10 Out-of-the-box Ways to Use a T-Shirt in a Survival-Type Situation


What could be more common than a T-shirt? Great for just any type of social situation, comfy, and ridiculously cheap. It almost seems too unimportant to be the headline of an article, doesn’t it? Well, believe it or not, the very same thing that gets lost in the washing machine can very well save your life in a survival-type situation. Yes, there’s more than it meets the eye, and it’s my job to show you just have valuable such an object can be when you run out of ideas and tools. So, without further ado, here’s how a T-shirt can save you skin – pun intended – in a life-and-death situation.

1. Making a super comfy pillow 

The idea of spending a night outdoors may be considered romantic, but not when you’re completely cut off from civilization. Can’t help you much with the shelter part (there are plenty of online resources which can teach you how to build a shelter from virtually anything). Still, I can show you how to increase the comfort of your humble abode and get a good night’s rest. If you have a spare shirt in your survival bag, take it out and stuff it with soft stuff such as dead leaves, moss, grass, or pine needles. Just tuck the sleeves and the other openings, and you’re ready for bed. 

2. Emergency mask 

Wildfires are very common in heavily wooded areas. So, if you need to traverse a smoke-filled area and have nothing else on hand, you can always use a T-shirt as an emergency hazard mask. Take out your spare T-shirt (or use the one you’re wearing) and dunk it in water. It may not be as effective as a gas mask, but the shirt’s wet fibers can filter out most of the smoke. Again, this should be your last resort in case of a major emergency. By the way, the wet-shirt-over-the-face trick also works in case of minor radiation leakage or chemical attacks. 

3. Providing traction for a fractured limb

If you ever have to tackle a fracture without any medical gear, your T-shirt works just as good as a bonified medical device. Broken arm?  No problem – just rip the shirt to make long pieces and use them to create a sling. You can also use shirt bits to tie splints together. 

4. Improvise a scarf 

Weather turning nippy? Well, if you don’t have any cold-weather gear on hand, you can always use an old T-shirt or a spare one to protect your neck from the elements. Sure, it may not be stylish as a knitted scarf, but at least you won’t wake up with a sore throat. 

Related: How To Make Fire Cider The Ultimate Natural Remedy To “Burn” Your Cold Away

5. Use as a life preserver

There’s nothing worse than finding yourself at the mercy of the endless sea. Admittedly, the chances of that occurring may be slim, but life’s full of surprises. So, if you find yourself in a similar situation and have nothing to hold on to while swimming for sure, you can turn your T-shirt in a life preserver. To do that, tie the arms of the shirt, fill the space with as much air as you can, and close the other end. Works just fine, and it’s guaranteed to keep you floating no matter what. 

6. Firestarter 

When in doubt, always tear apart a T-shirt and use small pieces to start a fire. Yes, I know that a well-kept bug out bag should contain a Tinder box, but there are situations when you have to do without. So, in order to start a fire, use a knife or your bare hands to shred your shirt too small bits. I would recommend using the one you’re wearing and use the spare one – the reasons are more than obvious. Make sure that the bits you’ll be using are dry.  Place them at the base of your firepit, stack some kindling and dry wood, and that’s it. 

On the same note, you can use some of those shredded bits to make a torch. To do that, just wrap several pieces around a sturdy piece of wood and dunk the wrapped head of your torch in something flammable (fat, vegetable or animal oil). 

7. Stitch together your own blanket 

Not what T-shirts are made from, but nasty situations usually require drastic approaches. If you have five or ten shirts on hand, you can stitch them together and create a warm blanket. 

8. Carry stuff 

That shirt of yours can easily be converted into a handy carrier. You can stash & carry just about anything you can think of: berries, fruits, meat, firewood, rocks, leaves, broken dreams, or unrequited loved. Tie the bottom part of the shirt and the arms. Stitching them would be best, but the tying can work too if you don’t have any sewing supplies on hand.

9. Turn it into a water collector 

Shirts can’t really hold water, but you can imbibe them with just enough to temporarily quench your thirst. The best way to collect water would be to tie a shirt to each ankle and to take a stroll through the tall grass very early in the morning. Dew is a great source of water. Normally, you will be able to collect enough to fill a small plastic cup. Oh, by the way: you can use the same technique to draw water from other places such as crevices between boulders and tree trunks. 

10. Handle hot surfaces 

A pair of mittens is not exactly what you might call standard survival gear. Still, there are situations when you must handle hot surfaces like frying panhandles or cooking pots. Guess what? You can wrap that T-shirt around your hand to handle a boiling coffee kettle or to remove the pan from the fire pit. 

Well, that about covers the survival applications of a T-shirt. Yes, I’m well aware of the fact that there are many other uses. Do you know of any other ways to use shirt in a survival-type situation? Shoot me a comment and let me know.  

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