Duct Tape: A Love Letter

One man’s lifelong affair with the ultimate dirtbag welding device.

To my dearest Duct Tape,

I flippin’ love you. You’re a roll of MacGyver, a gear-saving reel of ingenuity, an adhesive cylinder of “don’t throw that out, I can fix it,” a spool of repairing stuff the quick and easy way. I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I do not know any other way of loving you but this, in which there is no I or you, just belief. I believe in you. I just didn’t believe in me. I love you…always. Okay, okay, you got me. That was Pablo Neruda and Pretty In Pink smashed together. But, you get the point. Duct Tape, you had me at hello.

You’re a symbol. Like the Jeep wave or the Harley road swiping two-finger salute, there’s an unspoken admiration of dirtbaggery that accompanies patch-to-patch recognition. How can I find my people, my fellow ski bum-river rat dirtbags, in a new mountain town? Well, I just look for a silver square adorning the sleeve or body of a puffy, a shiny, sticky badge of gnar holding feathers from poofing out of a bubble jacket. These are not merely repair patches, but emblems of dirtbag do-it-yourselfness and insignias of radness. “Do you even get radical, bro?” You betcha, just check out my sweet Duct’d up Patagucci, bruh.

I dig your classic silver get up. The hot pink and mustache print is pretty darn spiffy, too. But I must tell you, the yummy yellow number is my favorite. That golden swath I slapped on my Paco Pad is still holding strong after 7 adventure filled years. That’s longer than my last 12 relationships, combined and then multiplied. You’re so strong, Duct Tape.

Plus, you have endless uses, Duct Tape. I just “welded” rips together on the inside cuffs of my ski bibs. I cut a few rectangles and tiny squares, placed them over the ski edge gashes, and used a blow dryer to melt them in place. You’re functional and you totally make me look like a local shred king. Remember all those times I used you to fashion handles and biner loops on my travel coffee mug during raft trips. Do you recall when we were floating Cat Canyon and Griff’s leg exploded and he used you to put his shin skin back together? Yeah, that was gross. Or what about that time when Kingston’s zipper busted and we had to tape his jacket closed so he could finish his snowmaking shift? He looked like a frozen, bearded, silver striped candy cane. But, like, a really smelly one. And then there were all those times I used you to mellow out hotspots in my hiking and ski boots, tent pole buttressing, tortilla chip bag closures, glove repair…oh, we’ve had some times.

You help everyone, Duct Tape. When backcountry ski bums get too extreme stomping a twister spreadie double daffy, you’re there to hold boots to skis and keep the shred alive, or at least get them safely down to the local watering hole. Mountain bike blowouts, tent tears, flip flop strap failures, dog hair removal, blown engine hoses, memes of redneck repairs that float in the unlimited gray matter of the internet, you provide so much for so many, Duct Tape. Even the eggheads at NASA benefited from your simplistic awesomeness. The Apollo 17 crew used a roll to repair their lunar rover (seriously, this happened). Ya can’t safely whip doughnuts on the edge of the Sea of Serenity without a trusty roll of Duct Tape. Because what Thirsty, my old snowmaking boss, used to always offer us as advice was also true for those astronauts and will continue to be true for every form of hard charging outdoor freak out there: “If ya can’t Duct it, f*ck it!”

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Showing 3 comments
  • Kris

    Yep. I love it too. I still believe that armed with a roll of duct tape and a Swiss Army Knife, one can fix anything, anywhere, anytime.

    Or, as the old saying goes, if it moves and it shouldn’t, use duct tape.

    PS: when I was a wee tot I thought they called it “duck tape” because of the loud quacking sound heard when it is being unrolled.

  • rusty

    i love the idea (all gnarly with the patches cmon, what a ski dude! like craig gordon’s thumbs on UAC videos, speaks volumes.). as long as it’s a short term fix…
    b/c on the other hand there is nothing worse than the flaky dusty residue and hatchwork of strings that duct tape leaves all over stuff when it dries out.

    • gnarlydog

      for the reason you explained, I hate Duck Tape. Nothing is more ghetto than the sticky mess that appears too son after the item was “repaired” with tape. It’s OK for a day, maybe two but it MUST come off once back in civilization. A more suitable repair will see you using that item for much longer and with confidence. It should never ever be intended as permanent solution. Of course, some folk are just happy (or hipster enough) to use and show it a a badge of honor.

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