EDC – What’s in your pockets?
When it comes to preparedness gear, the most important gear is that which you have on you at the time of the emergency. A life jacket on the boat is of no use to you if you are drowning in the ocean. And because emergencies are never planned and usually not expected, you will most likely not have a lot of gear on you when disaster first strikes.
This is why the Every Day Carry gear (EDC) that so many preppers talk about is a popular discussion. In reality, your EDC can be your first line of defense against unforeseen problems and emergencies.
Before we jump into this topic, I want to give you a word of caution. A mistake I see some preppers make is that they try and include way too much in their EDC. Those preppers think “The End Of The World As We Know It” (TEOTWAWKI) when trying to create an EDC kit. I want to tell them, “Well isn’t that what your Bug Out Bag or Get Home Bag (GHB) is for?”
For myself, I look at what I carry in my EDC different than what I have in my Go Bag. The Go bag is designed to help sustain me over a period of time for true SHTF scenarios. My EDC is there for temporary solutions to emergencies both big and small.
I don’t need my GHB for a temporary power outage. I don’t need it when I drop something between my car seats at night, or if the credit card machines at the gas station are not working. Instead, I have some small, simple tools that I have on me at all times for situations like these.
In a large scale SHTF scenario, my EDC could help to get me to my GHB, which I would then use to help get me home. Hence my EDC is not designed for long term problems or emergencies.
Before I get into what and why I carry what I do, I need to say that for the purposes of this article, my EDC is what I carry “off-duty”. As a police officer, I typically carry A LOT more gear on me than a normal person would. I even have an “EDC” backpack or Patrol bag I take to work every day. But as you can see from the pic below, it is mainly gear specific to my job. Most people don’t need a metal citation book, extra hand cuffs, or a yellow reflective “highway safety” vest on them every day.
I think of my patrol pack as my “briefcase”. So I am not counting what I have in this pack as part of my off-duty EDC. Instead, I count it as part of my “Extended” EDC (EEDC), but more on that later.
The Planning Stage
When deciding what I would carry on me every day (off-duty), I decided to come up with a plan. I sat down and thought about the more probable events that could happen to me, and the items I might need to help in those situations.
So when I decided what I should have on me at all times, I realized that there are literally thousands of situations that might happen to me or around me. There is NO WAY I could try to plan for each and every one. Instead, I decided to look on past experiences. I thought back to all the times something unexpected happened to me and I thought to myself “Damn, I wish I had _____ on me.”
I thought about the time I had a flat tire on the interstate. The time my gas tank was almost empty and the station I pulled into did not have a working credit card machine. I thought about the times I was somewhere in the dark and didn’t have a flash light. Then, based upon those and other probable events, I came up with the gear that I would have on me at all times.
I also decided that in some situations where the likelihood of an emergency happening might increase, such as long trips for example, I would add items to my EDC. I decided when, where, and what would constitute my “Extended” EDC. I put these extra items in my patrol bag, which I stated also serves as my Extended Every Day Carry. (EEDC)
Next, I thought about what items I would WANT to carry on me every day for EDC. Let’s face it; if you don’t have these items on you every day when you leave your house, then it isn’t EDC. I knew that if the items were too bulky, or if there were too many items, I wouldn’t carry them. So I took the survival skills I already possess and balanced that against gear that I may or may not need.
For example, I do not smoke. I have multiple means of fire starting in my GHB. And in a true SHTF scenario, I know how to make a bow drill fire. (Yes, I have actually done it multiple times, not just watched a video on YouTube.)
For many years, I did not carry a cigarette lighter. The cheap ones break too easy, and the Zippo leaks fuel too much. So for my regular EDC, I decided I did not need a lighter. I have several in my GHB, which is always in my vehicle. Hence I didn’t carry a lighter with me.
Over time, I decided that I would add one to my EEDC. Just because I could not think of a minor situation where I might need a lighter does not mean I wouldn’t find myself in one. The problem (as stated before) were that the cheap lighters would break, and the nice ones would leak. I began to look for options that I could have a lighter or other fire source without worrying about it breaking or it leaking fluid. (More on this later.)
That brings me to my next point, finding the gear that I want to carry that is small enough to fit easily in my pockets, yet sturdy enough that I don’t need to worry about it breaking after one or two uses.
