Solutions for the Every Day Carry of Duct Tape

by September 14, 2011 09/14/11

Duct tape is one of the most useful things on the planet. It can be used to secure, repair, or build in ways that other materials such as rope, glue, or conventional tape cannot.

Because of the hundreds of applications for this miracle material, I have always loved duct tape. I’m especially fond of Gorilla brand duct tape, which has 50% more glue than conventional silver duct tape and adheres to damn near anything.

Unfortunately, while convenient to use, duct tape is very inconvenient to carry around. It comes in these large, 20-yard rolls with a big hole in the center, which makes the tape take up far more space than it should. When you’re carrying a full bag, that extra space could be crucial.

I have found three different ways to easily carry around duct tape: in a mini-roll, a collapsed roll, or on a keychain.

A Multi-Use Item

Many of us already have paracord integrated into our EDC, either as shoelaces or as fancy lanyards and paracord bracelets. This is good, but cordage has limited utility in an urban environment. In three years I have yet to use my survival bracelet or my white paracord shoelaces. Meanwhile, duct tape is very useful in day-to-day life and unlike cordage, it cannot be improvised. You either have it or you don’t.

I have been carrying duct tape on my keys now for several months. It holds up great and it has come in handy many times. I’ve used it to fashion an improvised bandage and to remove the fine splinters of cactus fruit from skin. The methods outlined in this article will ensure that you always have some duct tape when you need it. And chances are you will need it.

Mini-Roll

To create a mini-roll, I broke off a 2-inch section of a plastic hanger and carefully wrapped the duct tape around it. It was a pain to do, taking about 15 minutes, but the result was a good amount of tape in a much more compact package. I’ve been carrying a roll of tape like this in my suitcase for the last several years.

Recently Gorilla Tape has come out with a Handy Roll which consists of 30 feet of 1-inch diameter duct tape. This is a great off-the-shelf solution, yielding a very portable roll for around $3.

Collapsed Roll

While a step in the right direction, the Gorilla Tape Handy Roll still has that obnoxious empty donut hole in the middle. I have limited space for my gear, and this was driving me crazy. A tip I picked up on a forum is to remove the cardboard center of the tape, then press in flat. A collapsed roll can be used with any size roll of duct tape to save space.

Using a box cutter, I cut through the cardboard on the inside, then slowly peel it out bit by bit until it is all gone. It took me about 10 minutes. The roll could then be pushed flat.

A few months ago, I used this mini-roll to fix a girl’s sandal at the beach. She was very pleased and I was feeling very satisfied with my level of preparedness, but when I got home later that day I began to re-evaluate my level of preparedness. If I hadn’t been carrying my bag, I wouldn’t have had any duct tape and I wouldn’t have been able to complete the repair.

I decided then and there that I wanted a way to integrate some duct tape into my EDC pocket load out.

Duct Tape Keychain

For this method you will need paracord or wire and some duct tape. I first completed this project using wire, but since have decided that paracord is a superior material. In this tutorial I will provide instructions for completing the project using paracord, although most of the pictures are from my first build, which used wire.

First, cut off some paracord and take out the guts. All you want is the nylon sheath. Tie a length of the gutted cord together so that it’s sufficiently longer than your roll of duct tape. If you want to use this for your keys, you will only want a short loop sticking out. If you want to use it as a fob for a knife or flashlight lanyard, give yourself a longer loop.

Next, place the paracord with the knot on the edge of the tape, and press it in so that it’s firmly stuck to the glue. (Note that the photo shows the wire from the initial prototype, but the procedure is the same for either material.)

From there, carefully roll the tape up around the paracord. Try to be as even as possible, but don’t worry if it’s not completely straight. Most of mine are a bit crooked, but they still function just the same.

When the keychain is as wide as you want, simply cut the tape off and you’re done. I wanted mine to be the same diameter as a roll of chap-stick, so that gave me about 18-inches of duct tape. Obviously, if you want more tape, you can increase the diameter, but I personally like my gear with minimum bulk.

An optional final step is to untie the knot, cut off the excess paracord, and melt it flush with the tape. This provides a more finished look.

You can now easily integrate some duct tape into your EDC, either on your keys, attached to a Swiss Army Knife, or as a zipper pull. 18 inches of duct tape may not sound like much, but it’s enough to get most things done.

Editor-in-Chief’s Note: Please join us in welcoming Mark Greenman as a contributor on ITS Tactical!


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Greg
Greg

"Pocket Duct Tape" is a decent and inexpensive option as well. About a buck for a pre-packaged 18" strip, and available in multiple colors if that's important.

