How To Escape A Zip-Tie In A Few Easy Steps

While the hope is that you’ll never need this information, it’s something that’s important to be aware of “just in case.” Everyone should know how to escape from zip-ties if you are ever bound in one for some reason. Thankfully, there are a few techniques that make escaping zip-ties a bit easier.

Whether a kid accidentally tightens a zip-tie around their wrist or something more sinister happens and you become restrained, here is a good way to get free, as advised by Imminent Threat Solutions. Even Navy SEALs are trained to use a similar technique.

Imminent Threat Solutions

Imminent Threat Solutions' Brian Black
Flurhrt/Amazon.com
Flurhrt/Amazon.com

If you’ve ever had to use zip-ties to bind something, such as multiple wires behind your television set, then you know removing those ties requires either a knife or scissors.

So, it begs the question, what happens if the zip-tie happens to be around your wrists and there is nothing sharp close by? Thankfully, there’s a trick to get yourself or someone else free, and an organization called Imminent Threat Solutions (ITS) has made a simple step-by-step “escape solution.”

Brian Black Is The Owner And An Ex-Navy SEAL

Brian Black Is The Owner And Ex-Navy SEAL
Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The founder of ITS, Brian Black, is well versed in escaping tough situations. Not that he’s been in one, but he has intense training on how to deal with restraints. See, Black was a United States Navy SEAL, his time in the military cut short due to injury.

But he was there long enough to learn a thing or two about taking care of himself in a sticky situation. And he has decided to pass that knowledge on!

He Developed The Website To Teach People Life Skills

He Developed The Website To Teach People Life Skills
MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images
MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images

After leaving the Navy SEALS, Black became a huge lover of the outdoors. And when it comes to camping and the wilderness, there are safety measures that everyone should think about.

Between his military and wilderness experience, Black was inspired to make the ITS website. The site helps people develop life skills, allowing them to go out and explore the world safely. Of course, some of these skills, like escaping a zip-tie, he hopes his readers will never have to use.

Black Has Professional Military Training

Black Has Professional Military Training
Dimitrios Sotiriou/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
Dimitrios Sotiriou/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Black had professional training while in the military to escape from a zip-tie restraint. And because of his training, he can demonstrate how to escape using nothing other than his own strength.

On his Youtube channel, ITS Tactical/Imminent Threat Solutions, he said, “It’s a common misconception that because you’re bound you have to somehow cut your way out, but if you think about it all you’re doing is defeating a tiny piece of plastic that’s holding it all together.”

Zip-Ties Can Be “Easily Defeated”

Zip-Ties Can Be
Outdoor Mom/Youtube
Outdoor Mom/Youtube

In a SEAL’s line of work, a potential threat comes with the territory. And while civilians most likely aren’t going to face the same threats, it’s always good to be prepared for the worst. And, as an ITS staff member says on their website, “All of these methods can be easily defeated.”

Meaning, having your wrist restrained in zip-ties isn’t the end of the world, and there is a way to free yourself if you know the correct method.

Wait For The Right Time To Break Free

Wait For The Right Time To Break Free
Outdoor Mom/Youtube
Outdoor Mom/Youtube

Aside from the strategy to get free, Black and his associates also recommend waiting for the opportune time to use this technique. If you find yourself in a hard situation, the ITS site recommends waiting, even though it might be difficult.

The ITS site says, “Your captors are most likely not going to have the resources or the patience to keep an eye on you constantly.” So, the first step of getting free: wait for the right time!

Start Small And Move Toward Heavy-Duty Ties

Start Small And Move Towards Heavy-Duty Ties
EVEO/Amazon.com
EVEO/Amazon.com

One thing the ITS team says to keep in mind, though, is that whoever is going to be putting zip-ties on your wrists won’t be using some Dollar Store brand. More likely, they’ll be going to a hardware store and grabbing the most durable cable ties on the market.

Please, keep in mind that this is all hypothetical, and is just a “what if” situation to make sure you’re as prepared as possible. So, it’s recommended to start small and work up to the industrial brands.

Start With Duct Tape First

Maybe Start With Duct Tape First
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Black and his co-workers advise people wanting to practice escaping zip-ties to first think about retraining their wrists with some duct tape. This is because plastic zip-ties, as we’re sure you can imagine, hurt.

And while you’re practicing escape methods, there is no reason to hurt yourself! This is practice, after all. In one of their instructional videos, the ITS says, “Duct tape works the same as what we’ll show.”

Time To Talk Mechanics

Time To Talk Mechanics
On The Way/Amazon.com
On The Way/Amazon.com

Before we start discussing the actual technique to escape either a zip-tie or, if you’re planning on taking it slow, duct tape, let’s first talk about the mechanics. There are some material-specific instructions you’re going to want to consider before trying to break free like Superman.

Primarily, you’re going to want to keep in mind the locking mechanism that comes on each zip-tie. Yes, that tiny piece of plastic is what you’re going to be battling with.

Step One: Acquire Materials

Time To Talk Mechanics
HAODE FASHION/Amazon.com
HAODE FASHION/Amazon.com

That tiny piece of plastic holds the zip-tie securely around your wrists, and what you’re going to be trying to snap off. We know, it sounds fairly difficult. That tiny piece of plastic is a bit stubborn!