Items that are small and light weight are traditionally not as strong or durable as heavier, full sized items. So after deciding what items I wanted to carry, I began looking for items that would meet my qualifications. (Light weight but sturdy.)
I don’t mind spending a bit more on gear I know that could potentially save my life or the life of a friend of family member. I do not worry about quality gear breaking right when I need it the most. (Or at least I do not worry as much.) You might save a few bucks buying that discounted item at the “Dollar store” or at Wal Mart. But what good is that few dollars you saved if the item breaks in the midst of an emergency?
Here is the list of items that I keep on me every day, plus some thoughts on why I carry that particular piece of gear. These are in no particular order other than the first one.
Cell phone – I never leave home without it. So many emergency situations can be handled (or at least helped) if the right people know what is going on. The ability to simply call 911 can be a lifesaver…literally. For this reason alone I put a cell phone at the top of my list.
I have a Galaxy Note 4 smart phone. (Just my preference.) By having a Smart phone it allows you to have ALL kinds of information at your fingertips. There are TONS of survival apps out there, and a GPS and Google maps is pretty handy to have when you are lost or in a new area.
If you cannot afford a smart phone, or don’t want a long contract, there are “Go-phones” out there that let you buy minutes as you go along. I would HIGHLY recommend at least having the ability to call for help in the event of an emergency. They are also called “drop phones” for a reason.
Now yes, in times of a huge disaster, like a tornado for example, the cell service might be down. But if you have downloaded those survival apps and books, you could still use your phone as a reference.
Flashlight – I can no longer count the number of times that I have found myself having to use the flashlight I carry on me daily. On duty I carry the Streamlight Stinger LED rechargeable flashlight. It is bright as hell (around 650 lumens) and I love the fact that it holds a charge forever. But it is WAY too big to carry around with me when I’m not on duty.
I tried other small pocket flashlights without much luck. But when my friend Graywolf highly recommended the Cree Ultra Fire flashlight, I thought “For less than $6 it’s worth a shot.”
Well, he was right. For only a single AA battery, it puts out around 300 lumens. It clips firmly in my pocket, and it has never accidentally fallen out. It is sturdy and well built. The power button is “subdued” and I have never accidentally turned it on while still in my pocket. My model comes with three different settings, including a “strobe” mode.
This is one I recommend for anyone wanting a small (weighs about 2.5 oz) but powerful and durable pocket flashlight! It is even waterproof.
In addition, I have a Goal Zero solar panel for recharging things like AA batteries in my GHB. That would come in quite handy in extended disaster scenarios!
Knife – There will be some who would argue that a knife, as a survival tool, is more important than a cell phone. And in a true survival situation without cell coverage, you could argue that.
More than just a defensive tool, my knife can serve many purposes. For example, as long as I have trees around I can make a fire. (I can make a fire with the lithium cell phone battery too.) I can cut branches for a temporary shelter, etc.
A good quality knife is one piece of equipment that I would not skimp on. I would recommend getting a high quality knife that will last you for years to come. If you find yourself in a disaster setting that really requires you having to use a knife, (opening up that package from Amazon you just purchased does NOT count) then that is most likely the WORST possible time for your knife to break on you. Why risk it?
I have a Kershaw Tanto folding knife. Kershaws are quality knives and are well worth the money in my opinion. I have had my Kershaw for about two years now, and only had to sharpen it once. So it holds its edge pretty well. It also has Speed-Safe torsion bar which makes it very easy to open with just one hand. Mine is light-weight at about 4.2 ozs. It attached firmly to my pocket, and I have never had it fall out or come loose.
There are cheaper models than the one I have, and as far as I know they are just as dependable. I have also heard good things on Spyderco knives, though I do not have one.
Spare cash – I keep an extra $50 on me, hidden in my wallet. (I ALWAYS have my wallet on me.) I keep it in smaller denominations. Sure, if there were ever TEOTWAWKI event, there might be a time right at the beginning when some folks might still take cash that you could barter with for supplies. And smaller bills are great because you better believe that the other guy “won’t have change.”
But in reality, I carry it because I have found myself in situations where credit or debit cards were not accepted. I have been in a situation where I was driving a car almost out of gas (not my car and a bad idea) and the only gas station in that area could not take cards because their internet was down. So having some spare cash on me saved the day…and saved me a LONG walk!