David
David

Great ideas. But what I did was take a straw and wrap the duct tape around that, then put a loop of paracord inside the straw so I could hang it off my keys carabiner.

Jason
Jason

All great ideas.

For me, I always have a mini bic lighter and a tube of chap stick on my keychain and I have always just wrapped a foot or so around each of these items. Makes the chap stick tube a little thicker but works great! People are always amazed when I pull some off to fix something.

For backpacking I wrap some around flashlights, my hiking stick, part of backpack frame, or just about anything, always have a few feet handy. Also works great for tying on splints or binding sprained ankles! Great stuff.

Jason
Jason

All great ideas. For me, I always have a mini bic lighter and a tube of chap stick on my keychain and I have always just wrapped a foot or so around each of these items. Makes the chap stick tube a little thicker but works great! People are always amazed when I pull some off to fix something. For backpacking I wrap some around flashlights, my hiking stick, part of backpack frame, or just about anything, always have a few feet handy. Also works great for tying on splints or binding sprained ankles! Great stuff.

Kris
Kris

Using them as zipper pulls is genius.

Jones
Jones

Good ideas. I have been using the H&H Combat Tape, basically silver duct tape rolled up on a plastic spindle and then wrapped in a small bag. I have these for the medical kits I sell so I have them in just about every bag I own. The Gorilla brand will be next on my list.

Dave
Dave

I've been using these small backpacking rolls of duct tape for EDC purposes (They work quite well in a bag or backpact but not in my pocket). These mini rolls also fit inside those prescription pill bottles you get from the pharmacy. They stay protected from your other items.

Ontario Geardo
Ontario Geardo

Fantastic concept. I imagine a lot of my friends rolling their eyes at a project like this. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one getting excited!

Doug Pearson
Doug Pearson

Gorilla Tape is great stuff, but how does it stick in below freezing temperatures? Regular duct tape will actually release when the temps get down below freezing as I've found out from experience. So I carry two types of duct tape on old used gift cards (and I can get 10 feet on each card). I have the brown two-inch Gorilla Tape and special "Cold Weather" duct tape of a different color on the other. The "Cold Weather" duct tape will stay stuck in temps below freezing as long as it is above freezing when applied. I can attest to the fact that it makes damn good duct tape even if it never gets below freezing! Look in your local hardware store.

yaya
yaya

tape that is stuck to something you carry all the time will become more compressed and difficult to peel off over time, this is becaue of the heat of your body and the different compression that happens in your pockets, it becomes worked, the adhesive becomes more compact that it ever was on the original roll and stick stuff starts to leak out the edges. to carry this on you or keep in a hot car you should use it up regularily and replace it or it simply will get old and useless faster than tape on a roll in a closet or on a shelf. Also you won't be carrying much of it, so use is limited, perhaps for a watergateburglar type of door bolt hold open though theres a much better way to do this that is even smaller to carry. ask Matt Fiddler at Serepick, I think he knows what it is Im refering to.

Mark Greenman
Mark Greenman

Hey guys, just a heads up, if you don't have any paracord, zip ties also work quite well. I didn't have any 550 handy a few days ago, so I just zipped a zip tie till it was 1/2" diameter loop, cut it to size, then wrapped it in 18" duct tape.

So far so good, although I still believe paracord is optimal due to its flexibility and because the tape binds with the fibers.

Mark Greenman
Mark Greenman

Hey guys, just a heads up, if you don't have any paracord, zip ties also work quite well. I didn't have any 550 handy a few days ago, so I just zipped a zip tie till it was 1/2" diameter loop, cut it to size, then wrapped it in 18" duct tape. So far so good, although I still believe paracord is optimal due to its flexibility and because the tape binds with the fibers.

Kenny
Kenny

I repurposed a small pouch (2 1/2 in x 4 in) from a laptop mouse to hold several feet of Gorilla Tape (I love this stuff) folded using the credit card method, several feet of double-sided velcro tape and a few zip ties. I started carrying duct tape and zip ties back when I had a '69 bug.

twrecks
twrecks

In my years of duct tape OCD therapy, I've found regular and name brand duct tape is water resistant to varying degrees, 3M makes some labeled 'waterproof' that is excellent, on par w/Gorilla tape. Also, I believe Gorilla makes both regular and waterproof types of tape (I can't stop reading the labels and fine print, please send help!) Cloth 'friction' electricians tape has many uses specific to gripping and was used on hockey sticks handles and business ends to grip on or grip the puck. I've always been to cheap to buy 'Gaffers' tape, but keep hoping Santa will bring me some.

dude
dude

I wrap mine around dead hotel keycards or used up gift cards etc, 10 wraps or so and you have a pretty thin but very useful little package.

michael wells
michael wells

Great idea I sat down and made one as soon as I was reading your info.

