Date Published: 2022-06-15

Survival Uses For Paper Clips

Survival Uses For Paper Clips

By Adelia Ladson

Safety pins have long been a staple of first aid kits, camping gear and survival gear but don’t underestimate the value and versatility of a good paper clip. There are multiple uses for paper clips aside from clipping things together or closed. Basically, depending on whether you have a large clip or a small clip, you have a piece of thin metal about 3 1/2” to 6” long that can be twisted into different tools like a lock pick or a fishing hook. Here are some uses for paper clips that make them essential to add to your survival gear.

Different Uses

Zipper Pull

We’ve all been there when the zipper pull on a bag or jacket breaks off or comes off and is lost. Just attach a paper clip to the zipper and it will work just as well. It’s a great fix for a tent zipper and a sleeping bag zipper.

Finger Splint

If you break a finger, you can use two straightened paper clips as a splint until you can get professional medical attention. After you bandage the digit up, further secure it by putting a straightened clip on each side and then wrapping more tape around it. This will assure that the finger is immobilized to reduce the pain and further damage.

Sewing Needle

When you don’t have a needle to make repairs to your clothes or tent, a paper clip comes in handy. Straighten the clip and flatten one end with a rock or hammer, then sharpen the other end with a smooth stone or file. Use a hand drill or another sharp tool to puncture a hole in the flat end for the thread to go through. Note: If you don’t have thread, pull the strands from a length of paracord to use with your homemade needle. In otherwords, you need to make sure that you have paracord in your gear. It is also a survival staple.


In a pinch, a compass can be crafted out of a paper clip, a plastic container with water, a small piece of leaf or paper and a knife. Straighten a paper clip and then break or cut it in half, then run the knife blade down one of the pieces, going in the same direction every time. Do this about 50 to 100 times until the clip piece is magnetized. Pay attention and remember which way you were scraping down the piece because this will be the “North” end. Take the container of water, which needs to be bowl or cup-shaped, and float the leaf or paper, with the piece of clip lying on top. Shortly, the clip will point north.

Eyeglasses Repair

If you depend on eyeglasses to see every day, this is a trick that you definitely need to know, especially, in a survival situation. When you lose a screw from your glasses frame, a paper clip will keep it together. Straighten out the clip and run it through where the screw goes. Twist the ends and trim the excess, then squeeze the clip together with pliers to reduce the movement.

Clothing Hook

If you need to hang a towel up to dry or small articles of clothing on a branch when you’re out in the wild, twist a large paper clip into an “S” shape.

Meat Skewer

In a survival situation, large paper clips can be straightened and used as skewers for pieces of meat or entire small game carcasses. Use another clip to secure the skewer to a stick so that it’s easy to hold it over the fire.


If the antenna of your weather radio or walkie-talkie breaks, a large paper clip can come to the rescue. Since it’s metal, it will serve perfectly as an antenna. It can also be used as a signal booster.


If you need a makeshift shelter from rain or sun, you can use large paper clips to secure a tarp, blanket or poncho across tree limbs to pitch a canopy.

Fish Hook

With the inner strands of paracord and a paper clip, you can fish in a survival situation. Straighten the clip out and use your multi-tool to make a loop in one end so that you can tie it on your line. Then sharpen the other end on a rock and bend it up into a hook.

Tools You Need

To make it easier to twist and shape your paper clips into survival tools, you need to make sure that you have a spring-loaded pliers style of multi-tool in your gear. (A must-have survival tool that should be in your gear anyway.) Here are two of the best because they are both only 4”, when closed, so that they won’t take-up much room in your pack or bag.

Bushmaster Omnivore Multi-Tool

The Bushmaster Omnivore Multi-Tool includes wire cutters in its array of tools, which is perfect for cutting a paper clip in half. The multi-tool is forged from rugged polished stainless steel and has durable polymer handle scales with grips. The other tools that it’s packed with are a file, a 2 1/4" knife blade and a 1" knife blade, Phillips head screwdriver, flat head screwdriver, wood saw, bottle opener, can opener, multi-purpose awl/detangling tool and a ruler. The multi-tool comes with a nylon carry pouch.

Trailblazer Mini Pocket Multi-Tool

The Trailblazer Mini Pocket Multi-Tool is unbelievably light-weight at just 1.7 ozs but still packs all of the power that a larger multi-tool has into its compact form. You can literally drop this little gem anywhere and have a tool box with you. Put it in your pocket, your backpack, your vehicle’s glove box, your bug-out bag and your tackle box. The mini multi-tool has 10 tools including a knife, file, bottle opener, micro, small and large flat head screwdriver tips, Phillips head screwdriver, pliers, nail puller, a ruler and it also has a lanyard hole. The tools are made of rust-resistant stainless steel and the handles are made of aluminum to reduce the weight. The multi-tool is 5 1/4” when open and 2 1/2” when closed.

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