Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Part of being a resourceful prepper means finding small yet common items that we take for granted in our daily lives and learning how to use them a survival situation, hopefully in multiple ways. Zip ties are a prime example of such an item. Like duct tape, their survival and non-survival uses are practically endless.
Also known as cable ties, zip ties are cheap and made out of plastic. Nonetheless, they belong just as much in your bug out bag or camping gear as they do in your kitchen or garage.
In fact, as long as you are armed with the knowledge of what they can provide you, zip ties can be among the most valuable items that you could ask for in a survival or prepping situation. They’re also incredibly cheap and take up preciously little space even in bulk, further adding to their overall value.
Zip ties come in a wide variety of sizes and colors, but just remember that the colored variants are typically weaker than the black or white ones. While we suggest you keep at least some colored ones to use as trail markers, we still highly recommend that either white or black make up the strong majority of the zip ties in your survival kit or bug out bag.
Here are 24 survival uses for zip ties…
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1. Organize Small Items
Zip ties are perfect for keeping sticks, pens, cables, cordage, bags, utensils, and other small items together and organized. You don’t want to have a mess on your hands when you’re busy trying to survive a widespread disaster.
2. Save Space
Clothes, blankets, and other fabrics can take up a lot of space. To fix this, roll them up as tightly as you can then compress them even more with a couple of zip ties. Saving as much space as possible is very important if you’re bugging out.
3. Bag Handle
It’s always useful when your bag has a carry handle attached to it for convenience, but it’s just the opposite of useful when that handle breaks off or is in need of repair. Thankfully, lashing a zip tie to your bag is a quick and easy remedy. Simply take a longer zip tie, place it through a loop on your bag, and then cinch it to the length you want it.
4. Attach Gear To Your Bag
Let’s say you want quick and easy access to a knife or a flashlight or some other tool that has a holster. Use a zip tie to attach the holster to your bug out bag so you can get your tool without having to dig through your bag looking for it.
5. Makeshift Shoe Laces
If anything ever happens to your shoelaces, you can use zip ties to secure your shoes in their stead. If your shoes move around your feet too much while hiking, it can cause blistering and bruises, so it’s important that your shoes or boots stay secured.
6. Snow Traction
In a winter survival scenario, should you ever find yourself walking over some icy or slippery terrain, you can attach two or three zip ties around each of your boots. This will allow your boots to better grip the ice and give you more stability/traction.
7. Securing Makeshift Trouser Gaiters
If you ever have to survive out in the swamps or the marshlands, staying dry will be even more critical. If your clothes become soaked, they can freeze to your skin at night and cause hypothermia. This is why trouser gaiters are excellent for tying around your ankles in this scenario, to stop your lower legs and feet from becoming drenched.
But if you don’t have traditional gaiters with you, you’ll have to use another type of fabric in their stead…and there’s no better way to securely fasten them then with zip ties.
8. Trail Markers
This is where it will come in handy to use colored zip ties. You can simply tie or hang a zip tie around a branch, making sure you use a color that stands out against the environment. Granted, you’ll need to have a lot of zip ties in your arsenal to avoid wasting all of them just as trail markers, but they still work very well as an alternative to blazing trails, a technique that many people do not know how to do.
9. Shelter Making
When you’re out in the elements, fire and shelter will be two of your best friends. In this case, zip ties will aid you in making the latter. You can lash together ponchos or tarps in order to make a lean-to or similar shelter, and if the zip ties are large enough, you can even lash saplings together in order to make a teepee.
Simply choose three poles that are roughly the same size, and then tie two of them together at the top with a zip tie. Spread the poles and then raise them, slipping in the third one in the process. Once you have a standing structure, tighten the zip ties as needed and you have yourself the frame for a teepee.
10. Hanging Things
Zip ties are a quick and easy way to hang just about anything you want. Lanterns, wet clothes, bags of food, or whatever else you need to keep off the ground.
