Emergency preparedness from a Counterintelligence Agent

EDC: Top 7 things you should carry every day

EDC top 7 things you should carry every daySo I was talking to this pretty chick at the coffee shop yesterday and she asked what I did for a living, and of course, I replied with, “I’m a Journeyman Toothpick Whittler, Second Class.” That apparently wasn’t quite sufficient so I told her about the novel I’m writing and this blog (I really am second class, though). She asked what kind of things I wrote about and I said,  “Things like ‘The top 5 things you should carry on you every day.” Then she asked me what those five things were and I kind of looked like a dumbass as I thought through it in front of her and then realized I never actually wrote that specific article.

I’ve written a few of posts about your EDC kit (Every Day Carry), or what things you should have on you at all times such as what I carry (usually) and a few others but never broke it down to a simple, basic list.

HINT: it won’t involve one of these.

So some of you live in areas with ridiculous laws so you may not be able to follow this list completely. Sorry about your luck; you should move. In the meantime, here’s my list of EDC essentials. Obviously there are others that you could carry but you should always have these five. Errr, seven:

1) A good knife

One of the most useful items you can carry is a good knife. You may not ever find yourself in an actual survival situation but if you had a knife with you that could work for that in a pinch, that’s one less worry you’ll carry around in your pretty little head.

I personally carry a Gerber 06 tactical with s30v steel when I’m wearing jeans and can fit it. Why? The s30v steel is much better than most of the crap out there and still not crazy expensive. Second, I like the spring assist; you just push the button and it opens. Third, it has a decently-long blade that locks so it turns into a fixed blade. The last two are where some of  you who live in communist locales may run afoul from Johnny Law.

I carry the drop point blade version, but only because this knife was issued to me on my last Afghanistan deployment. I’ve shown you the tanto version in the link and the pic because I personally like it better.

When I’m in dressier pants, I switch to my Ontario Model II. It’s much smaller and lighter (and less expensive) but still a pretty decent knife. A knife like this is great for every day city living but not so good for batoning wood to build a shelter. In case you don’t know what batoning is, here’s a video of it from Dave Canterbury:

2) A lighter

My go-to way to start a campfire is just a cheap-ass Bic lighter. It works in most situations and will fit in your pocket quite easily. The mini version is my favorite. I don’t smoke or date girls who smoke so I don’t need a big lighter and because the fuel stays in these things for a LONG time. You may be tempted to get a Zippo because they’re cooler, but they won’t hold fuel as long (although smoking-type chicks dig them on dudes better). In any case, just make sure you have some kind of lighter.

3) A flashlight

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I’m big on AA flashlights because those batteries are everywhere and having all my stuff with the same type of battery cuts down on how many spares I have to carry in my bug out bag. It also allows you to carry something like this in your pack to make sure you never run out of power. What you carry in your EDC kit should blend in with your emergency and camping gear as much as possible.

The best value flashlight I’ve found is the CREE 7W AA flashlight. They’re super bright and built like a tank. They’re so cheap (like literally just a few bucks) that you’ll end up buying one for every vehicle and every person in your family, and then another dozen for stocking stuffers. No joke. I have several of these now and so do my neighbors and family.

The SC52w is pretty awesome

Personally, I don’t actually (usually) carry the cree above because I have several things in my pocket already and want something a little smaller. The cree still fits but not as well as this one. Plus, the one I carry throws out natural light, which is not only a little more pleasing than white light to look at, it works great for grilling at night so you can actually see how well-done your steak is. For me, it’s the Zebralight SC52w L2 AA in neutral light. You can get it in white light if you want though.

4) A pen

In everyday situations, a pen comes in handy for updating a to-do list, making notes of things to remember, or getting the phone number of girls in coffee shops. In a survival situation, they can be used to leave notes for rescuers or to write notes to yourself about the locations of water sources or other things you may want to come back to later while you’re stuck out either waiting for rescue or trying to get out.

As with all things, having the best equipment in the world is useless if it doesn’t work or if you don’t have it with you when you need it. For this reason, I spend a few extra bucks and get one of these space pens. They work in almost all conditions and easily fit right inside your pocket along with everything else.

