Zip ties are handy little tools that can be used in pretty much any situation. In a way, they are kind of like duct tape in that the possible uses are infinite. Their strength and holding power are impressive, even in the smaller sizes.
Originally called cable ties, the modern zip tie is made out of plastic. Original cable ties were used to, you guessed it, tie bundles of cables together. Nowadays, they are found in emergency kits, bug out bags, camping and hunting gear, and have a multitude of uses.
Origins of zip ties
According to Wikipedia, the first patent for these ties was in 1958 by an electrical company for use in airplane wire harnesses. Since then, the applications these simple tools have been applied to are as limitless as our imagination.
When it comes to survival situations, zip ties should be included in every plan and in at least one person’s pack. Here are 10 uses for zip ties in a survival situation:
- Keep items tightly packed so they use less space. Tightly roll a set of clothing together (pants, shirt, underwear, socks) and secure the roll with a zip tie.
- Use to attach a snare just about anywhere, giving you more flexibility with this trapping method.
- Make handcuffs, in a pinch
- Emergency shelter building with a tarp or tent
- Repair backpacks, straps, tents
- Use for clothing repair or keeping clothes on (as zippers, belts, etc). Also, close pant legs around the ankles to protect against ticks, snakebites, and mosquitoes.
- Hold a splint in place or a makeshift sling
- Attach items to packs, bags, or shelters
- Use as a tamper-evident device, such as a ‘lock.’ If something that has been secured with a zip tie has been tampered with, it will be cut or stretched out indicating that someone tried to break it open.
Which Zip Ties to Buy?
Which type of zip ties should you buy? You ultimately want a variety of sizes and widths available to handle different jobs, and quality counts!
The color is also important due to how the plastic reacts to the sun. Many people I know swear by using the black ones because they last longer than colored or white ones do. Long exposure to the sun will make the average zip tie lose strength and holding power. The black ones will also eventually give out but tend to last longer. Could it be an urban myth? Of course it could! Thankfully, this myth doesn’t harm anyone or anything so I go with it.
For our house, we have a few variety packs with different lengths (not widths) and colors. We use the colored ones for short term jobs or to mark a trail. The black ones are used for jobs need to last longer than a couple of months, or in situations where we do not want the zip tie to be seen.
Zip ties nearly always come in large quantities, and that provides the opportunity to divvy them up between different emergency bags and kits, adding a few to camping, hiking, and backpack gear, and having a few left over for household needs.
What other survival situations would you use zip ties for?
LeAnn in Alaska
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