Survival Uses For Stretch Wrap, by James M.

Not Saran Wrap, I’m talking about what is commonly referred to as pallet wrap. I thought there was no way possible that something as versatile and useful as stretch wrap could have been overlooked in the survival community, but after hours of searching it certainly looks that way. I’ve only found a few vague references to other possible uses for it. Today I hope to enlighten you and further prepare you for TEOTWAWKI.

Firstly, it’s a lot of bang for your buck. You can pick up an 18 inch wide roll of stretch wrap that’s 1,500 feet long for less than $15. That’s over 2,000 square feet of material! You can also find them in 5 inch wide rolls, 12 inch wide rolls, 20 inch wide rolls and 30 inch wide rolls. Unfortunately I have yet to find 1 inch or 2 inch wide rolls which I believe would be extremely useful, but I can cut up the bigger rolls on a lathe. So now you have a 1,500 foot long roll of stretch wrap right? Well technically yes but do not forget the name, “Stretch Wrap”. Your 1,500 foot roll can almost triple its length. You actually have about 4,000 useable feet. That’s the better part of a mile out of just one roll. It is extremely compact if you consider how much you’re getting out of such a small package. 

Now let’s move on to its possible uses.

The first and most obvious use we all know.  Securing loads. Many of us wouldn’t think about using stretch wrap to do that though. We use rope, Bungee cords and tie downs most of the time. Depending on the weather we might use a tarp as well. I’ve found that stretch wrap a lot of the time does a much better job at helping secure loads, as well as keeping them weatherproof. I always keep a roll behind my seat now.

Another great use that I’ve found that’s not related to survival is use as a packing material. To be honest I have not done the math cost wise to see if it’s cheaper than regular packing material. It sure beats dealing with peanuts and packing paper though. And it does an excellent job keeping delicate items from breaking during shipping. In fact whenever pallets get delivered to my company, I save the stretch wrap for use as packing material, so a lot of the time it’s free.

Now I’ll cover its uses as a great survival tool.

One of the most important things for survival is shelter. We all know this. You can actually within a matter of minutes make a quality survival shelter with nothing but stretch wrap and whatever you can find lying around. If you’re out in the woods you can wrap it around a few trees and then make a roof by wrapping it over the walls you just made. You can find a few branches and make a teepee and wrap that. I’ll get into this later but you can make rope to secure the top of the teepee by twisting the stretch wrap up. If you’re in the city you can make a shelter out of almost anything. A bus stop, a few signs, a porch, you can even use a couple cars as supports for a shelter. Your imagination is the only limit. You’ll also get a natural greenhouse effect for warmth with a stretch wrap shelter.

One of the other most important things for survival is water. And believe it or not stretch wrap can be a very important tool in acquiring water. Firstly I did a test to see how well water clings to stretch wrap. It doesn’t. Poor a little water on some and you’ll see it shed off like water on a ducks back. This is useful if you are in an area that hits dew point a lot. You can set up a frame at an angle and wrap it. When the stretch wrap reaches dew point temperature you’ll see moisture collect much like you do on the windshield of a car. All you have to do is set up a water collection device at the lowest edge of the frame and catch it. You can also use a framework wrapped in stretch wrap to channel water that naturally drips from trees or anything else into a collection device. You can also use it for water de-salinization. With nothing more than a bucket, a cup, a rock and some shrink wrap you can de-salinize salt water. I won’t get into its design as you can easily find it on the interweb. I’d rather stay on subject.

Next is rope. I did a quick test with a 30 inch wide roll of stretch wrap to see how well it holds up as rope. I unraveled 4 feet of wrap and twisted it about once every 6 inches for a total of 8 twists. Then I stretched it out. Interestingly it will stretch to 3 times its length when twisted up and stay there. I turned a 4 foot piece of makeshift rope into a 12 foot piece. It held up to 100 pounds of force without breaking. Now think about that 1500 foot roll as rope or lashing material. That’s 4,500 feet of it.

You can use it as a makeshift poncho to protect yourself from the elements. You can even make a makeshift umbrella if needed. Wrap it around your boots to make them water resistant. And wrap it around all your gear to protect it from the rain. You can make things like 2 way radios and other electronic devices rain proof while still keeping full functionality (speaker and microphone still work through stretch wrap).

You can also use it for an extra layer of heat insulation in your sleeping bag or clothes. I’m not sure how well it would work but I’m sure it would be better than nothing. Layer it under your sleeping bag not only for heat insulation from the ground but it will work for bedding just as well as it will work for packing material. Speaking of bedding it wouldn’t be very hard at all to build a hammock with nothing but stretch wrap, a few sticks and a couple of well-placed trees.

It would also greatly aid in the making of a splint for a broken bone. And it would be perfect for isolating a burn or rash from scraping against clothing. It will seal ointment where you want it without absorbing half of it. (Warning: Use my medical ideas at your own risk. I’m by no means a medical expert. I’m just thinking out loud.)

Yet another simple use for it would be trail markers. Just stuff a bunch in your pocket and use when needed. It’s also fairly reflective so it could be used as an emergency signal. Although not ideal, it is flammable and would greatly aid in starting a fire. And when burned it produces wax like droplets that may be able to be used for making candles or waterproofing or preserving things.  
I’ve read that it can also repair a split radiator hose. I’ve not seen this personally but it does make sense to me. I’m not sure what kind of heat it can withstand but I’m sure it would work as a temporary repair. It would also be a great temporary fix for broken car or house windows. It’s durable enough to last a while and it will keep you separated from the elements.

In a chemical, biological, or rediological contamination situation having a quickly deployable means of sealing-off your house or shelter is of utmost importance and stretch wrap would be an invaluable tool to aid in that. It wouldn’t replace your current measures but it would definitely aid in them and probably fill some gaps.  

Now that I’ve covered defense, let’s move on to offense:

Preserving food is a necessity when the SHTF. Food grade stretch wrap could be an added barrier of protection between your food and the elements. It can also be used just like Saran Wrap to keep all those pesky bugs and critters out of your food.

Lastly (and I say that loosely since there’s a million other uses that I haven’t thought of) stretch wrap would be of great benefit for those trying to grow their own food. It is the perfect material for a greenhouse that could be constructed easily with minimal tools and supplies. And according to some guy on YouTube who built one, it is very UV resistant and will last a couple of years. You could also use it to line irrigation ditches to stop the soil from soaking up too much of your water before it gets where it need to go, etc. I could go on all day, butit is better to be brief.

Remember, it’s always better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.