One of the topics of discussion with preppers has always been about what you should carry with you every day – in other words, your EDC gear. As I’ve said many times, the best gear in the world is useless if you don’t have it with you when you need it. For example, a $5 pocket knife is a much more effective weapon than an AK-47 in your gun safe at home. The problem is that you can’t carry everything, so you need to prioritize. This is a lot easier, and more difficult, than you may think.
There is a big difference between a bugout bag (this is my bug out bag, if you’re interested) and an EDC kit. A bugout bag is something that you keep ready to grab, whether it’s in your house, car or office. The good thing about them is that you can carry quite a bit of stuff in them. The bad thing is that you have to remember to keep it nearby every time you leave, and you may get caught off guard without it some time. Your EDC gear is on you at all times. Pretty much no matter where I go, I always have it. That’s why things like a tent aren’t part of your EDC, unless you actually do wear a backpack at all times, which I don’t. If you came here already knowing what you’re looking for, you can go ahead and jump to the Graywolf Survival EDC Gear Webstore and read this later.
For my EDC gear, I have a core group of items that I carry pretty much every day, no matter where I’m going or what I’m gonna be doing. I also have a few extended EDC kits that I’ll tack on if I’m going to be going to certain places or wearing certain clothes. More on that later.
By the way, if you ever post pics of your EDC kit including your keys, you should cover up the keys. It’s possible to make a real copy of them from just a photo, so all someone would have to do is locate your home or car then and boom! there goes your playboy collection.
So what kinda stuff goes into an everyday carry kit?
Essentially, your EDC equipment is just a group of tools. The tools you need depend on the circumstances that you find yourself in and what problems you’re trying to solve. The key is to predict situations that you may find yourself in first, and then find tools that will solve the problem. My EDC gear changes as I find new things that I want to carry or change my pattern of life – as well as what outfit I’m wearing that day. Your EDC kit isn’t your bug out bag. I have a very thorough post on what goes in bug out bags that you should read though. In case you’re interested, I have an article on the kit I keep on my Desert Warrior Harley as well.
Convenient and useful items only
The key to the EDC part of it is that you need to find things that are compact and effective, or you won’t carry them every day. A good example of this is my flashlight. I have some great flashlights at home that I’ve either bought or received from the Army for deployments. The one I use by far the most though is my Fenix LD10. Why? because it fits into my pocket, and rarely am I wearing something that doesn’t have a pocket.
Things you’ll use several times each day
One of the reasons you’ll put something in your EDC gear is just out of pure convenience. I could easily pull out my iPhone if I wanted to check the time or maybe ask someone but it’s a lot easier to just glance down at my wrist. A watch has other uses as well but that’s a bonus.
Things that you’ll use on occasion but are handy to have around
Some items, like a leatherman, are really nice to have around when you’re trying to tinker under a car to get it running or find a loose bolt on your son’s bicycle (or in my case, his Harley). It’s just about convenience. This group is harder to decide because you only have so many pockets.
Things that you’ll hopefully never need to use but if you found yourself in a situation needing one, you won’t have the time or ability to go get one if it’s not on you.
My pistol is a great example of this category. I’ve known people who’ve found themselves in situations in their life that they’ve needed a weapon and were glad they had one. I’ve also seen many times where people could have at least had the choice to save their family or kids if they had a weapon available but they didn’t and it didn’t turn out so well. This happens in every decent-sized city pretty much every day to someone. Weapons certainly aren’t the only thing in this category but they’re certainly the most controversial. If you don’t have the training to carry a gun safely or live in a place where you’re more afraid of getting arrested for having it, you can always opt for a knife but you should really get some training on it.
If you’re the kind who’d rather call someone with a gun when you run into trouble instead of having one in case you need it, then just skip the pistol. Maybe keep a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People on you so you can talk your way out of something.
Things you may want to carry in this category could be items to:
start a fire
reference for contact info
reference how to do things
escape from a kidnapping or illegal detention
get into your home or locker if you lose your keys
use for backup in case anything else in your EDC fails or gets lost
Unfortunately some locales don’t allow you to carry certain items so you’re gonna have to check into whether you can carry any particular item. Just remember that in a lot of cases, it’s the intent of what you’re planning on using something that may determine if you get charged so if you want to carry something, do some forward planning and find something that you intend to use it for that would make it legal.
So what do I carry?
Here’s the list of my primary EDC gear that I have with me pretty much every day.
Marathon GSAR US Government issue. I carry this because not only is it a badass watch – it was the watch my son wore when we were deployed to Afghanistan last year. It has tritium lighting so I can see it deep into the night without having to recharge the glow with a flashlight, it’s waterproof, and it has a sapphire crystal so it doesn’t scratch. I’ve owned a LOT of watches over the years but end up throwing them away after they get too scratched up to see or they break. I learned from my Movado that having a good (really good) watch is actually better than just buying a $20 one.
