Being prepared isn’t just something you do outside of your normal life. You should try to combine it with the rest of your life as well. To give you an idea what I’m talking about, here’s how I set up my EDC survival gear (Every Day Carry) on my Harley SHTF motorcycle. I also explain how I got it to look the way it does for $19.
First of all, you may be asking, “What the heck is an EDC?” An EDC is what you have on you every day. Technically, this is a portable get-home bag but my Harley’s always with me so it’s an extension of my traditional EDC kit (you can see what I carry on my body every day on my post of my personal EDC kit here).
Why set it up as its own EDC? First, you never know when you’re gonna break down. Since I live in the desert in Arizona, I needed a few key things that may be different than for other people. Second, you never know where you’re gonna be when disaster strikes. I don’t have my bike set up for TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) but it’s ready for most things.
My bike is a compromise between prepping and enjoying riding. I need to be able to get home from wherever I’m at and not have to worry about bringing a bugout bag with me everywhere. It’s not really my primary SHTF vehicle but you never know where you’ll be when something bad happens.
My bike started off as a 2006 Swift Lucky Strike (Basically a semi-custom bike using Harley parts). It had the basics that I was looking for like the fat gangster-white tires, 6-speed transmission and 1340cc Harley engine. It was also a rigid (hard-tail) frame. Not as comfortable as a Softail frame but I like the look better. I needed to upgrade it a bit though so it has a farther range and can hold more (any) stuff.
I wanted a road warrior/survivalist, rusty rat rod harley bobber look so I did a rust treatment and covered it with military and survival items, that are actually useful in case I get stuck out in the desert and have to spend a few days waiting for rescue or finding my way out. It’s also not a true bobber because the point of a true bobber is to keep removing things until your bike isn’t functional; otherwise you didn’t need the part.
To get the rust patina, I just scraped and sanded most of the paint and body filler off and then gave it a couple of coats of a vinegar and salt solution. Simple and only took two days to make it look like it had been out in the elements for years. The sandpaper, drill-sandpaper attachment thingy, paint stripper, and wire brush cost me a total of $19. I spent about 3 hours of sanding and then brushed on some vinegar and salt a few times a day for a few days. it rusted quickly. Looks even more awesome in person.
On the side of the front right fork is a Harley bottle opener. It’s great for when you go motorcycle camping or are hanging out at a rally overnight. I cut off a piece of thick flat strap, bolted the bottle opener onto it, and bent the ends back on itself. I tied those ends down with a couple of hose clamps. It would suck to survive the zombie apocalypse only to be stuck without a bottle opener.
I hung my shemaugh around the headlamp as well as an old leather hat band I’ve had for over 20 years that has a couple of bone-tip ends and a black feather.
On the top of the handlebars, I rolled up a poncho (Army issued) and tied it up with a shortened PT belt. Above that, I rolled up a horse blanket. I ran a shoulder strap through the center of the blanket and use it to clip the ends to the bag on the other side of the handlebars. I took a tan uniform belt and wrapped it all together, running the belt around the handlebars themselves. I also ran the belt through my sleeping bag compression bag straps to hold it on there. I tucked a 5’x7′ tarp inside everything. Since it doesn’t rain very much out here, what I have should be sufficient in most circumstances. I already pre-fitted my tent on the front along with the other stuff and it worked fine. It was a bit too much for everyday riding though. It also required that I bring a hammer along in addition to my tools.
BTW, to maximize which tools you want to carry, the best way I’ve found is to keep a log of which tools are needed for each job. Then go through the motions of any job that you think you might come across (changing the battery, adjusting the chain alignment, spark plugs, etc) and write down each tool you use. If you keep the log with your bike, you can write them down as you use them in real life. This way you’re carrying the minimum amount of tools. Of course, you do run into the problem where you may end up having to fix something that you hadn’t plan on fixing but you can’t carry everything. As you have room for tools, you can fill the empty space with any tool that matches any part of your bike.
Since I live in the desert, I sometimes run into some pretty serious sand storms. I hung a pair of goggles around the sleeping bag (one of many goggles I’ve been issued over the years) and tucked a neck gator behind that, which is good for both sand storms and to keep my neck warm in the winter time. You should really look into getting a neck gator if you don’t have one. They fit in your pocket and can make a light jacket as warm as a medium jacket. You can also make one out of an old pair of sweatpants.
I hung a 2 Qt canteen in a desert tan pouch and strap in front of the engine. This gives me an emergency supply of water in case I get stuck somewhere. VERY important.
I have a heavy-duty chain under the canteen with a hefty combination Master lock in case I’m in a place where I want to lock up my bike to a light post or something.
I strapped a multicam molle waist pack to the underside of the handlebars. I use the clips on the side to hook the blanket’s straps onto. I keep tools, bungee cords, a SureFire E1L flashlight, spare CR123a batteries, emergency food, an emergency blanket and a Sawyer MINI water purifier inside. BTW, that MINI is the best water purifier I’ve found for this kind of thing. I have one in my go bag, one in my main pack, and one on the bike. You need to think of what mechanical issues you want to be ready for and then figure out what exact tools you’d need to fix them. When I had an old Sportster, I used to carry spare parts like spark plugs, light bulbs and points.
