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12 Survival Uses for Trash Bags

by | Jun 9, 2017 | Blog

As a prepper and survivalist there are essentially an unlimited number of uses for trash bags. You truly are only limited by your own creativity. Trash bags are a staple in my bug-out bag and for good reason; they are portable, and cost effective. The standard 13 gallon trash bags you use in your kitchen will work fine. Ideally you want something like a contractor’s bag which won’t rip as easily for patching things like leaks or fashioning a raft.

Remember, these are just 25 of our favorite uses. There are tons more so get creative.

  1. Collecting Rainwater – Trash bags can make great catch-basins. Elevate one end at a 45 degree angle with branches and allow gravity to pull the rainwater into the basin or even bucket or thermos.
  2. Shelter – This is kind of a no brainer. Trash bags can make great tarps to prevent rain water from getting you and your supplies wet.
  3. Sleeping Bag – Provided you purchased contractor bags you can slip right in and keep yourself dry from the elements.
  4. Air Catcher – Capture air and use it to blow up your camping mattress without exerting energy by blowing it up yourself.
  5. Life Jacket – If you need to cross a river, blow up the bag half way and ensure it’s tightly closed. Then twist the middle so two separate chambers are created. Place on either side of your body to stay a-float.
  6. Poncho – Probably on every list and it’s because it works. Cut holes for your head and arms and you are good to go.
  7. Wash Your Clothes – Fill a trash bag with water and soap, throw in your clothes and shake around. Allow the soap and water to drain and then refill with water to rinse. Then simply air dry them on a clothes line, maybe even hung by another trash bag.
  8. Hot Shower – Fill a black trash bag with water and allow it to sit in the sun for a while. Once ready, poke holes in the trash bag and enjoy a warm shower.
  9. Prevent Hypothermia – Cut pieces to fit around your arms, legs, and torso. Tape the pieces so they are snug beneath your clothing to prevent body heat from escaping quickly.
  10. Rope – Cutting strips of the trash bag and then braiding them can result in quite a strong para-cord style rope. You might be surprised at just how strong the rope is.
  11. Toilet – Everybody goes! With the off chance that you have a bucket and maybe even some cat litter, you have a toilet on the go. Then again you really only need the bag to dispose of your waste.
  12. Tourniquet – Cut a piece of trash bag and wrap it around your wound and tie it off tightly to stop bleeding.
  13. Ice Pack – In a cold area? Grab your bag and throw some snow or ice in. This works great as a makeshift ice pack.

Again, these are only some of the small number of ways you can take an ordinary trash bag and apply it to a survival situation. Most of them are pretty standard, but others include transporting things like food and water (even trash), insulating your tents, pillow, ground cover, bandages…I think you get the idea.

Trash bags are lightweight, cost effective, and most importantly versatile. They are an absolute must in your bug-out bag and I strongly suggest adding them to your packs. Some important things to note and things you should be wary of:

  • Most trash bags and garbage bags are lined with chemicals to prevent smells and molding. Turning them inside out can help with this, but just be careful when using these for food and water. They may do more harm than good.
  • Thermal underwear, while a great idea, can cause you you to sweat which then  results in your clothes becoming very wet. Remember, stay dry, stay alive!
  • Trash bags come in all different sizes and colors. Black being the most common, but consider other options as well. A yellow bag is more reflective at night and can easily be seen by search teams. Clear might be a better option for a poncho where-as black absorbs sunlight making you sweaty and hot.

If you have a favorite use, feel free to leave a comment and let us know!

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