by TAD HQ 2019-09-09

The Capable > Gear, Tips, & Tricks 

If you use equipment in the field long enough, you will inevitably come across the critical use of zip ties.

They are hardly the end all be all solution to a problem, however, when they are needed they are a welcome solution.

In our world, zip ties are usually used to secure gear, temporarily, to one another.  An example of this would be when you need to attach a flashlight or tool to your pack, but those items don’t have a secure way or design method to do so.  Enter zip ties to provide a field expedient solution.

The problem with using zip ties, aside from their fragility and inherent short term use, is getting their excess tails clipped in a manner as to not 1) invade mobility or add slop via the long excess straps and 2) add a sharp edge once the tails are clipped down.

Most multitools or knives that would be used to clip the excess tails can only get so close to the zip tie locking mechanism, leaving tiny sharp edges, at the point of the cut.  Sometimes this is irrelevant as long as the tail is trimmed or out of the way. Other times this can cause discomfort or potential injury if that point were to come in contact with the skin.

Again, you use zip ties in the field long enough, there is a solid chance you’ve experienced this challenge yourself.

A field expedient solution to this is to use finger nail clippers as the cutting device for the excess tails.  This is for a few reasons.

  1. The nail clippers design enables a curved cut (think fingernails) to mitigate any harsh edges.

  2. The nail clippers low profile edge allows you to clip right up to the zip ties locking mechanism without going too deep as to render the device useless.

  3. Like a wire cutter or pliers, the nail clipper puts very little strain in the zip tie, helping avoid breaking the tie prematurely.  This can sometimes happen when using a knife. The opposing force needed when using a knife can sometimes break a zip tie depending on the thickness of the tie.

It’s not pretty, per say, but neither is using zip ties to secure items for the most part.  Again, this is a field expedient solution to a challenge needing to be solved right away.

Keep this tip in mind for your next field adventures to come.  If a nail clipper isn’t already in your contingency kit, now could be a good time to throw one in there.