Rather than just use ropes or cordage to build snares, you can use zip ties. The advantage to using zip ties for snares is twofold: 1. they already come in a variety of different sizes, so you’ll be ready for any kind of game, and 2. Zip ties are naturally more secure for setting up snares than ropes and cords are.
12. Repair Gear
Zip ties are great for simple repairs like a broken strap on a backpack or a large tear in a net. Just run the zip tie through both ends and cinch them together.
13. Restraining Device
Hopefully, you’ll never have to, but if necessary, you can restrain someone either on the hands or the feet with zip ties. The advantage to using zip ties to restrain someone is that very few people know how to escape them.
There will be preciously few things as detrimental to you as being physically injured while out in the wilds. Since you won’t have any professional or traditional medical help with you, you’ll have to make do with what first aid and other supplies you have on you.
A zip tie is excellent for lashing a splint to a broken limb. Regardless of whether it’s a finger, toe, leg, or an arm, a zip tie can secure a splint very securely. The only thing to remember to do is to add some sort of fabric or cushioning underneath the zip tie so it doesn’t carve into your skin.
A zip tie will work just as well for a tourniquet as it will for a splint. Whereas splints are about securing a broken limb, tourniquets are about preventing any bleeding you sustain from an open wound. Simply secure the zip tie just over the area of the wound, in order to cut off the bleeding. There are even zip ties that are actually made specifically for tourniquets, but any ordinary zip tie will work if you need it to.
Just like with making a splint, it’s very important that you place some form of cushioning or fabric underneath the zip tie so it doesn’t bite into your skin, and that you have something on standby to cut through it if necessary.
16. Hold Bandages In Place
If you don’t have any tape, you can use a couple of zip ties to hold a bandage in place. They’re great for this because they will keep pressure on the wound until you can get help.
17. Attach Gear To Your Pack
Who says you have to have gear stored in your backpack only? Why not lash items to the outside of your backpack as well? This is where zip ties come in handy.
All the same, you can also take blankets, tarps, canvas sheets, or clothes and wrap them up into a tight bundle. Take two zip ties to secure them, and you’re all set. You could also easily attach the zip ties to the outside of your backpack as well.
19. Create Belt Loops
Create a loop with your zip ties and then run them through your belt. Secure them, and you’ll be able to hang various items from the loop. For example, you could hold hammers, keys, knives, or even pouches filled with items as well. The idea is to use the zip ties in place of carabiners.
20. Secure Lids
For long term storage, you can secure the lids to your plastic containers with the use of zip ties. The idea is to help keep rodents out, and to thoroughly eliminate the chance that the lids could somehow pop open on their own to spoil the food or other contents inside.
21. Makeshift Handcuffs
If you need to die somebody up for whatever reason, but don’t have handcuffs or rope or cordage on hand, then zip ties can make for an excellent alternative. Just make sure you use the larger zip ties, and ensure that the prisoner has their hands secured tightly behind their back instead of their front.
This one is super easy. Run your keys through the zip tie, just create a tight loop, and then snap off the long end with a knife or scissors. Just like that, you have a new key ring.
23. Build a Spear
Building a spear is a fun project that also serves a practical purpose in a survival situation. Take a knife, whether it’s a fixed blade or an extended folding, and place the handle against the end of a wooden pole or thin PVC pipe. Secure it with two or three zip ties and cinch it tightly. Use scissors to snap away at the excess. The resulting spear can provide you with extra length for defense in a survival situation.
24. Add A Quick Draw Function To Your Folding Knife
This is another fun project that serves a practical purpose. Folding knives can often be difficult to open quickly with only one hand, but you can fix that with a zip tie.
Take a small piece of the zip tie and wrap it around the finger hole of your knife. Take scissors to cut away the long end. Just like that, you’ll have a surface for your thumb to get a hold of to quickly open the knife blade and lock it into place one-handed. Go ahead and try it out.
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