Multi-tool – I have a Leatherman multi-tool that I keep in my EEDC bag. I love Leathermans because they are well built and durable. But I’m already carrying my Cree pocket flashlight and my Kershaw knife on me, one clipped to each front pants pocket. I tried switching out the Kershaw for the Leatherman, which has a nice blade on it. But the Leatherman was much bigger than the Kershaw, and I did not like clipping it to my pocket. It was too bulky for my liking and prevented me from accessing that pocket without a huge amount of effort.
At that point, I knew I would not carry the Leatherman every day and so it would not be an EDC for me. (Into my EEDC bag it went.) But I knew that having some sort of little multi-tool could be very helpful and handy at some point in the future.
Instead, I carry a little Kershaw key chain multi-tool attached to my car keys. It was a part of a set I when I purchased a different Kershawn knife.
It stays on my key chain, is a little less than two inches long, and weighs less than 2 ozs.
Para-cord Bracelet – Para-cord is a lightweight nylon rope originally used for US parachutes during World War II. American GIs quickly found other uses for this rope, and para-cord “took off” so to speak.
Today it is used as a multi-function cord by both the US military and civilians alike. Para-cord consists of an outer sheath, and 7 strands of inner cord. Together, the para-cord is rated for up to 550 lbs of strength. Mil-spec type IV cord rates at 750 lb.
A small para-cord 550 bracelet can be broken down, and the inner strands can be used for such things as fishing line, line for tents or emergency shelters, or even cutting down a small tree with the right bracelet!
I have mine on me at all times. I even sleep and shower with. I used to take it off before showering, but realized it was beginning to look kind of dingy. Now it stays clean looking, and is no worse for wear from the water in the shower.
Wallet/Keys/Belt – If you notice in the top picture of my EDC, my wallet and keys are included in that pic, as they go with me everywhere. And literally, I do not leave home without them.
The wallet and keys are pretty self-explanatory. The belt can be used in a whole multitude of emergency functions…like a tourniquet for example.
There are times where you might forget something as you rush out the door, late for work. But there is a trick I use to ensure I never leave home without anything. More on that in a minute.
Lighter – I did find this handy little key chain lighter for about $10 on Amazon. It has an O-ring and does not leak. It is easy to carry since it is attached to me keys. It is 1.8 inches long and weighs about 4 oz.
After about three months, I was still able to light it. I did not notice any smell, so as long as you seal it tight each time after use, it should work just fine.
UPDATE – Ten months later and it is still going strong! Well worth the $10!
Watch – Yes, I know you can get the time off of your cell phone…call me old fashioned. I am just so used to wearing an analog watch. In a pinch, you can use an analog (not digital) watch to find north.
Weapon – I carry a Sig P238 (click the link to read my review) concealed when off-duty. Always. If you do not have your conceal carry permit, I would encourage you to get it. If you cannot obtain one due to where you live and cannot move, there are other alternatives for self-defense weapons that you can take almost anywhere.
I learned my lesson about always carrying concealed many years ago when I was standing in a busy convenience store. A man (big guy) that I had arrested on several felony counts (the arrest was less than pleasant, but he took a plea bargain) walked into the store and recognized me. He had done some hard time, and was apparently now out on parole.
Anyway, the man immediately began staring “daggers” at me. I could see the hatred burning in his eyes. He was wearing a jacket, and his hands were in his pockets. The situation made my neck hairs “tingle”, and I sensed the encounter could quickly become volatile.
At that time, I only had my Glock pistol, but it was on me, concealed in the small of my back. I was wearing a t-shirt and light jacket, and instinctively (and slowly) put my hand under my shirt and griped the handle of my Glock. The situation still felt tense, but a sense of steadfastness came over me. I did not say anything, but returned his gaze with a steady resolve.
I’m sure he saw my movements, even though I tried to be discreet. After a moment, he turned and walked out, still trying to burn a hole in me with his gaze. I often wonder what would have happened had I not been carrying concealed that day. Even the store clerk could sense the hostility, and asked “What was up with that guy?” after he left.
From that day forward, I have always carried concealed. I hope that I never have to use it. Avoiding conflict is my primary goal. My weapons are my back up plan! But in this case, better safe than sorry.
I have mentioned my EEDC bag earlier. It contains many items that I use in my day to day job. But for longer trips, or times where there might be an increased risk of an emergency, I throw the pack into my truck when I leave.
