A good survival EDC has to do two things well:
- To assist you in everyday tasks
- To keep you alive in case of an emergency.
The problem with EDCs is that you can only carry so much on your person. Unless you have a job that’s keeping you glued to your car, you’re stuck keeping your everyday carry items in places such as your wallet, your laptop bag, your purse and, of course, your pockets.
Whether you live in an urban, suburban or rural area, you’ll find the exhaustive list below enough to fit most if not all of your needs… so let’s take it one at a time, shall we?
The main task of your EDC kit is to get you out of immediate danger, whether we’re talking about a fire, an earthquake, social unrest or personal assault. Beside the obvious self-defense skills you should master, consider the following (that can either fit in your pocket or your bag):
- …a pocket folding knife. It needs to be of the highest quality, but don’t fall for buying the most expensive one.
- … a concealed carry pistol. Guns may or may not be your thing but, if they are and if they’re allowed where you live, you should definitely opt for a concealed carry pistol or revolver.
- …pepper spray. Legal even in some countries in Europe, but check to see if yours is on the list before you get one.
- …an emergency whistle. If you’re ever in danger and, for some reason, you can’t defend yourself, use it to attract attention to yourself. Hopefully, your neighbors or passers by will come to your aid.
- …a Taser.
- …a stun gun.
- …a mini blow gun.
- …a hatchet (not a good idea for urban EDCs, but I leave it up to you)
- …a tactical pen.
- …a small shovel (I keep one in my car’s trunk in case I get stuck in snow or mud, but I can also use it for self defense if need be)
- …and even a laser pointer (to temporarily blind an opponent).
When something bad happens, the very next thing after you managed to get to safety and determined that you’re OK is to gather information. This could mean looking around, turning on a radio or reaching out to people. Prepare yourself by having:
- a phone with AM/FM radio functionality
- a portable HAM radio (should be in your bag, as it’s too big to carry on your person)
- pen and paper (to write messages)
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Most survival shelter options are to big to carry with you at all times except a few. Only one will fit in your pocket but you probably don’t want to do that anyway. Still, if you carry a purse, a backpack or a laptop bag, consider the following:
- a Mylar/space emergency blanket
- an ultra-compact bivvy bag
Although no one’s stopping you from carrying water in your bag every day, it’s probably going to be heavy. Instead, have means to purify water on the go, such as:
- a personal water filter (the Sawyer Mini is very compact and purifies 100,000 gallons of water, according to the manufacturer)
- a few water purification tablets
The odds of you needing to start a fire while not in possession of your survival bag, but you should at least have a means to start a flame. Consider:
- a lighter (Bic, Zippo or whatever floats your boat)
- a magnesium firestarter (small and works in all weather conditions)
- a ferro rod
- waterproof matches
Means to Light Your Way
Whether you’re stuck in the subway during a blackout or you have to go through a dark alley, you definitely want to see where you’re going:
- a micro-flashlight (you can attach it to your keyring)
- get a phone that has the flashlight functionality
- a lighter
- a candle (they make emergency candles that last 15+ hours)
Just like with water, you really don’t want to carry food with you every day. Keep it in your get home back or in your car’s trunk, but if you have some space in your purse or backpack, consider something light and jam-packed with calories:
- protein bar
- granola bar
- hard candy
You’d be surprised of all the multi-tools you can choose for your everyday carry. The come in all shapes and sizes:
- credit-card shaped multi-tools (I always carry one in my wallet)
- micro multi-tools that you can even attach to your key-ring (such as the Leatherman Squirt, the Keyport Slide Pro, or even the Gerber Shard)
- swiss army knives (such as the one made by Victorinox)
Hopefully, you won’t get to use these items but, nevertheless, no EDC kit would be complete without them. Consider:
- a mini-first aid kit (you can buy one that’s ready-made or make your own using a zipper bag or an Altoids tin as container)
- one or two band-aids in your wallet (you won’t even know they’re there)
- and any OTC medication you think you’d need based on your medical track record (think about the things you had to buy over the past two years and make sure you always have some of those on you: aspirin, ibuprofen etc.)
It’s never been easier to carry large amounts of information with you. However, keep in mind that, in the event of an EMP, all your electronics will most likely be fried. Still, you should keep important data on your:
- mini USB stick that you can attach to your keyring
- a piece of paper (to use as tinder or to write important information), or if you want, a write in the rain notebook
- survival e-books and offline articles
- scanned topograhpic maps of the area
- personal identification information
- emergency phone numbers
- photos of wild edibles
I’m going to add here the items that don’t fit in any other category. Don’t think they aren’t important, though!
- a watch (you may want to opt for one without a battery, so it continues to work in case of an EMP disaster)
- a Fresnel lens (can be used to redirect the Sun’s rays for signaling or starting a fire)
- cash (change and small bills; you will need it for vending machines or to pay off rioters)
- a space pen
- a small compass
- a back-up phone battery
- a phone solar charger
- safety pins
- paper clips
- a larger, preferably hand-crank LED flashlight in your bag
- a bandanna (has a variety of survival uses from protecting your head to carrying things, tying things up, signaling and even starting a fire)
- some 550 mil-spec paracord (could prove to be very useful in an emergency)
As you can imagine, many of these things are too big to fit in your pocket, so they should go in a separate bag such as a laptop bag, purse, backpack or men’s messenger bag.
Here’s What You Shouldn’t Carry In Your EDC
Try not to carry too many items and, instead, opt for a get home bag to fit extra items. You may want to avoid carrying:
- a large multi-tool
- a tarp (too bulky; you probably have more important items to put in your backpack)
- …and anything else that would slow you down, make you uncomfortable or get people to ask you what it’s for and why you’re carrying it
Are we missing something from this list? Let us know in a comment below.