If you don’t have a trash bag (or two) in your survival kit, you’re missing a very versatile and valuable piece of gear. Here are 10 good reasons to add trash bags to your survival gear.
1. Raincoat/Poncho: This is probably the most common alternative use for trash bags. Poke a face-size hole in the bottom of the bag, pull it over you with just your face sticking out, and you won’t have to fear the rain, sleet, snow, or wind.
2. Cordage: Twist a few strips of the plastic into an admittedly slippery, but surprisingly strong length of cord.
3. Sleeping Bag: In a tent or survival shelter, a large lawn trash bag filled with insulating material makes for a fine impromptu sleeping bag for a smaller person or child—it’s even waterproof and windproof. Use leaves, grasses, clothing, crumpled paper, or rags to keep out the cold.
4. Rain catch: Use it as a liner in a hole in the ground or other low spot to catch precipitation.
5. Snow melter: When snow and sun are both available, place a dark trash bag in a low spot, put some snow on top of the bag, and let the sun’s warmth liquefy the snow into drinking water.
6. Storage: Cut the trash bag into small or large sections, sized to accommodate the items you need to store. Tie your bundles string, twist ties, or tape. Now you can keep your food, clothes, fire making materials and other supplies clean, dry, and separated.
7. Backpack cover: Trash bags make a great cover for your pack and will protect your gear from rain, mud, and dust.
8. Shelter: Any man-made survival shelter can use some weather-proofing. Use your trash bag as a door draped over the entrance, or cut it along two sides and use it as you would a tarp as a ground cloth or roofing panel.
9. Gear Transport: Sling the bag over your shoulder like Santa, and you’ll be able to move a bunch of supplies over a short distance (you won’t want to carry a heavy load like this very far).
10. Flotation Device: Water emergencies are no joke. A trash bag full of air can generate life-saving buoyancy if you find yourself adrift.

Leave us a comment to tell us about the survival tasks you accomplish with an ordinary trash bag.


To read more from Tim MacWelch, follow him on Twitter (@TimMacWelch) and purchase his survival manuals, including the latest: How to Survive Anything