Think about it – these pieces of fabric are masters at versatility. Their soft cotton feel, stretchiness, and ability to be cut and stripped down makes them a perfect multi-use survival tool in the field.
Most people have a hard time thinking out of the box when it comes to survival tools, and don’t even think to use the things they have in their own closet.
It’s my job to help ensure you’re prepared for ANYTHING – and by using everyday items like t-shirts, you can make sure you will be.
Let me introduce you to these…
19 Amazing T-Shirt Uses For An SHTF Scenario
Before we get started, I want you to be aware that a lot of these survival uses require you to have a survival knife to cut the fabric with. We’ll help you figure out the best one for your overall SHTF needs here.
1 – Protect Your Neck/Head
Sunburn can be extremely painful in a survival situation, especially if you forgot/ran out of sunscreen. In order to protect yourself, you can cut your t-shirt near the seam, making it one giant piece of fabric. Lay it over the top of your head and put your hat on to secure it.
If you don’t have a hat, you can easily cut a strip 2/3 of the way down each side of the fabric, and tie these strips around the back of your head to secure the shirt in place around your head.
The fabric should cover your head and neck, allowing you to protect your skin from the sun’s rays. It may not be the most fashionable thing to wear, but it’ll surely protect your skin from the elements.
2 – Make A Pillow
Using an intact t-shirt, you can tie off the sleeves and then stuff the main compartment with leaves, soft tree needles (such as those from Eastern White Pine, Canaan Fir, and Douglas Fir), or even extra clothing.
Seal off the opening and you’ve got yourself a comfortable pillow for the night.
3 – Carry Wood
If you need to carry wood for a fire (but don’t want to risk dropping them), simply cut our t-shirt so it’s one large piece of fabric. Then lay the wood pieces on top of the shirt, and wrap its ends around the sticks and tie them off.
Sure, you may have to carry smaller loads with this method, but this nifty idea will help you get your fire going without weighing yourself down or dropping sticks along the way.
4 – Secure Your Stuff
If your strap breaks and you need to attach smaller survival tools or bags to your bug out pack, a t-shirt can really come in handy. Simply cut the shirt into long strips and then loop one end through or around the item, and push the other end through a loop/attachment on your pack.
The flexible material of a t-shirt can really help keep your stuff together, at least until you can get your hand on a more durable piece of material.
5 – Pot Holder
Burns are NOT fun to experience, especially in an SHTF situation. Avoid burning your hands while cooking by wrapping your t-shirt around a pot handle and using it as a pot holder.
You can also wrap the shirt around your hand and use it as an oven mitt, or lay the shirt down underneath your pot to protect your cooking area from heat damage.
Note: Just remembered you’re out of camping pots? We’ve got some great ones below:
6 – Lower Your Body Temperature
If you’re overheating, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to roll your t-shirt into a long tube (like a rope) and pour cold water over it. Wrap the shirt around your neck, and it’ll work to keep you cool by lowering your body temperature so you can keep moving.
7 – Signal For Help
Brightly colored t-shirts (like orange, yellow, or red) can really help people see you in an emergency. Keep these shirts with you at all times in case of an emergency, and wave them around in the air to signal rescue teams.
You can also use these brightly colored shirts as trail markers in the woods to prevent yourself from getting lost; this can also help rescue teams find you.
8 – Start A Fire
T-shirts can make for great kindling if you need to start a fire. To maximize your shirt’s potential, cut it into small pieces and use those for the fire. The fire will burn and you’ll be able to save the rest of the shirt for other projects.
Note: If you need more tinder than just t-shirts to do the job, we’ve got a variety of flammable materials you can use below:
9 – Blend In
If you need to keep a low profile (like in a wooded area), wearing neutral colored t-shirts like army green, brown, and tan can help prevent you from being seen. Make sure to pair these with khaki or green pants to make this method even more effective.
10 – Use it As A Rag
Old t-shirts can make great rags for cleaning off your firearms and other survival tools. You can also use them to wipe down the charred bottoms of your pots and pans so the black char doesn’t get all over the rest of your stuff.
If you haven’t got wet wipes, t-shirts can also make a great tool for wiping your hands off in an SHTF situation. This is especially important if you’re cooking, or treating a wound.
Which leads me to my next t-shirt survival use…
11 – Cover Your Wounds
If you’ve been wounded in the field, you’ll need to stop the bleeding – and fast. Take a CLEAN t-shirt, and lay it over the wound. Tie the ends together around the injured body part, and press the material against the wound (if necessary) to soak up the blood.
Be sure to use peroxide as soon as possible – and replace the t-shirt with new ones – to help prevent infection and disease.
