Le Tape de Duct - a practical application

Duct tape is one of my favourite supplies, as I've mentioned before. But how does one carry duct tape conveniently? Rolls are big and bulky. Gorilla Tape makes a 1-inch handy roll but even that won't comfortably fit in your pocket. Tape has long been a staple in my Every Day Carry (or EDC, we'll cover that more another time), and so I need to be able to keep it on my person in addition to any bags I carry.

Carrying duct tape easily

I came up with this this idea for carrying tape last year. I toyed with a few methods that involved a roll with a much smaller centre opening, making the roll more space efficient. The problem was that it was still a roll, and it got big enough that it wasn't convenient to carry in one's pocket. So instead, I came up with this idea.

What you'll need:

  • Your preferred tape (I use regular Gorilla Tape)
  • A pocket sized piece of plastic. I typically use empty gift cards because they're the perfect size and rigid. Cardboard will pull apart after a while.

Start unrolling the tape, but don't cut it. I usually unroll about 3 feet at a time.

Carefully place the card at the end of the tape and flip it over, rolling the tape around the card. Make sure you keep it as straight as possible.

When you reach the roll, unroll more tape and keep going. Keep an eye on the thickness. When it's as big as you think you can comfortably carry in your pocket, cut the tape and fold over the flap

I can usually get about 10-15 feet on a roll without much problem. It unrolls fairly easily and fits back into your pocket when you're done!

Do you have any tips on easily carrying preparedness items that might otherwise be bulky?

A quick message about holiday driving

As many of you are no doubt preparing to travel to visit family during this holiday season, remember that road conditions can be treacherous this time of year. Here are a few tips:

  • Make sure you have an emergency kit in your vehicle
  • Put winter tires on your vehicle. If you don't have the means to replace all four, try to at least change your rear tires
  • Keep your windows clear so they dosn't impede visibility. Also make sure you have plenty of washer fluid
  • Plan ahead and give yourself extra time
  • Let family know what your schedule is so they know to look for you if you're late

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season from Northern Readiness.

Mind Your Surroundings

In police lingo, we'll often hear of a  weapon or crime of opportunity. All that means is that the perpetrator did the best they could of their circumstances with what was at their disposal. Preppers and survivalists do well with that same mentality. We can have all the gear, knowledge and contingency plans in the world but the fact of the matter is, things can go south at any moment. Disaster won't wait for the best moment to strike so to be truly ready, you have to be prepared to draw on your surroundings for resources.


This is the quintessential survival scenario. In North America, "wilderness" often implies a wooded area with lots of vegetation but it can also be a frozen tundra, a desert, a mountain face, a river bank or anything in between. Still, you will usually have access to trees (branches, leaves, bark, possibly fruit or nuts), stones, mud, water, plants that are edible or with medicinal properties, snow, and any number of terrain variations that you could use for food, shelter, fire, weaponry or more.Take nothing for granted.


This is my favourite. Although you should always have an emergency kit in your vehicle to suit your area and season, even a broken down and "empty" car, truck or other vehicle can house a wealth of useful materials. The vehicle itself can be a shelter, mirrors can be used for signaling, carpeting and padding from the seats can be used to keep warm, tires can be burned for signal smoke, and that's just the obvious ones. A vehicle can be used in half a dozen different ways to help start a fire. The various hoses and wires under the hood and inside the dashboard can be used as lashing. Glass can be broken and used to make sharp points for tools or weapons. For those of you saying "I wouldn't do that to my car!", you'll never drive again if you're dead.


Natural disasters, terrorists, environmental concerns, compromised buildings, civil unrest, and the list goes on. These are all things that could easily force you into survival mode while you're at work. Now, I'm a strong proponent in keeping some supplies at work (and we'll talk about that), but if you don't have any dedicated emergency supplies for whatever reason, you might be able to put together a makeshift kit with what's around you. Availability may vary by office, but the philosophy remains the same. Every office has paper, which has obvious uses for messaging and fire building. Vending machines can be a source of food. Kitchens or break rooms can contain utensils or tools that can be very useful. Cabling (electrical, computer, telephone) can be used as rope. Furniture can be used to fortify your position if you are physically threatened. Alcohol leftover form parties (or form the CEO's office) can have first aid applications. Office supplies can have a hundred different uses (look up "binder clips" and you'll see what I mean).

The point is that environments, like anything else, are more than just the sum of their parts. The key to making full use of your surroundings is having either the knowledge to recognize certain uses (like properties of plants in the wild) of the creativity to use something in a way other than it was meant to be used (like making a sling out of a piece of seat belt to launch a lug nut at a critter to get yourself a meal). Anything around you, in your pockets, on the table in front of you, on the ground or anywhere nearby could make the difference between life and death.

The Digital Age

Everywhere you look nowadays, there's an electronic device staring back at you. Personal technology is becoming more and more commonplace and their uses extend into every facet of our daily lives. Fitness, driving, shopping, business and of course communication. But amongst all the supplies, tools and plans, can all this gadgetry help you prepare for the worst? Have we entered the digital age of readiness? That all depends what the devices can do for us.


