Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Survival Tools

The humble zip tie ( AKA cable tie) always punches well above its weight.
A bag of 50-100 4"-6" weighs only a few ounces, but replaces yards of cordage and does many other tasks as well or better. They come in a wide range of lengths, strengths, and colors, from day-glo to near invisible. They come in nylon plastic, Velcro, and metal. You can even find re-useable ones, rather than single-use. The heavier-duty ones stand in for handcuffs, and frequently do.

Eight of them, two per corner, will lash thumb-thick sticks together to make a frame for a tarp* or poncho*. No fumbling with knots and wet cord as the temperature is dropping; just plug and pull and you're in business. Half a dozen more, and your poncho* or grommeted tarp* stays where you put it indefinitely on that same frame. Odds are the wind would rip the material before the tie fails.

If you were smart enough to replace bootlaces with parachute cord,* you can pull that out, and replace them with single or paired zip ties, and make your footwear into slip-ons.  Now you've got 12' of free paracord, and your footwear still stays on.(You can never have enough cordage.)

If a pack, strap, or other LBE linkage fails, you can replace the connection with zip ties.

Many high-speed low-drag units specifically removed all the metal failure-prone ALICE metal clips from LBE, and replaced them with zip ties, which were non-metallic, lighter, stronger, and more secure than what they replaced. Some people still do that with MOLLE gear. You can too, and you don't even have to go to Ranger School or SFAS to do it.

You can take a pair of the sturdier ones to lash hooves or feet together for game kills, for easier toting.

They can even stand in as ad hoc snare* loops, as is.

They can be used for emergency hose clamps. The metallic ones can even replace hose clamps, as long as you have spares, and a method/tool for cutting them.


The acme of any survival implement. They probably belong in your kit and car if they aren't there already.

*The Sergeant Major notes "You will see this material again."


Anonymous said...

When we were preparing to move from NJ to PA I bought a metric assload of them for a few bucks at Harbor Freight. Wife looked askance. Then proceeded to use them to tie dismantled wire shelves together (with hardware in a zip lock bag between shelves), tie curtain rods together (again with hardware in a sippy, held with a hole punched thru and the zip tie passed thru), and basically anything which I wanted to say "these things stay together, and we either lose all or none). Brownie points to me when, two days after moving in, I used zip ties to attach the hook for the hummingbird feeder to the deck railing.

Highly useful things, and I've seen specimens that were probably 24" long. I find 6" works well and they CAN be connected togwther, and the loose ends can be trimmed for neatness.

Mark D

Spin said...

Add a paperclip to the batch to flick the locking tab out of the way and make them reusable.


Monsoon Matriarch said...

There is a YouTube video that shows how to make them into emergency tire chains for navigating through snow.

Anonymous said...

Home Desperate has some robust ones in black in their electrical section. I'm going through a large container of them from Costco. I separate the 4" ones since I seldom need the shorties at the same time as the longer ones.


Anonymous said...

Is it just me or do a LOT of them break or have the little latches break? I thought it was because they were old, or from a cheapo tool company, but after buying some expensive ones at Home Depot I had them snap in half just lightly holding some wire under a travel trailer. I don't mean later, they snapped in half as I was applying them. The snap hurt my other hand.

tweell said...

I've run into some bad batches of zip ties, and it doesn't seem to matter whether you get them at Home Depot or Harbor Freight. Still, they are a essential in my 'fixit' kit. As an IT guy, I've gone through thousands of them while pulling cable, so am used to pulling them out for just about anything.

Anonymous said...

If you wany zip ties that do not break, be prepared to spend a few extra bucks. Look for Thomas and Betts, T and B brand. Electrical supply stores carry them. Get the black ones, they are sunlight resistant.


Anonymous said...

I knew they were handy, but never considered them THAT useful. Lashing materials for wilderness shelters is why I carry a package of them as mentioned above by our author. Also make fence patching up repair very easy, anchoring the barbed wire to post until I return with fence staples and the proper tools for the job.

Looking forward to reading this again with more uses - great post sir.

millerized said...

They can even be used to hang yourself without the need for rope.
Local kid...few months ago. Not sure it was intentional, but one of the big hvac duct ones a little too tight without the means to get it off = Darwin grinning.

Anonymous said...

I recycle the velcro ties found around various types of lettuce at the grocery store. They're about 18" long and make excellent strong lashings for various applications. Bonus, they're re-usable. I keep them in rolls of a dozen in my pack They are heavier than zip ties, but they're free.


James M Dakin said...

Home Depot is as suspect on quality as Wal-Mart, any more. I get mine from the ranch store, and they hold up for years in the sun and wind. Cheapo's aren't worth spit. Worth paying double since it costs less long term.

RandyGC said...

Been using them to secure stuff to my LBE ever since I had a canteen unclip itself from my belt while low crawling through heavy brush in the Evasion phase of Survival school.

Good for making temporary repairs or to hold thing together while the epoxy cures.

Brightly colored ones are good for marking trails without leaving permanent evidence you were there.

Basically I consider these number 2 on my list, right under duct tape, when putting together a tool or trouble kit.

The Freeholder said...

If you get the reusable zip ties, you can take them with you when you break camp. Find them on Amazon.

Anonymous said...

They can be used to apply pressure to wound dressings, the larger ones can be used as a tourniquet band or handle retainer on an improvised tourniquet. Handy when butchering game and livestock, too - tie off the rectum and urethra to help keep things tidy when field dressing.

Anonymous said...

Hey Aesop, Ron is waving goodbye...


Aesop said...

OC turned blue in 2016, once the Dems legalized vote-mining of illegal aliens, and stole every congressional race in the county.

Coming to your neighborhood in 2020.

Anonymous said...

Zip ties are useful. Take a look at rebar ties. they are simply a length of soft iron wire. Cheap (cheaper than zip ties) easy to use, can be deployed and tied/twisted with one hand while your other hand holds the pieces to be knitted together in place. They have a loop at both ends because they are designed to be twisted quickly with a little tool but I prefer to straighten them out and you gain about 3" in length. They aren't super strong but strong enough if you don't try to twist them excessively.

Anonymous said...

Old fashioned bailing wire was the Olde School zip tie. When I was a kid (I'm a mid 50's vintage currently), many had a roll of it in the 'tool drawer' or tool shed. Another multi-purpose item.

When driving along the fence, we find small pieces of fencing in the road or along the line. We retrieve it and wrap it around a tree limb at the property corners or turns, just in case we require some binding material that builds a lasting repair. Rids the road of getting it wrapped around the axle and provides a service as well.

Anonymous said...

Zip ties of varying length (get the ones UV resistant from TSC)
Duct Tape
550 lb. test cord
Bungie Cord

These are all basics to have for spicy times...along with a few other essentials.

Linda Fox said...

Love these suggestions. I already used zipties for cable, but will be adding it to my bug-out kit.

TiredPoorHuddled Masses said...

Great for any occasion. Going on the list

SteveO said...

Just came across this, something that can be easily produced, but for the convenience of having it already done...