Paper clips don’t get the credit they deserve when it comes to the benefits they can provide in every day life as well as during a survival situation.  They’re cheap, easy to obtain, and you’re only limited by your creativity and ability to improvise in terms of putting them to good use.  Here are a few examples of things that you can accomplish with paper clips, and why it’s important to have some on hand in your bug out bag or survival kit.

Zipper Puller

Anyone who had to fumble with a zipper after the pull tab broke or fell off knows how frustrating it can be to open or close things.  One of the easiest fixes out there is to slide one end of a paperclip through the eyelet until it locks in place around the bottom bend.  All you need to do is pull on the paperclip, and most zippers will open and close with ease.  Paperclips are also ideal for securing dual zippers together and preventing them from opening up at the worst-possible time.

Improvised Hook

You can easily manipulate and bend a paper clip into a hook that can be attached to the top front edge of a drawer.  Secure it in place by closing the drawer, and the hook will be able to support a surprising amount of weight.  This is a great way to hang small pouches and gear, mini-lights and even some light tools.

Key Ring

Straighten out a paper clip before bending it into a penny-sized coil.  Feed one end through the eyelet on your key as you would a normal key ring.  Keep feeding until the key locks in place, make sure the ends are closed, and you’re good to go.  These can be just as strong as regular key rings, and they’re far-less expensive.

Poker or Scraper

Snip off one of the straight sides of the paper clip before filing down one of the ends into a sharp point.  You can use this to poke through clogged holes in spray bottles and aerosol cans.  You can also use it when you need to scrape gunk from small spaces, to remove dirt from under fingernails, or to pry small, delicate items apart.


You can also build on the previous example and create an improvised needle by hammering out and flattening the other end of the poker.  Next, take a small hand drill to bore a hole in the center of the flat end, file it down, and insert the thread.

Bag Clip

If you ever run out of zipper bags, or they stop working, you can use a paper clip as an alternative.  Just fold over the opening of the bag, clip it in place, and this can be just enough to keep items from falling out.

Improvised Screw Driver

Take the poker example above, and flatten down one end instead of making it into a point.  This is an excellent way to create a mini-screwdriver that’s perfect for glasses, circuit boards or other items that are held together by tiny screws.

Cuff Holder

Have you ever struggled to keep your sleeves or pant legs rolled up?  Perhaps you have trouble keeping shoelaces tied together.  All you need to do is slide a paperclip in place, and chances are that you won’t have to constantly stop and make adjustments.

These are just a few of dozens of little things that you can accomplish with paperclips, and having some on hand can make life a lot easier to contend with in the field.  What other ideas can you think of?   Take some time to brainstorm, and feel free to share some tips that come to mind with the rest of us.