Tape in any form is a valuable tool for a range of scenarios, from medical emergencies to improvising tools. Yet, the bulky size of a full roll of tape can make carrying it difficult.
Fortunately, there is a range of ways to compress down the size of a standard roll of duct tape as small as a credit card. This allows you near-constant access for repairs, improvisation, or just general emergencies.
In addition to a small handful of commercial options for those willing to spend a little money on a convenient solution, creativity is key.
It’s clear why duct tape belongs in almost any EDC or emergency kit. With that said, let’s look at three at-home solutions you can use to easily incorporate duct tape into your daily carry.
Why Carry Duct Tape?
Duct tape belongs in almost any kit you are building, but why exactly?
Simply put, it is one of the most versatile repair tools you can have at your disposal, and while it may not work in absolutely every scenario, it is enough to keep you operational in a range of circumstances.
This is true for almost any kind of tape, however as duct tape is a composite of fabric, waterproof film, and rubber adhesive, it is especially useful and able to hold up incredibly well against even the harshest environments including in:
If you have the means to repair something properly, such as with replacement parts, you should always aim to do the job properly. But for an interim solution to keep you mobile, duct tape should be more than efficient to help you get out of dodge and stay moving forward.
Why Not Carry the Roll?
Given how powerful duct tape is, carrying the most amount of tape is going to keep you as prepared as possible. So why not just carry a whole roll in your bag?
The biggest limitation with this method of carry is the amount of dead space a roll of duct tape will take up in your bag. This is largely due to the center ring of most rolls typically being too small to place around an object.
This means you are often left with a void when packing it inside a bag.
The large size of duct tape is not only a problem if you are throwing it in a backpack, but as many of us simply load up our pockets with EDC items, it’s also not practical to carry duct tape in this way.
This is the biggest problem many alternative carry methods aim to solve, but it is not the only problem carrying duct tape can cause.
In addition to the wasted space, duct tape also has the potential to leak its adhesive from the edge of a roll, at best weakening the strength of a piece of duct tape around it’s edges but potentially causing the adhesive to bind to sensitive gear or documents and damaging them.
This is primarily an issue in warmer climates, however, this has personally lead to several maps and notebooks becoming unnecessarily worn over the years, which under the right circumstances can interfere with mission readiness.
Also, there is the simple fact that throwing gear loosely into your bag can dramatically slow your rate of deployment with severe consequences.
This is especially problematic considering how useful duct tape is in medical emergencies. So, while it’s true you may not always be reaching for duct tape for a split second emergency, having it available the moment you need it can truly make all the difference.
Did I mention weight? Yes, a large roll of duct tape can be heavy and weight should always be considered, especially if you are trying to keep things as light as possible.
Carrying in this way is always going to be better than not carrying duct tape at all and being left unprepared, but there are many better ways to carry that you can start implementing for free.
Let’s look at some of the best options out there before investigating some of the commercial options on the market.
At Home Solutions
In addition to how powerful duct tape can be, it is also incredibly easy to work into an EDC kit with almost no special tooling.
By far the easiest and most common method of carrying duct tape in an EDC is the wrap. This allows you to keep a small amount of duct tape in an incredibly compact packet package that can neatly fit in almost any wallet, pocket, or EDC organizer.
To pull off this method of storage, all you need to do is find an item already within your EDC and wrap the desired length of duct tape around it.
This method relies on duct tape’s ability to keep its adhesive properties even after it has been peeled and stuck down. So, when attempting this method of carry, it’s important to use high-quality tape to ensure it stays sticky even after peeling it multiple times.
So, what kind of EDC items work best for this style of wrap?
One of the most common items to use is an expired credit card, business card, or even gift card, as they allow for your wrap to be incredibly small and still fit into the standard wallet many of us are already carrying.
In addition to a card, it’s possible to use a range of other items including:
Paperclips have the added benefit as if you leave a small amount of the clip exposed, you can easily thread your wrap onto a keychain or belt loop, meaning even on those days when pocket space is limited, you still have some tape available for those little emergencies’ life throws at you.
An alternative to wrapping duct tape around an item can be to simply remove the center cardboard roll from the center and compressing the roll down on itself into a flat block.
It may not be as pretty as wrapping an item but does completely eliminate the center void of most duct tape rolls, reducing the wasted space within your pack.
While this style of carry can severely limit the amount of tape you can carry, it should still provide you with more than enough to deal with whatever challenges you face in your daily life.
A great alternative for those of us who want to carry a full amount of duct tape without sacrificing any space within the interior of our bag is to strap it to the exterior.
The easiest way to do this is to unbuckle a section of your bag, such as an arm strap or a compression strap, loop it through the inner loop of a roll of duct tape and closet the buckle.
It takes seconds to pull off and can work with almost any size roll, and most importantly allows near instant access to your roll without the need to open your bag or the roll from its strap.
For this reason, it is often better to fall back on a simple paracord loop that can be tied directly to the bag or attached to a carabiner.
This allows instant access to your tape while also making it incredibly easy to detach it from your bag if you need to pass it around or ditch your third line gear in an emergency (while still keeping the tape accessible).