Michael

michael wells
michael wells

Great idea I sat down and made one as soon as I was reading your info. Michael

Mike
Mike

Is the Gorilla brand just as easy to tear as the regular duct tape?

I haven't tried it, but I read somewhere that duct tape could be used

as a firestarter as well.

I agree with Diggitt's comment

Mike
Mike

Is the Gorilla brand just as easy to tear as the regular duct tape? I haven't tried it, but I read somewhere that duct tape could be used as a firestarter as well. I agree with Diggitt's comment

Diggitt
Diggitt

This is the greatest website on the net.

The Captain
The Captain

Like others here, I keep my tape rapped around old iTune Cards, then trim the sides or punch a hole in the corner for keychain carry.

Bergman
Bergman

Good tips, but my EDC is a 20lb backpack. Even a full size roll with the cardboard tube intact fits easily. Though I bet I could fit a bigger roll than I currently carry if I flattened it like you suggest...

Steven
Steven

I wrapped about three feet around the barrel of a Sharpie, and have it tucked into a pouch in my briefcase.

Easy to access, and it's always there.

Steven
Steven

I wrapped about three feet around the barrel of a Sharpie, and have it tucked into a pouch in my briefcase. Easy to access, and it's always there.

wayne
wayne

All of these are good ideas and I liked the article. I'm a little different in that I don't use a "center piece." I just pull out some duct tape and fold it over on itself. It is flatter and takes less space. Whether on a roll or not, duct tape is stuck to itself when you buy it or roll it like this, so I don't think one needs a spool. And depending upon where you fold it, your roll can be just a roll or ½ inch wide or 2,3, or 4 or whatever width you make it. After re-reading this, it sounds somewhat confusing but I know you can figure it out. Downside is this would be for throwing in a bag and you can't key chain/FOB it.

S. Gasswint
S. Gasswint

I take duct tape and wrap it around an old, cheap pen, and then cut the pen to length. I use those rolls to fill the "donut holes" in other rolls of tape. The roll of Durapore in my IFAK has a roll of duct tape inside it without taking up any extra space.

Scott Troiano
Scott Troiano

I have made two of these tonight...You KNOW you are doing it right when your wife says, "OOOOOOOOO...I want one of THOSE!"

Great job, guys!

Big Daddy T

Scott Troiano
Scott Troiano

I have made two of these tonight...You KNOW you are doing it right when your wife says, "OOOOOOOOO...I want one of THOSE!" Great job, guys! Big Daddy T

Brendan
Brendan

I find Gaff tape more useful for most applications then Duct tape. Gaff tape is a pretty well kept secret among crew guys. Its a cloth based adhesive tape, that can be used for literally anything. Ive used it to patch clothing, repair shoes, hold together a radio the I dropped an cracked the case, used it as a makeshift bandage, patched clothing, patched holes on a leather couch, hold the bumper on my car, wrapped the handle of one of my fixed blade knives in to when the grip started deteriorating, mute colors on one of my packs. I work in a TV Studio and a Theater, and its used to hold cable together, hold cables to the floor, hold up rigging, securing set pieces all kinds of stuff.

Youre probably thinking "Well I can do that with duct tape". The main reason I prefer Gaff over Duct is unlike duct tape Gaff Tape does not leave behind stick residue. Any of you who have used Duct tape on cable or comms gear have no doubt noted that residue left behind is hard to get off. Gaff tape doesnt leave that, and since its cloth based its much more playable and suited for patching clothing and footwear.

The one disadvantage of Gaff is that is is not water proof and therefore not suitable for patching tent holes, rain gear holes, or sealing anything against rain/ water. I usually carry both Gaff and Duct with me, but find myself using gaff tape for the majority of situations I encounter.

Brendan
Brendan

I find Gaff tape more useful for most applications then Duct tape. Gaff tape is a pretty well kept secret among crew guys. Its a cloth based adhesive tape, that can be used for literally anything. Ive used it to patch clothing, repair shoes, hold together a radio the I dropped an cracked the case, used it as a makeshift bandage, patched clothing, patched holes on a leather couch, hold the bumper on my car, wrapped the handle of one of my fixed blade knives in to when the grip started deteriorating, mute colors on one of my packs. I work in a TV Studio and a Theater, and its used to hold cable together, hold cables to the floor, hold up rigging, securing set pieces all kinds of stuff. Youre probably thinking "Well I can do that with duct tape". The main reason I prefer Gaff over Duct is unlike duct tape Gaff Tape does not leave behind stick residue. Any of you who have used Duct tape on cable or comms gear have no doubt noted that residue left behind is hard to get off. Gaff tape doesnt leave that, and since its cloth based its much more playable and suited for patching clothing and footwear. The one disadvantage of Gaff is that is is not water proof and therefore not suitable for patching tent holes, rain gear holes, or sealing anything against rain/ water. I usually carry both Gaff and Duct with me, but find myself using gaff tape for the majority of situations I encounter.