Because it’s an analog watch, I can also use it to find North. It’s not too difficult but a video’s prolly the easiest way to show you:
As I mentioned, I carry a Fenix LD10 light. I carried a Surefire for many years and in many crazy places but it required a CR123 battery. I love the power of those but unless I carry them or I’m near an Army unit, I’m shit outta luck when the battery dies because they’re not found very easily, and found myself without my primary light for a while in Northern Uganda. I switched to an AA battery-powered light now because I can find AA batteries in any store and in any home with a remote control or wall clock. I also switched to using rechargable AA batteries because my bugout bag has a solar panel and battery charger so I can go for years without even having to find a watch. This light has 100 lumens out and lasts for quite a while on one battery.
Unless there’s some really good reason that I can’t, I always wear a hat. Not only does it shade your eyes from the sun, you can hide a few items in it that people usually overlook.
Aurora 440C Firestarter:
Aurora sent me one of these to do a review and it worked so well, I decided to keep it on my keyring. It makes a much better spark than any other striker I’ve tried. It’s larger than I’d prefer but it fits on the keychain for now.
I was carrying one of those awesome CREE 7w flashlights because they’re great – and ridiculously cheap, but I recently stepped up and got a Zebralight SC52w. Not only is it really bright, it’s in neutral light like sunlight instead of white light, which is weird that it has the ‘w’ on it but whatever.
Fenix LD01. I just got this light but it seems pretty good. It runs off a single AAA battery. I’m using a rechargeable AAA battery that I charge in my solar AA battery charger with an AAA to AA adapter.
Streamlight 63001 Cuffmate 3-1/4-Inch Flashlight, Dual LED, Black: I work with the local Sheriff’s Office on occasion so this comes in handy to have around at night. It also is a backup to the backup light.
Badass Rayban wayfarer sunglasses:
Because they’re badass.
Colt 1911 .45 pistol:
I can carry pretty much everywhere but I prefer to carry concealed 99.9% of the time. The only time I don’t wear concealed is if I’m wearning a uniform. When I’m carrying my own weapon, I almost always carry my .45 caliber 1911. The 1911 isn’t a tiny weapon but it’s pretty freaking awesome and mine was made in 1919. I’ve carried concealed for a lot of years and have had training in how to detect weapons so I can carry it pretty easily now. The previous owner was a Navy match shooter and had all the insides upgraded to match-grade so it works great. I still haven’t gotten around to changing the match sites to nightsites yet but that’s coming at some point.
Bianchi Paddlelok Holster:
I love this holster. It fits my 1911, my Vertec 92FS, and my Army issued M9, and can sit on my side or flipped around to the small of my back. The paddle lock mechanism allows me to draw as fast as if there’s nothing holding it in but keeps the weapon in the holster from other people trying to get it out or it just falling out.
Boker Plus Subcom:
I just ordered this knife after a pretty extensive search. I’ve been carrying the Gerber 06 S30V drop point that I was issued on my last Afghanistan deployment (after my CRKT M16 knife stopped working well) but it’s too big to fit in my pocket. I don’t really like having things hang from my belt. Great knife for a deployment but not so great for Starbucks because it doesn’t fit in my pocket with the keychain things I carry. Also, I have to keep the safety on if I do carry it in my pocket because it pops open if the button gets popped, which pretty much negates the super-fast assisted opening it has. Hopefully the Boker will work out.
Set of dogtags with allergy tag:
It’s a unit requirement and gives me something to hang a couple things around my neck.
P38 can opener:
This isn’t something I really need very often but it always hangs on my dogtags. Old habit.
Buck 0860BKS-B Hartsook Fixed Blade Neck Knife:
Not the best knife in the world but it’s one of the most compact ones that’ll actually cut something.
I keep copies of a few hundred survival- and homesteading-related pdf’s as well as reference Field Manuals etc on this. I also have copies of all of my orders and other things in case I need them and a spreadsheet with contact information and addresses etc. Obviously having it encrypted is important. I’m using an old 8GB one right now but I’m considering getting a new one because there are smaller ones out now with more room. I do like that the usb connection is retractable though. I hate losing those freaking caps.
Fisher space pen:
I love this thing. Always with me and always writes. Much better than a normal pen because it fits in my pocket.
I sometimes carry a Schrade survival/tactical pen if I have an easy way to carry it. It has a built-in survival whistle, a ferro rod/striker, and can be used as an improvised weapon.
Rite in the rain memo book:
Works even if it gets wet. You should always have something to write with and on. Never know when you’ll come across something you need to jot down such as a license plate of a hit-and-run idiot or the description of a person. Or someone’s phone number.