Thankfully, Black and his associates are here to help us through it, safely and in the “easiest” way possible. So, first things first. Gather together either a zip-tie or duct tape, depending on which you’d prefer to practice with.

Step Two: Make A Large Loop

Step Two: Make A Large Loop
Cambridge Resources/Amazon.com
Cambridge Resources/Amazon.com

Don’t worry, if you chose to go the duct tape route, it is the same moves and concept as escaping from a zip-tie. And in both instances, make sure you have a friend nearby. You know, just in case you need help escaping!

The second step after you acquire the necessary supplies is to make a large loop with the tie, not making it too small. Then, place your hands through the loop.

Step Three: Correct Placement Of The Locking Bar

zip-ties
armondhammer/Twitter
armondhammer/Twitter

Now that your zip-tie is around your wrists, we’re going to move onto step three: correct placement of the “locking bar.” According to Black and his ITS team, you’ll need to put the little piece of plastic, aka the locking bar, on top of your bound wrists, right in the middle.

Think about it this way: placing the locking bar front and center allows you to stare down the object you’re looking to defeat. Now, it’s time to pump yourself up!

Step Four: Tightening The Tie

Step Four: Tightening The Tie
Taras Kul/Youtube
Taras Kul/Youtube

For the fourth step, you’re going to want to make the restraint nice and tight, so you’re able to move your hands as little as possible. The technique that we’re going to explain, as taught by the ITS team, works best the tighter the tie.

Or, if you’re using tape, have a friend securely restrain your wrists. Again, make sure you take any necessary safety precautions! Tip: if your palms are facing the floor, make a fist, clenching, and un-clenching until you can wiggle them to face one another.

The Technique Will Split The Tie In Half

The Technique Will Split The Tie In Half
Taras Kul/Youtube
Taras Kul/Youtube

Before we move on to step five, we’re going to explain the correct motions, as demonstrated and taught by Black and his team at Imminent Threat Solutions. The motion they instruct to use will, if done right, snap the zip-tie in half, freeing you.

Don’t worry about using strength to break free quite yet. Just think about and practice the motions first. Like anything, practicing before performing is a good way to go about this technique.

Step Five: The Motion

Step Five: The Motion
Taras Kul/Youtube
Taras Kul/Youtube

Now we’re going to discuss the correct motion to use, so you don’t hurt your wrists. The movements are quick, strong, and are simple enough to remember if you pay close attention.

Put your arms over your head, then think about putting them in a “chicken wing” position, elbows in, and shoulder blades together and bring them down fast. At the same time you’re bringing your arms down to your belly button, you’re going to push your wrists outward.

It’s One Fluid Motion

It's One Fluid Motion
Taras Kul/Youtube
Taras Kul/Youtube

We recommend doing the motion a few times, remembering the triangular formation your arms should be in to escape. To reiterate the technique, the instructor in the ITS demonstration video on Youtube says, “In one fluid motion, you’re going to come from the top and push down. And [you] almost want to simulate touching your shoulder blades together as you come down.”

Once you have the movement down, it’s time to practice your escape. Remember, it’s the same technique with duct tape!

Some People Are Skeptical About The Technique

Some People Are Skeptical About The Technique
Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

If you watch the demonstration video, you’ll notice that using this technique properly should take a total of two seconds, if that. But some don’t necessarily agree with the ITS team’s method, saying that it wouldn’t work in enclosed spaces, like if you’re lying down in the trunk of a car.

Then, some commenters said that while it is a good technique, it’s a bit unrealistic. It’s not like the bad guys are going to place the locking bar just so!

What If Your Hands Are Tied Behind Your Back?

What If Your Hands Are Tied Behind Your Back?
libertylover522/Youtube
libertylover522/Youtube

And while those Youtube commenters have valid notes, there is one note that a lot of people are curious about: how do you escape if your hands are secured behind your back? Thankfully, there are actually two solutions!

If you’d like to practice this hypothetical situation (which might be a bit more realistic), feel free to follow the steps in the upcoming slides. We’ll break each situation up, so you’re able to follow along with both techniques.

Technique One: Flexibility

World Record_ Handcuffed Hands From Back Of Body To Front 0-11 screenshot
RecordSetter/Youtube
RecordSetter/Youtube

If you’re in a situation where your hands are bound behind your back, you’re going to want to mentally prepare yourself for some stretching and weird yoga.

You’re going to want to loosen up, and then carefully maneuver your most flexible arm over your head. This will make it so your arms are now in front of your body. Then, use the “chicken-wing” technique to break free. Note: this move is for those who are very flexible and/or double-jointed!

Technique Two: Brute Force

Technique Two: Brute Force
BNM PH/Youtube
BNM PH/Youtube

The second way to get free is to use force. What we mean by that is that if you find yourself with your wrists bound behind your back, you’re going to have to use some momentum from your arms.

First, bend over, so your chest is around a 45-degree angle from the ground. Then, lift your arms above your head, slamming down on your lower spine while, at the same time, outwardly pressing your wrists to break free. This will probably work better than the first technique!