Duct tape on your water bottle… (Part 1)

If you have spent any time in the backpacking or mountaineering community the image below is probably nothing new to you.  A Nalgene bottle decked out with industry decals and a couple of wraps of duct tape.  While the decals are great for getting the word out about good companies they don’t have much function, however the duct tape has a million and one uses.  I have been doing this to my water bottles for years and have come up with what I think is the best setup.


Since I usually only pull a few inches to a foot off at a time I like to have some kind of indicator to when I am getting down to the last foot or so. Some time ago I started putting a 12″ section of contrasting color duct tape where the main segment of tape attaches to the bottle. Once I get down to this color I know I only have 24″ of tape left (12″ of the main color and 12″ of the contrasting color).

First I start off by selecting the indicator color I want to use, in this case orange and I pull off a 12″ section.


Obviously you wouldn’t want to lay out this section on a piece of cardstock like I had to in order shoot photos but you get the point…

Set this piece aside and measure out your main segment of tape. I generally put five feet on but this can also be adjust by simply apply as much as you want to have on your bottle.

To start the process apply the main segment of tape to the bottle. I like to space it roughly an inch from the base of the bottle, this way you are not on a curved section of the bottle which will muck up your tape. Try to align the tape so it is parallel with the base, once again not to end up with a mucked up looking tape job.


Once you have the main segment of tape started lay the indicator segment on top of it and adhere the two together as you see below.


At this point you simply start wrapping the main segment of tape around the bottle. Below you will see the opposing end of the indicator segment.


Then wrap until you get to the end of your premeasured length or until you have roughly as many wraps as you prefer. At the terminated end remember to put a buddy tab so you wont be a blue falcon. Just sayin’…


Repeat as necessary. In general you can fit two wraps onto a .5 or 1 liter bottle and three on a 1.5 liter bottle.


Generally the tape will last as long as the bottle, even when dunked in mud or run through the dishwasher the tape stands the test of time but when in doubt replace it prior to critical missions.

Stay tuned for Part 2 which includes some other mission dependent setups.

Until next time, stay sharp.

Mike G

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