Thursday 05/10/17

As we all know, duct tape is an essential item in every toolbox and Bug Out Bag. You can use it for everything from strapping a broken shoe together through to repairing holes in tents. If you’re desperate, you can use it to splint a broken leg (but only over jeans. I really don’t recommend sticking this stuff on your skin if you have hairy legs). Having said that, in a dire emergency where a first-aid kit cannot be located, duct tape can hold gauze padding or some other absorbent pad onto a wound.

If you don’t have a roll of duct tape in your Bug Out Bag, you need to remedy this ASAP. Add this to your list of things to do this weekend. Think of it as insurance. You probably won’t use any in your day-to day life, but you’ll be glad you own a roll when things go wrong (usually at night, and in the rain).

Good quality duct tape can be torn from the roll. The cheap rubbish stretches, usually rendering that piece unable to be used. This will quickly become a problem in an emergency if you don’t have a pair of scissors or a knife with you (think of this as a timely reminder – you get what you pay for). When applying the tape, you will get the best results if the surfaces being repaired are clean and dry. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible, especially if you’re making repairs during a storm. You’ll just have to do your best.

Duct tape or gaffer tape; which one is right for you? I have a personal preference for gaffer tape, but other people swear by duct tape. It comes down to what task you intend to use it for. If you can’t decide, or your expected range of requirements is wide, buy a roll of each and experiment. Learn by trial-and-error.

Duct Tape


  • Waterproof and weatherproof.
  • Has a shiny surface, making the repairs easier to see by torchlight.


  • The adhesive is very susceptible to heat.
  • The tape difficult to remove after it is applied (it will pull paint from painted surfaces).
  • It leaves a lot of sticky residue behind when it is removed (which requires a lot of work to successfully clean off).

Gaffer Tape


  • Resilient to heat (including direct exposure to sunlight).
  • It is easy to remove when it is no longer required.
  • It doesn’t leave (much) sticky residue.


  • Water resistant (not waterproof).
  • More expensive than duct tape.

As an example of exposure to sunlight, have a look at the two photos below. Both samples were applied at the same time and subjected to identical environmental conditions (these repairs were made to a waterproof canvas advertising display). After several hours of exposure to the sun, the heat caused the adhesive of the duct tape to soften, causing the repair to fail and allowed the tape to contract and stick to itself. The gaffer tape was not affected by exposure to sunlight. Even after a week of exposure to the sun, the gaffer tape remained unaffected by environmental conditions. Both rolls of tape were made by reputable manufacturers.

duct  gaffer

Nowadays, I am far more conscious about environmental factors and length of time the repair is expected to last when choosing which tape to use. Hopefully, you will be too. If you found the information in tonight’s blog useful, please share it with your friends and family on social media.