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?

  • 7
    don't buy a new roll for backpacking. Use the last of an old roll - and step on it to flatten it. Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 16:47
  • 15
    @KateGregory instead of stomping it flat, just unroll the cardboard tube from the inside out. You peel out everything except the layer of paper touching the inside of tape roll. It flattens better this way and is marginally lighter as well. Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 17:29
  • Just curious... What kind of list of things to bring is this? Personally I agree that duct tape is fairly heavy to bring on treks and for many uses there exist better alternatives.
    – fgysin
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 8:07
  • @fgysin it might come quite handy if a tent pole breaks - otherwise I also can't figure out other usages which couldn't be handled with some other solution
    – Akabelle
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 14:24
  • 1
    Duct tape usages, sometimes on the edge of reason: youtu.be/As10jr1Vvj0?t=48
    – Akabelle
    Commented Feb 5, 2016 at 6:21

15 Answers 15


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.

  1. (o) Duct Tape roll with cardboard liner

  2. (o) Without liner

  3. (o)____ Cut a strip of tape off

  4. (o) __| Fold it in on itself

  5. (o) __ <--Strip after it's folded

  6. ((--)) Stick it in the hole

  7. ___ Flatten it.

Now you have a extremely light rectangle of duct tape.

  • 5
    Yep - I always take a whole roll. They are not heavy.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 20:05
  • 2
    +1 for the pixel-art. And welcome to The Great Outdoors! Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 8:10
  • Why not just... collapse it with the cardboard...
    – Andrew
    Commented Jan 20, 2018 at 6:15

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).

  • 1
    Was going to post exactly the same answer :)
    – Wills
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 19:26
  • But, is the tape glue going to be as strong as new when you peel it off the trekking pole (or wherever you applied it to) before using the duct tape for repairs or any other use when you need it? Thank you!
    – Dakatine
    Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 21:01
  • It does lose some of it's adherence but in practice it has always been strong enough for the purposes I needed it for. I did have some problems with some really old tape on a trekking pole no adhering well to my toe in which case I attribute it more with aging then re-wrapping.
    – ppl
    Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 21:31
  • I carry the tape on my poles, and have forgotten to replace it for around 3 years. The poles have had at least 150 days out, in all types of weather. Last weekend I needed some tape. After discarding the first two or three windings, which were quite degraded, the rest of the tape was perfectly functional. I was quite surprised how well it had lasted... Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 22:12
  • I'm not alone in using this modified for other applications, IE around a set of spare batteries for avalanche beacon, around kayak paddle etc. I tend to use Gorilla tape as it's stronger, sticker and retains the characteristics longer even when exposed to water. That said I've had some successful repairs 3+ years after first apply the less duct tape to my kayak paddle. I'd recommend swapping out this gear once a year if you have any intention on relying on it.
    – Glenn
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 17:15

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.

  • 1
    Does it leave a sticky residue on the bottle? If so, how hard is it to clean it off?
    – User1996
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 16:00
  • Most of the glue stays on the tape itself, but it does leave some behind. As I said, I wrapped mine around batteries (AA). It should come off any hard smooth surface, including trekking poles, with little fuss. I'll give the Nalgenes a field test this weekend and let you know. Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 16:36
  • I have always used a nalgene bottle on my backpacking trips. Give it a bunch of wraps of duct tape and it gets grippier and an effective way of getting my necessary duct tape and a lot of friends were jealous and ended up borrowing it Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 18:23

What I do is wrap the duct tape around a pencil. I just wrap as much as I might need and since I also need/want to take a pencil it kills two birds with one stone. I've been doing this for years.

  • Where along the pencil do you put the tape? Near the tip, the middle, or the eraser?
    – User1996
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 20:47
  • I just wrap it around the middle. Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 21:51
  • I wrap it around a q-tip.
    – user2169
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 23:24
  • A plastic clothespeg. Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 1:43
  • I was going to post exactly this. A golf pencil is just the right size to wrap duct-tape around, then you have a pencil if you need to take any notes. A sharpie works too.
    – nhinkle
    Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 16:28

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.

  • 1
    Be careful, because they don't sell heavy-duty duct tape in the deco rolls. I personally prefer the extra strength when I'm camping/hiking/surviving. On the flip side, you can get bright orange duct tape, which is super useful in the backcountry
    – Kwuz
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 17:56

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).


I wrap mine around a Q tip shaft and snip off the cotton tips. 2 ft of duct tape ends up being the diameter of a finger.


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:

enter image description here

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.

enter image description here


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.


How about a center or cross cut to create "post-it" strips? If any of the resulting pieces are too heavy you could just peel off a few (cm)s of layer. --(-)--

The problem with buying pre-cut pieces is there is typically a mark-up in price.


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.


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)


Well, it won't get you nearly 3 yards, but I absolutely love this thing: Keychain Duct Tape (Gearward).

  • (Yes, I have one, and it's on my keychain right now.)
    – fields
    Commented Jun 28, 2016 at 18:09

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.

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