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Since getting married 7 years ago my wife and I have moved 4 times and shipped over 4,000 packages. What do those things have in common? Tape. Lots and lots of packing tape.
During that time we’ve purchased at least a dozen different types of packing tape. We’ve tried heavy-duty packing tape, clear packing tape, shipping tape, gorilla tape, reinforced tape, etc. Believe me, they aren’t all created equal.
The problem is that most tape brands try clever names and tricks to market to people who are either shipping or moving and it’s hard to know exactly what is true and what type of tape you need. Luckily, we can help with both of those things.
The best packing tape will have a strong (but odorless) adhesive, be 2-3″ wide, and be rated for “heavy-duty” shipping or packing. The best brands for most people are:
- Scotch Heavy Duty Packaging Tape (with a dispenser)
- Gorilla Tough & Wide Packing Tape (with a dispenser)
- Scotch Crystal Clear Packaging Tape
- Uline Crystal Clear Industrial Plus 2.6 Mil 3 Inch
Now, which tape will be the best for you will depend on the application and how much you need. Buying tape without a built-in dispenser will be far cheaper in the long run. However, it may be the best option if you’re just trying to move a couple of boxes or need packing tape around your home.
So let’s take a quick look at each one and figure out which one will be the best packing tape for your situation:
1. Scotch Heavy Duty Packaging Tape – Best Overall
If you’re moving or doing a lot of Christmas shipping, this pack of tape will give you everything you need to get the job done.
While it is more expensive than buying just rolls of tape, the reason that this is the best packing tape is that it can be used right out of the box.
If you are moving and have half a dozen helpers, passing around a single tape gun gets pretty tedious. If you have 6 different rolls spread around that anyone can pick up and use things will get done much faster.
As far as the tapes go, it’s more narrow than I typically like to use but the adhesive is strong and I never had any issues with the tape splitting or breaking.
When we run out of tape (because we procrastinated ordering more) this is the tape we usually buy as it can be found in most stores.
While I wouldn’t recommend buying this tape if you’re doing lots of shipping (because of convenience and cost) it will be the best option for 90% of people who just need some packing tape.
2. Gorilla Tough & Wide Packing Tape – Best For Heavy-Duty Boxes
If you’re packing heavier boxes, wide, Gorilla makes the best packing tape you can get your hands on. While it is more expensive, it comes with several advantages over the Scotch brand tape above:
- You only need one strip to seal a box. Whenever I use tape narrower than 2″ I don’t feel comfortable with only a single strip holding the box shut. This is especially true if I’ll be shipping the box or moving it via a truck because I know that the box will be scooted around a lot (which tears inferior tape). With 3″ wide tape a single pass is all you need.
- The dispenser is refillable. While it’s not super sturdy or comfortable to use, you’re pretty much getting a free tape gun with this purchase that enables you to simply buy rolls in the future (saving you money).
- This tape is heavy duty but super slick. The best packing tape has a super strong adhesive (ditto here) but is also slick on the opposite side, enabling things to slide over the tape without catching or tearing (also, ditto).
All in all, this is the best packing tape if you’re packing up your house and you’ll be sealing up boxes of dishes or other heavy items. For me, the cost is usually worth the peace of mind.
3. Scotch Crystal Clear Packaging Tape (Rolls Only) – Best For Bulk Packing
If you have a tape gun that needs an under 2″ wide tape roll, this is just the ticket. While I don’t personally use tape this narrow unless I can help it, the adhesive is great and the tape is strong. I have used dozens of rolls of this tape before moving on to the 3″ variety and never had any problems if I closed a box with two strips.
If you are going to get rolls of tape, do yourself a massive favor a get a good tape gun (I use this one). Otherwise, even the best packing tape can be impossible to use!
The six rolls of tape in this package should be enough to pack up everything in your house and then some.
4. Uline Crystal Clear Industrial Plus 2.6 Mil 3 Inch – Best For Small Businesses
This right here is the holy grail of packing tape. It’s thick (but not too thick), doesn’t stink, is 3″ wide, comes off the roll well (and without too much noise), and is strong enough to hold any box shut.
Uline recommends this tape for boxes over 40lbs (although I use it for everything) because of its super-high tensile strength of 26lbs per inch (which probably sounds like Greek but, take my word for it, it’s strong).
While there isn’t much more I can say about it, this is virtually the only tape I use in my eBay business.
Make sure you get a compatible tape gun and you’ll be ready to go!
If you choose the wrong packing tape, nothing catastrophic will happen. Probably. We have, however, had packages open up in transit and packing boxes box open in the back of a truck. So possibly the worst thing that can happen is you buy crappy tape.
However, there was that one time that we got a full box of 24 rolls of tape that stunk so bad we couldn’t even use them. can be loud too
3 Tips For Making The Most Of The Packing Tape You Get
Even if you get the best packing tape in the world, using it incorrectly can lead to lots of frustration and wasted tape. Here are a few tips I use to make sure that everything goes well:
- Get a tape gun. Seriously, even if the tape says you can tear it by hand (like Gorilla packing tape) just get a tape gun. The tape will go on smoother, faster, and you’ll be able to cut it more cleanly.
- Buy extra tape. Running out of tape halfway through packing up a room or sending a package is a massive pain. Either you quit, send someone to the store, or try to find something else (gluestick anyone?). Save yourself the trouble and get an extra roll. It won’t go bad if you don’t use it right away.
- Stick the tape down by hand. Even the strongest and stickiest tape will pop off a cardboard box if not stuck down properly. Run your hands over the tape (especially the ends) to make sure there aren’t any bubbles.
- Don’t worry about the “type” of tape. Every manufacturer or packing tape calls it something different and has its own proprietary levels of “strength”. You might see heavy-duty tape, tape for packing, tape for shipping, tape for cardboard boxes, etc. When it comes down to it there is very little (if any difference) between the types and the differences are not consistent from brand to brand. The tapes above will be adequate for nearly any type of shipping or packaging you could possible do.
While I probably have more tape preferences than the average person (because I use it daily), you can’t go wrong with any of the above options. Any of them will hold a box shut for shipping, for moving, for storage, etc.
Just make sure you order enough! (and a tape gun)