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Filed under: Comfort at Camp, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking, Preparation & Readiness, RV Maintenance, RV Modifications, RV Repair


February 2, 2012 by · 4 Comments 


Next to a roll of duct (or duck) tape, a package containing an assortment of zip-ties is one of the most important “fix-it” items you can put in your RV toolbox.

First introduced under the name of Ty-Rap in 1958 by Thomas & Betts for assembling airplane-wiring harnesses, the zip-tie has evolved to include every conceivable function – including handcuffs often used by law enforcement.  Today they may also be called zap-ties or cable-ties,

About the only thing you cannot fix with either duct tape and zip-ties are hot exhaust or tail pipes.

Zip-ties usd by law enforcement as hand cuffs (Don't try this at home!)

Good quality zip-ties are made of nylon.  The black ties are UV protected and suitable for outdoor use over an extended period.  White and other colors generally do not have the UV protection chemical added and are designed for indoor use.

Unfortunately, many companies have made cheap copies of nylon zip-ties using plastic.  These are subject to easy breakage and are generally undependable, thus it is best to read the label to be sure you are buying nylon rather than plastic.

I carry an assortment of zip-ties with both unlocking ratchets and those that are more permanent with ratchets that will not unlock.  The ties that are reusable make great locks for cabinet doors and drawers in the RV that like to open while bouncing down the highway.

Zip-tie "head" with locking ratchet

When setting up camp I often use zip-ties to attach light strings or protective tarps rather than trying to tie ropes or twist wires.

Zip-ties can be used to “sew” two pieces of heavy material together – something like poly tarps covering firewood or used as a windbreak.

When our bicycles are set on their carrier or rack on the back of the camper, I will use zip- ties to secure them to the carrier in addition to bungee cords.  They serve as a strong lock to prevent wheel turning or loss of the bicycles.  Old socks or rags for surface protection are zip-tied to any parts that could rub against each other or the back of the camper.

When a radiator hose developed a leak, a few wraps of duct tape reinforced with several zip-ties stopped all leakage and allowed us to continue on our way rather than calling a tow truck.

When I found my jeans falling down from my waist and discovered I had forgotten my belt a zip-tie through the front belt loops of my jeans took up the slack and allowed me to work without showing my crack.

Pants or shirt collar too tight to button?  Don’t sweat it – use a zip tie as an extender/joiner.

What do you do when you have a flat tire on your bicycle, can’t repair it, and can’t continue riding since the tire comes off the rim?  No problem – just zip-tie the tire to the rim and pedal on home.

My grandson used several zip-ties to stitch the sole of his well-worn tennis shoes back to the canvas when a big hole opened in their side.  They are also great substitutes for shoelaces.

With a broken fiberglass tent pole stopping the erection of a big tent, an available stick and a few zip ties allowed us splice the broken pole and finish pitching the tent.

Safety chains that run from a trailer to a tow vehicle sometimes drag the pavement.  A few zip ties will take up the chain slack but still allow for tight turns or binding since the force will easily break the ties.

When the front rock guard over the window on our trailer kept coming loose due to a worn catch, two zip-ties secured the guard so that it would not blow up from the wind.

The springs that secured the carpet strips to our trailer steps rusted and broke.  Rather than purchase new springs, they were replaced with zip-ties.  Two years later they are still dong a great job.

Zip-ties were great for neatly organizing all of the cables and wires behind our TV and entertainment equipment.

One of the brackets holding up our sewer dump pipe broke loose.  A large zip-tie quickly re-secured the pipe.

The sewer hose kept coming loose from the plastic connector.  With no gear-clamp in the size needed available, two zip-ties in series easily clamped the hose.  Any length of zip-tie can be made by putting several in series.

I use them all the time to tie cords, hoses, and cables before storage.  It is best to have the reusable type, but locking ties are easily cut when the cords are needed and are much easier to handle than ball bungees or Velcro straps.

With the assortment of sizes, styles, and colors available there is little one cannot do with these marvelous devices.  If you do not have them in your toolbox be sure to add them before your next trip.  You may find that they are the lifesaver needed to keep the trip happy and comfortable.




  1. butterbean carpenter says:

    Howdy Zippy-do-da Randy,

    Thanks, for another interesting article of something we shouldn’t be without, like DUCT TAPE!!!

  2. jimjan says:

    Once again Professor, you have provided us with some valuable information. There are several uses for those handy little items that I hadn’t tried…. yet. I try to keep a few zip ties in my tool bag and in the storage areas of my sticks ‘n bricks garage and the basement of the RV and I have bolstered the rolled tape collection with “Gorilla” tape for those ‘just can’t fail’ temporary repair jobs.


    p.s. see you at Hohum.

  3. Dave says:

    That was a good article on drive like a trucker, but many of us who drive RV,s over 26000 pounds legally, have the equivalent of a class B truck or CDL with air brake endorsements. And yes since we took the same tests, just not the medical exam, we are trained to drive like truckers. You should publish the licensing requirements for the different states because so many of the RVers are driving illegally.

  4. Paulie says:

    WOW! I must be brain dead! I have duck tape & zip ties at home but NOT in my RV tool box! And as everyone knows, at home, you can’t live without either. So, I got to get my buns out to the store today to add these very important fix’em up items to my RV box. Thanks for the informative article and rattling my brain {or maybe after all these years on the road RVing it’s already rattled to much}. . . . . . . . Paulie

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