5) A notepad

It doesn’t do much good to have a pen with nothing to write on. I got one of these Rite-in-the-Rain waterproof tactical notebooks at the PX in Iraq several years ago and have been carrying one ever since. The 3.5″x5″ model I linked to fits in my back pocket pretty easily but you can get larger ones if you have a man-purse or something.

6) A cell phone

I personally carry an iPhone 6 plus because I work online and it really comes in handy to have that much real estate in my hands and tech capability. A smart phone is REALLY handy to have everyday because you can get all sorts of useful apps to keep your life in order, or in a camping/survival situation, to do things like tell you your grid coordinates, show you where you are on a map, or be used as a compass. They can even store survival books on it for medical or plant references, etc. If you can afford one, I suggest going that route.

If you can’t, or you just don’t really want to get a real smart phone, at least get something. You can get an LG 450 phone (what we’d call a drop phone) for pretty cheap and don’t need to get a contract with it. I believe you’ll need one of these or similar to get started but then you just buy minutes as you need them.

In any case, having a cell phone on you could save your life in situations such as calling 911 after an accident, by finding high ground and calling for rescue if you’re lost, or to make last-minute arrangements on the way home when you forgot your anniversary. Again.

Cell phones won’t always work, especially in a disaster scenario, but they’re the best option when they do, so you should carry one.

Oh, and for those of you who’re whining “What if an EMP hits?” or “I don’t want the government tracking me!” Go pound sand.

If an EMP does actually hit and your cell phone stops working, just pull it out of your pocket and drop it on the ground. Although, if it has a lithium battery like most do, you might be able to use it to start a fire.

As far as the government tracking you – please; you’re not that important. If you were, you’d already know how to circumvent this kind of thing.

7) List of important information

You can’t always rely on getting into your cell phone to get phone numbers or addresses. Your phone may be dead when you really need it or get stolen by a roving band of ne’er-do-well chimpanzees with matching hats and an addiction to Grindr.

What I’d suggest is that you make a list of the phone numbers of anyone you might have to contact in an emergency if you had to use someone else’s phone, along with any other information you think you might need that you’d usually have to get off your phone or the internet.

If you’re staying in another country for a while, I’d also suggest you list your hotel phone number and address. Also, find someone (maybe from the concierge at your hotel – or the embassy, if nothing else) who will write a note in the local language(s) on your paper with a few phrases next to the English translation (so you know which phrase you’re pointing to).

Something like:

Please take me to my hotel at [insert address here].

I need help. Can you please help me find a police officer?

I need help. Can you please help me find a doctor or ambulance?

You could go on and on with a list like this but if it’s too long, you may not carry it.

You can either laminate this list or just have them write it in your waterproof paper notebook above. You just don’t want it getting ruined if you get wet or falling apart.

Oh, and if you happen to somehow get my old linguist from a particular embassy in Africa, make sure you have someone else check what they wrote or you may find that you’re actually asking someone for a “date.” Don’t ask.

Additional suggestions on what to carry

This post was originally just to tell you about what minimum things everyone should carry if they can but there are a couple others that I highly suggest you should carry if at all possible.

8) A real weapon

You may not have realized it but there are actually bad people in the world. Also, you may not know it but many of those people don’t follow the law and will carry a gun even when they’re not allowed to do so.  Seriously.

I know, I know. I can hear you saying, “I can take care of myself.” No. No you can’t. Nothing can help in all situations but having at least the opportunity to defend yourself against an armed person or someone much bigger than you could extend your life. Just make sure you’re trained in how to properly handle the weapon of your choice AND how to handle yourself in a situation where you might have to use it. Go get professional training.

9) A multitool

A knife is definitely the primary tool you should carry but knives have limitations. If you have the room, get a good multitool what will give you a second blade, pliers, and several other useful items.

You don’t really need something like this XAVT but there are plenty of good choices out there. When I’m wearing something that won’t make a multi-tool look out of place, I carry the Gerber multi-tool that came with one of my Army ammo cleaning kits. Because it isn’t something you can really expect to wear with a lot of outfits people usually wear, I didn’t include it in the top six.

