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13 Awesome Survival Uses of Pens

While pens are useful for writing letters, taking notes, and work and school, you can use them for much more. You can use pens for everything from a drinking straw to a weapon and even as a medical device.

Uses of Pens for Survival

So, if you want to unleash your inner MacGyver and learn more than a dozen uses of pens in survival and everyday situations, you’ve come to the right place.

13 Uses of Pens in Survival Situations

The key to unleashing the many uses of pens is taking them apart and learning about their design. You can utilize the casing of the pen, the pen springs, and the other internal components to your advantage.

1. Use It as A Straw

The first use of pens is one of the most obvious – as a drinking straw. By separating the pen and removing the internal components, you can use the pen’s shell as a straw.

Depending on how round or narrow the pen is, you’ll have to suck with more or less pressure. The rounder the pen is, the more pressure you’ll have to generate to use it as a straw.

2. Use It to Maintain Clean Shoes

Another of the more obvious uses of pens is as makeshift shoe cleaners. Using the pointy edge of the pen, you can remove dirt and grime from within your shoe’s tread.

Depending on the color of your shoes and the pen you’re using, you can even use the pen to tough-up nicks and markings.

Dirty Boots

Maintaining clean boots or shoe treads is vital if you’re spending time in the woods. The more dirt that piles up in your treads, the less grip your shoes will have, which means you’re more likely to slip and injure yourself.

3. Use It as A Weapon

If the Joker from Batman taught us anything, it’s that the sharp edge of a pen is perfect for use as a weapon. Using a pen as a weapon is limited, but it can be very effective in extreme situations.

You can also use a pen combined with a stick or another pen or pencil as a slingshot.

Here’s how to do it.

1. Take a pen and a stick or another pen or pencil and form an X with them.

2. If possible, use tape or another adhesive to fasten the pens together in an X. However, you can also firmly grip the two tools together with your hand.

3. Use a rubber band and attach one end of the band to the tip of the pen and the other end to the tip of your other tool.

Rubber Band

4. Use tape to secure the band to each end of the tool. If you don’t have tape, attempt to knot the rubber band to either tool.

5. You can now pull back on the middle of the rubber band and shoot rocks and pebbles.

4. Create Holes for a Chimney

You’ll need to build a fire if you’re in the wilderness trying to stay alive. Fire is necessary to purify water, stay warm in cold weather, fend off animals, and cook meat.

Ideally, building your fire inside your shelter is good for maximum warmth. However, as you likely know, fire produces smoke which can be deadly in an enclosed space.

Using the pointy end of your pen, you can poke holes in the top of your shelter to create a makeshift chimney. While you’ll have to poke many holes, a pen is better than nothing to make holes in your shelter.

Additionally, pens poke holes small enough that rainwater may not be able to trickle through. So, while chimney making isn’t one of the premier uses of pens, it will make do in tough situations when better tools aren’t available.

5. Use It as a Measuring Tool

Using your pen as a measuring tool is one of the more ingenious uses of pens on our list. Artists and surveyors do it often to get rough size estimations of the world around them.

Here’s how it works.

  1. Hold your pen in the palm of your hand with the pointy end up and your arm straight in front of you.
  2. Be sure not to bend your elbow because it will throw off the measurement.
  3. Tilt your head toward the shoulder of the hand you’re holding the pen in. Your head should be lying on your shoulder, almost as if it’s a pillow.
  4. Close one eye as if you’re aiming at something.
  5. Line up the tip of the pen with the top of whatever you’re measuring.
  6. Move your thumb down on the pen until it’s at the bottom of whatever you’re measuring.
  7. You can now use the space between the tip of the pen and your thumb to see how tall certain objects are compared to the ones you’re measuring.

Once again, a pen certainly isn’t an exact measuring tool down to the inch, but it’s one of the many valuable uses of pens in extreme situations.

6. Use It to Hold Your Hair Up

If you’re hard at work on your shelter, hunting, or gathering firewood, the last thing you need is your hair blocking your view. If you don’t have anything else handy, one of the uses of pens is as a hair tie.

Pen in Bun

The use of pens as hair ties is so common that some people with long hair don’t bother with actual hair ties anymore. They simply use a pen or pencil that’s handy.

7. Utilize the Pen Spring

Once you disassemble it, you’ll discover many other uses of pens. For instance, the spring inside your pen can get used as a wire in fishing, sewing, and performing other jobs where you need wire.

To use a pen spring for any of these things, you’ll have to remove it from the pen, unwind it, and straighten it out. You won’t be able to reuse the spring with your pen, so make sure you’re finished writing any notes or letters.

8. Use It to Unstuck a Zipper

If you have clothing that utilizes a zipper that gets stuck, you can use your pen to remedy the issue. Here’s what you need to do.

1. Ensure that your pen still has ink.

2. Open the pen as if you’re going to write.

3. Press the tip of the pen against the stuck section of the zipper and rub it against the teeth repeatedly.

4. The moisture from the pen ink will lubricate the zipper so you can move it again.


If it doesn’t have ink, unsticking a zipper isn’t a viable use of a pen.

9. Use It to Plug Holes

In the same way that one of the uses of pens is to create holes, you can also use the pen to plug a hole. Pens can only plug small holes that are the same diameter as the pen, but they can still be handy in a pinch.

10. Use It as Chopsticks

If you’re dining on Asian-inspired food but don’t have chopsticks, you can utilize a pen as one of your chopsticks. You’ll have to find something else to use alongside it, but a single pen is a good start.

11. Medical Purposes

If you’re familiar with Grey’s Anatomy and other medical shows, you’ve probably seen pens used as breathing trachs in emergencies. However, even if you’re a medical professional, we don’t recommend attempting this, no matter how dire the situation is.

On a more practical note, the main medical uses of pens are as splints for broken bones. If you break a finger, toe, or another small bone in your body, your pen will make a decent temporary splint.

However, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible to receive a proper splint.

12. Convert It to a Blowgun

If you’re feeling hungry and creative, you can also use your pen as a blowgun. Here’s how it works.

1. Open the pen and remove the internal contents.

Disassembled Pen

2. Remove the top of the pen on the tip where the writing point of the pen would poke through.

3. Reassemble the shell of the pen without any of the internal contents. The pen should be hollow, like a straw.

4. You can now put darts and other pointy objects in one end of the pen and blow them out the other.

13. Use It as a Whistle

The final entry on our list for uses of pens is as a whistle. A whistle can be instrumental in getting someone’s attention, calling for help, or signaling a warning to someone when they can’t hear what you’re saying.

Once again, you’ll have to completely disassemble the pen, so ensure you’re finished using it for writing purposes. Once you’re ready, here’s how to convert your pen into a whistle.

  1. Remove the cap of the pen and all the inner workings.
  2. All you’ll need is the back section of the pen.
  3. Use a knife or scissors to cut a 1.5″ slit into the pen’s body towards the rear.
  4. Put the cut, hollow end of the pen to your mouth and blow as you would with any whistle.
  5. You will likely have to angle the pen slightly and move it to different parts of your lips to get the perfect sound.

It’s important to remember that each of these uses of pens is when you don’t have a better option available. However, it’s always better to have the real thing whenever possible.

Final Thoughts About Survival Uses of Pens

Now, when you look at a pen, you’ll have a hard time seeing it as just a writing tool. Your mind will go crazy with all the unique uses of pens, and you may even try out a few.

If we’ve whet your survival appetite and you want more great information, check out 29 Everyday Items You Can Use as Survival Items.