Everyday Carry Essentials – Gear That Can Save Your Life

Everyday carry items could save your life.

Last Updated on November 2, 2020

Everyday carry items are up close and personal prepping items that each of you should have access to anytime you leave the house. They are tools that can be useful in a myriad of situations, but most importantly, they all share one or more lifesaving properties when used in the right context. Most of us don’t walk out the front door without our keys, wallet and cell phone but there are other EDC items that you should consider if you want an advantage over the next guy when your life is on the line.

This article is going to go into greater detail discussing some great everyday carry gear and how you can use it to enhance your preparedness wherever you are. Also, I will be sharing some everyday carry item recommendations that I have personally used and some situations where this EDC gear could save your bacon or where you may want to make different choices based upon your own reality.

What is everyday carry?

Before we get deep into the specifics, we should start by defining the context of what everyday carry means. Very simply, everyday carry, abbreviated as EDC is gear that you carry with you every day. There are many ways to look at this and levels to everyday carry that can vary according to your specific circumstances. For instance, a woman who works as a delivery driver may need different everyday carry items than a man who has a desk job in a local government office.   

This is what my everyday carry used to look like. As your situation changes, your gear choices and options can adjust with it.
This is what I used to carry in the winter when I could get away with a full-sized weapon under clothes.

One of the hardest things about everyday carry is having the discipline to take this gear with you consistently and reliably. This is probably more true with firearms. Where you are going, and what you are wearing, even seasons have affected my choices with respect to everyday carry in the past, but we will talk about strategies for ensuring your gear is on you below. 

There are regional considerations also and what works for someone going to work at a meat processing plant in Texas is not going to work for an advertising agency in London. The good thing about EDC gear is that it can be highly tailored to your situation and preference. 

Everyday carry items

Now that we have defined the terms a little, some of you may be asking what these everyday carry items are in the first place. Great question! This list of EDC options below is not exhaustive, all items are not mandatory, and some can be combined. This list does gives us a place to start from though, so here they go in no certain order: 

  • Keychain 
  • Flashlight 
  • Knife 
  • Method of making fire 
  • Handgun with holster 
  • Multitool 
  • Writing Implement 
  • Writing material 
  • Cell Phone 
  • Watch 
  • Extra Magazine for Handgun 
  • IFAK – Individual First Aid Kit 
  • Wallet – Something to carry cash, cards and ID 
  • Handkerchief or bandana 
  • Spare (Emergency) cash 
  • Length of paracord 
  • Flash drive with emergency documents 
  • Non-lethal defense (pepper spray or mace) 

At first glance you may be asking yourself, who carries all this gear everyday? Or how do you carry all of that gear? Especially when some of you (I am guilty too) leave the house sometimes in shorts, t-shirt and flip flops. Some of you ladies might even say, that you carry all of this and more in your purse. I will admit that I don’t carry all this gear on my person every day. What I do carry changes with a lot of factors. Some is in my work backpack. Some is in my vehicle parked right outside, but let’s start with the basics. 

Walking out the door going to work, I always have: 

  • Keys – which contain a small FireStash lighter 
  • Wallet 
  • Cell Phone 
  • Watch 
  • Knife 
  • Flashlight 
  • Spare (Emergency) Cash 

This list above is what I consider as the basic EDC items you should have on you wherever you are. Yes, a handgun will always be better to have on you. Especially, if you need it, but sometimes it is not practical. Sometimes, it’s not legal to have it on you even with a concealed carry permit.

For example, if you have to go to court to pay a ticket because your tag lapsed… Not the place you want to ever walk into with a handgun. However, the rest of the items above are just fine. If you were flying on a vacation or business trip to a city that expressly outlawed handguns like Chicago, you wouldn’t have that trusty weapon either but you could fly right through TSA with the list above – assuming it was safely tucked away in your checked baggage. Naturally, if you aren’t flying somewhere with restrictions and assuming you have done your research, flying with a handgun is reasonably pain free.