I keep a couple of well-hidden bobby pins on me in case I find myself in the unfortunate position of ever being handcuffed and searched by some bad guy. Hopefully they’re not my handcuffs holding me but either way, it’s not too difficult to get yourself out of handcuffs with one of these if you practice quite a bit, especially if you’re allowed to own cutaway handcuffs that show you how the inner things are working as you’re moving stuff around inside. MUUUUCH more difficult to get out of if you’re handcuffed properly. Easier to just break them in that case.
You never know when you’re gonna be coin-checked so I always have one with me.
My iPhone, loaded with several survival pdf’s.
Survival pocket credit card knife tool thingy:
It was cheap and fits in my wallet. Who knows if I’ll ever actually use it.
550 cord is another thing I carry, depending on what I’m wearing but I need to figure out a better way than just shoving some in my pocket somewhere or just on the bracelet my friend made me. This bracelet actually has a hidden handcuff key, fire starter fishing kit and snare wire traps so I’m probably gonna pick one of these up. Trading your bootstring for it is a great option but my civilian boots don’t take string and neither do my sandals.
Here’s a list of some of the things I’ll add to my primary EDC gear (my secondary EDC kit) if I have room or think I may need them. You might call this a secondary EDC or auxiliary EDC kit. You might also call it TOSICS (The Other Stuff I Carry Sometimes):
- Single Bianchi magazine holder and 1911 magazine:
- I don’t always carry an extra magazine because it’s a lot harder to conceal it and the pistol. I sometimes put one in the front pocket of my tactical pants if the ones I’m wearing have a magazine pocket.
- Tourni-Kwik 4 (TK4) Tourniquet:
- I got this on a deployment several years ago and really like it. I have several tourniquets but this one’s very compact and I can put it on myself with one hand if I really needed to. I don’t always carry it but I do if I have cargo pockets.
- Spare AA battery
- Spare AAA battery
My EDC tin:
This is an EDC kit in itself and is pretty much a little survival kit that’s primarily carried in case I somehow find myself out in the middle of no where and need to survive for a couple of days. I’m constantly changing the items inside but here’s what I have in it at the moment:
- 1.76oz Altoids tin:
- This is just the tin itself. I don’t particularly care for altoids so I just took them out but their tins are freaking awesome.
- Ranger bands:
- I use a couple of these on the outside of the tin to keep it together in my pocket. You can buy them as ranger bands if you’d like but just do what I did and go to a local bicycle shop and ask if they have any flat bicycle inner tubes in the trash that you could have. Just cut them to whatever width you want. I keep an additional bit on the inside of the tin that I can cut up into smaller bits later if I need to. It’s also great stuff to extend your fire starting tinder. Once you get it lit, it’ll burn for several minutes.
- Stainless steel wire saw:
- This is one of those things I’d usually keep in my bugout bag but since I have the room in my EDC tin, I keep it in there for now. I may end up moving it if I come across something that would be smarter for the space.
- Tinder Quik fire tabs:
- I keep a couple of fire wicks or some cotton in a small ziplock bag in case I need tinder. I live in the desert so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find something but it’s monsoon season so having something dry could be convenient.
- 3×5″ card:
- I keep one of these folded up to be used to write a note or as additional tinder.
- Folded sheet of aluminum foil:
- Foil has lots of uses such as allowing you to use an AAA battery in an AA slot, temporary fuse bypass, a field-expedient cooking pan, a scrub brush, and a lot more. You can also take a thin piece and connect each end to the output of a battery (or a couple of batteries if necessary) and it’ll glow and burn to start a fire if you’re quick.
- Backup flint and magnesium:
- This isn’t nearly as good as the Aurora one on my keychain but it’s a LOT smaller. The magnesium is kind of a must but it’s possible to start a fire without it. This particular one has them glued together.
Brass mini lighterI stopped carrying this because it won’t hold fluid but it is pretty cool.
- The easiest way to start a fire is with a lighter. I like this one because it’s brass, which makes it cool. Brass is cool. It’s refillable and it’s smaller than a pack of gum. Got it off ebay but I don’t know where you could get the exact same one anywhere.
- I replaced this lighter with a cool little miniature keyring lighter instead. It keeps the fluid longer because of the o-ring but I already lost one of those. Luckily my next-door neighbor is an avid paintball guy so I got a paintball gun o-ring from him that works dandy.
- Packs of Bacitracin antibiotic
- Size 10 rib-back surgical blade
- Several paper clips
- Several safety pins
- One safety pin wrapped with several yards of dental floss and encased in some aluminum foil
- A hacksaw cut into 3 pieces, one of which is sharpened as a knife on one end
- Several bobby pins
- An Exacto blade
- Several fish hooks
- A few lead fishing weights
BTW, here’s a pic of the awesome brass lighter I picked up (and don’t carry any longer). It’s pretty cool looking but not actually all that practical because all the fire juice evaporates too quickly. I need to find a way to seal it. And yes, I was at Starbucks when I took this:
If I’m going out camping or on assignment with either the Sheriff’s Office or the military, I’ll also add a few things in my extended EDC kit such as a combat knife, normal carry gear or whatever. It’s still EDC at those times but just for a specific purpose.