Although almost any knot can work to hold your duct tape, the tried-and-true Larks Head works especially well, giving you a loop to attach a carabiner and a secure hold on to your roll of tape.
Our last method of carry is much more involved that the other two previously listed but is a personal favorite if you have spare climbing carabiners lying around that you are looking to make use of.
Start by cutting a piece of 1” diameter PVC pipe to length to fit over the fixed edge of a carabiner, then cut down it’s length to allow the carabiner to be slipped through.
From here, the PVC pipe should be able to rotate freely around the carabiner and all that is left to do is wrap your tape onto the roll and you have an improvised tape dispenser.
This works great for large rolls of tape, such as duct tape, however, it’s important to note that smaller rolls (such as electrical tape) can often fit directly onto a carabiner without the need to set up a roller.
Its larger size makes it slightly less convenient when compared to wrapping duct tape around an EDC item you are already carrying. But, it holds the duct tape to your gear much more securely than leaving it hanging with a piece of paracord.
Personally, this method has come in especially useful when hiking and rock climbing where you need to have gear accessible from the outside of your pack, but do not want it hanging freely to get snag on rocks or bush.
Carrying a duct tape wrap or keeping a roll strapped to the outside of your bag is a great way to access your equipment when needed, however, as with all things in the world of EDC, there are commercial solutions.
Unlike many of the other solutions on the market, such as the water bottle carriers we have previously discussed, these are some of the weakest out there and arguably do not solve the problem any better than the at-home solutions.
But with that said, let’s have a look at some of the options on the market to highlight how much more effective the at home solutions truly are.
Veto Pro Pac
The Veto Pro Pac is a cheap and affordable 8” strap that can be easily looped through multiple tape rolls and attached to your bag, belt loops, or MOLLE webbing.
It’s an incredibly simple design that should work with almost any bag you have and can support multiple rolls of tape on a single strand.
While the simplicity of this design makes it incredibly effective, it is also it’s biggest downfall.
At a price of $19.50, it’s difficult to justify such a high price when the same basic tape holder can be made at home for well less than half the price.
Additionally, at-home solutions are arguably much more customizable as the Veto is only available in black.
You can find paracord in a huge range of colors allowing you to more easily differentiate different kinds of tape on the fly and adjust the size of your tape holder to truly meet your needs.
Whether you are carrying a single roll of electrical tape, or multiple rolls of duct tape for a project you are working on, a homemade paracord strap is going to be able to do a much better job at keeping your tape on you than the Veto ever could.
Selens Tape Holder
An alternative to the Veto strap can be found from Selens, which is arguably made of much higher quality materials with a steel cord to thread through your roll of duct tape and keep it secure.
The high-quality materials of the Selens does make it slightly easier to justify this purchase, but again the added cost is hard to justify when a similar solution can be made at home for a much cheaper price.
This justification largely comes from the fact that thin gauge metal wire can be a great resource to have for repairs or improvisation, especially when working with electronics (such as to bypass circuits) or locks.
However, in most cases, it will often just be cheaper to carry a dedicated small bundle of wire slipped in a bag pocket as opposed to wasting $15 on a tape roll holder.
Again, it suffers the same limitations as the Veto Pro Pac, as you are unable to adjust the length or color of this tape holder, while it fails to offer any real advantage over anything you could make at home for a much cheaper cost.
What Else to Carry?
Duct tape can solve a huge number of problems you may encounter, whether repairing a strap on your bag or improvising a spear during a SHTF scenario, but despite its capabilities, there are some problems it simply isn’t suited for.
Exactly what these problems are is dependent entirely on the situations you find yourself in. But this tends to be especially true when making small repairs to equipment with a high amount of detail or with equipment that experiences extremely high temperatures.
So, what else can you add to your EDC to help make repairs out in the field?
Paracord seems like an obvious choice as it is arguably just as versatile as a roll of duct tape. It seems to integrate much more easily into your everyday carry with paracord bracelets and the like, but it is not the only option.
Super glue can also be carried very easily thanks to their compact single use containers, which is much better for making fine detail repairs on the go, such as to glasses, or knives.
Finally, as we’ve already mentioned, a fine gauge wire can be extremely useful on the road.
Not only is it a necessity when dealing with electrical systems, but it can also double as a great alternative to paracord for latching gear, making traps, or even in high-temperature environments (such as hanging a pot over a fire).
There is obviously a fine balance between carrying the right tools to deal with gear failure out in the wild, but all of these items can easily slip into your EDC without adding bulk to your gear.
Thanks to some of the carry methods available, even duct tape can be worked in without getting in the way of your life or mission.
Your everyday carry should always be growing and developing to meet new challenges in your daily life, and hopefully some of the techniques discussed here today will help inspire you with new ways you can incorporate duct tape into your EDC.
For more help in building a complete EDC kit to keep you ready for anything, be sure to check out some of our past articles to help find some of the other items worthy of a place within your everyday carry, as well as some great solutions for the more challenging items to incorporate.