Note: If you don’t want to bloody up a bunch of your valuable t-shirts, we highly recommend bringing one of these compact first-aid kits with you to help stop the bleeding:
12 – Sit Comfortably
Sitting on the hard ground or on uncomfortable rocks can be painful, especially when you’re doing it for a long time. Make your seating area more comfortable by tying off the sleeves of your t-shirt and stuffing the bottom opening with soft material (such as old clothes).
Tie off the opening, and you’ve got your very own cushion you can use for the rest of your bug out trip.If you’ve got lots of t-shirts, you can also use this method with multiple shirts to give you a comfortable area to lay down for the night.
13 – Protect Your Lungs
By cutting your t-shirt into one large piece of fabric, you can use the shirt to cover your nose and mouth (make sure to tie it behind your head to keep it in place). This is a really great method for keeping smoke out of your face when making a fire or cooking survival food.
14 – Remove Large Debris
If you’ve collected water that has a bunch of twigs, pebbles, and other large items in it, you can remove these by making your own water filter. Cut your t-shirt so it’s one large piece of fabric. Then tie the four corners to a few trees that are close together.
Place a pot or other container underneath the shirt, and then pour your water onto the t-shirt. The shirt will help filter this large debris out of the water, giving you cleaner water into the pot.
IMPORTANT: Although this water is now free of the large debris, it is still not drinkable or bacteria-free. Always boil the water after using this method to ensure it’s safe to drink – or you can pour it through one of the following state-of-the-art portable water filters:
15 – Make A Primitive Torch
This is one of my favorite uses! First, find a large stick; then douse your t-shirt with kerosene, oil, or other flammable material. Wrap the shirt around the stick, and then use your lighter to set the shirt on fire.
16 – Keep Your Friends Cool
This is the simplest of the survival uses, but it’s still effective. If one of your buddies is overheating, you can take the t-shirt and flap it up and down in the air in order to create a makeshift fan to help keep him cool.
17 – Make Your Own Hobo Bag
You can easily make your own hobo bag by using a t-shirt. Simply cut the shirt so it makes one large piece of fabric. Then wrap up your survival gear inside, and tie off the opening. Then take a large stick and tie the knapsack to the end.
This is a useful alternative if you don’t have a bug out bag, or if you’ve collected additional items along the trail during your bug out trip.
Note: Hobo bags have been around forever, and most of us relate them to things a homeless person might use. However, much of the homeless population are masters in surviving in any type of weather, and have a lot of knowledge about living on the streets (which could easily happen to any of us if a disaster occurred). Learn about their methods here.
18 – Secure Your Shelter
If you’ve got a tarp with eyelets, you can use a t-shirt to secure the tarp to surrounding trees. Simply cut your shirt so it’s one large piece of fabric. Then cut the shirt into long strips.
Slip a strip (or multiple for extra strength) through an eyelet of your tarp and secure it to a tree nearby. Do this with each eyelet, and you’ll have a useful makeshift shelter to help get you out of the sun.
19 – Catch Dinner
If you’re in a survival situation and find yourself without paracord or rope, you can substitute t-shirt strips to tie your snare together (for survival snare ideas click here).
However, that’s not all – if you’re in for more of an intensive project, you can also use a t-shirt to aid you in making a fish/crab trap. Check out the process in the video below:
Now as you saw in the video, that fish trap was effective, but it was an incredibly time intensive process to build. And, when SHTF, there’s going to be a lot of times when you just don’t have the means or the minutes to build something that in-depth.
Not to mention when you’re starving this building process could make you more frustrated and helpless than ever before.
When you’re famished and needing to catch a fish fast, you can always depend on our incredible Paracord Grenade to get you fed.
This impressive “mini survival kit” has everything you need to rustle up some grub in no time. After all, this compact survival grenade holds 14 pieces of life-saving survival gear (for both fishing and otherwise) to help ensure you stay fed and focused on your next bug out trip.
Here’s a list of all the cool survival tools our Paracord Grenade contains:
- Knife blade (1)
- Fire starter (1)
- Fishing line (2)
- Fishing hooks (2)
- Fishing weights (2)
- Fishing Bobbers (2)
- Fishing Swivels (2)
- Tin Foil (1)
- Fire Tinder (1)
- 9 ft of 550 paracord
The Paracord Grenade is also incredibly lightweight, so you’ll never have to worry about it weighing down your bug out bag. Plus, it’s so small it’ll easily fit on your keychain! How’s that for easy portability!
Boasting 17 5-star reviews, this is one of the most popular and in-demand survival tools we carry in our online survival store.
See what all the fuss is about by checking out our Paracord Grenade here. You’ll love how its compact, life-saving survival gear will help prepare you for an SHTF event!