Everyday carry (EDC) is a key concept in preparedness, and a good EDC kit and strategy should be one of the first steps toward being ready to protect yourself and your family during a crisis. Incidents such as the shooting at Sandy Hook school, the bombing at the Boston Marathon, the Orlando Nightclub shooting, and the Paris attacks which involved civilians at a stadium, restaurant, and concert hall drive home the fact that disaster can strike at any time or location.
Women have a certain advantage when it comes to everyday carry, because many are already in the habit of carrying a purse of some kind. It’s also perfectly natural for a woman to be seen carrying a large purse so it’s not something that would attract unwanted attention. The entire point of EDC is to carry what you need to survive both minor and major emergency situations without calling attention to the fact that you are more prepared than anyone else.
Imagine the following situations where you and or your family are:
- Stuck in traffic for several hours or even overnight
- Caring for someone after a car accident until help arrives
- Delayed for hours at the airport or on a plane runway
- Away from home when a storm or other natural disaster occurs
- Being followed on the street or subway
- Lost during a hike
- Helping a stranger at a mall or shopping center
- Treating an unexpected injury or wound away from home
Any normal adult wants to be as prepared as possible to protect themselves and care for their family during any of the above scenarios, correct? Some of the above situations are simply a matter of comfort level, and others can be a matter of life and death for you or someone else. In today’s climate of political and civil unrest, even those who previously have not considered themselves a “prepper” will want to be prepared for the unexpected to occur regardless of where you are.
Communication & Security
- Swiss Army Knife
- Credit card knife
- Self-defense weapons (pepper spray, tactical pen, or personal alarm, etc.)
- Cell phone
- Spare phone battery
- Spare batteries
- Pen and paper
- USB drive (with digital copies of important documents)
- Sharpie marker
- Button Compass
Food & Water
- Granola bars
- Tea bags
- Instant oatmeal and Spork
- Water filter (LifeStraw or Sawyer)
- Water purification tablets
- Aluminum foil
- Stainless steel container
- 1 small bottle of water
Shelter & Warmth
- Fire striker
- Waterproof matches
- Bic lighter
- Mylar emergency blanket
- Duct tape
- Wool hat and socks (depending on weather)
Health & Hygiene
- Mini first aid kit including several band-aids and Neosporin
- Hand sanitizer
- Bobby pins
- Manicure scissors
- Measuring tape
- Safety pins
- Baby wipes
- Eyeglass repair kit
- Super glue or crazy glue
- Work gloves and bandana
- Sunglasses and sunblock
- Personal hygiene (toothpaste, sunblock, dental floss, tweezers, nail clippers, )
- N95 mask
- Mosquito repellant
- Rubber bands or hair ties
- Eye protection (goggles)
- Several trash bags
Although the USDA recommends a handbag’s ideal weight is just 2.2 pounds, many women carry purses that weigh in at five pounds or more, with the average being somewhere around 5.2 pounds. The recommended guideline for handbag weight according to many chiropractors is no more than 10% of your body weight. For women, the weight of a purse has been proven to negatively impact things such as posture, neck, and shoulder pain, reduce the weight of your EDC bag until you can carry it comfortably.
How to Choose a Purse or Bag for EDC
One of the crucial criteria to consider when choosing a purse or other bag for EDC will be durability. Carefully consider the quality of the fabric and other materials used in making the purse to ensure that it will hold up to the wear and tear of daily use. Another component in durability for EDC purses is the tightness of stitching, the strength of strap material, and the reliability and security of closures such as snaps, Velcro, zipper, and buckle closures.
A key function of EDC is quick and easy access to frequently used items. The last thing you want to do in a crisis is waste precious time to dig through a deep purse looking for that item that you need. Lots of pockets both inside and outside the purse are great for keeping small items organized and accessible. Purses with additional o-rings, webbed loops, or other attachment points are great for keeping items secure and for storing frequently used items within easy reach.
- Weight when Empty
Weight is a factor when buying any purse, but this is especially important when buying a purse for EDC purposes. The nature of EDC requires that you carry those items you would need to survive an emergency along with the items that you need to use for normal tasks. Starting with a lightweight but durable bag enables you to keep your EDC purse at a weight that will be comfortable enough for daily use without the negative impacts that a heavy bag can have on the body.
Experts also recommend that rather than a bag that is worn over one shoulder, it’s better for your health and posture to wear a cross body bag or even a small backpack that more evenly distributes the weight across a broader area of the body. If a cross body bag or backpack doesn’t make sense for you, distribute the weight of your EDC by wearing some items rather than carrying them in a purse. For those that must carry an over the shoulder bag, it’s important to set the purse down whenever possible or switch shoulders so that you give your muscles a rest from carrying the weight.
Other Areas to Carry EDC Items
I’m sure as you look at the above list, you’re thinking that carrying these items in your purse will certainly weigh you down. But there are also multiple areas of the body to carry EDC items to more evenly distribute weight.