10) paracord bracelet

I sometimes wear the paracord bracelet my old private investigations partner made for me just to have some kind of cordage. It certainly comes in handy to have something on occasion but you kind of need more than what’s easily carried or worn to really do anything with it. If you really want to get one and don’t want to get your PI license and wait for your partner to learn while you’re both sitting there waiting for hours for some dude to come home as you breathe in second-hand smoke for days, I’d suggest getting this OmeGod survival bracelet or similar because it has a whistle and fire starter in it.


So, there ya’ have it. That’s my list of the top seven EDC (Every Day Carry) items that you should have every time you leave the house.

BTW, as of the moment, there’s some kind of deal on shoelaces with a built in fire starter going on (one is free right now) that you might want to check out. No idea how long it’s going on so please leave a comment when the deal ends and I’ll take this down and let me know if you order any.

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About graywolfsurvival.com

I am a former federal agent and military veteran who has deployed to combat theaters in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan and have almost three decades of military and military contracting experience.

My goal is to help families to understand how to intelligently protect their family and their way of life against real threats, without all the end-of-the-world doomsday crap.


  1. Barest of the bare basics. Knife: I carry a multi-tool at all times, (doesn’t scare people),
    Lighter: I carry 2. a Bic for day use and a Wind Proof for night use. (you don’t lose you night vision with the Wind Proof)
    Paracord: Wrist; check, keychain holder; check, 25′ coil in the glove box; check. Wife has an ankle bracelet made of one.

    Cut, tie and fire.

  2. My wife thinks I’m nuts having most of my phone list, printed in small font and taped to the back of my phone, with clear packing tape.

    She: “You have all of those in your contacts.”
    Me: “Yes, but, what if my battery is dead?”
    She: “Charge your phone and it’s not a problem.”
    Me: “Thanks, honey.”

  3. CDR Tom Davy says:

    1. A battery flashlights are too big for nice pants. I carry a Thrunite Ti3. It uses 1 AAA battery and has several settings.
    2. I use a little tape over the top of the Bic lighter to prevent gas loss.
    3. I just received a Shield Survival knife that slimly fits in my wallet. It’s sharp, cheap, and easy to forget.

  4. I recently bought 3 space pen refills. The original pen I’ve had for 12 years. Still works fine and has not dried out. They fit easily into your jean pocket and when in use, it is almost the size of a full size pen.

  5. You sir, are a very spirited man. Although I don’t have your knowledge on paper like it should be, you are a unique individual and you have touched my blood. I will soon be moving to Texas and as long as there’s an internet I want to be in a circle with people like you. I am a survivalist and somehow would like to input my opinion. Great heart and selfless act on getting out there!! Thank you for standing by my side sir

  6. Willie Fox says:

    I run my EDC according to Dave Canterbury 10 Cs to survival adjusted of course instead of a tarp its a poncho ( full one or cheap emergency one depending on the day ) instead of a sail needle it’s a needle and thread. Instead of a fixed blade it’s a victorinox or locking folder

  7. what about a wallet and keys?

  8. Justin Rebbert says:

    Two things turned me off in this article. First, the suggestion to those who live in locations where any of these items might be restricted by law to move somewhere else. That sounds like giving up to me. How about instead of advocating tucking tail and running, you instead advocate fighting for positive change? Laws can be changed and do get changed every day.

    Second, the reference to such locations as “communist”. Communism isn’t about restricting liberties. Communism is more of an economic system, like capitalism is another type of. A political ideology can be built around communism, and such a political system may include restrictions on liberties, but that’s not mandatory any more than a lack of restriction on liberties is mandatory in a political system based on capitalism.

    • Sure, you can spend the next 5-10-20 years devoting your life to politics instead of what you’re currently doing but in the meantime, you’re still left defenseless.

      Ummm. You’ve apparently not really studied actual communist countries. Theoretically, communism and socialism are great. In real life, they’re absolutely the opposite of great.

      • Hahahaha. Yeah, right. Mao and Stalin were more like Capn’ Kangaroo and just misunderstood, maybe. The MILLIONS of people that were murdered by these thugs were due to economic concerns, and I’m sure they all understood why they had to go and were fine with it. Wow. Blows the mind. You’re spot on, Graywolf. Keep swingin’ and give ’em hell. I love people that say it like it is.

