Out of all the survival tools you may keep in your bag, duct tape should be a universal item in every outdoor kit - and mostly everyone knows the wonders of this fantastic product. Duct tape is nothing new, having been invented over 70 years ago. Originally developed to provide quick, air tight seals and plug leaks, duct tape has grown into a bit of an urban legend, the end-all-be-all fix solution for a variety of issues around the home.
This same tool can provide a multitude of uses in the outdoors, more than just the traditional use of tapes. Duct tape is special not only because it's an adhesive, but because of the triple layered construction that provides multiple benefits. A primary layer of polyethylene provides water and weather resistant capabilities, the secondary layer is a fabric, adding insulation to your seal, and finally of course, the adhesive layer.
You can probably already imagine how those things sound useful, especially in a survival situation. Tears in any fabric, be it clothing, gear, or tents, can be patched with duct tape, providing an air-tight seal to keep air out, and minor amounts of insulation - some is better than none after all! If you happen to be in inclement weather, sealing it with duct tape provides resistance to moisture, keeping water out of your shelter or clothing. This goes beyond just sealing your fabrics, you can also seal different vessels to carry water back to your shelter, or even craft a vessel, provided you have the tape to spare.
But other than it's primary function, how can duct tape be useful in a survival situation, other than taping or sealing something? Quite obviously you can use duct tape to craft rudimentary weapons for hunting, but let's discuss the variety of things you can do with duct tape in an outdoor setting.
One of the handiest tools in any kit is some kind of cordage or rope. Especially in crafting shelters, cordage comes in very handy. If you don't have any with you, crafting duct tape rope is completely viable and will perform in most scenarios. Taking a length or roll, you can fold the tape in on itself, forming a thin string that can be used to tie things down. Strength of your rope can be increased with more layers or different braiding methods. A very basic triple braided rope will increase the tensile strength of the duct tape significantly, giving it more load bearing capabilities if you needed to craft backpack straps or other load bearing devices.
You can make virtually anything with duct tape and patience. Whether it's a sheathe for your knife - complete with a belt loop - or something simple like a cup, pictured at the top of this post. Using a combination of duct tape and other materials - sticks, cardboard, tree bark, etc, you can craft a multitude of different containers. Whether you're lugging supplies back to camp, building a water collection system, or need a new backpack, duct tape can provide the means to do so.
Lacking some first aid supplies? Duct tape can fill many gaps - literally and figuratively. The most common use here will be in the construction of slings and splints. Properly setting a broken limb is vital to the healing process, and a lack of proper tools could lead to more issues later on. Duct tape slings will be much better than no sling at all, and doesn't require you to tear your clothing - which you need - to make a sling.
As it turns out, the myth of duct tape being the ultimate MacGyver solution to everything holds up. You never know when tape would come in handy when you need it. But like any good survival tool, duct tape is much, much more than just an adhesive. If this isn't a regular part of your outdoor kit, I highly suggest picking up a roll and adding it in.
There are more subtle ways to carry duct tape with you, such as in products like our duct tape wallet.