make sure something is in between the adhesive and any exposed skin.

7. Fly Traps

Fly Traps

People underestimate the importance of pest control. Mosquitos and flies can carry disease, and that’s the last thing you need. Plus, surviving is already miserable. Bugs flying around can drive you up the wall. Hang up strips where they like to buzz. They’ll stick.

8. Blanket


You can secure various scraps together to make a makeshift blanket. Think damaged clothing, paper, upholstery – anything. If there’s a chance it can keep you warm, lay it in a flattened pile, and tape them all together. It won’t be comfortable, but it just might save your life. Exposure is no laughing matter.

9. Fishing Spear

If you’re lucky enough to have a knife, you can tape it to a stick for a fishing spear. You want to make sure it’s extra secure. Losing that knife is a death sentence. That’s exactly why you’re taping instead of tying. Take no risks. You can also use it for a more comfortable grip on the spear.

10. Rope

This may seem obvious, but a folded piece of duct tape can make an excellent rope. It won’t support rappelling (unless you braid it), but it will support some hearty weight. Be careful not to fold more than you need. Duct tape is precious, and is pretty hard to unfold.

11. Bandage


If you have some clean fabric, you can use it to cover a wound. Tape it down to secure it. If at all possible, instead of actually tapping it to the skin (not a good idea either), use it like a rope or cloth to simply hold a piece of clean clothe down. Some damaged skin is better than an infected wound, but comfort is important.

12. Water Vessel

If duct tape can fix a water bottle, it can be a water bottle. You can make a cup, or even a canteen out of duct tape. Just make sure the adhesive isn’t exposed inside. You don’t want dirt and grime sticking to it. It can even be used to collect rain water, if you have enough tape.

13. Funnel


If you have a water bottle, getting water from a bigger water supply into the bottle is tough. Make a funnel. This can be done by simply making a cup (See above for video) and poking a hole in the bottom. If you’re feeling crafty, you can create a true, sloping funnel.

14. Belt

This may sound stupid, but having to put your pants up constantly is aggravating. If you have to move quickly, it can even be deadly. Create a makeshift belt by folding it in half and tying it in front. If you have the time a supply, you can even fashion a buckle of sorts. That’s not really necessary, but it is an option.

15. Trail Marker

Trail Marker

If you’re out exploring or looking for food, making it back to camp is crucial. Leave a trail of tape strips to mark the way. You can even make arrows and symbols if the path gets complicated. There’s no limit, unless your supply is small. It CAN be a huge waste of tape. However, even a small bit can make a difference.

16. Emergency Signalling 

Emergency Signalling

If you find a clearing or a beach, you can use tape to write a message. It’s not the best color for visibility, but you can stick shiny objects to it. Catch the light is a great way to get attention. If you have something to use as a flag, you can also tape it to a long stick to get extra height.

17. Tent Repair

Tent Repair

Obviously tape can fix the fabric of a tent, but it can do more. If your tent poles snap, you can tape them back together. It’s flexible enough to bend with the poles, but ridged enough to keep them in place. The only obstacle is if they broke into a sharp point. But tape can also cover up that point.

18. Fishing Line

Fishing Line

It won’t make the best line for fishing, as it’s very visible. However, it’s life or death. If you have a hook and no line, tape might be your only option. If you do have something to make a line, tape can make an excellent bobber (or Float if you unfamiliar with the term). Or it can fix your line when it eventually breaks.

19. Blister Bandage

Blister Bandage

Blisters are bound to happen when you’re on the move. With tape and a piece of fabric or cotton, you have a cushioned bandage. Keep out infection, and make it comfortable to walk again. Make sure the tape doesn’t touch the blister. If it’s on your foot, your skin is probably tough enough to take it.

20. Rain Gear

Rain Gear

If you have enough tape, you can make a makeshift umbrella. It’s water proof, and will keep you very dry. Even if you don’t have enough, use it to attach other pieces of fabric together. You can make a poncho out of anything if you have tape. Trust me, it’s worth tapping into your supply.

21. Handcuffs


Some people like to take advantage of emergencies. If someone is acting up, detain them. With a couple of strips, you can keep their hands behind their back. Yes, they can eventually break out, but that could take hours. You’ll have time to figure it out. Or, you can be long gone. 

