What to Do If You Are Caught Without Your Prepping Supplies

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I travel a pretty good bit for work. When I travel, it almost exclusively by air as it just so happens my co-workers or customers are spread all over the globe. In a perfect world I always have my EDC gear on me but when traveling, especially via plane, you have to make some concessions. When it makes sense I have basic survival gear that I pack, but my luggage has to be checked. I have flown with a firearm on multiple occasions, but what if you are unable to take any survival gear with you? What would you do if you were caught in a disaster without even your trusty survival knife?

In this article I want to go through some situations I personally have in my 9-5 life where I wasn’t as prepared as I know in my heart I should be, and discuss some alternatives when you are caught without your prepping supplies. When all hell breaks loose, are you doomed if you don’t have your full battle rattle on?

What should you be carrying everywhere you go?

EDC. Any prepper worth his or her salt knows that this acronym stands for Every Day Carry. This is the gear you have on your person virtually all the time. These are usually simple items like a folding knife, a flashlight, watch, Leatherman or multitool. Optionally, some people (like me) will add a concealed carry weapon to this list and maybe a compass, lighter or matches and spare cash. The items that make up your EDC are personal, should be appropriate to your daily routine and environment and vary greatly from prepper to prepper. I wrote a whole article about my EDC list some time back.

On any normal day, I have most if not all elements of my personal EDC on me when I leave my house. I have a knife in my pocket, handkerchief (only used it once to help a lady out) flashlight and lighter are housed on my keys and my concealed carry weapon. I have other elements in my work backpack and a ton of gear in my car. If I have nothing more than my car, I can probably live for a week very comfortably – assuming I couldn’t drive anywhere. If I only had my backpack and what’s on my person, that would be a little tougher, but I would have basic lifesaving tools or elements to help me improve my situation. If I only had what is in my pockets I would still be pretty much in the same boat. But when I am traveling, sometimes I don’t have any of my EDC Gear on me. It’s pretty much me betting that I will be OK.

How can you travel without any EDC gear?

I have written before about how to fly with a firearm legally and for most air travel I take, outside of work I still do fly with my firearm. I also keep a mini-go bag in my suitcase with a sawyer mini water filter, knife, fire starter, headlamp, first aid kit and mylar blanket. I have a stainless water bottle too so the basics are covered. But on most trips here recently, I don’t fly with my trusty Glock and if I am not checking bags, knives are out the window too. I can, and still do bring a small, but bright flashlight and hanky with me, but most of what I consider my must haves are left at home. Why?


Yes, Sheer convenience. I am admitting it now before the entire world that sometimes, it is easier to not check bags. If I am carrying my bag onto a plane, I have far fewer options on what I can bring with me but I have many more options with flights. If my flight gets cancelled and I have my bag with me, I can run to another airline. If some weather delays me mid-journey, I can take another route home, or make it to the car rental agencies before my fellow travelers. If any one of a number of hiccups happen with the airlines I don’t have to go into that important client meeting wearing the same outfit I had on yesterday. Which was designed for comfort. Not impressing clients. Convenience.

What to Do If You Are Caught Without Your Prepping Supplies - The Prepper Journal

Lost luggage at Airport.

Now, many of you may be saying to yourselves: “How can Pat consider himself a prepper if he goes and leaves himself vulnerable like that for convenience” and I understand what you mean, but I look at things a little differently. Actually, major points of my philosophy evolve or change over the years. Here is what I know.

In this country, or even pretty much any country I would find myself in for business travel, if anything short of a nuclear bomb went off, I would be able to get the supplies I needed even if I wasn’t carrying them.

Obtaining survival gear in the wild

And by wild I am not talking about a jungle adventure with Bear Grylls. If that’s the place you are visiting, you better have your gear no matter what. What do I mean? OK, let me explain. Let’s say I am traveling in business to Boston, MA without any of the gear I normally carry as EDC and an EMP hits. Assuming, I would be better off with my regular EDC (and I do), where could I replace that gear quickly? Before I continue, let’s list off the basic items again:


  • A means of keeping yourself warm, cool, dry
    • Tarp/Poncho/Jackets, Hats, Gloves, etc.


  • A method of making water safe to drink
  • A container for holding water


  • Enough calories to keep you going for the duration


  • A means of protecting yourself from two-legged predators

The list above is only the most basic items for survival, but we can start there. Going back to Boston and an EMP hits. What is the first thing you think everyone will do?

Probably nothing.

That is your time to act. While everyone is complaining that they can’t check the weather or stocks or the latest snapchat on their phones you need to move.  As a prepper, you should be practicing situational awareness. That means a lot of different things depending on the situation you are in, but when it comes to a disaster like this where people aren’t dying immediately, your job is to act. My focus will be obtaining as many survival supplies as I can before the sheeple wake up.

In a situation like that, I would head out to the nearest store. If I was lucky enough to come across an REI or a Dick’s Sporting Goods or even a Walmart you would be all set provided you had cash with you and the store was accepting cash transactions. When I fly, I try to bring $300 in cash with me for emergencies. It won’t do everything, but it could help, especially in a situation like this. For that $300, you could easily get a knife, headlamp, tarp and just about all the other EDC basics I left at home.

