Contribution by Rich M.
Everyone has things that they carry with them every day. They may not think of it as part of their “survival gear,” but it does help them get through the day. Monty Hall made television fame with that on the “Let’s Make a Deal” game show; giving women money for things they carried in their EDC bag, otherwise known as a purse.
But to those of us interested in survival, the EDC, or everyday carry, means more than just the things we need for the humdrum of day-to-day life. While paperclips and stamps might be handy to have, they really don’t qualify as life or death survival gear. When an emergency comes, we want to have the necessary tools to survive. That life or death gear can make all the difference in the world.
If a crisis comes, your EDC may be all that you have to get you through and keep you going, until you can make it home to be with your family. For that reason, some people refer to having a “get home bag” as well as an EDC bag, but in reality, a good EDC bag does everything a get home bag will do.
What do You Need?
This means that your EDC bag has to have everything you need to meet your basic survival needs. So, in order to make an effective EDC, we have to start out from the viewpoint of the basic survival priorities. Those are:
- The ability to maintain your body heat (shelter & fire)
- Clean water
In reality, you don’t have to worry about food, if all we’re talking about is a few days. Depending on who’s figures you believe, the average American can survive anywhere from 30 to 100 days without food. If you can walk home from where you work in a couple of days, you can do it without food.
But there are other problems you need to consider as well. Things like the difficulty of finding your way home, if a disaster has damaged the landmarks you’re used to using. Then there’s the difficulty of navigating in the dark; so you probably want a good flashlight too. So, in reality, a good EDC is going to be a much more complete urban survival kit than just meeting those basic needs.
You should also consider that your EDC can help you with day-to-day problems too. Life is full of little mishaps, and if you’re going to be carrying a kit to help you with the big mishaps of life, you may as well use it to take care of the little ones too. Just make sure that if you use something from your bag, you restock it as needed.
So, What Should be in Your EDC?
Ideally, any EDC, like any bug out bag or survival kit, needs to be build around the specific needs of the individual. This means it needs to contain the things that you feel you’ll need to survive in your environment, as well as any extras that you might want to carry along for day-to-day foibles.
For this reason, the best EDC kits are a work in process, constantly being changed by their owners, as they encounter new problems they need a solution for and make new additions to their kits. People living in a wet climate might need to add a rain poncho to their kit, while people living in cold climates might need to beef up their ability to start a fire or keep warm. Someone working in the urban jungle might realize they need some means of cooking, without firewood, as they probably wouldn’t be able to find firewood in the streets and alleyways of their city.
But if we go back to our original list of survival priorities, we see some basic things that every EDC bag needs to have. These things can form the core of your EDC kit, with you adding additional items as you see fit.
- Multi-tool – While a multi-tool doesn’t meet any of the specific survival needs mentioned above, it is an incredibly handy thing to have along. Not only does it provide you with the number one survival tool, a knife, but it also provides you with other tools that can be useful in repairing things, scavenging and even getting out of an elevator. This multi-tool comes with both sharp and serrated blades, as well as a bit holder and ten screwdriver bits, making it more versatile than most.
- Flashlight – If there is anything in your EDC that you are likely to use on a day-to-day basis, it’s a good tactical flashlight. I use mine several times a day; enough that I always keep spare batteries in my EDC as well. Not only are tactical flashlights more rugged and compact than their predecessors, they are also lighter. These have a focus beam, making it possible to use them as a floodlight or as a spotlight.
- Emergency Sleeping Bag – Your body produces all the heat you need. The problem, many times, is keeping that heat in and not losing it, especially when it is cold, wet, and windy. An emergency sleeping bag, made of heat-reflective material, will hold in 90% of your body heat, blocking out wind and rain as well. This makes it an exceptionally good emergency shelter, compact and effective.
- Fire Starter – The ability to start a fire is also essential to maintaining your body heat, especially in cases where you get your clothing wet. Wet clothing doesn’t hold in heat, so you will need some way of adding heat to your body, such as a fire. Of all the fire starting methods sold and taught for survival, the easiest and most effective is a lighter. This double-arc lighter is windproof, making it a much better choice than a butane lighter that can be blown out by even the slightest wind.
- Water Filter – You should always hold all water sources in suspect in a survival situation, no matter how clean they look. The microscopic pathogens in water that can make you sick or even kill you are not visible to the human eye. Those things that are visible probably won’t harm you. A portable water filter gives you the ability to be sure that you have clean, drinkable water, no matter what emergency you face.
- Food – While you can go a fair amount of time without food, you won’t be happy about it. You might also find that your energy level drops when you are not eating. So it’s a good idea to keep some high-energy food in your EDC, like granola bars, protein bars, dried fruit and jerky.
- First-aid Kit - There is always a chance of being injured, even without finding yourself in a survival situation. Therefore, any EDC should come complete with a basic emergency first-aid kit. This is one of those things that you should always be sure to restock, if you have to use it.
- Solar Phone Charger – Your cell phone is an amazingly useful survival tool, if you know how to make good use of it. But the problem with modern smartphones is that the battery life isn’t all that great, if you are actually using it and not having it in standby mode. So an essential part of your EDC needs to be a means of recharging your phone, preferably with a solar phone charger.
Make Sure You Have it With You
Of course, all of that survival gear doesn’t do you the least bit of good, if you don’t have it with you. So you need some way of carrying all that along. While you could just throw it into a box and seal it shut, that’s really inconvenient to carry around. Better to have some sort of pack that allows you to carry it, hands-free.
I use a cross-body EDC bag, like this one. This has several advantages over other bags that I can find. First of all, I like the single strap design, rather than using a backpack. With this design, you can access everything in your pack, without having to take it off. That’s an advantage in a survival situation, as you can’t end up leaving your pack behind, if you have to escape quickly. Being built with multiple compartments also makes it possible to organize the contents easier, so that you don’t have to waste time looking for things.
You want something that is going to be easy enough to carry around, that you don’t end up leaving it home. A small pack like this isn’t as inconvenient as a day pack. It is small enough to fit into a desk drawer or locker at work, while still being big enough to carry everything you need.