22. Stretcher

Worst case scenario, you and a partner may have to carry an injured victim. Create a stretcher with two sturdy poles. Weave a web between them. Make sure it’s tight, but not rigid. It will probable take a few layers of tape to support a body. If you have fabric, you can also just use tape to secure it.

23. Mod Your Gun

Mod Your Gun

If you’re lucky enough to have a gun, you can use tape to attach anything from a flashlight to ammo. You can even make a bayonet if you have a knife. Some attachments might be overkill, but having ammo and a light handy isn’t.

24. Gun Holster or Knife Sheath

Keep your weapon by your side. Build a custom holster to attach to your belt. Or, the tape can be your belt, complete with holster. Make it tight and closed off, and you have a sheath. It’s infinitely customizable, so you can make a secure holster for just about any item.

25. Shoes 

Sure it can repair your shoes, but in a pinch, they can become them. If you somehow lose your shoes, a tape sock can protect your feet. Even if you have shoes, you may need to wade through water. You can’t risk going unprotected, but you don’t want waterlogged sneakers.

26. Sleeping Hammock

For this, it’s best to use tape to secure a tarp. However, in a pinch, it can become the hammock itself. Weave a web between two poles, and secure the poles to two trees. This will take a LOT of tape, but it could be worth it. A safe night’s sleep is important.

27. Sun Visor

Protect your vision and your face from the sun. You can make an easy headband out of a folded strip. Then, and a thicker layer to the front, jutting out over your eyes. Sunburn is dangerous. It can also be turned around to protect your neck. Or even put a visor on the front AND back.

28. Gloves

They won’t be comfortable, or easy to move, but you can use tape to protect your hands. This will require two, adhesive to adhesive layers. While it’d be easier to just wrap tape around your fingers, you’ll regret it. Pulling tape off is worse than any damage the work you were doing could have done.

29. Glasses Repair

Glasses Repair

Fix your specs, Harry Potter style. If you have poor vision, broken glasses is bad news. Fix bridges, arms, or even secure the lenses. Unfortunately, it can’t do anything for cracked ones. When nature is against you, don’t let your eyes hold you back. Just a little bit can fix everything.

30. Glasses Strap

Glasses Strap

Keep those glasses you just fixed on your face. Tape a folded strip to each arm and run it behind your head. Pull it tight to keep them in place, or loose, just to make sure you don’t lose them. The only thing worse than broken glasses is lost ones.

31. Auto Repair

Auto Repair

Duct tape can’t make a motor run like new, but it can patch anything. You may just be able to make that baby purr to the nearest town. Make sure you get it repaired ASAP, but if you’re stuck with a broken car, you’re toast. Hoses, tanks, and possibly tires are your best bets.

32. Crutches


Attach two pieces of wood in a T-shape so you can hobble out of the woods. You have yourself a very uncomfortable crutch. If you have some loose fabric, you can also use the tape to pad it. After you splint your broken leg (with duct tape), staying off it is the next step.

33. Seal Your Windows

Seal Your Windows

In a survival situation in a house or homestead, there may come a time you have to seal it. Cover you windows both to keep light from getting out, and gas from getting in. Strips along the seams should make it air tight. You can also use tape to secure opaque fabric.

34. Seal Up Food

Seal Up Food

Both to keep it fresh longer, and to keep smells from attracting pests, tape your food containers. It can create an air tight seal. It won’t keep it fresh for ever, but it will definitely slow the rotting process. You can also use it just to keep liquid foods from spilling.

35. Alarm System

Keep your camp secure. Set up trip wires out of duct tape, but keep them low to the ground. Attach tin cans and anything loud to it. You don’t want them tripping, but when an intruder kicks it, you’ll be alerted. You could also use it as a true trip wire, but it’s easy to see.

36. Trap an Animal

For any trap that requires rope, tape can work. You can also use it to cover up a pit. Loosely secure strips to both ends, adhesive up. Stick leaves sticks, and other pieces of brush. Since there won’t be a tight hold, it will collapse under the weight of a rabbit or squirrel.

37. Fishing Net

Fishing Net

Weave tape into a tight web between two sticks. If should have plenty of slack between them, but the holes should be small. If you’re neat a slow running water source, stick the net in the stream. Let fish run into it. There should be enough of a crater created that they would have to swim upstream to escape.

