Zip ties are some of the most useful items to have around the house. They can also be used for survival purposes, making them even more important for a prepper to have around.
Zip ties have many different survival uses. Some of them include:
- Repairing gear
- Creating shelters
- Restraining bad guys
- Attaching Gear
- Building Shelters
- Creating Weapons
- Making Snares
Below are 30 survival uses for zip ties that you can use to help you during an emergency as well as everyday life. At the end of the article, I’ll include some helpful tips to make using zip ties easier.
30 Survival Uses for Zip Ties
Number 1: Repair Gear
Even the best gear, whether it is a tent, bag, or something else, can become damaged. For a prepper in a survival scenario, the risk of this is even greater due to how hard we may have to use our gear. Zip ties can allow you to quickly mend holes in bags and tents. They can also help you splice two sections of a broken strap back together.
Number 2: Emergency Splint
Suffering a broken bone is one of the worst things that can happen to anyone during an emergency. Any fracture will need to be immobilized to prevent further damage to your body. Zip ties provide an easy way to apply a sling to a fracture.
Wrap the area around the break in a bandana or t-shirt and place two of the straightest sticks you can find on either side of it. Use zip ties to secure them in place. If you are using small zip ties, you may need to connect a couple together to get all the way around your appendage and the sticks. For added comfort, you may want to wrap another shirt around the sticks before adding the zip ties.
*Note: Be careful to not cut off blood flow to the affected area. This could result in the loss of the appendage.
Number 3: Securing Container Lids
Many preppers use plastic totes to store supplies and gear. If these are kept in an attic, garage, storage unit, or outbuilding, rodents may be able to find their way inside. While they can always chew their way into the container, zip ties can help secure the lid in place. This will provide a little extra security and reduce the chance of the lid coming off during transport.
To secure the lid in place, attach it to the top of the tote and drill a hole through the top of the lid and all the way through the tote handle. The drill bit you use will need to be slightly larger than the width of the zip tie you will be using. After you drill the holes, run a zip tie through and secure it in place. This can also be done to trash cans to add a makeshift hinge that will connect the lid to the can, making it harder to lose.
Number 4: Belt loop
Preppers can also use zip ties to create belt loops. These loops can be attached to a pouch that you want to attach to a belt or to the belt itself. When attached directly to the belt, you can create makeshift tool holders, like a hammer loop, or create attachment points for carabiners connected to other pieces of gear.
Number 5: Gardening
Preppers can also use zip ties in their garden. They can be used to secure plants to stakes, helping them to grow straight. Zip ties also work well to secure vines in place.
Number 6: Handcuffs
Using zip ties as handcuffs is another way that preppers can use them in a survival scenario. When using them for this purpose, it is best to use the larger zip ties and to secure them behind the back. This will make it much more difficult to escape from.
Number 7: Web Gear Attachment (MOLLE and ALICE)
Another way that preppers can use zip ties is to attach pouches and other items to web gear. They can even take the place of old ALICE clips to connect older web gear to its original counterparts and its successor, MOLLE. Zip ties can also be used to attach other items to web gear as well.
Number 8: Makeshift Handle
Another way that a prepper can use a zip tie is to replace a handle that has been broken or add one to something that didn’t originally have one. Wrap the handle in fabric to make it more comfortable to use.
Number 9: Keyring
Zip ties can also be used to create a temporary keyring. I am currently using one to replace a leather strap that fell off of my car’s key fob. If you do this, use a lighter to burn the cut end of the zip tie. This will prevent it from scratching you or tearing the inside of your pocket.
Number 10: Bootlace or Shoelace
Shoelaces tend to break at the worst possible time. While it is always a good idea to keep a spare in your pack, zip ties can be used to secure your shoes or boots in a pinch. Run a zip tie through each set of eyelets and tighten them, being sure to cut off the excess.
Number 11: Gaiters
If you find yourself in an area with ticks, fleas, or some other nasty itchy bug, you can use zip ties to keep them at bay. Secure the zip ties right above your shoes or boots. This will prevent them from moving up your pants leg and making your life miserable.
Number 12: Zipper Security
Keeping your luggage safe while traveling is always a concern for preppers. Many luggage locks are poorly constructed and keys for them are widely available. This makes them easy to get past and then reattach without you ever knowing they were removed.
Zip ties can be used as an additional layer of security that could, at the very least, let you know that your bag was opened. Run a zip tie through the luggage zipper pulls or the lock holes on the zipper itself when the two pulls are joined together. Use an uncommon zip tie color (not clear or black) to make it harder to replace and don’t store additional ties in the bag you are securing. This will make it harder for anyone who accesses your bag to replace it.
