Medicine Mondays: Tape!

Sticky Tape by Davide Guglielmo

Tape! Yes, Tape!

This will be about sports tape and medical tape, but I’m a lifelong fan of Red Green, so it won’t just be tapes meant for health-related uses.

So here’s my disclaimer: my stories, tips, and ideas shared here are not necessarily those shared by the medical community or most of humanity in general. I’ve used fishing line for health-related purposes while long term camping, so don’t anybody start thinking the “handyman’s secret weapon” hasn’t also appeared in unusual ways.

Okay, now we can get on with it!


Medical Tape

It’s lightweight, easy to pack and can be used in many ways.


  • taping down gauze or padding
  • wrapping to add slight pressure
  • wrapping to add slight stability
  • covering to assist with waterproofing
  • covering to help keep an area sterile

Non-medical Uses:

  • wrapping to provide grip or friction to bottles or walking sticks
  • taping down lids
  • temporarily covering small holes
  • as a temporary belt/fastening to keep clothing in place

What kind of medical tape to get:

  • waterproof
  • latex-free – especially if you’re camping with a group and you don’t know the full allergy list, or if the group’s participants can change
  • good packaging, so you know it’s clean before you move it to your kit


Sports Tape

Sports tape is a lot like medical tape, but there are some differences.

While sports tape is generally a little stronger, it is not as waterproof or sterile. Also, you have to wrap sports tape tighter in order to get staying power – which can be problematic for some uses.


  • medium-to-tight wrapping of joints
  • tight short-term stability for fast movement
  • added coverage over already-wrapped wounds

Non-medical uses:

  • tightly wrapping containers closed
  • sealing bags for short transport
  • fixing glasses
  • temporarily fixing clothing closures
  • fixing (or building) fishing poles

What kind to get:

  • whatever color you like – preferably not the same color as your other tapes


Duct Tape

The secret weapon. The vehicle fixer. The tarp mender. The wound cover.

Now, officially duct tape doesn’t do any of those. I’ve done all of them with duct tape, however (but if you follow me here, you probably aren’t surprised, huh?).

Please remember: duct tape doesn’t do well in temperature fluctuations or humidity. Combine the two, and it’s almost useless as a gluing instrument.


  • outer coverings for oddly-shaped wounds
  • lip sealant, to avoid worries over ingesting topicals (a limb came down through the tent in the middle of the night)
  • ‘sticky paper’ to get grit out of scrapes and scratches
  • folded-over and layered nonstick cushioning when we didn’t have padding or gauze
  • long term closures for poison ivy-contacted bag(s) of clothing
  • to keep your first aid kit closed once you’ve dropped it too many times

Non-medical Uses:

  • anything
  • everything
  • whatever’s in between
  • no, seriously: it’s duct tape!!!

What kind to get:

  • not the crap most dollar stores sell
  • the color or pattern you like
  • not electrical tape: they’re not the same and don’t work the same way (electrical tape is more like sports tape, but cuts off circulation too quickly, and too sneakily, to be used in any way that is even remotely close to “safe” – don’t use electrical tape on or in your body!!!!!!)


So, that was my quick and dirty rundown of how various types of tape can be used while living in a tent…. Or long term camping (camping long term? English geeks, help?)… Or just camping, backpacking or hiking from site to site.

Also, my fellow curious people: types of tape or types of tapes? What’s the plural of apocalypse again? Personally, I love how they just had Mark Sheppard get around it.

Let me know your ideas, for the uses of tape or language, in the comments!

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I'm (now) an Affiliate, who blogs about the materials, gear and supplies needed for living in a tent and long term camping: http://longtermcamping.siterubix.com I also enjoy reading and sci-fi in all its many forms.

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