I also keep a CREE 7w tactical AA flashlight. This thing is such a great deal (less than $5 that I wrote a review about it. You should seriously buy a dozen of them, keep one in your bug out bag, one in each vehicle, one in your kitchen drawer, and hand them out as awesome freaking gifts when you need a last-minute gift.
I’ve now also started keeping my bug out electronics solar/ac/dc kit on the bike. With that, all my AA and USB items always have power.
I also hung a pair of earplugs on the outside that are great for long-distance riding or trying to sleep with a bunch of rowdy bikers partying through the night.
On the bottom of the fork hangs a US Army guardian bell that my son bought me to keep the evil gremlins off my bike.
Down the center of the tank is a canvas scabbard containing a SOG Seal knife set to be pulled out knife edge down (the knife fighting style I learned in Hwa-Rang Do) and a sharpening stone. This is the knife I wore on my body armor in Iraq and Afghanistan. I pegged a Harley sunglass holder thingy on the front to be able to hang sunglasses off of when I’m not wearing them – and for the look.
I put a desert tan heavy duty combat belt across the tank to be able to hang a couple items off of. On the top of the tank are two grenade pouches (Army issued) attached to the belt that keep my gloves, sunscreen and chap stick.
On the right side of the belt, I hung a multicam double M4/M9 magazine pouch. I keep a pair of clear wayfarer sunglasses for night time and a pair of prescription ray ban sunglasses in the M4 pouches and a Gerber multitool (Army issued) and folding knife in the M9 pouches.
On the left of the tank is a Pelcian M6 flashlight in a digicam M9 magazine pouch. The Pelican takes CR123a batteries so I have a couple spares.
On the right side, just in front of the saddle bag, I hooked up an Bianchi M12 holster for my 1911. I was issued this thing a long time ago but we’re not allowed to use them anymore. In most cases, my pistol is in the small of my back but some clothing doesn’t allow for a quick reach.
For emergency comms in case my cell phone won’t reach, I have a Tri-Band Yaesu VX-6R submersible handheld ham radio in a multicam pouch above the holster. It’s waterproof so I don’t have to worry about it getting caught in the rain, which is pretty rare here in AZ anyway. It has an upgraded antenna for longer reach that you can see lying across the saddle bag. It won’t reach across the country but you only need to reach a repeater or luck into someone driving or living nearby.
One of my next updates to the bike will be to add a 12v receptacle so I can charge the Yaesu or my cell phone. I installed a 12v plug onto the side of it. It’ll work for now to charge my cell phone or Yaesu etc but I may want to move it later on to a place that is easier to access. It’s connected to the key-on power at the moment too but I’ll be changing that to it’s own line directly through the battery via its own fuse so I don’t have to run the whole bike just for the 12v plug to work.
On the left side, I hung a canteen pouch. I keep my altoids tin can EDC gear survival kit that has items for firestarting, fishing, etc., as well as a lighter wrapped in electrical tape in the small pouches on the side. I keep the top open and drop the water bottle I drink as I’m riding in it for easy reach.
Just as an example of how you can use things you find to make repairs or improve things, I took a 50ml Jack Daniels bottle, cut out the back and filled it with filter material. It’s not a Jameson, which would go with my bike better but I can’t find any of those in plastic.
I use a pair of La Rosa rigid saddlebags on the sides. I keep a couple of water bottles, my 1st Aid kit, and whatever I’m needing for the day. They don’t hold a lot but I don’t have a full dresser to work with and I have a hardtail frame.
I finally broke down and put a new passenger seat pad on the fender (see black arrow).
Because it’s Fall in the desert, the mornings and nights are pretty chilly but the days are too hot to wear anything heavy so I strapped a blue jean jacket on the rear fender right behind the seat. Once it gets colder, I’ll put a heavier jacket there and swap out the gloves for heavier ones.
On the very back of the rear fender, I put a small black tactical pouch with a velcro face. I put my US Army velcro tape that I wore in Afghanistan and the 82nd Airborne combat patch I wore there as well. I keep a Tourni-Kwik 4 (TK4) Tourniquet in there but it’s empty other than that so I have a small bag to put things like nuts/bolts or whatever if I happen to go out to get something like that.
On the back side of the license plate on the left side of the bike, I strapped a small Molle multicam utility pouch. I keep a small waterproof container in it that holds my registration and insurance. It also holds another tube of chapstick.
Whatever your hobbies are, you should try to make sure that you’re not caught off-guard if an emergency or SHTF hits. You don’t want to only be ready while you’re sitting in your living room.
Here’s a quick video of the bike idling, with a couple of adjustments I did to the bags.
as a serious scientific experiment just for fun, I put my phone in my pocket to see what it sounds like accelerating. I wanted to see if I could detect any missing or gaps in the power curve that I can’t hear with the wind rushing through my ears.
Here are a few related articles that you may be interested in:
Is what you have on you right now enough to save your life? Here’s what I carry. (My personal EDC kit)
Start a fire without matches using a cheap Fresnel lens (Very cool survival gear for just a few bucks – with videos)
So what’s in my bug out / go bag? (This is the bug out bag article that was recently featured on the front page of Lifehacker).
What to pack in a bug out bag: Everything you need to know (This is a very extensive article on what you should carry and why)