Date Published: 2022-10-26

Unconventional Survival Tools

Unconventional Survival Tools

By Adelia Ladson

When you’re packing a bug-out bag, economy of space is the utmost importance. You need to be able to carry all of your survival essentials on your back, especially if you’re forced to evacuate on foot. The pack that you carry cannot over-burden you by weighing more than you can physically carry for a long period of time, if necessary. This makes survival tools that have multiple uses extremely valuable. Tools like the plier-style multi-tools and paracord are common bug-out bag essentials. However, you also need to think outside the box. Here are some unconventional survival tools.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Coffee Filters

The properties of coffee filters, which include being semi-permeable and having a certain amount of heat and water-resistance, make them incredibly useful survival tools. They come in a variety of sizes in both basket and cone shapes and a package of them doesn’t take up much space, which also makes them the perfect addition to your bug-out bag. Here are some alternative uses for coffee filters.

  1. Making Coffee: You don’t need a drip coffee maker to use the filter to make coffee. You can pour boiling water over the coffee and let it filter through into any container.
  2. Hold and serve food: You can use the filter by itself to serve dry food items on and use it in plastic bowls as a liner so that you don’t have to wash them but just dispose of them. This will conserve water. Also use them to cover and wrap prepared food to keep dirt and insects out.
  3. Start A Fire: Keep the filters that you have soaked up the cooking grease with and use them as a firestarter.
  4. Pre-Filter Collected Water: When you source water, it may be from a pond or stream and will need to be rid of sediment and debris before proceeding to the secondary filtering and purifying process.
  5. Make A Bandage: In a pinch, you can use it as a makeshift bandage to help stop bleeding by layering several together and tying them around the wound.
  6. Toilet Paper, Paper Towels and Tissue: They are much more easier to carry than a toilet paper or paper towel roll or a package of tissues.


Take a look at a tube of chapstick. In your hand, you’re holding one of the most powerful and versatile survival tools that you can have in your survival gear, bug-out bag and first aid kit. It has more uses than just protecting your lips from the elements. Here are ways to use chapstick that you never would have imagined.

  1. First Aid: Stops small cuts and scrapes from bleeding and protects them from dirt to reduce the chance of infection. If a spot on your foot or hand is being rubbed raw through activity, then, it can help stop a blister from rising. In a pinch, protects exposed skin from frostbite and sunburn as long as it’s not prolonged exposure.
  2. Lubrication: The waxy or greasy quality of chapstick also makes it an excellent lubrication for a variety of applications. When you don’t have any other means to grease and unstick metal parts or to reduce friction with any sliding part, it works pretty well.
  3. Water-Resistance: Use it to give a zipper a little more water-resistance and keep it from getting stuck. Rub it on a hunting bowstring to prevent fraying and give it water-resistance, extending the bowstring’s life.
  4. Fire Starter: Rub it on any kind of tinder so that it will catch fire quickly and easily. Use it to make the spindle of a bow drill spin more smoothly by coating the inside of the bearing block to reduce unwanted friction.
  5. Rust Prevention: If a knife is going to be exposed to a wet environment, rubbing it on the blade will protect it from rust.

Large Black Garbage Bag

A large, black 55-gallon outdoor garbage bag is a must-have for your survival gear. In fact, having a roll of them or several of them in your gear is even better. There are so many uses for a significant size of heavy-duty plastic and that's what you get with super large garbage bags.

  1. Plant Transpiration: I think my favorite method of collecting water is transpiration which basically means you’re sweating water out of foliage. We perspire and plants transpire. With this, you take your large garbage bag and tie it to the branch of foliage you’re using. Then, collect the water that's collected in the bag.
  2. Weather Protection: Since the polyethylene of the garbage bag will not let cold wind or rain pass through, it makes a great rain poncho in a pinch by just cutting a hole at the top for your head and on the sides for your arms. You can make a weather-resistant emergency sleeping bag by taking two bags, cutting the bottom out of one of them and then taping them together into one, large sleeping bag. It will keep you protected from moisture and cold and can be padded up with newspaper for extra warmth, if available.
  3. Water and Food Container: It's important that when you're in an area that has bears or other foragers that they don't smell your food. Keeping your food stores in a garbage bag will hide the odor and also keep bugs and flies from contaminating it. You can also use a garbage bag to store a small water supply.
  4. Makeshift Shower: And speaking of water, you can create a simple, makeshift warm water shower out of a black garbage bag. Just fill it with water, hang it from a branch and let the sun warm the water up. Then, poke small holes in the bag to have a warm shower.
  5. Makeshift Shelter: Two garbage bags can also be used to put together a tube tent. The construction is pretty much like the emergency sleeping bag above except that you run a cord between two trees and through the bag. You can also stuff a bag with leaves to make a mattress pad that will buffer you from the cold ground.

Panty Hose

Pantyhose, yes, pantyhose are a great survival tool. The stretchy nylon material that they are made of make them very versatile as to their uses other than as a women's accessory item. Here are some additional uses for them in a survival situation.

  1. Cold Weather Layer: When the temperature drops and you're stuck out in the elements, pantyhose can provide another layer of warmth underneath your clothes.
  2. Pre-Filter Water: Just like the coffee filters, you can use pantyhose to pre-filter found water from large debris and silt before you boil it.
  3. Prevent Blisters: Wearing pantyhose underneath your socks when you're going to be doing a lot of walking or hiking can help prevent dangerous blisters on your feet.
  4. Bait Net: The best thing to fish with is bait fish and pantyhose can help you with catching and keeping them. Just stretch the hose over a forked stick and use it as a skim through the water to catch the bait fish. Then, you can use a length of the hose to hold the bait fish in the water to keep them alive and use them as bait as you need them.

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