Whenever we leave home, we bring with us a collection of items that we think might be useful. Wallet, phone, house keys, sunglasses, and the like. But what if you want to be prepared for an emergency? What should you always have with you, just in case?
In the prepper world, these items are known as every day carry (EDC) gear. These EDC items are the things you need to handle all of life’s little occurrences and the gear you need to deal with a big emergency.
But what should be on your list of EDC gear? There are so many useful tools and pieces of equipment that we'd like to have at all times, but this just isn't practical. Unfortunately, this means picking and choosing individual items carefully and intentionally. With so many different items one could carry, where does one start?
Creating your EDC list
Before you go out and buy and new EDC items you might need, you should take the time to figure out exactly what will be useful in your life and what might be superfluous. A good way to think about how you might organize a list of EDC gear is to consider these two groups:
- Items you carry on your person
- Items you carry in in a backpack
If you think about your EDC kit in these two categories, it can be a bit easier to understand what you might want to have with you at all times.
Another thing to keep in mind when deciding what gear you need is to consider where you spend most of your time. Do you go on a lot of wilderness hikes? Do you work in a busy urban environment where crime is an issue? Or, do you live in a rural community where help may be a long way away? Where you live, work, and recreate will have a big effect on what you choose to carry with you.
Local laws and regulations might also determine what you can and can’t carry with you. Some states and countries don’t allow certain types of firearms or have strict regulations on knife blades, sizes, and action mechanisms. There’s no point in buying a piece of EDC kit if it’s illegal and you’re not allowed to have it.
Now that you have a foundational understanding of what should be in your EDC kit, let’s get right to our recommendations for essential EDC items.
EDC items to carry on your person
These are the items you have on your person (i.e. in your pockets) at all times. Items in this list are absolute essentials that you need readily accessible, regardless of the circumstances. For most of these items, being small, compact, and easily portable is key. If it’s too bulky or too heavy, you won’t want to carry it, so keep this in mind.
Most of us carry a cell phone around with us at all times and many of us couldn’t imagine life without it. Although being able to post pictures and send a tweet from nearly anywhere is really a luxury, being able to make a phone call in an emergency can be a matter of life or death. A reliable phone with good service in a sturdy, waterproof case can make a huge difference.
A wallet is critical for a number of reasons. For starters, a wallet carries important identification items, like your driver’s license. This can be incredibly important if you were to get into an accident and first responders needed to identify you to get in contact with your family.
But, what else should be in your wallet? A copy of your health insurance card and a small card listing any pertinent health information are also good ideas. Cash and a credit card or debit card are also important for food and drinks on the go, or for paying that taxi or bus fare when you just need to get home at the end of the day.
A slim wallet with RFID protection that fits discreetly into pants pockets is the perfect choice for your EDC kit.
A good multi-tool can solve problems you can’t even anticipate. From tightening a loose screw to opening a can, a solid multi-tool is critical for day to day use. The best multi-tools have an assortment of useful tools without being too bulky or heavy.
We like the 12-part Suspension multi-tool from Gerber because it is strong, lightweight, and durable. This multi-tool comes with a selection of blades for fine-tune cutting and heavy-duty saw jobs. The best part of this tool? Definitely the pliers, which are spring loaded and slimmed down to work in the tightest of spots. It even comes with its own nylon sheath for easy carry and can be combined with a number of separate toolkits for added functionality.
What is a tactical pen, you ask? Models vary, but it's essentially a heavy-duty metal pen built for self-defense and survival. Many tactical pens come with built-in glass breakers and flashlights, too.
We like the BellFyd Tactical Pen because it's built with your self-defense in mind. It's small enough to fit neatly in a pocket but is made with military grade tungsten steel, so it won't rust or fail when you need it most. This pen has a sharp point glass breaker, LED flashlight, screwdriver, wrench, and bottle opener, so it's a great EDC item. Oh, and it writes well, too.
There's no questioning the functionality of a knife. The original EDC carry item, a knife can be used for everything from opening packages to self-defense. A solid folding knife that you can open with one hand is a great go-to for everyday use.
