Is There Anything Duct Tape Can't Do?

You know what they say: If you can't duct it, f''.just get rid of it. Or something like that.


Regardless of your choice of outdoor pleasure, nothing McGuyvers better than duct tape. We all know the silvery salvation is a must-have for any adventure. It’s a tool, a connector, a patch, and, in a pinch, it’s a low-tech 3D printer.

To list the ways duct tape has saved our butts in the wilderness would take weeks. To attempt a complete glossary of potential uses? A fool’s errand! We ask today not what duct tape can do, but is there anything that duct tape cannot do?

For the answer, we went straight to the experts: the good people behind Duck Brand duct tape. And yes, to clear up any lingering confusion (not to mention an age-old campfire question in and of itself), the actual material is called duct tape, not duck tape. However, Duck Tape is the formal name of the Duck Brand line, effectively making it Duck Tape duct tape. Got it? Good.

adventure journal duct tape photo by Emerson12

Kate Lantz lives and breathes duct tape as the assistant category manager for ShurTech Brands, the parent company of Duck Brand. “We have heard many strange uses for duct tape. While we can’t always endorse these uses, I have to admit that people are extremely innovative in their uses of our products,” she said.

There was the sad, yet ultimately triumphant, story of Burt the Turtle, who was hit by a car. A quick-thinking bystander saved the day by duct taping his cracked shell until Burt could be treated by a vet. Lantz also shared the story of two kayakers who somehow damaged a boat on the out leg of an out-and-back paddle. It might not have been such a quagmire had these people not been 10 (!!) hours away from camp and in the middle of bear country. Thank you, duct tape, for preventing sinking.

Lantz agrees that the list of what duct tape can do is almost infinite. “[Though] there are a few uses that we don’t recommend using duct tape for,” she says. Such as:

Duct tape is not a forever solution. Despite the untold number of down jackets and gear held together by carbon dateable duct tape, it is officially intended to be a temporary fix until you have access to a permanent solution.

No duct tape on windows. Though not exactly an outdoorsy use, duct tape should not be your go-to tape of choice on windows to prevent breakage. “If the window does end up breaking with duct tape on it, it can cause larger pieces of glass to enter the home,” explains Lantz.

Not all duct tapes are created equally. They might all be strong and sticky, but they’re formulated for different uses. So read those labels. “There a lot of utility grade duct tapes that won’t work well outside,” Lantz said. To counter this, Duck Brand has “a specially formulated UV-resistant material that protects the adhesive from breaking down” in their Outdoor Duck Tape and T-REX Ferociously Strong Tape lines.

In the instances when duct tape is representing more than a fashion statement or your dirtbag ID card, Lantz offered easy tips to maximize effectiveness. “It works best when applied between 30-120 degrees Fahrenheit, and on clean, dry surfaces.”

Given those parameters, it appears duct tape is limited only in its use for Antarctic window replacement. Beyond that, we should all be good to stick it and go.

adventure journal duct tape photo by Dschmeiding

Photos by RHorning, Emerson12, and Dschmeiding.

Camp Notes is a big high five to the fun of sleeping outdoors and all that comes along with it. You know, camping and stuff.

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Contributing editor Brook Sutton lives in Durango, Colorado.
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Showing 2 comments
  • Matt Biggers
    Reply

    That was, by far, one of the best cover photos I’ve seen on an article. Thanks for the laugh.

  • KW
    Reply

    I have to agree, in a fix duct tape rules. Not only the original but especially gorilla brand with a heat source. Add in the rest of your kit, some Voile straps, or if you prefer the old (not so sterile) Merrill Super comp straps and you can strap or fix almost anything to get out without doing a Bear Gryliss tactic. Miss the days of find the locals by the duct tape on great and other then the duct tape functional gear. But I’m an old fart. What do I know. LOL

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Skier: American Dave Rosenbarger
Location: North Face - AiguilleDu Midi - Chamonix, Francea thousand hands ago