I'm going on a backpacking trip later this summer and on the list of things to bring is 3 yards of duct tape. I don't want to bring an entire roll of duct tape because it would be heavy and cumbersome, as well as far too much tape. How can I bring 3 yards of duct tape without it getting stuck to itself and becoming useless?
I know you said in your question that you don't want to bring a whole roll, but I've found that Duct Tape can be easily collapsable if you use a knife and cut out the cardboard inside of the roll. After that, take a strip of Duct Tape, fold it on itself and stick it to half of the inside roll. Flatten the roll and you have a rectangle of usefulness.
(o) Duct Tape roll with cardboard liner
(o) Without liner
(o)____ Cut a strip of tape off
(o) __| Fold it in on itself
(o) __ <--Strip after it's folded
((--)) Stick it in the hole
___ Flatten it.
Now you have a extremely light rectangle of duct tape.
It is fairly common to store duct tape just below the handle of your trekking poles. This is my preferred way as it is always accessible. Some people prefer to wrap it around Nalgene bottles.
An alternative you could also buy it in small square pieces instead of the typical roll.
I usually place about 10 layers around each poles. I would not bring three yards of duck tape. I typically only need small pieces for minor temporary repairs (tent or feet).
Duct tape wraps around items fairly and can be stored by wrapping on your gear. Nalgene (or similar) water bottles have a good shape for keeping the tape flat. I have wrapped tape around spare batteries, but the tape was wider than the batteries were long. Even so, to the tape was usable.
The water bottles would also better in that you don't have to dispose of the tape in order to use the item.
You can buy much smaller rolls in most department stores or from the dollar store, sometimes they are the decorated kind instead of gray (check the boxing and tape section of the store) but the amount on the roll is much less than a standard massive home-improvement-store roll. With a smaller, lighter roll (or nearly used roll like someone suggested) you can just clip it or hang it onto the outside of the backpack. The dust/dirt will reduce the outer edge stickiness and it won't get all over your stuff.
The dollar store/decorated kind usually only has a few yards and you can flatten the roll out easily to store it.
I've always folded it on itself. One of my OCD things is getting other things sticky via the use of duct tape so I never wrap it around a bottle or pole, however I've seen plenty who do this with no trouble...
Anyway, I prepare it by folding about quarter inch patches over each other (kind of like packing a tent that you fold instead of roll). I would not roll it because that can do some weird things when you get to the end.
Your end result is a "nugget" of duct tape that, hopefully, has no exposed sticky sides and is entirely "self contained."
I like this because it makes a neat little "clump" of duct tape that you can throw anywhere. I usually make a bunch of medium sized ones and stick them all over (i.e. first aid kit, backpack, day pack, pants pocket).
There are such things as compact, or mini rolls of duct tape, I've got a couple that came with my small, one or two person survival first aid kits:
You could make a small roll yourself, just fold the end of a regular roll of tape over itself by a couple inches, then start rolling it up as you take it off the big roll.
I carry two colours and widths of duct tape when I travel. The narrow black is wrapped around a short piece of pencil with paper clip wire inserted to create a key fob that can be attached to my daypack. Wider transparent tape is wrapped around a plastic hotel room key with a hole drilled in the plastic to attach to my backpack with a carabiner. Here is my experience in a post: Travelling with duct tape.
I used to use a pencil, as apparently many others do. The eraser deteriorates and the graphite in time too. I would be reluctant to use a trekking pole as I suspect UV would deteriorate the tape. I hit this site for a better idea than the pencil and while not finding one here, I just hit on the idea of using a plastic card (like a free and non-identifiable gasoline card from places like C. Farms). They have no identifiable data and are unusable if you do not activate them. The weight is negligible and kept inside the pack, handled only when necessary, it will not significantly deteriorate (as might be the case with water bottles too).
If you don't want to wrap it around an existing object you're carrying, you could also make a mini-roll by wrapping tape around a small plastic tube, such as the shell of an old ballpoint pen - this can be cut down to the right length for the tape, or simply wrap two strips next to each other to take twice as much tape (or the same amount in a smaller diameter)
Something that has always worked for me is wrapping it around an old plastic card. Everybody seems to have an old library card, membership card, or something else resembling a credit card (would avoid anything with personal information on it though). Since it's bigger than a pencil, you can fit more onto it and still slip it into your wallet or the top of your pack.
Well, it won't get you nearly 3 yards, but I absolutely love this thing: Keychain Duct Tape (Gearward).
I find it good to have a little bit in various places. Splitting it up this way makes it handier and less cumbersome in all places. Here are some examples of fairly non-intrusive areas you can keep some duct tape (and ranger bands which can serve similar purposes):
- Wrap two rows of full-width duct tape around a water bottle, such as a 1L Nalgene bottle, until each layer is about 5mm thick. This in itself gives you quite a lot of duct tape to work with, and serves as a handy grip on a bottle. (Ranger bands can also be secured around the same bottle, though it will take some serious stretching!)
- If you have a hard sheath for (a) cutting tool(s) you can wrap tape (and possibly ranger bands) around that as well, also securing a supply of duct tape and a handy grip.
- It is good to have a way to take some notes, which means carrying a pencil or some writing implement which you can also wrap duct tape around.
- You can take an old card like an ID or credit card, or a piece of cardboard, or simply the tape itself, and wind the duct tape around this flat surface to create a 'duct tape credit card' type of supply. This can be kept with other ID cards, or left elsewhere in the pack to serve as a non-intrusive, relatively light-weight backup supply of duct tape if needed.