Adam
Adam

I did something similar but wrapped it around a drinking straw, then cut down the excess on each side. Stick the paracord through the straw to carry, and the roll spins so it feeds easier.

bruce
bruce

I wrapped my tape around an old credit card.

Chris
Chris

In ALERRT it was taught to get a small, flat piece of cardboard (I used one smaller than a credit card), then re-wrap the duct tape around it. I also folded the working end into a triangle, so I could find the end quickly and easily. That's how I carry it in my active shooter kit. But I definitely like the keychain idea better...

MCGUNNY2004
MCGUNNY2004

I used the Go-Tubes by OscarDelta to roll mine in two ways. One around it and the other put a small roll inside of the little ones that you can put on your key chain. Just another cool way to do it.

Chris Rogers
Chris Rogers

Another way I am using for backpacking brings together duct tape, a mini bic lighter, a safety pin, and potentially paracord. Mini bic lighters are just the right size for standard duct tape to wrap around without interfering with the mechanism. I placed a safety pin against the lighter and wrapped about a foot and a half to two feet of tape around both of them, so far this is very secure, and if you leave the end of the pin with the hole sticking out it is easy to thread paracord through to create a lanyard. Pretty simple way to combine very useful tools.

Austin
Austin

Yeah, the same thing happens to me. I have duct tape on my keys, which I clip to a belt loop at about 7 o'clock and tuck into my back left pocket. And it sticks to itself. I've been thinking about trying gaff tape lately, because it doesn't leave residue, it might not stick to itself like duct tape does, and has the same qualities of duct tape.

Mark Greenman
Mark Greenman

Hey Mike, yeah, Gorilla Tape is just as easy to tear as conventional tape. But its slightly thicker, black, and far more adhesive. I've had 1" wide strips of the stuff just totally dominate 2" strips of no name duct tape when doing stuff around the house. Its truly a superior product in every regard.

Gary
Gary

Plus one on use of gaffer tape. I discovered it through my photography hobby and it has replaced duct tape for 90% of what I do. It is so much cleaner than duct tape.

The other thing is that it can be reused multiple times if the adhesive stays clean. I have ratchet straps in my truck bed tool box that are taped up with gaffer tape. Every time I use the straps I stick the tape to the inside of the bed. At the end of the job, I wrap the straps up with the same piece of tape. The tape starts to break down after a year of hot/cold cycles but it is easy to replace at the point. Having something that is reusable might be important depending on the situation.

Mike
Mike

I'm a theater tech also, and agree that gaff is good stuff. I'll say that all of the attributes of gaff depend on a number of factors, mainly brand. Usually it doesn't leave as much residue as duct, but I've had it leave some nasty goo. Brand is part of it, but exposure to heat, water, or a long time in place seem to increase it. I've also had gaff that barely sticks and I'd rather have had duct tape.

I had heard that gaff was flame retardant, but when I tested it myself one day I found it wasn't. I haven't compared it, but it probably doesn't burn as much as duct tape.

One down side to gaff is the price. It looks like the Gorilla Tape is about $12 for a roll. For the good gaff, expect to pay $18 or more. At least in my market.

Personally, for EDC I'd go with quality duct tape. It's advantage outweigh the advantages of gaff in general situations, at least for me.

Mark Greenman
Mark Greenman

Hey Brendan, thanks for the heads up on Gaff tape, I will have to check that out, especially for my tool box. Your right, the duct tape residue can be a serious pain, I still recall the hideous after effects when I tried to tape the sunroof of my 4Runner closed after some type of Murphy's law road trip incident. The tape residue had to be removed with lighter fluid.

For a small EDC however, I feel that Gorilla Tape may be the better option. If I only have 18" of tape (and after a few uses I may have less than a foot) I want maximum adherence power rather that ease of removal.

