If you’re stuck in a survival situation or another emergency situation without the tools you need to get what you need, it can not only be uncomfortable, it can be downright deadly.
But with the right knowledge, t-shirts have unlimited uses for survival. If you’re wearing a t-shirt and throw a couple extra old ones in your GHB or BOB, you’ll be prepared for just about any survival situation.
- Replace a Broken Shoelace using the strip of hem from around the bottom of your t-shirt. If you don’t have an extra shirt, you can even cut the hem from the one you have on and still wear it.
- Bandage a Wound with a clean t-shirt if you get cut and don’t have any clean bandages.
- Make a Sling for a sprained or broken arm by putting the t-shirt around your neck like a necklace. Once you do this, pull the shirt down so you can cradle the injured arm inside the shirt. Put your injured hand through the armhole on the opposite side of the shirt.
- Filter Air by placing your t-shirt over your mouth and nose to protect your lungs from smoke or debris-filled air.
- Gather Berries or other Foods and pull up the bottom of your t-shirt to create a makeshift basket as you forage for berries or nuts in the woods.
- As a Pillow. A t-shirt can be used to make a fairly comfortable pillow. Tie the neck of the t-shirt closed by knotting the arms together. Fill the inside with leaves or other soft debris and tie the bottom of the t-shirt closed.
- Call for Truce in a confrontation situation by waving a white t-shirt where it can be seen by your opponents.
- Mark a Path so you can find your way back to your campsite or so someone else can follow the markers to you.
- Protect Your Neck from sunburn and bug bites by draping a t-shirt around your neck or tucking it under your hat and letting it hang down over your neck.
- Tie Downs for Gear. Cut your t-shirt into strips and use the strips as tie downs so your gear is always secure.
- Build a Shelter using a tarp with metal grommets and strips from a t-shirt. The strips of a t-shirt can be looped through the grommets and then tied off on a tree. It’s not a bullet proof shelter but it will keep you temporarily protected from hot sun or rain.
- As a Flotation Device if you find yourself unexpectedly in the water. Tie the arms of the t-shirt closed and fill the space inside with air and tie or hold the other end shut.
- To Carry Things such as eggs or vegetables you might collect from a farm or property along your bug out route.
- As a Fan when it gets too hot during a survival or bug out trip, you can wave a t-shirt at other group members to cool them down. You can even do this to cool yourself down though it’s a bit more difficult.
- Make a Trap to catch fish for dinner as demonstrated in this video.
- Signal for Help using a bright colored t-shirt which will be more visible to rescuers than just waving your arms. If you break down on the highway, use a t-shirt on your car antenna to signal you need help.
- Create Tinder from a t-shirt made of cotton by scraping it with a knife or another sharp object so it pills. Use the scrapings or cotton pills as tinder for your fire.
- Makeshift Torch. Soak your t-shirt in a flammable liquid and then knot it around the end of a stick. Light the t-shirt on fire to use as a torch.
- Carry Sticks with a t-shirt by laying the t-shirt on the ground and piling the sticks in the center of it. Tie opposite corners together over the sticks.
- Clean Your Gun using a t-shirt cut into squares or strips.
- Protect Your Head against sunburn by draping your t-shirt over it. You can tie the t-shirt around your head or secure it with a hat.
- Handle Hot Pans from the campfire by using a t-shirt folded several times to keep from burning your hands.
- Make a Blanket. In a survival situation where you don’t have a blanket but you can located extra clothing or t–shirts, you can stitch or glue 5-10 t-shirts together in order to make a blanket. For extra warmth and if materials are available, use a sheet on the backside and stuff the space between with other clothes, newspapers, or even leaves.
- To Cool Off you can wet a t-shirt and drape it around your neck.
- Make a Clothing Patch if you catch your jeans or jacket on a branch and tear a hole, you can patch it with a piece of an old t-shirt.
- As a Rag to clean your hands or wipe your face, even clean your camp dishes.
- Make Char Cloth using squares of an old t-shirt.
- Filter Water to get the bigger debris out of it. You must still boil it or otherwise purify for bacteria before drinking.
- Catch Fish by turning an old t-shirt into a fish trap over a frame made of sticks.
- Make a Tourniquet using an old t-shirt and a stick for leverage to twist it around just above the bleeding wound. A tourniquet should only be used as a last resort option. You should always seek professional medical attention as quickly as possible.
- Dry Your Hands using the hem of your t-shirt or an extra t-shirt that you keep in your BOB or hang from your belt loop.
- Make Cordage using strips from a t-shirt that are knotted together or braided together for more strength. You can cut t-shirts into thinner or thicker strips depending on what you need to use your cordage to accomplish.
- Collect Dew or Rain using a t-shirt by using it first thing in the morning to wipe over dew covered grass or hang it during a rainstorm and then wring it out into a container or even directly into your mouth.
- Make a Cushion from an old t-shirt by tying or sewing the collar closed and stuffing it with leaves, other t-shirts, or anything soft you may have available. Tie or sew the hem shut and you have a cushion that you can use on top of an upturned log to make your break more comfortable.
- Replace a Shemagh using a t-shirt which can be wrapped around your head, your neck, or even used as a bag to carry items.
Do you know of any other survival uses for t-shirts that we didn’t include above? Tell us about it the comments below so we can add to this list.
Born and raised in NE Ohio, with early memories that include grandpa teaching her to bait a hook and watching her mom, aunts, and grandmothers garden, sew, and can food, Megan is a true farm girl at heart.
For Megan, the 2003 blackout, the events of 911, and the increasing frequency of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, spurred a desire to be more prepared. Soon to be living off-grid, this mother of four and grandmother of ten is learning everything she can about preparedness, survival, and homesteading.