But what about this list of everyday carry items that can save your life? These are the basics. Keys, while an obvious necessity if you have a vehicle are needed if you want to get to your vehicle and drive away. Keys can also be used as a defensive weapon in a worst case scenario. Knives are useful for self-defense although that isn’t preferable to me (more on that later) it’s better than nothing. They can also be used to cut and slice a lot of things as well. A knife is one of the most basic tools that you never want to be without.

You can use knives to help split larger pieces of wood (called batoning) when used correctly. With emergency cash you have a backup if the credit card or ATM’s are down, or closed due to bank holiday… cash gives you another means to purchase food, supplies, or fuel to get back home and you have a means of lighting a fire to keep yourself warm and a light to see in the dark. Even your watch (preferably analog but digital works too) can help you find North if you are lost.

How much emergency cash should you carry? It depends on your personal situation. For me, I would never consider carrying several hundreds of dollars around for an emergency. I started with $40 thinking, this would give me almost a tank of gas or pay for food if I somehow forgot my debit card, or needed some supplies – like a baseball bat if I was caught in a riot… Now I have $100. It serves the same purpose, but just gives me a little more capability.

Depending on time of year/situation I will also carry the following on me: 

  • Handgun 
  • Multitool
  • Handkerchief 

Why don’t I always carry my handgun? For me, carrying concealed is a situationally dependent activity. It’s tricky right now with where I work although I haven’t ruled it out and I have a full size handgun 50 feet away out a side door in my vehicle. I have a handkerchief in my work backpack but I usually carry one in my back pocket in colder months when clothes are baggier and items are easier to conceal. If I am not at work, the handgun gets included.

Currently my concealed weapon of choice is a Glock 43 in appendix carry. There are many ways to carry a weapon concealed and for me this is the best all around choice.

What EDC items do I never carry? 

From the list above, I will tell you I have never carried pepper spray or an IFAK although I have two in my truck along with a full medical roll and one in my Get Home Bag. I also don’t carry spare magazines for my Concealed Carry weapon on me, but I have spare mags for a different gun (as well as another gun) in my truck. Paracord is another thing I rarely have on me. I did wear the old paracord bracelet for a while and still do when I go backpacking but not every day. Again, I do have some of this in my get home bag if necessary.

I have carried a small flash drive on my keychain before and they do come in handy, but I removed that to keep it in my backpack. I have it 5 days a week at least. I do have the stuff to write with/on in my backpack, but I never walk around with a write in the rain pen and notebook. Not that I have anything against those, I just have found zero use for them to date.

When I travel by air, I ensure I have all of these items, minus the handgun in the situations I described above. I’ve even been known to add a shemagh and water filtration also but that is for plans to walk back home if necessary. If I am driving, I have a couple of handguns with me. Rather than keep all of the items above on my person, I have a small utility pouch with knife, headlamp, flashlight, duct tape, Leatherman and lighter. Normally, this rides in my console compartment in my truck. When I travel in another vehicle, this pouch is packed in my luggage.

What’s the best way to carry your everyday carry?

Most days I have the bulk of my everyday carry right in the pockets of my pants but the more I carry, the less ideal that is. Unless I am wearing tactical pants with nice pockets for my knife and a heavy duty belt to hang things off of. I used to carry both my flashlight and my multi-tool in pouches on my belt and in some cases that is still perfectly fine.

This Maxpedition Organizer makes a great pouch for your everyday carry items.
The Maxpedition Gear Beefy Pocket Organizer is a great option for storing a lot of your everyday carry gear.

The key for any of these items is to have them with you so that you aren’t forced to run away without them. For example, if you had all of your gear in your work backpack and you left to go to lunch or the restroom you would potentially have to leave that gear behind. I try to strike a balance on those days when I don’t have everything physically on me.

Some prefer to keep all of their everyday carry items in a small pouch like the one pictured above. This does have advantages and keeps everything nice and organized. As long as you can access it when you need it, this approach works. Try to figure out what is going to work for you in your current situation.

How can you make sure you take your everyday carry items with you?