      • Hmm… which theory is so great Greaywolf? Oh, perhaps “Libellus aureus nec minus salutaris quam festivus de optimo Reipublicae statu de que nova insula Utopia” 🙂 The subsequent were not so great unfortunately.

        • Sandra Leigh says:

          Laila, I am not fully understanding your point here. Certainly, Thomas More’s philosphy has not worked in the 500 years since it was proposed. In fact, in almost every instance, any government built on the principle he espoused, has brought misery and suffering to it’s people.

          • Valerie Foster says:

            Well that escalated quickly, where too? Idk, but did you see what happened? Brick killed a guy with a triton.
            I like your list, I guess everyone has to have an opinion, “I don’t like your theory on blah, blah, blah, so there!” How can people take a suggested list and get offended? I got news puppies, your gonna be the first to get squashed if you think using book smarts is gonna keep you from getting annihilated by anyone with ill intent, a bear, a badger, a hysterical teenager (relax its a joke).
            Anyway, I like your list and suggestions, you don’t have to walk around jingling from too many ornaments! Thanks for keeping it real!

      • Davis Swaim says:

        My I make a suggestion regarding a Zippo lighter? I cut a ranger band out of a bike inner tube to cover the lighter and it stays usable for about 2 weeks. Just personal preference

        • I understand. I’d rather have something that lasts for months/years though instead of just weeks.

          • Davis Swaim says:

            Understand what you are saying and you are the expert but since it is an EDC item for me it isnt a big deal. Concerned Dad

    • First of all no one cares if your turned off by the article. This is not your order being wrong at burger king. This is one mans opinon about what you should carry. He didn’t say you must carry, he said given his extensive experience, these are the thing you will likely need. In your case, I suggest you carry some klenex too. And if you live in an area where you have to fight the politicians on one front while fighting the criminals on another, you should regret to higher ground. As in move.

    • thanks for the brief moment of clarity regarding communism. corruption exists everywhere, see also the senate in Canada. It never ceases to amaze me how many people without education put down”book larnin” . Not something they know about.

  9. Thank you once again. I find all your articles and information to be very helpful. One thing that stands out to me is the items you use are obtainable, meaning they don’t cost and arm & a leg 🙂 !

  10. Hey Mr Wolf,

    Love the blog. Next time your at Walmart you may want to pick up a Premium Spark multi tool (About $6.00. ) It’s a great item to have especially if you’re a camper, as I am. It’s a windproof lighter with a bottle opener, small knife, and corkscrew! Kinda like a SwissArmy lighter and not much bigger than that Bic. I love mine.

  11. Paul Smith says:

    This will be a very silly question for many but I’d like to know the advantages and disadvantages of the Tonto knife please?

  12. something i do, instead of carrying a pen and notepad on me all the time, is use the notepad in my phone. i keep a notepad and pen in each of out bug out bags and a couple in the car, but using the notepad on the phone keeps the bulk down. just a suggestion

  13. Michele Moore says:

    I always carry hand sanitizer. I can use it on public toilet seats and of course, to clean my hands.

  14. Dave Stone says:

    I would add Toilet paper or baby wipes. For you married men, your wives will appreciate it.

  15. I have a survival Tool that will give a clear,bug free (bact,virus),clean supply of Drinking Water for the rest of your Life. Salt,Muddy Fresh, does not matter..Stranded on deserted island,lost in a crap filled swamp or just need good safe drink any where in the world..I*m looking to sell it.

  16. I’m a law enforcement officer, so I carry all of the above. Plus, extra ammo magazines. Heavy purse..but necessary!! Excellent list sir!

  17. I have a daughter across the country away at college. She isn’t really on board with all my preparedness. First, is there a knife out there that I could purchase that would have an ankle strap? It would need to be concealed as you aren’t supposed to have weapons on campus. Second, if there was a SHTF scenario what would be some items that you could gleam from a college dormitory before bugging out?

    • Girls can EDC the same way guys can. We just have to make some adjustments. She can find a smaller, slimmer knife and clip it to her clothes. Plus since we carry purses we can easily carry a lot more stuff! I recommend a cross body bag so you are hands free and can run. Happy to talk more about it if you like!