Number 13: Trail Markers
Brightly-colored zip ties, because of their high visibility, make excellent trail markers. You can easily attach them to branches or other items, and they are unlikely to fall off if attached properly. This will allow you to mark locations, keep track of where you have been, and in an emergency, provide rescuers with a path to follow if you are lost.
Number 14: Organization
Zip ties make excellent organization aids. They can be used to bundle small items and keep cords wound up properly. I think almost all of us have a basket or ziplock bag filled with tangled cords. If you can’t get rid of them, use zip ties to make them a little more organized. They can also make areas in your home safer by binding cables together to reduce the chances of someone tripping over them. I have even used large zip ties to bundle scrap wood together to keep my garage organized.
Number 15: Gear Compression
Clothes, sleeping bags, tarps, and other items can take up a lot of space in a bugout bag or anywhere else you store gear. Preppers can use zip ties to bundle and compress these items to free up space. They are an excellent substitute for compression bags. Zip ties also work well to keep sleeping mats rolled tight.
Number 16: Gear Attachment
Zip ties can also allow a prepper to secure gear, such as sleeping mats, sleeping bags, or tents, to their packs. Larger items may require multiple zip ties to be linked together, but this is easy to do.
Number 17: Cinch Strap
Zip ties also make excellent cinch straps for securing small items in place. One example of this would be securing a fire extinguisher inside a vehicle.
Number 18: Snow Traction
Preppers can also use zip ties to provide extra traction on snow. They can be attached to shoes, boots, bicycle tires, or even car tires (only for short distances). When used in this manner, zip ties work similarly to snow chains.
Number 19: Shelter Building
If a prepper finds themselves in a survival situation, they can quickly build a shelter using a tarp and some zip ties. Zip ties can secure the tarp to a tree branch, other tarps, or to itself. Using them is faster than tying knots and may be easier to do when your hands are cold, especially if you are using larger zip ties.
Number 20: Fencing Repair
Preppers can also use zip ties to repair or set up fences. I once use zip ties, some chainlink, and a few t posts to set up a temporary enclosure for my dog in my back yard. It held up well until I dismantled it. Zip ties can quickly mend cut sections of chain link or join chain link fencing to a post. They can also be used to provide a small layer of security by attaching them to fence gate locks.
Number 21: Creating Weapons
Zip ties can be used to create field-expedient weapons in a survival scenario. You can use two or three of them to lash a knife to the end of a long stick, giving you a spear. Be sure to use large heavy-duty zip ties though. The small ones break too easily.
Zip ties could also be used to close off the end of a split stick with a blade or flat rock in the middle, producing a crude ax or tomahawk. However, it is always a good idea to reinforce a zip tie lashing with additional cordage since they can break.
Number 22: Secure a Deer Feeder
My dad and I set up deer feeders before hunting season to give us a better chance of a harvest. Unfortunately, feral hogs have a tendency to turn feeders over and tear them up in an attempt to get more corn. We use zip ties and t posts to help reduce the chance of this happening.
To use zip ties to secure a deer feeder, first set up your tripod feeder. Then, run t-posts into the ground right next to each leg. Finally, secure the feeder legs to the t-posts using zip ties. Be sure to use large zip ties or those made of stainless steel for this purpose. Smaller zip ties will become brittle and break after a prolonged period of time in the elements. You can also use zip ties to attach PVC gravity feeders to trees as well.
Number 23: Speed Up a Bug Out
If you have to bug out and have time to grab more than just your bugout bag, you can use zip ties to help you quickly load up your hanging clothes. With the clothes still hanging in your closet, loop a zip tie around several hangers, tighten it, and carry all of them to your vehicle or trailer at once. The zip tie will help keep them together while you are carrying them and during transport. It is much faster than bundling them together using trash bags.
Number 24: Prevent Tool and Tackle Boxes from Opening
If you have a toolbox or tackle box, you know how bad it would be if a latch came loose and caused all of your stuff to spill out. This is a problem with older boxes with worn latches but it can happen to newer boxes as well. Fortunately, most boxes have at least one place where you can attach a lock or zip tie. Running a zip tie through it will prevent boxes from opening on accident. Just be sure to have something to remove it with.
