How can hikers and trekkers benefit from something made in the 1940's? During World War II, the US military asked Johnson & Johnson to devise a waterproof, strong cloth based tape that could keep their ammunition dry. The GI's called it “duck tape” because it was waterproof like a duck’s back. This ultra- sticky, multi-purpose adhesive has helped people since its invention with unimaginable ways to secure, mend and re-purpose new and broken items. Hikers can really get themselves out of many bad situations with Duck Tape.
Properties of Duck Tape
People have been using duct tape to fix and make things for decades. It’s likely that you’ve already used duct tape in a variety of ways. The best qualities of duck tape are its durability and that it's waterproof. It mends all types of materials, even skin with a very secure and long-lasting bond that can keep moisture out and protect whatever you're covering. One of the reasons why duct tape is so useful is because it’s so sticky to almost anything. Sometimes called "Duct" tape, it is one of the most versatile products ever invented. With enough duct tape you could literally repair or improve just about anything.
Outdoor Hikers Can Protect Their Skin
- Remove Splinters if you have no tweezers. The sticky properties of duck tape allow you to slowly pull the tape in the opposite direction of the splinter entry. It may take a couple tries, but it does work.
- If you have a tick on you, cover it with duck tape and remove it easily. It will stick to the tape.
- Great for blisters or hot spots. Cover the blistered area with a piece of cotton gauze, the tape over that. Make sure the duck tape fully covers the cotton without touching the blister at all.
- Make an occlusive dressing with duct tape because this tape is waterproof. This will not work if you are allergic to latex, which duck tape contains. Closing a wound that must be protected until you can seek medical help requires cleaning of the wound first with an alcohol pad so that it does not get infected inside and it heals faster. Close a gaping would by tearing off several strips of duct tape that are about 3"long by 1/4" wide. Starting at one end of the wound, bring the cut edges together with your hand. They should touch but not be squeezed tightly. Tape them together, placing the tape perpendicular to the wound. Continue down the wound, leaving about a one-quarter-inch space between each strip. It will represent a butterfly steri-strip application you may have had done or seen before in a doctor's office. Cover your strips with a clean cloth secured around your arm with more wide strips of duck tape.
- Keep Your Feet Warmer. You can help make your winter boots retain more heat by wrapping duct tape around the insoles of your boots. Make sure you insert them silver side up against your foot. The reflective surface of the duct tape will help reflect heat back into the soles of your feet by reflecting the warmth of your feet back into your boots.
- If you trip and sprain your ankle, wrist, or other joint, wrap it with duct tape to give it some support.
Backpackers Can Easily Fix Their Gear
There are endless uses of duck tape to all of your outdoor backpacking gear.
- Fix your tent. To hold your tent closed, repair a damaged zipper or patch a hole. Stick the door shut to keep it from flapping in the wind and keep the bugs and critters out.
- Fix your rain gear: Keep the dry stuff dry and keep the water out by mending your ripped rain gear with a few strips of duct tape.
- Fix your tool handles and seal your flashlight making it waterproof. How about bungee cord repair or wrapping around your matches or lighter to keep them dry.
- Have a cracked water bottle or a pierced hydration bladder? A little strip of duct tape will fix it in a jiffy. Be sure to dry the surface before you try to tape your patch in place since most forms of duct tape won’t stick to wet surfaces. You can also wrap plastic water bottles with duct tape to prevent cracking or leaking.
- Need to create a shelter? With some trash bags and some duck tape you can construct a survival shelter roof, or sleeping bag cover, or even a wind break.
- Fix a screen or mosquito netting.
Duck Tape To The Rescue
- Doing some creek crossing or get caught in heavy rain? Wrap your hiking boots in duck tape for extra waterproofing. It may not be a fashion statement but your feet will stay happily dry.
- Make yourself a clothesline for drying out camping clothes. Twisting a long piece of duck tape makes a great piece of rope for many purposes.
- Instead of throwing a loose key, credit card or money into your hiking bag, you can duck tape it to the interior material with some duck tape to get at it easier without rummaging through your backpack.
- Mark a trail by using duct tape so you can easily find your way back when you are on a new mission. Wrap duct tape around trees along the trail. In this case fluorescent colors are great.
- If you have fluorescent colored duct tape, you can try using it to signal for help by making a giant arrow that points to your campsite, or a giant S.O.S.
- Fix Your clothes, gloves, ripped pants or shirts, socks with holes etc.
- Eliminate snow, bugs, or gravel, you can keep it all out of your boots by taping duck tape at top of your boots to your pant legs.
- Fix a broken trekking Pole
- Keep a roll of duct tape on the ground or the floor of your tent to form a cup holder. When you need the roll, you’ll have easy access to it right away.
- Tape a stick to a broken tent pole or fishing pole to make a temporary splint. It won't last forever, but you could get a little more usage out of the pole before scrapping it.
- If bugs are driving you crazy and you don’t have any fly paper on hand, you can hang up a long piece of duck tape to act as an effective piece of fly paper to get those flying nuisances.
- Waterproof labels for preps can be attached to any of your items you carry in your backpacking backpack.
What Kind Should A Hiker Buy?
There are so many uses for duck tape that not only should you put a roll in your bug out bag, you should also add several rolls to your main outdoor backpack. Be aware there are different grades available from the dollar store versions to heavy-duty industrial versions. You will want something in the middle making sure it is of the stronger and stickier variety but not as thick as the 3M stuff which would not be as pliable as the industrial types. The kind you want is found in places like hardware stores, Walmart or Home Depot and will tear easily and cleanly without requiring a knife or scissors to cut it. Some popular brands are the original Duck or Duck Cloth Tape, Gorilla Duck tape and Gaffer Power Steel Duck Tape. Redi-Tape Duct Tape comes in pocket sized, 5 yard packs for convenience.
Happiness Is Duck Tape
One sure way to alleviate any hiking disasters that might happen on the trail requiring repairs is to have duck tape on hand. It's the tool you will always turn to in your hiking backpack time and time again. If you have some new uses for duck tape or if your hiking pack is beyond repair, come see us at www.naturetrailbackpacks.com. We would love to have your comments and feedback.