  18. FLASHLIGHT: Take a good look at the Photon Micro-Light II PRO. It’s the size of a two quarters put together and comes with a nice little clip for your keychain. Only $13.95. Awesome light! Burn time is 12+ hours which means months if you just use it a little here and there. It’s waterproof and virtually indestructible. I’ve had these for years, use ’em all the time. I’ve gone backpacking and done night hikes with just this little light. You can even get pink for the gals! They love ’em. Takes two CR-2016 or one CR-2032 battery. http://www.photonlight.com/led-flashlights/photon-micro-light-ii-pro-led-keychain-flashlight/
    LIGHTER: Check out the “Split Pea” Peanut lighter from CountyComm. 1.3″ long, with O ring so it seals and is waterproof. Stainless steel. Fill with regular lighter fluid. $14.50 http://www.countycomm.com/splitpea.html

  19. Good info

  20. I find good infor. all over these sites of graywoff thanks. how about four white hanky in the back pocket so when you cut yourself you got some thing to hold the blood in.

  21. Really Great List! I always have a few spare phones about the place, just in case anything happens to any one of them. I also recommend keeping one in a Faraday cage, and if you can when you get your ‘burner’ phones (as hackers call them) try and get a few on different networks, so if one network has a problem you can try another!

  22. I would swap the pen for a pencil. You can write on.just about anything with a pencil, you can use your knife to sharpen it, and if all else fails you can break it up to use for tinder for a fire. A pencil is a much more versatile tool than a pen.

  23. As to the knives, spring and drop down, they’re illegal in most cities. If by chance the cops find you carrying, you’ll be stuck.
    And the cellphone. Seems you’re still tied to electric current, because in a real emergency, or shtf, there will be no electricity, no cell towers (it may even be that the law will cut the signals from the towers).

  24. Excellent list. I’d add a whistle and a ferro rod; both can be attached to your ‘walking in the woods clothes’. Also, you didn’t cover wallet, I’d recommend carrying your info in there as well as some case and a magnifying card. Maybe also a wallet knife/card.

  25. Jason McAllister says:

    I’d choose a different knife. The issue Gerber is too bully and heavy. I’d also say change the flashlight to a headlamp. Much more useful in real life. Other than those suggestions I love the list.

  26. Michael says:

    I am new to the survivalist lifestyle and find this very informative. There’s so much information out there and so many “experts” it’s hard to decipher the good from the bad. But I find you to be very credible. So thank you for sharing. I have subscribed to your newsletter and look forward to receiving it.

  27. joe wilson says:

    Great job,very helpful.

  28. Draq Wraith says:

    Has anyone tried the swiss tool?
    Its fairly new offering from victorinox.

  29. thunder chicken says:

    Good list, simple,easy to carry. I have for years carried a knife (folding blade) and a surefire backup (changing to pelican due to battery availability and cost). I also carry a trauma kit (small vacuum sealed pouch that can easily slide in to a suit jacket pocket being undetectable). You always need a way to stop the bleeding. Those three things are always attached to me, the rest is situational dependent. I will start carrying a bic on my person now. I have a ton of them but they’re always in one ‘bag’ or another (bags are another layered system size and content mission/travel dependent.

    I’ll read just about any article on the subject because gold nuggets are found everywhere. Criticism is a waste of time


  30. Hmm. Except for the phone, I’d think you’d use these way less than other items. Not to mention how easily accessible some of them are.

    Now, if you’re way out in the boonies / traveling / exploring, sure.

  31. I keep a similar EDC kit on my person and it all fits in my pockets:
    1. A folding knife
    2. Multi-tool
    3. Flashlight
    4. Whistle with 5ft of para-cord lanyard (cobra weave)
    5. Bandana
    6. Lighter
    7. Business card holder containing spare cash and Motrin
    This doesn’t include a watch with hands (for navigation) or all the contact information and prayers tucked away in my wallet.

  32. I live in New York near New York City. I think most people don’t comprehend how MANY PEOPLE LIVE THERE! I don’t mind the restrictions because I really do think they have the overall safety of the population in mind. NYC is the safest city we’ve ever lived in and is the safest large city in the world.
    Having said that, I will still carry what I believe I need to protect myself or my family and will just pay the penalty if caught with it. I’m not likely to be caught with anything unless I have just used it on someone. If I just used it on someone … then I’m glad I had it!

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