Because I have my department issued Ipad in it as well, (some officers get Toughbooks, some of us get Ipads. Go figure…) it is not uncommon for me to take it along when I know I am going someplace where there will be a wait. Like the doctor’s office for example.
My EEDC pack is a Voodoo Tactical bag. I wrote a review on here you can read. The guys at TopSpecUs.com were great about getting me a bag to test out.
Some of the regular, non-police items I keep in my EEDC bag are:
- Chargers for both my cell phone and my IPad
- I have an AC/DC power converter for my auto. Great for road trips or emergency settings where I need to charge my gear.
- Rite in the Rain notepad – I carry this on my person while at work, it stays in my bag otherwise. This pad is great, and still works when wet.
- Pencil – I carry ink pens on me at work. But in the bag is a pencil. It doesn’t leak or melt in the heat. It also does not freeze in the cold.
- Ear plugs – Because you never know when the urge to go to the range and shoot things will hit you!
- Ammo – I carry extra Glock/Sig magazines and shotgun shells. Pretty self-explanatory right?
- Container of waterproof matches – Two is one and one is none right? Plus they don’t leak! This particular container also has a small whistle, signal mirror and compass.
I also take a little 9 quart Igloo cooler to work every day. In it I have a several bottles of water, 3-4 Clif bars, a protein bar or two, over the counter pain reliever, chap stick, and a bottle or two of 5 hour energy. I keep it all cool with a Coleman chiller ice pack. This also comes with me on longer road trips, or at times I think I might be gone for a while.
Now if you are like most people, you have the best of intentions when you get your EDC gear together. But chances are, at some point in time life will throw you a curve ball, and you may run off forgetting some or all of your EDC. That’s NO bueno!
But I have developed a routine so that I always have the gear on me. Even in the dead of night!
At night, before going to bed, I take the pants I am wearing the next morning and put everything in the pockets except for the cell phone. (Which I keep on the charger on the nightstand beside my bed.) I even thread my belt through the pant lopes. I then hang the pants on a hook on my bedroom door. That way, if I have to leave suddenly at night, I can grab my pants, (and all my EDC gear) as I am running out the door. My EEDC bag is right by my door.
If I come home dead-ass tired and just want to crawl into bed, then I take my pants off with all of the gear and belt still on it, and hang them on the hook on the door. Either way, I have a pair of pants with all of my EDC on it ready to go at a moment’s notice!
I do this every night without fail. I have done it for so long it has become second nature to me. It has now become a routine, and I do it without thinking about it. The same can be true for you.
Ladies, I know there might be times when you will not be able to carry your purse or handbag. In those times, I have never understood why so much of your clothing comes “pocket free”. But it is what it is and you have to find ways to work around it.
If you are wearing clothing without pockets and cannot carry your purse, you might find carrying EDC a bit more difficult. But there are options out there if you do not have any pockets or purses:
Garter Purse – This particular garter comes in multiple sizes, has two different pockets, and pulls on like thigh highs.
Boots with internal pockets – These particular boots come in black or tan (beige) and have a inner cell phone pouch measuring approximately L-5.5 inches, W-2.75 inches, and H-0.75 inches.
Bra with pockets – Ok…let me be completely honest. I don’t know much about bras. In college I got pretty good at removing them one handed. But otherwise, I don’t know much. I looked at a few bras with pockets, and selected this one because it a) has room for a cell phone, b) it has EMF blocking silver mesh on skin side of pocket to protect from radiation entering the body, and c) every single review on it was a 5 star!
For obvious reasons I have not personally tested these items, and I am sure there are other options for the ladies out there as well. These are just a few that I was able to find with a little research. Explore all your options, and see what works best for you.
When it comes to EDC, you need to decide what is right for you. I listed the items that I carry every day, and the reasons for those items. But my situation might be different than yours.
I know some people that will carry a little Altoids tin on them filled with small, EDC gear. And if you feel that would be beneficial to you, then by all means do so. For me, I’m always close enough to my GHB that I don’t feel like I need the tin. But again, it is what fits into YOUR plans that matter.
Get into the habit of having the gear on you at all times. Once you make a habit, it will become second nature, and you might actually feel “naked” without it.
What are your thoughts on EDC? Have any good ideas not covered here? Leave them in the comments below!
Stay safe out there!
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I found a video on Myth Buster’s Adam Savage EDC. I thought it was interesting, so I posted it here.