Every survivalist knows that imagination is the key to survival. Putting your mind at work can save you from a lot of trouble. Having a few simple zip-ties in your bug out bag is a great idea because these simple pieces of gear have countless uses in a survival situation.
Zip-ties come in a variety of sizes, lengths and widths; they are strong, reliable and rarely ever break. There are a few types with various specialized uses. While some can deal with extreme temperature, others can hold heavy loads very securely. The best part is that once you put a zip-tie in place, it stays there until you have to cut it off.
The most widely used zip-ties are made from polyamide nylon and have a coat paint that provides resistance from the sun. You can also find various zip-tie brands that are flame resistant.
How can you use zip-ties?
The possibilities to use zip-ties in an emergency situation are endless. It all depends on the situation you find yourself in and your ability to improvise. You can do lots of things with them, from the ordinary like lashing a bundle of sticks together to the extraordinary like using them as a tourniquet.
There are many other ways to use them and today, I’m going to tell you how I’ve used them under various circumstances.
Last year, I was able to use them as improvised crampons and get some extra gripping for the inappropriate shoes I was wearing. The sidewalk was icy and I had to attach three cable ties around my boots.
They did a good job and it really works if you remember to place the tying end underneath the outsole. If you need to use your bike during the cold season you can take a bunch of zip-ties and wrap them around your tire and frame to improve traction.
This was an emergency situation and I had to improvise because I left home without my belt… yeah, it happens even to the best of us. Zip-ties can be used to keep your pants up when you’re missing a belt. All you need to do is slip a zip-tie through a belt loop and then secure it to another loop a few loops away and draw tight.
I’m not saying you should replace your belt with zip-ties, but maybe you find yourself in a situation in which you have to use your belt for something else other than holding your pants up.
You can use a zip tie to lash tarps or ponchos together and improvise a sturdy shelter. Even if you don’t have a tarp, you can use them to lash saplings together in various ways so that you can form a shelter’s inner structure. Following a previous article regarding how to build a tarp shelter, I was surprised to see that many readers were using zip-ties as well.
Related reading: How to make a tarp shelter – 15 easy designs
If you need to restrain an individual, a zip-tie is ideal for this and it can really diffuse the situation. The trick here is to use the strong zip-ties, the ones that will make escape impossible. You’ve probably seen on the internet various videos teaching you how to break out of zip-ties. If you want to avoid such a situation you should use some heavy duty ones.
If you want to make an improvised spear for defensive or hunting purposes. All you need is a sturdy stout sapling, a good knife, and three zip-ties. You can lash the knife to the stout sapling by using the heavy-duty tie. Make sure you use the pliers from your multi-tool to pull the cables tight. Now you’re ready for some spearfishing!
Markers for your trail
In order to avoid getting lost when you explore the great outdoors, you can zip a brightly colored tie to a branch or a bush. You will be able to find your way back to camp more easily. The trail will be easily recognizable and it can even help rescue teams to find you quicker.
Suggested reading: How to signal for help when you get lost in the wilderness
If you need to secure your bug out bag, gear or even the compartments from your toolbox, you can use zip-ties as an inexpensive quick lock. It will make stealing your gear more difficult because the only way to remove a zip tie would to cut it off.
If you need to use your laces for cordage, you can use a small tie to secure your footwear. Slip a tie through several of your boot eyelets and you’re good to go!
On various occasion, I’ve used zip-ties to lash a variety of items to my backpack and my bike. You can use them to lash items to your bug-out vehicle in case of need.
I’ve used zip-ties to secure my camping shower overhead by looping a zip-tie around a tree branch. On another occasion, I’ve used it to secure a lantern around my tent pole. When you go camping, you can use them to secure food bags up high so that you can keep animals out of your supplies.
One or more zip-ties can help you keep items like a sleeping bag tightly packed so that it uses up less space. You can use them in a chain to keep larger items tightly packed and handle them easily.
Although I haven’t tried this personally, you can use them to make an animal snare. According to some of my friends that tried this, as the animal goes through the loose loop, it will tighten around him as it pulls.
During one of my travels to Europe, I’ve managed to attend a first aid course that was teaching participants how to deal with broken limbs when medical aid is not available. The trainer advised us to always have some zip-ties at hand. You can use them to lash splints to a broken arm or a sprained ankle.
If you try this method you should know that the zip-tie should be left loose. At least for the first 2-3 hours to allow for the swelling of the limb.
Temporary sewing kit
The very small zip-ties can be used when you have to deal with a large tear in a tent and they will temporarily close the hole. It’s an improvised solution, but it will do the job when nothing else is available.
These are just a few of my suggestions and you can improvise based on the needs you have and the zip-ties you brought in your bug-out bag.
Related reading: 10 household items that you can use in an emergency situation
Which zip-ties to buy?
Although the answer can vary from person to person, I can tell you for sure that you need to have a variety of sizes and widths that can handle various jobs. You can carry with you a variety of lengths and widths. These are lightweight items and you won’t really feel the load. The color is also important when deciding what to buy and you should know that the black ones are usually coated to better resist to long sun exposure.
Here are the types of zip-ties that you can buy
These are the most commonly found zip-ties and you probably already have some in your home. Operating temperature varies between -40 to 185 degrees F. They come in different colors, sizes, lengths, and tensile strengths. From what I managed to find on the market, nylon zip-ties are miniature, standard, intermediate, hheavy-duty and extra heavy duty (bigger size and tensile strength).
These are the most durable zip-ties and are being used in chemical environments, for telecommunication equipment, aerospace, and environments with high and low temperatures. They are also known as plenum ties and are resistant to fire and radiation. If you burn one, you will notice that it emits a very low quantity of smoke. The recommended maximum continuous temperature is 302 degrees F.
Stainless steel type
Although I haven’t had the chance to use these zip-ties, from what I know, these ties are designed to be used when liquid and extreme temperatures are involved. According to the information I was able to find, they can withstand temperatures ranging from -100 to 1000 degrees F. These zip-ties have a tensile strength of almost 100 lbs.
These ties are fire and acid resistant and are designed to be used in applications that require resistance to environmental hazards, such as chemical attacks. Tefzel zip-ties can withstand gamma and ultraviolet radiation and temperatures up to 300 degrees F.
Metal detectable type
I’ve found out about these ones by a close friend that works in the food industry. These are ties that are used in food preparation, beverage or pharmaceutical industry because they show up on x-ray machines and metal detectors. They are made from a mix of metal and polymers. That being said, you can find them by using magnets. The maximum operating temperature for these ties is 230 degrees F.
Zip-ties are versatile items that can be used in a survival situation. Their use is limited only by your imagination. These items can be found in every household and many people don’t realize that they can be used in an emergency situation. Since necessity is the mother of all invention, you can find ways to use zip-ties for multiple, everyday purposes.
Other Useful Resources:
The LOST WAYS (Survival Lessons from our grandparents that we should all know)
Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)
Drought USA (How to secure unlimited fresh, clean water)
Blackout USA (Video about EMP survival and preparedness solution)