Trash Bag Survival


Use trash bags to survive!

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© copyright 2005, by Gary Benton

Let's take a look at what we can do with a common trash bag. When I go into the field I always care a few bags for emergency use and I usually take along the orange bags because they are easier seen. I have found them to be useful in everything from covering my backpack to keep it dry to making waders to ford streams with.


To use a trash bag as a wader, place your foot into the bag and make sure your toe is in a corner. Then, pull the excess bag up and either tie or tape it in place. Once you have the bag in place, insert your foot into your boot. Keep in mind, your sweat cannot evaporate while in the bag, so don't wear them for a long period of time or you will fill the bag with body moisture (making you wet). But, they work fine for short term use when you cross a stream. Also, wear them inside of your boot and not on the outside, the bags are thin and will rip if worn on the outside very quickly.


Two bags can be used to make a crude poncho. Tear, do not cut (the cut material will rip more) the bag in the middle of the solid end for a hole for your head and then punch two hole high on the sides for your arms. Place the bag up and over your head and then extend your arms out the sides. You can place another bag, with a hole torn in the side, on your head (as seen in the illustration). While this will keep you somewhat dry, it is in no way near as good as a real poncho, but it is a good emergency idea.


Another good use for a trash bag is to make a temporary tent. This is an emergency shelter idea and it will be a rough night if you send it in this shelter. As seen in the illustration you need two or more trash bags (number 2), some tape (number 1), a few feet of line or vines to tie between two trees, and some rocks or heavy objects to keep the bottom of the bags on the ground. Trashbags will work, but it's never a good permanent shelter.

Trash Bags


Gary Benton has over 45 years of outdoor experience in camping, hiking, fishing, and other activities. He's no armchair survival man, he's walked the walk from the arctic to the desert and all the area in between. Gary has an associates degree in Search and Rescue, Survival Operations, a B.S. in Industrial Occupational safety, and all but his thesis completed for a M.S. in Counseling Psychology.
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