But with so many options out there, how can you be sure that you’re getting the best EDC pocket knife? Our top choice - this option from TAC-FORCE. Built to last with an aluminum handle and 3mm thick stainless steel blade, this knife from TAC-FORCE is great for everyday use. The folding knife has an easy, one-handed spring-assisted deployment and locks securely in place. Plus, it's got a great built-in seat belt cutter and glass breaker, so it can be useful in a variety of situations.
Paracord has an endless list of uses. Whether you need to replace a shoelace or makeshift a splint for a broken bone, light, and strong paracord will come in handy. However, carrying hundreds of feet of paracord isn't terribly practical. Luckily, there are a number of great paracord bracelets that let you carry around a sizeable amount of cord in a sleek and stylish manner.
We love this fantastic set up from Diroca Outdoor which combines 12 feet of reflective and ultra-durable paracord with a host of other accessories. This amazing piece of EDC kit even contains a small, hidden plastic tube on the inside of the bracelet that holds fishing line and hooks, alcohol pads, fishing sinkers, safety pins, a whistle, and tinder. What’s not to love?
Be sure to check out our Top Paracord Bracelets for Preppers here for additional options.
EDC items to carry in a backpack
Unfortunately, we can’t carry everything we need in our pockets or on our person. Thankfully we can always carry a handful of important items around in a backpack so we never have to do without them. Your EDC backpack list should contain a number of key items, which we’ll discuss in detail here.
If you plan to carry some EDC items in a backpack, you’ll want to make sure you get a good pack to put everything in. This great pack from 5.11 is compact, yet comfortable and spacious enough to carry what you need. The pack's quick stash pocket and exterior webbing help keep everything organized, too, so you can access what you need when you need it. Be sure to check out other tactical backpack options here where we review the top 7.
No one wants to be left in the dark and a solid, reliable flashlight can ensure just that. This small, palm-sized tactical flashlight from Fenix (the FX-PD35 Tactical) packs 1000 Lumens of light into a durable frame and is one of the best EDC flashlights on the market. A digitally regulated output maintains constant brightness in this flashlight and you can switch it between a number of settings. With this super portable flashlight, you’ll never be without light when you need it most. Field tested, the Fenix PD-35 is no joke! Check out our review here.
Thermal Blankets are a great way to keep someone warm after an injury or if you get stranded outside. They’re lightweight, compact, and made of advanced aluminum mylar, which is designed to reflect heat in an emergency survival situation. These thermal bags from Anmeilu can help prevent hypothermia and shock by reflecting and retaining most of a user’s body heat.
A good set of waterproof matches is one of the most important things on your EDC bag list. The ability to create a fire can mean the difference between a very cold night stuck outside and a decent night's sleep. With this set of stormproof matches from UCO, you can be sure that you’ll always be able to get a match lit. They’re kept in a handy waterproof, durable case that floats and keeps contents dry in any conditions. A perfect accompaniment to your EDC list.
Dirty water, and the bacteria and viruses it contains, is one of the top killers of people around the world. Although we're lucky in the United States to have relatively clean water supplies in cities and towns, if you're out on a hike or traveling in some countries, you'll want to treat your water before you drink it.
There are many ways to treat your water, but one of the quickest and most convenient is to use a germicidal tablet, like these from Potable Aqua. A Potable Aqua water treatment container holds 50 purification tablets and makes questionable water ready to drink in just 30 minutes. These tablets are great for hiking and camping trips, natural disasters, traveling, and whenever you might not have access to clean water.
First Aid Kit
First aid kits are invaluable in an emergency situation. Whether someone is suffering from major trauma and you need lots of bandages or someone just needs a couple of Advil, a well-stocked first aid kit can come in handy in so many different situations.
This first aid kit from Aootek is specially designed for survival whether at home, work, or out on an adventure. In addition to a host of medical supplies, the kit comes with a number of other survival essentials, like a multitool, fire starter, multipurpose flashlight, and a fishing kit. It is always nice to have an extra backup with you just in case!
At the end of the day, what you choose to put in your EDC kit will be determined by your various life circumstances and needs. However, the items listed above are absolute minimums for every day carry and should not be overlooked. They are multi-purpose and invaluable items that can come in handy in nearly any situation you encounter.