It never ceases to amaze me that so many survival “experts” go to such lengths to recommend that people purchase super expensive emergency gear. All of this may have its place, but I prefer to make sure the simple, inexpensive preparations are covered first. In my book, that is 80% of the game!
Every prepper has a favorite all-purpose tool that they would hate to do without. For many, it’s duct tape. Others love their Swiss army knife or their Leatherman multi-purpose tool.
Another favorite is zip ties, sometimes called cable ties. Frankly, these little lengths of plastic are worth their weight in gold if you ask me. They’re tough, lightweight, and easy-to-carry. And, you can do oh-so-many things with them.
My staff and I have rounded up a dozen different useful things you can do with a zip tie whether things are smooth sailing or you’re facing a major disruption.
A Dozen (At Least) Different Tools in One
#1 Zip Ties in the Garden: Many folks I know are already in the habit of growing their own food. If not, they have plans to put in a garden immediately should the economy or our infrastructure take a turn for the worse. You can use zip ties in your garden to train your plants and increase production. Whether you want to give your tomatoes a little extra stability or teach your cucumbers to grow up a trellis instead of your fence, you can use zip ties to get the job done.
#2 Secure Hauling: If you have to move bulky items from point A to point B, zip ties may be the perfect tool for securing your load to your roof rack. If you’re using a pick-up truck, zip ties are one of the quickest and easiest ways to tie down a cover tarp to keep your load hidden from prying eyes.
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#3 Organize Your Tools: I once read a book that talked about how important it is to keep your tools and supplies organized. Otherwise, it may be difficult to find something essential in the dark. A piece of pegboard and handful of zip ties makes a cheap, easy, and effective tool organizer. Just thread the ties through the pegboard to create hanging loops for your hammers, pliers, screwdrivers, etc.
#4 Temporary Child Safety Locks: You can use zip ties to seal a cupboard or pantry door if you need to keep visiting children out of your cleaning chemicals or anything else you don’t want them to get into. They make the perfect solution if you don’t want to install child safety locks, but need a good way to secure a cupboard or two for a short period of time. Just loop the zip tie around two handles and pull it tight.
#5 Miscellaneous Repairs: Whether you’ve got a loose bumper on your car, a broken pedal on your bike, or a broken flush chain on your toilet, a zip tie may be just the thing to hold it together until you can make a more permanent repair.
#6 Home Security: If you need to secure an intruder (better left to law enforcement for sure, but this is about being prepared for anything), zip ties function perfectly well as handcuffs. In fact, many police agencies and even flight crews on commercial airlines use them for restraining dangerous or aggressive people.
#7 Expand Your Home Storage: Sometimes prepping can create a shortage of space. You can use zip ties in combination with eye screws to hang small items from closet or pantry ceilings, freeing up valuable shelf space.
#8: Eliminate Tripping Hazards: Computer cables, power tool cords, and similar things can easily create a tripping hazard in your garage or office. Use zip ties to tame your cables and cords and make your home safer to navigate – even in the dark.
#9 Build a Shelter: With a handful of zip ties and a bunch sticks, you can improvise a sturdy shelter that can protect you from the elements if you’re ever get caught outdoors for a night. Soldiers in WWI and earlier built shelters with nothing more than sticks and grapevines, and certainly zip ties are a lot easier to tie than wild vines.
#10 Organize Your Prep Supplies: When you’re getting ready for anything, it’s natural to buy things in bulk and keep them in storage. You can use zip ties to make bundles of like items. This is useful, especially for things you have on hand for barter or that you’ll use multiples of – grab one, and you’ll get your whole bundle. You can also just count your zip ties and multiply for a quick inventory.
#11 Make Improvised Hinges: If you’re building a fence with a gate, say for your garden, chicken coop, or dog run, you can use zip ties to make a functional hinge for your gate. Saves you the fuss and expense of the usual hardware.
#12 Make Furniture: If all you have is a drill, some raw materials, and zip ties, you can build quick shelves and tables by securing the wood together with the zips ties. Just loop the ties through holes you drill in your boards and pull them tight. You can do the same thing with scrap materials like pallets and old milk crates.
Bonus Use #1 – Securing Luggage: Just run a zip tie through your suitcase zipper pulls to lock your luggage up tight. If TSA decides to search your bags, you’ll know because your zip tie will be cut.
Bonus Use #2 – Short-term lock replacement or temper-evident seal: It’s virtually impossible to remove a zip tie with anything but a sharp knife, something most people, even thieves, are not carrying around with them. This makes zip ties a quick way to secure many items against opportunistic crooks.
You can see why so many people stock up on zip ties. They come in multiple colors and sizes, and you can get big bags of them cheap. There’s just so much you can do with them and they can be useful in so many different situations from around the house to in your car to out in the wilderness.
Zip ties are right up there with duct tape on my list of must-have, versatile items. Buy a pack and experiment with them. I think you’ll be impressed with how many different uses you find!