First of all, anything new is going to take some getting used to so it pays to spend just a minute or two planning this out. Habits are easily broken because they usually require some extra effort. Remember your exercise routine you started at the beginning of the year? While learning a new routine takes time, it doesn’t have to be difficult.

  • Start with a 30 day plan – You know a new habit will take time to stick and you are still learning for some of these items.
  • Make it part of your daily routine – This is going to sound obvious, but I keep all my gear in one spot. This way when I’m getting dressed, I just need to load it into pockets or on my belt. The less you have to look for items, the easier it will be to get it loaded before yo leave the house and realize you forgot it.
  • Switch it up and have alternate plans – If you are just starting to carry concealed, it’s probably best to try a few holsters at home before you ever venture outside of the confines of your house. Wear a holster for a whole day. Sit down at the dinner table, go to the bathroom with it, bend over an pick stuff up in the yard. You will quickly see where you need to adjust. Also, try with different clothes. In summer months, if necessary I use a pocket holster with a .380. Not perfect, but it is still a viable solution that fits my situation.
  • Check in with yourself in two weeks – Ideally you would reevaluate what is working and what isn’t every day. You should know what you want to change because it was either uncomfortable or just didn’t work. Congratulate yourself on the progress and keep going.

Everyday carry item recommendations

What is the best everyday carry pocket knife? 

Getting into the actual everyday carry items themselves, let’s look at the top three that you may not be currently carrying. Staring with a good everyday carry knife, pretty quickly we arrive at the question of which knife is best? As you probably know there are a million different types of knives out there with price points all over the map. You can easily spend several hundred for a knife but I don’t think that is remotely necessary.

So, the question is what is the best everyday carry knife? It’s the one you have on you when you need it. Period. Some guys will get into specifics like steel composition, handle texture, the grind of the cutting face, and that is certainly valid and useful information. However, you have to have it on you for every day carry to work and the best knife in the world left at home loses out to the one in your pocket every time.

Spyderco Tenacious
I have carried this knife for over 10 years I believe. The 3.39

There are cheaper options also, but be sure to balance cost with quality. Something like a knife needs to be dependable.

Sale
Smith & Wesson Extreme Ops
Blade is made of reliable 7Cr17MoV Black Oxide High Carbon Stainless Steel with a black, aluminum handle

What is the best everyday carry multitool?

Multitools are amazing creations but the comment I hear most people make about them is that they use them to open boxes. To be fair, I have done the same thing and it seems that we get more and more boxes each year. However, to overlook the usefulness of these everyday carry tools is a mistake.

I have used almost every attachment on my multitool at one point. The Leatherman Wave won’t let you down.

Leatherman Wave
The Leatherman Wave is an excellent multitool that will serve you well for most uses. Packs a quiver of 18 tools, including pliers, replaceable wire cutters, wire stripper, knives, saw, spring-action scissors, ruler, can & bottle openers, files and screwdrivers

The Wingman is the Wave’s little brother and gives you a ton of basic tools at a more competitive price point and it’s a little lighter also.

Leatherman Wingman
The Wingman is your go-to tool for projects around the house, on the job or at your bug out location. Equipped with 14 tools to handle almost anything: knife, pliers, screwdrivers, wire cutters, a wire stripper, scissors, a package opener, bottle and can openers, a file and a ruler

What is the best everyday carry flashlight?

Flashlights are an item you don’t see most people carrying around, but you aren’t like most people are you? The utility of a flashlight is obvious and I use mine all of the time for simple tasks usually, but it helps to have light when you need it.

There are probably as many flashlight options as knives, but like I said above try to balance cost with quality. Read the reviews and make sure your aren’t purchasing something that will not be reliable when you need it. The flip side of this is that you probably don’t need to be spending $100 on a excellent flashlight either.

Sale
GearLight LED Tactical Flashlight S1000
These are number one currently in Amazon and you get two of them for this low price. Typically I prefer AA or CR123 batteries in my flashlights but I have plenty of AAA as well.