Gary
Gary

Plus one on use of gaffer tape. I discovered it through my photography hobby and it has replaced duct tape for 90% of what I do. It is so much cleaner than duct tape. The other thing is that it can be reused multiple times if the adhesive stays clean. I have ratchet straps in my truck bed tool box that are taped up with gaffer tape. Every time I use the straps I stick the tape to the inside of the bed. At the end of the job, I wrap the straps up with the same piece of tape. The tape starts to break down after a year of hot/cold cycles but it is easy to replace at the point. Having something that is reusable might be important depending on the situation.

Mike
Mike

I'm a theater tech also, and agree that gaff is good stuff. I'll say that all of the attributes of gaff depend on a number of factors, mainly brand. Usually it doesn't leave as much residue as duct, but I've had it leave some nasty goo. Brand is part of it, but exposure to heat, water, or a long time in place seem to increase it. I've also had gaff that barely sticks and I'd rather have had duct tape. I had heard that gaff was flame retardant, but when I tested it myself one day I found it wasn't. I haven't compared it, but it probably doesn't burn as much as duct tape. One down side to gaff is the price. It looks like the Gorilla Tape is about $12 for a roll. For the good gaff, expect to pay $18 or more. At least in my market. Personally, for EDC I'd go with quality duct tape. It's advantage outweigh the advantages of gaff in general situations, at least for me.

Mark Greenman
Mark Greenman

Hey Brendan, thanks for the heads up on Gaff tape, I will have to check that out, especially for my tool box. Your right, the duct tape residue can be a serious pain, I still recall the hideous after effects when I tried to tape the sunroof of my 4Runner closed after some type of Murphy's law road trip incident. The tape residue had to be removed with lighter fluid. For a small EDC however, I feel that Gorilla Tape may be the better option. If I only have 18" of tape (and after a few uses I may have less than a foot) I want maximum adherence power rather that ease of removal.

Aerron Tate
Aerron Tate

Another in using a water tight empty prescription bottle...the 1 inch wide ones work great, by wrapping tape until its even with the lip of the lid. Now you have a place to store everythinig fron that mini bic to fish hooks. rasor blades, gauze rolls, sewing needles you name it and they float fairly well when they are closed and by using the paracord loop at the bottom of the bottls you can hang several from the zippers on any survival pack, ... I have exparimented with this and my ruck sack has one on every zipper.. over half of a 20 yard roll of gorilla tape with built in watertight storage for survival smalls of every kind and if I use an entire roll in this manner and hang several more by putting a heavy duty safety pin into the mix by dropping the paracord threw the pin loop its easy to attach them to open spots on my pack. I even keep spices for campfire cooking like this but the bottom line is it gives me instant access to 20 yards of tape as needed without toting a giant roll in my pack .

kelly koski
kelly koski

I agree that Gorilla Tape is probably a better choice for unknown situations because it is waterproof, but I have to say that despite not leaving a residue Gaff tape holds better than normal duct tape (when I had some it was before Gorilla Tape existed). In high school I had a buddy that did AV work for the church and would get the ends of rolls of gaff tape that were going to be thrown away. One night we were bored so we took a plastic Taco Bell cup, dumped the ice and taped it to the roof of my car to see peoples reactions. We only used 4 6-10 inch strips of the gaff tape and drove around all night like that. The next day I was late for work and didn't have time to remove the cup right away as I planned. Long story short even after multiple trips on the freeway at 75+ mph and one rain storm that cup held fast to the roof of my car for 3 weeks till my dad got sick of looking at it and made me take it off. As I said I didn't have access to Gorilla Tape at the time but the patches I did to that car with duct tape never held up half as well as the gaff tape did.

Don't ask me why I left a fast food cup taped to the roof of my car for 3 weeks, it was high school, nuff said!

kelly koski
kelly koski

I agree that Gorilla Tape is probably a better choice for unknown situations because it is waterproof, but I have to say that despite not leaving a residue Gaff tape holds better than normal duct tape (when I had some it was before Gorilla Tape existed). In high school I had a buddy that did AV work for the church and would get the ends of rolls of gaff tape that were going to be thrown away. One night we were bored so we took a plastic Taco Bell cup, dumped the ice and taped it to the roof of my car to see peoples reactions. We only used 4 6-10 inch strips of the gaff tape and drove around all night like that. The next day I was late for work and didn't have time to remove the cup right away as I planned. Long story short even after multiple trips on the freeway at 75+ mph and one rain storm that cup held fast to the roof of my car for 3 weeks till my dad got sick of looking at it and made me take it off. As I said I didn't have access to Gorilla Tape at the time but the patches I did to that car with duct tape never held up half as well as the gaff tape did. Don't ask me why I left a fast food cup taped to the roof of my car for 3 weeks, it was high school, nuff said!

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