Why You Should Never Paddle, Camp, or Hike without Duct Tape

     Duct tape is one of the worlds greatest inventions.  Since its creation in 1942 as a product used by the military to keep moisture out of ammunition cases, people’s need to “fix” things have come up with countless uses for it that the original developers probably never imagined and is one of those tools that you can find in almost every household or shop in America. 

     To me, one of the greatest things about Duck Tape is it has almost limitless applications and requires no special skills or training to use it. If you are a camper, hiker or paddler, it should be one of those items that you always take with you. As anyone who spends any time in the outdoors knows, things break, accidents happen, and no matter how well thought out your plans are, there is always one or two things that can happen that you didn’t think of. With that in mind, here are a few applications that you can use it for when you are in the outdoors that could help you continue your trip if disaster strikes.

  1. Patch a hole in your boat: You are paddling down stream of one of your favorite rivers then you hear a sudden “Thump”, you look down and see that your boat is filling with water. Though not a permanant fix, as an emergency repair applying duck tape to both the inside and outside of a puncture or crack in your hull will make it water tite and allow you to paddle to safety.

2. Make a paddle: Your are paddling and somehow manage to lose your paddle. Though it wont be the most efficient paddle, you can make an emergency paddle by taking a stick with a fork in it and wrapping the fork with duck tape. With it, you will be able to paddle to safety.

3. Make extra rope: By twisting duck tape, it makes  fairly decent rope and has a tinsel strength of about 20 lbs. Braiding or twisting two pieces together gives you even more strength. If you need rope and you are in a pinch, duck tape can solve your problem. You can use this rope for guylines for your tent or to secure things to your boat. You can even use it to make a clothes line to dry your clothes.

4. Build a fire: Duck tape makes a great fire starter providing you have matches or a lighter to set it on fire. Once lit, it burns hot for a couple of minutes. If you need to build a fire fast and don’t have available tinder, duck tape will solve that problem.

5. First Aid: If you have a blister, a small piece of Duck tape over gauze will keep your bandage secure so you can continue your hike. If you sprain an ankle, duck tape makes a great wrap to give it support.  In an emergency situation, duck tape and a few sticks make a great splint for arms and legs as long as you don’t apply that tape directly to the skin.  If you are in the outdoors and cut yourself to the point of needing stitches. In an emergency, once you get the bleeding  stopped, duck tape is great to temporarily seal the wound until you can get medical attention.

6. Fix your Tent: When you are out camping, sooner or later you are going to punch a hole in your tent. The worst is when its a hole in the floor because you usually discover this only after it’s raining and your gear is all wet. Just like fixing a hole in the boat, duck tape applied to both sides will effectively close and seal the hole. Sometimes, tent poles break or the joints they connect into fail. Duck tape makes a great tent pole splint that will keep your tent operational until you can get replacement parts.

7. Mark your trail: If you ever find yourself lost in the woods, you can use duck tape to mark your trail which will allow you to see where you have been and allow others to follow your path to find you.

8. Fix Your Backpack: Sometimes backpacks tear, sometimes straps break, sometimes zippers fail. No matter what brand or type of pack you use, if you use it enough, eventually it will fail you. Duck tape can solve all of these problems. Fix tears by applying a piece to both the inside and outside. For an even stronger repair, if you have a needle and thread, sew the tear together then apply the tape. If a strap breaks, you can reattach it with the same method. If a zipper fails, you can close the compartment with one or two pieces applied over the zipper.

9. Reseal your food packages: Duck tape is great to reseal non sealing food packages keeping your food fresh.

      Duck tape is one of those few items that can fix almost anything: From holes in your shoes to holes or cracks in your water bottle and just about everything in between, duck tape can fix at least temporarily almost anything. It is for this reason that I never venture into the outdoors without it. It is part of my essential gear that I always carry and you should too.

If you have had some interesting uses for duck tape during your outdoor adventures, let us know in the comment section.

Find your headwaters,



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