I own the Streamlight below and it is a great light. Yes, it’s more expensive than the two above but the quality is undeniable and Streamlight is a well known brand.

Streamlight 88052 ProTac
1000 lumens! This high lumen tactical light is USB rechargeable, so you can charge on-the-go using almost any USB source, and without taking the battery out. The aluminum housing with Type II Military Spec anodizing helps make the light extremely durable and abrasion resistant.

Your turn! What are your thoughts on everyday carry items that you find useful or essential to your survival?

6 comments
  1. Sorry, but you can’t take any type of knife through any of the TSA checkpoints that I’ve been through in the last 10 years. Fingernail clippers are even prohibited as carry on. Maybe a knife made of non metallic materials like Grivory or other plastics might make it through, but I’ve never tried it to see.

    For the most part, I agree with all your points and gear, although I always carry at least one spare magazine whenever I carry my gun (SIG P365). The rationale for this is that with most of the stoppage drills, dropping the mag is usually step 1. In a high stress situation, training to replace the dropped mag with a ready to go fully loaded spare seems more prudent and efficient.
    One item I do carry is a small pocket size Multitool, in my case, a Gerber Mini Suspension. About the same size as a Zippo lighter, it’s proven invaluable time and time again. I do keep a bigger Leatherman in what I call my “Jump” pouch. The pouch holds all the items for a bare bones IFAK, and other items on your list. A second bag is in both of our vehicles, bigger single straps set up as Get Home bags with the items we’d need should it take a day or three to get home. Since the wife and I are retired, we spend 95% of our time at home, and the farthest point we’d be away (without leaving the county, is 20 -25 miles. We do have a more complete kit for the rare instances we leave the county, ready to load if needed.
    Although I keep a Streamlight Polytac in both the jump pouches and the GHBs, a Streamlight Nano is on every set of keys. I like the Nanos, they’re small, sturdy, lightweight and inexpensive (around $7). They’ve a sturdy clip on them, and I’ve attached them to the zipper pulls on our parkas and jackets. They’re a great tactical/prepper little light I highly recommend (they’re great stocking stuffers for Christmas).
    All in all, you’re list is a good one for newcomers and seasoned carriers both. I agree it takes a little bit of effort and thought to get into a routine of never leaving home without your EDC, but once you’re used to having it on you, you’ll feel naked without it.
    Stay Frosty My Friends

  2. Thanks for the comment Bemused!
    Yes, I know you can’t go through TSA with a knife on you. That’s why I mentioned that it had to be included in your checked luggage. I stopped trying to do the Carry On thing a long time ago. Primarily because everybody and their mother are doing it and if you have the misfortune of boarding last you are going to have to ramp check it anyway. FWIW, I have never lost any luggage on a flight and only one time had to have them bring it to me when it missed a connection so checking is my choice. And, it allows me to carry EDC items virtually wherever I go.

    Good point on the Nano also. I used to have one as well but opted for a bigger/brighter light. Thanks for reading!
    Pat

  3. Folks, we may be on the very brink of widespread end-time persecution of Christians in America – just days away.
    Please watch this video by Perry Stone quickly – he explains an amazing election/prophecy parallel.

    https://youtu.be/HV5YhxOOJSU

    Please prepare your souls for Trouble. The Sword is coming upon this land.
    Repent and settle in your heart that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ.

  4. Pat,
    Two items that I include as EDC, though not on your list, is a USB cable and an AC/DC charging device for my smart phone. A dead phone is useless in any emergency.

    1. Long time no talk Bolo! I hope you are doing well and thank you very much for reading and the excellent suggestion.

      You bring up a great point and it made me think of a different side of the EDC discussion. What do we need (like the power charging options you mention) to support our EDC. Almost a second and probably third tier to consider. I’d have to figure out how to present this without it seeming like its becoming a whole system (bug out bag, etc.) but it is a great point. If I have a pack, I always have the cord and spare USB batter/charger but I never keep them on my person.

      Thanks,
      Pat

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