But that’s too easy. What if you weren’t in Boston and couldn’t find a sporting goods store to save your life. Then what?

Head to the drug store, hardware store or grocery store but skip past the food isles, at least at first. Go to the smaller section they always have with light-bulbs and extension cords and toilet plungers. Go to the housewares section. They may not have knives, but they could have box cutters. You may be able to find tarps, but if not, trash bags connected with duct tape will keep you just as dry. If you don’t already have a backpack, you should be able to find one of those too that will fit your supplies.

What to Do If You Are Caught Without Your Prepping Supplies - The Prepper Journal

The small local hardware store might be the last place people run, but a great place to find supplies.

Matches will be there too and usually so will lighter fluid. Together, if you keep the matches dry you should be able to make a fire. You will always be able to find some form of flashlight in these stores too but don’t forget to get extra batteries. Hopefully you have shoes that are comfortable to walk in.

We can’t forget food, but skip canned food and grab items that you don’t need to prepare or weigh a whole lot but still provide calories. Think energy bars or breakfast bars and be sure to check the calorie counts if you have time.

What about security? The box cutter or knife would be better than nothing, but you really have to get close in order for those to work. Man has been using clubs since the dawn of time, really, they are still being used all over the world as the post about handmade weapons demonstrates very clearly. You can find some implement and use it as a club. It isn’t what I would rather have instead of my trusty concealed Glock, but it beats (no pun intended) not having anything.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that survival can’t be distilled down to only who has the right gear because I know that many of you could survive if you were dropped naked in the middle of a jungle. Survival is about having the will to live above all else. Skills follow closely, but you can still survive if you have the right mindset. I don’t recommend leaving home without your EDC, but if you have to, or get caught on a late-night Walmart run, you usually will have options. Look for opportunities to give yourself and advantage and maybe you will find that you are much better off than you thought you were.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and stay safe!

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Freedom-loving American doing what I can to help prepare and inform others. Editor and creator of The Prepper Journal 2013-2017, 2020 -

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This is a great article! I’m not a prepper, but I want to be; I vacillate between WTF, I’ll be dead in a month anyway as I have a lot of health issues and what can I do to prepare. So I read all I can. 🙂 The author gives great ideas – I never thought of a hardware store and honestly, a baseball bat would probably work better for me anyway as I am clumsy and probably would shoot myself in the foot. Or drop the dang gun!

Thanks for some fabulous ideas!

R. Ann

Don’t be too daunted by only the absolute worst cases. A lot goes wrong or has the potential to that will still leave some levels of infrastructure in place. If you’re worried about self-defense, start with an NRA Refuse To Be a Victim class (gun-free), and then consider one of the general intro firearm classes or even a range safety officer class (where the focus is entirely on safe handling, and a variety of firearms are usually available). Both the latter will teach you to appropriately render a firearm safe and handle it with care, and RTBV introduces you to… Read more »


Thank you! I live alone, albeit with 4 big dogs, but dogs can be shot same as I can. I will check into this.

Pat Henry

Thank you very much! I have had family members who also had the same attitude about a disaster, not necessarily due to health issues, but just the overwhelming sense of despair they thought they would feel – prompted me to write another article – https://theprepperjournal.com/2014/09/17/want-live-teotwawki/ which may give you additional perspective or motivation. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

Randall Schreurs

To those starting the prepping journey, I recommend storing some water (add a few drops of bleach to each gal or bottle, at least one gal per person per day), & non-perishable foods. Save up enough to last u & your household for a week, then 2 weeks, then a month. Add some matches or cigarette lighters. Read – my favorite site is http://www.survivalblog.com. This book is one of the best http://amzn.to/2rjcHvn


Thank you! The book is in my amazon cart now. 🙂

R. Ann

Two thumbs up, boss man!

As a previous frequent flyer myself, I played some of those games, too. My bag-body kits also change significantly when I’m going in and out of courthouses on a regular basis. With a lot of them, it would be very easy to be cut off from my vehicle and its fuller set of supplies by any number of disasters. Makes you look around more taking note of what’s as you move and as you pass things, that’s for sure.

Pat Henry

Thank you very much R. Ann! I have to be more flexible now than at other times in the past so got me to thinking that a lot of other preppers can’t live in absolutes either.


I once had to accompany someone to a court hearing in a city about 75 miles from home. It took me at least ten minutes to find and remove all of the EDC gear I had in the pockets of my cargo pants. I failed the metal detector test three times. Needless to say, the police officers started getting more than a bit interested in me.

Pat Henry

Ha Ha! I can imagine what that was like. One time I forgot to take my decent sized folder out of my side cargo pocket and got all the way to the airport metal detector. I showed it to TSA and they were really cool about it – walked me through security and back out – fortunately, I always arrive early (and our airport is small) so I had time to take it back to my car. It wasn’t an expensive knife at all either, just hated the thought of throwing it away.


