When it comes to packing for a big move or shipping a gift to a far-flung family member, the boxes you pack your stuff in are only as good as the tape that holds them closed. No amount of bubble wrap and packing peanuts will save your glassware if the cardboard box suddenly pops open in the back of the truck. That’s why it’s best to stick to packing tape, also called shipping tape or box tape.
If you’re just packing up one or two boxes, the old roll of duct tape in your junk drawer will do just fine. But if you’ve got dozens of boxes that need to be packed up, box tape offers several key benefits that will save time and make for more secure results.
Box tape is typically compatible with dispensers, making it easier to get the exact amount you need and cut it to the appropriate length. Pulling, measuring and tearing duct tape by hand is a surefire way to waste time (and tape, when the strip inevitably turns and sticks to itself). Many packing tape options are transparent, making for cleaner-looking results. Transparent tape can also be handy if you’re affixing any sort of shipping label and want to make sure you don’t cover barcodes and any important information. And while it’s secure, packing tape is also designed to be easy to cut open. It also won’t leave too much residue when it’s time to reopen the boxes.
Another good option is paper tape. Paper tape can be more easily torn by hand, unlike clear tape, which is prohibitively difficult to use without a dispenser. Another benefit is that paper tape can be easily written on, so you don’t have to mark your cardboard boxes if you plan on reusing them. However, paper tape can sometimes be more expensive.
The best box tape should obviously be sturdy and easy to use, but cost is a factor as well. Between truck rentals and miscellaneous expenses, moving can be a costly process. That’s why buying bulk is a great way to save money and ensure you have enough box tape to get you through this (and the next) move. We’ve rounded up some of the best packing tape available below.
1. Scotch Heavy Duty Shipping Packaging Tape
If you don’t already have a tape dispenser, or you need a few extras to enlist the whole family to help with packing, then this offering from Scotch is a good option. Three dispensers are included, each with a roll of tape loaded in. The tape is just under 2″ (48mm) thick, and each roll is 22 yards long (20 meters). Scotch is one of the most trusted brands for tape, and this tape is made in the US and meets USPS standards.
Pros: Three-pack tape optoin that also includes three handheld dispensers.
Cons: If you have a lot to move, you’ll likely need to buy more rolls.
2. U-Haul Moving Box Paper Tape
Paper tape has some benefits that plastic tape doesn’t. This tape is less likely to accidentally adhere to itself, and you can easily write on it with a marker, which is perfect if you want to label the boxes without actually writing on the boxes. It’s no surprise that U-Haul makes great supplies for packing and moving, and this durable and reliable paper tape can be easily torn with one hand, unlike other tapes. Some paper tapes are water-activated, but this option is ready to use right away. The roll is 55 yards long.
Pros: Can be evenly and easily torn with one hand. Can be written on, allowing you to label boxes without writing directly on the box.
3. Duck HD Clear Heavy Duty Packing Tape Refill
It’s not duct tape, it’s Duck tape. This packing tape from Duck tape comes in a pack of six, and each roll is 54.6 yards, for a total of 328 yards. That means that a single order should get you through any big move — after all, the last thing you want to worry about is running out of packing supplies. The aptly named HD Clear tape is very transparent, not yellow-ish like some clear tapes, making it a great option for affixing labels and situations where a professional look is important.
Pros: Crystal clear and transparent for a cleaner look. Value buy includes six large rolls for a total of 328 rolls.
Cons: Can occasionally come unstuck if not enough pressure is applied.
4. Gorilla Heavy Duty Large Core Packing Tape
If you just need a single roll, then consider this heavy-duty tape from the aptly named Gorilla brand. It’s designed to go on crystal clear, so you can easily use it for any packing labels. The tape is a standard 1.88″ thick and one roll is 40 yards long. It’s also designed to be both easy to cut and tear-resistant, meaning it’ll open only when you want it to. It also fits in any standard-size tape gun or dispenser.
Pros: Durable but easy to cut. Crystal clear to maintain label legibility. Fits in standard dispensers.
Cons: Not as good of a value as buying bulk rolls.