We'll start with the obvious. If you have a signal (cell tower or wifi), you can use a compatible device to speak to the outside world. News, weather updates, traffic reports, keeping in touch with friends and family are all at your fingertips. This may be the most valuable use of all.
Possible alternatives: landline, satellite phone, two-way radio, emergency radio (with weather station).


Every day, people pull a device out of their pocket and look up the nearest coffee shop, bank machine or night club. In an emergency situation, you might need directions to the next gas station, local evacuation zones, or just to the next town if you're stranded in unfamiliar territory. Map and navigation applications can lead you pretty much anywhere in just a few taps, while dedicated GPS devices can navigate you through the most remote locations.
Possible alternatives: atlas or map book and compass,

Reference material

Can't remember how to tie all those knots you read about? What about your first aid training? Do you remember how to test if a plant is edible? Any device with e-reader capability can house hundreds if not thousands of pages of potentially life saving information, allowing you to literally carry a library's worth of information with you.
Possible alternatives: books and magazine clippings, printed articles from the Web, practiced and memorized knowledge.

Record keeping

Even outside of social media, it's easy to use a mobile device or camera to document where you are or where you've been. In seconds, you can capture detailed information and remember landmarks or objects of significance,
Possible alternatives: pencil and paper.

Document storage

Having digitized backups of your important documents is always a good idea. Things like birth certificates, drivers licenses, health cards, passports, wills, property deeds, court orders, etc. will not be considered official if they are scanned copies, but it's better than nothing and will go a long way towards replacing the originals if they become lost. A small, inexpensive USB stick (or the memory card in your phone or tablet) can hold hundreds of scanned documents, enough for your entire family and then some.
Possible alternatives: Photocopies (certified or not) of all your documents in a zip lock bag.


Anything with a screen can project a certain amount of light and allow you to see in the dark. Some devices with a built in camera even have an LED flash that can serve as a more effective light source.
Possible alternatives: flashlight, lantern, fire.


A lot of people fail to realize that in an emergency situation, keeping the mind occupied is key. Boredom can lead to cabin fever or panic, and that leads to bad decisions. Most electronic devices nowadays allow you to play games, watch videos or listen to music. That sense of familiarity or comfort can help you keep your wits about you and move forward.
Possible alternatives: playing cards, dice, musical instrument.

These are only a few obvious uses for electronic gadgetry in an emergency. If you know of something that wasn't mentioned here but should have been, please comment. Same goes if you know of any particular apps that are useful for emergency preparedness. Keep in mind, though, that you should never rely entirely on your electronic devices as they are too prone to failure due to damage or lack of available power to keep them charged. Some preppers believe that we may one day face an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) that could stop electronics from working altogether. Modern smart devices are but one asset we can use in order to better ready ourselves for the unthinkable. Just dom't put all your digital eggs in one basket.

Le Tape de Duct

No, that's not really French for Duct Tape, it just looks and sounds funny!

If you've ever watched MacGyver, Red Geen or the Mythbusters, you've seen that there are some hardcore duct tape lovers out in the world. And with good cause! Duct tape is portable, easily accessible, requires no special skill, and has a million different uses.

Duct tape has become popular in many crafts; as a result, you can find it in almost any store these days. Not all rolls are created equal, however. That cute roll of penguin pattern tape you got from the dollar store to tape up your friend's birthday present as a gag might be pretty, but it's not the best to keep in any of your emergency kits (though it's better than no tape at all). You'll want a reliable, sturdy, wide tape on a big enough roll to get multiple uses out of it. Nashua are well known for their tape products.

For those times when you want something just a bit more rugged, Gorilla Tape has made a name for itself in the last little while. It's thicker than duct tape and has a stronger adhesive (ideal if you're in the wilderness and might need to use it on rocks or trees). I always have a few rolls of the stuff around. But remember: since it's thicker, you won't get as much out of a roll.

So you have duct tape, now what do you with it? The answer is EVERYTHING! This is just a small sample of uses.

  • Shelters: duct tape can hold together branches, pin down tarps, patch a roof, and keep just about anything stuck to anything else. It can also patch up tents, ground sheets, blankets, sleeping bags and just about anything else.
  • First aid: hold a bandage in place, cover warts or blisters, make a splint to immobilize a broken limb, or make a tourniquet.
  • Clothing: If you need a hat or shoes, duct tape can provide. Got a tear in your shirt or a hole in your boot? Duct tape will make a quick and sturdy patch of that, too.
  • Bedding: in a survival situation, it can be hard to find a comfortable place to sleep. With enough duct tape, you can string up a hammock or bundle together tree boughs for an improvised mattress..
  • Containers: collect water or food in a makeshift bowl made from duct tape.
  • Hunting: attach a knife to a stick to make a spear, create arrow fletchings, or combine duct tape with rubber strips or tubing to make a slingshot.
  • Rope: you can make strong cordage by twisting a strand of duct tape.
  • Orienteering: Brightly coloured duct tape can be used to make trail markers, or leave messages.
  • Vehicle repair: It may not make a permanent fix but duct tape can hold a car (mostly) together until you can get it to a garage.

The list goes on and the only limit is your cleverness and creativity, which is what makes duct tape such a staple in any kit.
get out of (or into?) a sticky situation!