On a trip to Mexico City I had to exit TSA and go back to the airport information counter in the terminal. I had to mail my pocket knife to my home address before I could reenter the TSA area. Thank God it wasn’t a box cutter, or I’d probably be writing this note from Federal Prison…

R. Ann

I’ve done similar. Too, there’s stuff (like those pocket knives that keep getting us all in trouble) that I just habitually grab. In my yard in yoga pants throwing the ball for Fuzzball and Floppy, and there’s a knife in my waistband and usually a lighter. I don’t even think about some of the stuff, because it’s “tool” not just/only “weapon” in my world. I had a courthouse cop in SC a year or two ago rolling her eyes because after hiking to my truck twice to drop stuff off as I patted myself down, I had forgotten that the… Read more »

the Deplorabel Cruella DeVille

Late to this thread, but a recent, like last week, experience adds to all this. So my wife is having a really serious reaction to a new antibiotic. In my car we go, 2230 hours and at 95+ mph, heading for the nearest ER, 30+ miles away. Of course a nice State Patrolman pulls me… So exactly two things come out of my mouth: A – I have a CCW and I’m carrying, B – My wife is heading for anaphylactic shock and we’re heading to ER. Helped that she was clutching an Epi-pen for dear life. He lets us… Read more »

R. Ann

Hope she’s doing better and they figured out a meds plan for her!
Glad you got a good cop, too – thank you to that blue line! (They’re human, like every clerk and engineer and there are more good and mostly-good and great than jerks; it’s just the bad apples and weeds stick out.)

And … forgive me for snickering. I’m just so happy stuff like this happens to other people!
Rebecca Ann

The deplorable cruelladeville

Thanks RA! I was just so happy, at the time, that they had procedures for safely holding my firearm, not to mention all the other bits. I had no idea they would do such a thing. The guard at the scanner, an armed LEO BTW, takes it, still in the holster, pulls it, drops the mag, checks the chamber, clears it, put’s it in a bubble-wrap pouch w my name & DL number on it and put it w all the rest of the stuff in a little safe under his desk. I get a timestamped receipt for every item.… Read more »


Sorry for the delayed response Cruella, my email is giving me fits… Glad to hear your wife is better now. What an experience that would have been. Good thing you were there with her..

Tony Bunzel

Good article. Yes an EMP, severe weather event could leave you stranded. I live in Wisconsin. This “Grid” is what concerns me most. We just had a transformer go out and 22000 customers were out of power for 15 hours. Seems like a fragile system, since it was a Canada goose that took out this transformer. One night I was playing cards with some friends. Next thing we were sitting in the dark. Next morning the power came back on. The news said, a mylar balloon got tangled in power lines. Put 8000 customers out of power. Just food for… Read more »

Pat Henry

Thank you Tony! You never know what could happen – pretty sure nobody ever planned for a balloon in their SHTF scenarios…


Here’s a convenience tip: I got thru bag check faster at MSP because I checked a firearm. They ask you to go directly to the Special Services counter, where there is little or no line. You can check all your bags there. It’s not the same at all airports, however.

Pat Henry

Good point. It’s not the same for all airlines either. I have flown Delta and United and American all with slightly different processes and reactions from staff.

Major Dad

Just something to think about if you are caught without your EDC and have to buy something sharp. A large set if scissors can be found in many stores which do not carry knives or box cutters. Not the best thing in the world, but they can be used in a pinch.

Pat Henry

Good idea in a pinch Major Dad! Thanks for reading.


Great article, Pat
I’ve done a lot of international travel to Europe, the Middle East and Mexico . Trying to get a firearm into most countries is difficult, at best, and impossible in many instances. The good news is that you can store your EDC in checked baggage without any difficulties. It’s a good idea, however, to keep the pocket knife small.

Mic Roland

Pat, Funny that you should theorize being in Boston when the grid fails. I wrote a novel about that very scenario last year. The main character works in Boston and then has to make his way home in New Hampshire with very little in the way of preps. He does much of the things you describe: scrounging for supplies, tools, options, etc. Also like you mentioned, the bulk of the population don’t do much in those first couple days, as they’re patiently waiting for things to just come back on. Criminals are the exception, following the Katrina example. Another point… Read more »


The club/baseball bat is excellent protection, especially against starving animals who think your leg makes a good dinner. I also agree that there is a short window after shtf while most people are stunned, for you to act and quickly get last minute supplies before the hoard ransacks the stores. Think positive and look for opportunities in each and every situation. If you snooze, you gonna lose.

Richard Osterhout

my observation here is that you carry $300 around with you. how do you carry that? I have a True Utility cash stash that holds a single $100 bill pretty well on my keychain. Then I have another $100 in 20s folded in behind the credit cards in my wallet. I have a little more in my car stashed away. But here’s the kicker – I carry TWO wallets. My primary I keep in my off-pocket. I keep a second DECOY wallet in my regular pocket – it only contains less than $10-$15 in small bills, some reward cards, and… Read more »


I think if you’re caught somewhere without your stuff it’s going to come down to how skilled and resourceful you are. Also, it may come down to what you are willing to do. If things are going crazy are you willing to split someone’s skull open with a brick to take their stuff? Enter a sporting goods store and steal what you need to make it home? All things to consider. Me personally, if it means me or my family, nothing is off the table.


Great article and an essential piece of information. Knowledge and skill are more important than what you have.

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