One thing I always have on me, no matter what is my bracelet. Captain Ben Sklaver and I were good friends while we were both in Uganda in 2006. He was the Civil Affairs Commander and I was a security advisor for the US Embassy. He started the Clearwater Initiative to bring clean drinking water to people in remote areas once he got back from Africa. Ben died in Afghanistan 2 October 2009.
Here’s what I carried in Afghanistan as my EDC. As you can see, different circumstances and scenarios require different gear:
So let’s look at how to figure out what you need to put on your EDC gear list.
How much room do you have?
What you need to do first is look at how much room you have to carry what you’re gonna carry. You may end up changing a bit, depending on what you have. If you have a purse or a briefcase that you always have with you then you may have a lot more room to work with. If you wear clothes with very few pockets, you’ll have less. By choosing certain multi-purpose items, you may be able to double up on utility but you’ll still be limited.
What do you currently carry every day?
You probably have a watch and cell phone, as well as some way to carry your keys. Take a look at what things you could either replace with something else to suit your needs (such as a firestarter instead of a gnome key fob) or just get rid of altogether.
What do you need to have with you every day?
The kind of work you do will probably have the biggest effect on what you’re gonna carry every day. If you’re a first responder or live/work out in the wild, you’ll need much different items than if you work at a bank.
What situations do you run into regularly that you’d like to deal with more efficiently?
Personally, I find that I need a knife at least once a day to open things and a flashlight sometimes several times after the sun goes down to find things. That’s why I always have them on me.
I don’t need a pen and paper every day but I probably use them once a week. I’d rather write something down than make a note to myself on my phone. For some of you, your bugout or patrol bag may actually be part of your EDC kit.
What situations can you foresee that may happen that you want to be ready for?
This doesn’t have to be something you expect to happen. It could be something that will most likely not happen but could be dealt with much easier by carrying something very small with you at all times. My hidden bobby pins are a good example of that, as well as pretty much everything in my EDC tin. I’ll probably never need to use any of that stuff (although I find I’ve used my lighter a few times already) but it’s there if I need it. If I ever get detained illegally by handcuffs or zip ties, I’ll most likely be able to get out. If I ever find myself in the middle of the wilderness and need to start a fire or build a shelter, I’ll be ready.
Imagine different scenarios and how you’d deal with them. What happens if your car dies halfway home and the cell towers are down. Would you have to walk several miles to get to help? What if you were driving across country in a friend’s car and it broke down. What do you think you’d have to have with you to survive or make things more comfortable if you had to spend a couple nights out there?
What ideas can you get from other people?
Once you’ve looked at all this stuff, take a look through the internet and look at what other people have put in their EDC kits. Remember that just because you see a lot of people carrying something, that doesn’t mean that you really need to also.
How can you downsize your kit?
After you get a decent list of the things you need and want, look at different ways that you can double up and not take up too much more room. I wrapped the handle of the sawblade knife I made with some electrical tape, for example. Hardly any more room than without it but I now have tape if I need it. Same thing with the dental floss I have wrapped around the safety pin I had anyway. Because I carry an iPhone anyway, I decided to load several hundred survival books in it. Doesn’t take any more room than it does without them, other than the memory space. Also look at getting smaller versions of items if they’ll still work just as well.
Prioritize your EDC
You’ll probably find that there are several items that you’d really like to have with you at all times but you actually won’t end up carrying them. My spare magazine is an example. I keep these items handy as an extended EDC kit and wear them as my expected day changes or clothing allows. You may decide to have several EDC kits such as one for work, one for weekends, one for travel, etc. One thing that REALLY BUGS ME about travel as far as my EDC goes, by the way, is the fact that I can’t carry a freaking knife or anything sharp on the plane. If it goes down in the wilderness (as they sometimes do), I won’t have a knife available unless I can somehow get one out of someone’s checked baggage. Not cool. In these cases, I have to adjust my primary EDC until I get there. From what I understand, you’re allowed to carry a pair of scissors as long as the blade is under 4″ so I’m now on the hunt for one of those, which I’ll just modify a bit.
So as you can see, coming up with a good everyday carry kit is both simple and complex – as complex as you want to make it. Just think it through, make a plan, and execute. Then go back on occasion and revisit your plan and re-prioritize what you carry. Simple.
Feel free to post your EDC kit below. Someone else may learn something from what you’ve figured out.