During our H.E.A.T courses, attendees often ask what are the most important pieces of kit to pack when traveling to a Hostile Environment. 

Although we discuss the design of survival kits and grab bags on Day One of the course, and issue a H.E.A.T. survival capsule™ to all attendees, experience has shown that the “redneck repair kit” is a useful item in your gear bag.  The redneck repair pack was a phrase coined by Jim Berg and Tim Nyberg who have written several books about duct tape.

The redneck repair kit contains 2 items- a can of WD-40 and a roll of duct tape.  Adhesive tapes have been in use since the early 18th century when rolls of cloth tape had an adhesive coating on one side and were stiffened with dried urine from cattle.  Hospitals used a tape made from cloth soaked in rubber and zinc oxide, which was applied to patients’ wounds and eyes.

In the early 1920s, Richard Drew invented a product at 3M called masking tape. This was a sticky paper-based product that was given the Scotch brand name in 1925.  Five years later, Mr. Drew developed a cellophane base transparent tape which 3M named Scotch Tape.  Although widely used during the Depression, the evolution of duct tape came about during the Second World War.  At the time, the Revolite division of Johnson and Johnson made medical adhesive tape from duck cloth – a linen canvas developed by the Dutch and called “doek”.  The United States Army wanted a product to seal the ammunition cases from moisture. The company created a thin cotton tape coated in waterproof plastic with a layer of rubber-based grey adhesive bonded to one side.

Quickly, the easy application of “duck tape” to repair military vehicles, aircraft and equipment, earned the tape a formidable reputation.  The Johnson and Johnson company’s Permacel division improved their duct tape and developed adhesive tapes which combined cloth mesh (easy ripping) with a rubber-based adhesive (easy waterproofing).

After the war, with the housing boom across the United States, the majority of new homes used duct work to distribute warm and cool air from air handling units.  The strong military duck tape manufactured by Johnson and Johnson was found to be ideal for binding and repairing the duct work.  By changing the rubberised top coat from military green to sheet metal grey, “duct tape” became a vital bit of kit.

Imagine an item that is lightweight, can withstand winds of 100 miles an hour (helicopter rotor blades)and has a range of survival applications.

Whenever you find yourself in a Hostile Environment, consider how duct tape can help you by:

  • – wrapping your hands to prevent blistering,
  • – repairing clothing and fuel tanks by simply applying strips,
  • – protecting your nose from the sun with nose guards,
  • – binding wounds and immobilizing limbs,
  • – marking a trail to direct a rescue party your location,
  • – making a pot handle heatproof,
  • – removing splinters or cactus spines,
  • – taping a spare ignition key to your wheel hub,
  • – using exposed duct tape as fly paper in your shelter.