Number 25: Hands-free Lighting
Being able to work with both hands makes many jobs easier and is a must for others. Using zip ties to attach a flashlight to a hat or a nearby item will allow you to illuminate whatever you need to see while keeping your hands free. Boonie hats work very well to make headlamps due to the band that goes around the outside. You can easily attach zip ties to the band and tighten them around a flashlight.
Number 26: Vehicle Repair
Zip ties can also be used for temporary vehicle repairs if necessary. I once used a zip tie to help a friend secure a loose bumper on his car. They can also help secure hoses in place for short distances and to secure loose electrical wires.
Number 27: Hanging Tools
Hanging your tools, including larger ones such as shovels, is a good way to keep them organize and make the most of whatever space you may have. However, some tools were not designed to hang from a hook. Zip ties can make this possible. For items with long handles, such as shovels and rakes, simply drill a hole near the top of the handle and loop a zip tie through it. The zip tie can then hang from the hook. Zip ties also work well to hang oddly-shaped tools, such as double-end wrenches from a pegboard.
Number 28: Quick Draw Pocket Knife
If your pocket knife has a thumb hole for one-handed opening, you can use zip ties to hack it to open automatically as you pull it out of your pocket. To do this, attach a zip tie through the thumb hole as tight as you can. Trim the excess and add another zip tie next to it if it still moves around a little.
Then move the pocket clip on the knife so that the blade points up while the knife is clipped to your pocket. As you draw the knife out of your pocket, allow the zip ties to catch on the inner seam of the pocket. The seam should catch the zip ties and deploy the knife as you pull it out of the pocket.
Number 29: Hanging Lights and Other Equipment
Zip ties also make temporary attachment points for hanging lights and other equipment. You can use a zip tie to create a loop around a branch to hang a light. You can also use this method to get equipment or food items off the ground. Zip ties also work well to help hang work lights from rafters or other structures while in a garage or attic.
Number 30: Snares
Zip ties can also be used to make a snare if you have a rodent problem or are desperate for food. It is a little too complex to describe in writing, so I’ll include a link to a video below to show how its made. Basically, rodents eat bait which causes a weight to fall that tightens the zip tie as it falls. I didn’t come up with this. All credit goes to the owner of the video.
Tips for Using Zip Ties
Tip 1: Eliminate Sharp Edges
Trimming zip ties usually results in them having sharp edges, which can result in painful scratches and cuts. However, there are several ways to avoid this.
The first way to eliminate sharp edges on a zip tie is to twist off the excess after tightening it. Simply use a pair of pliers and twist the zip tie’s tail right next to the lock. This will break off the part of the zip tie that you don’t need and get rid of the sharp edge.
The second way to eliminate sharp edges on a zip tie is to use a lighter to slightly melt the cut end of the zip tie. After cutting the zip tie, hold a lighter under the cut end until it starts to smoke slightly. It is best to do this outside since burning plastic can give off dangerous fumes.
The third way to eliminate sharp edges on a zip tie is to use a special tool called a flush cutter. Flush cutters come in a couple of different varieties. Mine looks like a smaller pair of diagonal cutting pliers. Flush cutters give you the ability to quickly and easily cut zip ties without leaving sharp edges. They also leave the end of the tie looking clean, which is nice if the zip ties are going to be visible.
Tip 2: Reusing Zip Ties
Zip ties are pretty cheap, which means most people will use them once and then throw them away. However, in a survival situation or emergency, you may need to use a zip tie more than once.
The first way to reuse a zip tie is to cut it as close to the lock as possible. This will allow you to reuse whatever length of the zip tie that you have remaining.
The second way to reuse a zip tie is to use a pick or other small object to “shim” the zip tie’s lock. Insert the pick behind the locking tab and press it down. This should allow you to loosed the zip tie. If you know that you will need to do this to a zip tie don’t trim off the excess the first time that you use it. This will allow you to use the full length of the zip tie the next time you need it.
Tip 3: Lock them Down
You can use superglue to secure a zip tie’s locking mechanism to the zip tie, preventing it from moving. This allows you to make loops, such as key rings, and prevent the zip tie from tightening.
Tip 4: Stock Multiple Sizes and Colors
Zip ties come in a wide variety of sizes and colors. Each of them can be used for their own unique purposes. Having a large variety will allow you to spread them out between bags and vehicles and be able to use your zip ties for as may jobs as possible.
Tip 5: Combine Zip Ties
Sometimes a zip tie is too short to go all the way around what you need it to. When this happens, you can combine multiple zip ties together to create one long zip tie. Insert one end of one zip tie into the locking mechanism of another. Then, lock it like normal.