For example, a lanyard around the neck can easily hold a whistle or USB. You can also attach several mini items on a keychain and carry them in your pants, or a shirt or jacket pocket. A paracord bracelet with a built-in compass can be worn on the wrist.
By taking advantage of these “wearable” EDC items, you can keep needed items accessible but more evenly distributed to reduce the negative impact on posture and health.
Reduce Weight Even Further
In addition to wearing some EDC items, another way that you can reduce weight is to reduce the packaging materials for your EDC items and to purchase those items that will serve several purposes instead of one item for each purpose. Carry a mini-multi-tool on your keychain to reduce the weight of carrying several different tools.
Purchase sample or individual medication doses for your first aid and personal health needs. Instead of carrying a full tube of toothpaste and full-sized toothbrush, carry a sample sized toothpaste and a child-sized toothbrush or even just the head of the toothbrush. Instead of carrying an entire bottle of aspirin or ibuprofen, carry individual doses of different medications in one of those lightweight weekly pill cases, relabeled to identify pills clearly.
Try a Cross-Body Bag for EDC
The SwissGear Vertical Travel Bag shown here is my personal favorite EDC bag for women. The bag itself weighs in at less than a pound empty. It has a large main compartment and a second roomy compartment with multiple slots for holding different sized items.
There are three outside pockets and four attachment loops for quick access to frequently used items. It has a handy top carrying strap and an adjustable shoulder strap for over the shoulder or cross-body carry.
The material, zippers, Velcro closures are high quality and rugged. Available in red with gray interior or black with red interior both of which make items easy to see even in the dark.
The one pictured has been used every day for more than a year now, and it still shows no sign of wear and tear. Priced at less than $30 it’s also easy on the budget and a great value.
Tom Bihn Café Bag available on their website would be my second choice for an EDC bag. If your budget allows, the Café Bag is an ultra-customizable bag worn over the shoulder or cross-body. The bag is available in three different sizes, small, medium, and large, and regardless of the size, you will have a large open-top main compartment and slanted open-top back pocket. The weight of the bags empty ranges from 9 to 12 ounces.
All sizes have a front zip pocket beneath the asymmetrical front flap and four pockets in the main pocket. A cool waist stabilizer strap is available to secure the bag if you are riding a bicycle or motorcycle. The waist strap is standard on the large bag and can be purchased for the small and medium bags. All bags include o-rings and optional key straps and webbing loops for extra accessories.
All Tom Bihn bags are made with durable materials such as Cordura, 420 HT Parapack, and 1050D HT ballistic nylon for abrasion, tear, and weather resistance. You can also purchase multiple zippered pouches and snap hooks to create further organize your bag.
Try One of These Messenger Bags
The Gootium Vintage Canvas Messenger Bag consists of high-density canvas and top grain level leather trim. It weighs in at just over two pounds empty though so you’ll have to pay attention to reducing the weight of your EDC items. The advantage is that it can easily be worn cross-body so even though it’s a heavier bag, the weight is more evenly distributed than with an over the shoulder purse. The large size is big enough to hold a 15.6-inch laptop so with some extra organizing containers it’s roomy enough for all your EDC items.
Those looking for superior protection against liquid or the unexpected rainstorm or for those that commute every day on a bike or motorcycle will want the added water resistant protection of the SealLine Urban Shoulder Bag. There’s a waist belt for stability and a long carry handle as well as an internal organizer that includes a zippered pocket and key lanyard. It’s a serious investment at just under $200. Made of 600 D polyurethane coated polyester with a coated nylon bottom to protect documents and electronics from damage by water and other liquids, it’s great for keeping everything dry.
For additional organization within a large messenger bag or purse with large open compartments, try something like this Maxpedition EDC Pocket Organizer to keep everything easily accessible and secure. For those who want additional EDC capacity without the bulkiness of a purse or messenger bag, something like this Rugged Sports Fanny Pack with Water Bottle Holder by Bridger Supply may fit the bill.
If you are trained and have your concealed carry permit and live in a state where its legal to carry, it’s not a good idea to keep your firearm in your purse. Research shoulder or waist holsters so you can carry your firearm within easy reach.
The unfortunate fact is that we no longer live in a world where a trip to the movies, to a concert, or even to a sports event can be considered simply a fun, family outing. Even after more than a decade, the tragic events of 9/11 prove that even a routine day at the office can turn deadly without any warning.
To protect ourselves and our families, women must be ever vigilant as we go about our daily routines. We must actively prepare ourselves to have the knowledge and resources within our reach to spring into immediate action when a threat to safety rears its ugly head.
The first step to being more prepared is to acknowledge the responsibility and necessity of preparation. The second step is to put together your customized EDC kit and commit to carrying it with you whenever you leave the house. Choosing a good quality purse or bag that is comfortable and convenient to wear as you go about your normal routines will help make EDC effortless and effective for any woman.