38. Backpack


Turn any bag, or makeshift bag, into a backpack. Your can create a messenger style strap, and throw it over your shoulder. Make sure you secure it tightly. If you just tape the ends, it’s going to break. Run the tape around the entire bag. This could take several layers.

39. Gun Strap

If you have a rifle or shotgun, you need it with you at all times. However, you also need your hands. Make a chord running from the barrel to the stock. It just has to be thick enough to support the gun. If you want, make it long enough that you can actually aim the gun without removing the strap.

40. Wood Drying Rack

Wood Drying Rack

If your firewood is wet, chances are the ground is too. Stick together a couple of long strips to make a thick strand. Repeat this a few times and attach them in between two trees. Put the logs on their to let the dry. It gets them off the wet ground, plus provides extra airflow.

41. Boat Paddle

Boat Paddle

Find a big stick with a fork. Run a whole bunch of tape around the fork, and you have a paddle. This could take a few layers, as it has to be strong and water tight. A leak could mean a useless paddle. You can also use tape to reinforce the rest of the stick. Chances are, if you’re hitting the water, you can afford to exhaust your roll.

42. Boat Sail

Trying to turnyour raft into a sail boat is tricking. But if you can do it, it’ll make the trip that much easier. It’s best to use the tape to secure an air tight tarp. If you have no tarp, you can actually use just tape. Similar to the oar, it has to be completely air tight. No holes.

43. Simple Pulley System

Simple Pulley System

If you need to raise supplies into a tree, you can make a rope out of tape and throw it over a branch. Tape the supplies to one end and pull the other. Tie the end on the ground to a tree to keep them up high. This is crucial for keeping pests out of your food.

44. See if Someone’s Broken In

See if Someone’s Broken In

If you have a cabin deep in the woods, privacy might be an issue. Before you leave, place a small piece of tape on the knob side of the door. Place it down low so no one sees it. If you come back and the tape has ben disturbed, you know you’ve been compromised.

45. Weather Proofing

Weather Proofing

In an old shelter, like a shack or cabin, wind can get through the cracks. If you find a spot where cold air is flowing, tape it closed. In cold environments, bad weather getting in can mean a slow death.

46. Camping Chair

Camping Chair

Sometimes you just need to take a load off. Cut a tarp or other tough fabric into two roughly 16x16 squares. Adjust to your personal size. Frame them with strong sticks on two parallel sides. Tape the two pieces together on the unsupported ends. Fold to a 90-degree angle, and run tape from each top corner to the bottom corner on the same side. It should support you leaning back into it.

47. Sleeping Bag

Sleeping Bag

Take two pieces of insulating fabric. Secure them tightly with tape on three sides. Leave a hole up top for you to slide in. While you could just use them like a blanket, sealing it up will retain more body heat. That’s crucial to surviving cold nights.

48. Disguise a Cave Entrance

Disguise a Cave Entrance

If you find a safe cave to take shelter in, you want to keep it hidden. Especially in a disaster situation, people might be fighting over shelter. Hand strips of tape down from the entrance and stick brush and sticks to them. This way, you can easily get in and out, but the entrance is hidden.

49. Finger Splint

Finger Splint

If you break a finger, using a traditional splint isn’t practical. What you should do is tape the broken finger to a healthy one. There’s no real way to avoid adhesive to skin contact here, but chances are you won’t remove it until you get to a hospital.

50. Makeshift Chimney Damper

Makeshift Chimney Damper

If you’re in a cabin or shack in the woods, you may be lucky enough to have a fireplace and chimney. When you’re not burning a fire, you need stop cold air from coming down the chimney. Use tape to secure a piece of tarp across the opening.

51. Flail (Ball and Chain Weapon)

Flail (Ball and Chain Weapon)

Make a strung cord out of several strips of tape. Braid them if you can. On one end, secure a heavy rock. On the other, some sort of handle. This weapon can be swung at close range to deal some heavy damage.

Taking Away

As you can see, there’s no end to the possibilities. If you have an unlimited supply, you can literally make anything. This is just cracking the surface. So when you go to make your survival kit, include several rolls. You can even get them in bright colors for signaling. With duct tape, you can’t go wrong.

About the author


Colin is a freelance writer and editor. A fan of The Walking Dead. It led him to think what if SHTF and what does it takes to survive. Colin hobbies includes gears, tech gadgets and rehearsing different "End Of The World" situations in his head.

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