How to Break Free from Zip Ties in an Emergency

If you’re ever in an unfortunate situation where you’re being held captive, it’s good to be prepared with a few methods of escape. Easily obtainable, plastic zip ties are among the restraints of choice for burglars, kidnappers, and other criminals.

Hacker extraordinaire Crazy Russian Hacker is here to teach us how to escape zip ties using one thing: shoe laces. In the video below, he shows how to snap the plastic when your hands are tightly bound in front of you. His technique involves wearing his shoes on his feet, but the concept is still the same, which is friction.

How does he do it? Both shoes should be untied. With hands bound in front of him, he places the tip of one lace on the back part of his shoe. Next, he slips the string through the zip ties on his wrists. Taking a lace from the other shoe, he ties a tight knot with both laces. Once that’s done, the feet are pedaled as if riding a bike until the zip ties snap.

Image of shoelaces and zip tie escape.Crazy Russian Hacker
Snap! He’s free! Watch the video to see how Crazy Russian Hacker rigs this up, and how to escape double zip ties too. He does it all while wearing the same pair of shoes.

Friction from the shoe string burn helps to weaken the plastic and causes it to break. If you’ve ever had a rope burn of any sort, you know how much it hurts, and how much damage they can inflict.

Because we know you guys think of everything, you’re probably asking: “But what if your hands are behind your back?” You can still use this trick. You can either try lowering your hands under your feet and legs to bring them in front of you, or use this method with hands behind you.

Untie your shoes while kneeling. Using the same method above, slip one lace through the inside of the zip ties and tie it into a knot with another lace. Instead of pedaling your feet, you’ll have to sway your hands back and forth to create friction, rubbing the plastic rapidly over the shoe string. Friction and heat is key!

“But TipHero, this ain’t gonna work if my feet are tied up in zip ties too.” You could be absolutely right. This hack works easiest for hands restrained in front of you. But, if you’re able to, try to wriggle one lace completely free from your shoes. Loop it through the zip ties, tie a knot, and try to burn through them by pulling the lace tightly and quickly with your hands.

You could have 1,000 “what ifs”, but it’s always good to have at least one escape technique on deck. If all else fails, find anything – rock, blade, cigarette – that you can rub against the plastic to create friction and breakage. When in an emergency you have to get creative!

What do you think of Crazy Russian Hacker’s zip tie escape hack? Can you think of any other ways to break out of these if in dire straits? Share with us in the comments!