The Wizard Of Duct Tape - Backpacker

The Wizard Of Duct Tape

A candid interview with duct tape guru Angelo Ritson.

Who would wear duct-tape boxers or a tape-lined sports coat, or don of wig of duct-tape dreadlocks? Only a duct-tape guru like Angelo Ritson (pictured here), senior category manager for Duck Tape brand duct tape. While he swears this isn't his everyday attire, Ritson's life does revolve around rolls of the sticky stuff. As head tapeman, he decides everything from the thread count and new colors to the sound the tape makes as it comes off the roll.

BP: Why duct tape? Why not masking or athletic or friction tape?

AR: It's so dependable, resilient, convenient. You couldn't wrap masking tape around a radiator hose and drive to Yosemite. Duct tape crosses all generation gaps, genders, races. There are no boundaries.

BP: What's the most unique use you've heard of?

AR: A zoo duct-taped the pouch of a mother kangaroo shut to prevent a premature joey from falling out.

BP: What kind do you suggest blister-prone, tough-on-equipment, outdoor-loving backpackers carry?

AR: You need at least a professional-grade tape. It has a higher thread count than the lower grades. Basically, duct tape is like outdoors gear: You get what you pay for.

BP: What's the next big thing in the world of tape?

AR: We rely on our consumer help line to determine that. A woman called in with an idea for a removable type, because her husband temporarily tapes things and by the time he gets around to fixing them, they're a sticky mess.

(Editor's Note: I suggested he make a tape that doesn't leave goo on nylon or waterproof/breathable fabrics.)

BP: Do you think some devotees go too far by making clothes and accessories?

AR: For a true fanatic, there's no limit. That's the beauty of duct tape, and what makes it an American icon. Its uses are limited only by the imagination of the user.