Why Duct Tape?
A repair kit is one of the ten essential outdoor gear and one of the greatest repair tool ever invented is the duct tape.
Some even call it the greatest invention of all time , the duct tape is tough, water resistant, strong, lightweight and easy to use. It's great for fixing stuff, though most of time only temporarily. I recommend making a more permanent repair for your gear when you get home.
However, the duct tape is not just for fixing stuff. You can also use it for first aid and other stuff depending on how creative you are. In the popular Discovery Channel show, the Mythbusters, the hosts built a boat entirely out of duct tape!
History of the Duct Tape
Forbes called it The Other Greatest Tool Ever when objections were raised when they didn't include the duct tape in The 20 Most Important Tools Ever .
Some say that the name duct tape originated from duck tape for it's ability to resist water but it was after WWII when civilians started using it to put together metal air ducts that it was first called duct tape. It is also known as riggers' tape , hurricane tape , and 100-mph tape and there's probably a story behind each name.
The duct tape was invented by a scientist at Permacell, a Johnson & Johnson division, in the 1940s and it was first used during WWII as a water-resistant seal for ammunition cases. Back then, it was also used to make temporary repairs to military equipment like firearms and vehicles.
Packing Duct Tape
There's nothing wrong with taking the whole roll of duct tape with you on a backpacking trip but if you want to save space and weight, since you're not likely to use the whole roll anyway, you can wrap a few feet of it around your water bottle or some cardboard.
You might think it's a good idea to wrap it around your trekking pole but I advice against it because it'll take too long to wrap the duct tape around something with such a small diameter.
I like to take the whole roll of duct tape because you never know when you might need that much and the extra weight, negligible as it is, is worth it to me. You don't want to run out of duct tape when you need it most.
Using Duct Tape to Fix Your Tent
When you tent fabric gets torn, the easiest and fastest way to fix it is with a duct tape . Temporary tent repair kits are available but there's much less fuss in using duct tape. Easier doesn't mean better but it does its job well enough.
Just remember to make a much more permanent repair before your next backpacking trip when you get home. To remove the duct, use lighter fluid to soften the glue, making it easier to remove. For best results, stick the duct tape on both sides of the tent fabric.
If you forgot to seal your seams before your trip, the duct tape can also work as a seam sealant.
You can also fix bent or broken poles but it would still be considerably weaker than it was in its original state.
Duct Tape for First Aid
In an emergency, there's a lot you can do with the duct tape. You can use it to secure bandages, make a sling for your arm, secure your injured wrist or even make an emergency stretcher to carry an injured hiker.
Believe it or not but duct tape can also remove warts. A study in the October issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine reports that patients removed their warts by sticking duct tape on it for six days, then removing the tape to soak the area in water and scrape it with an emery board and reapplying the tape to continue the process until the wart is gone.
A duct tape can also be used to cover hot spots on your feet and preventing from becoming a full-blown blister. You can also prevent hotspots by applying it on sensitive areas of your feet.
If you don't have athletic tape, the duct tape can also be used for sprained ankles. To do this, wrap it around in a figure-eight pattern over you sock. Enough of it will give you excellent support. It's almost as good as a cast if you wrap it around a towel.
If you have an injured finger, you can wrap it to a small flat stick or better yet, tape it next to a healthy one.
Duct Tape for Your Pack
Sometimes your backpack can get ripped open by wild animals or by scraping it on rough surfaces. The duct tape is the perfect solution for this in the outdoors.
You can also use a duct tape to reattach your backpack strap or even make your own backpack. If you have nothing better to do with the duct tape you can also decorate your backpack and make it unique.
Duct Tape for Your Boots
I once had the soles of my boots open up because the rubber somehow deteriorated. If it wasn't for duct tape, life would have been so much harder at the time.
It turns out that duct tape is commonly used to fix broken boots. You can also use it over your boot laces if they keep on coming off.
Duct Tape for Your Camping Mattress
If you're using an inflatable camping mattress, there's a chance that it could puncture and leak. In summer, the worst thing that could happen is that you lose some sleep but in winter, a leaking air mattress can be lethal because you can lose a lot of heat to the ground without any insulation.
The duct tape is a lifesaver, especially in winter, and give you the much needed sleep. Make sure you make a more permanent repair when you get home.
Duct Tape for Your Sleeping Bag
I use duct tape on my sleeping bag not just to fix it but also to secure it after it is rolled tightly. This made it easy for me stuff it inside the stuff sack.
You can also patch tears on your sleeping bag fabric or seal a broken zipper.
You might have thought of using duct tape to make your sleeping bag more water resistant or make it warmer but be careful with this because your sleeping bag will likely lose its breathability you get it wet anyway through condensation.
Other Uses of Duct Tape
There are hundreds, probably even thousands, of other uses of the duct tape and maybe even thousands more yet to be discovered. Here are some to give you some idea:
- labeling your gear (especially your water bottle)
- make a barrier
- making pranks on your friends
- removing lint from your clothes
- make a sign to call for help in an emergency
- make a temporary water vessel
- build a boat like in Myth Buster
- build a raft
- Make a backpack
- Waterproof your hat
- fix your sunglasses
If you can think about it, the duct tape can probably make it happen. Just be sure you have a pair of scissors of a camping knife handy or you'll have to use your teeth. What other uses of duct tape do you know of?