The Ultimate Guide to Having an EDC Kit

The concept of Everyday Carry, or EDC, is currently all the rage among adherents on the path to self-sufficiency, and also an interesting distraction for another fraction of the population who enjoy getting a glimpse into another person’s life. You’ll see “pocket dumps” all over social media these days.

multi-tool mini screwdriver next to Altoids kit
Yes, that multi-tool actually fits inside that Altoids kit! And not just it, the other items as well.

The things that people carry on a daily basis say a lot about them as artifacts, to be sure, but nearly all of the things that people carry on a day to day basis are tools, things meant to do something or solve a problem.

Solving problems is what prepping is all about, and so most preppers leave sentiment and  trendy fashion at the door and choose to pack their pockets and line their luggage with things that will get work done should the situation demand it, even if the work is just a stubborn screw or tough piece of plastic.

Of course some problems take on an entirely new magnitude when all you have is what you have on you. The odds are high that you will not be kitted out in full battle rattle, BOB and more when your number comes up.

Chances are you will only have what you carried out the door with you that morning, and perhaps what you have in your vehicle if it is close to hand.

In today’s article, we’ll be breaking into the why, what and when of EDC, taking a look at the greater philosophy of the concept and loading you down with plenty of things to think about when it comes time to pick up your keys and walk out the door.

What Does EDC Mean, Exactly?

EDC as I spelled out above is a simple acronym for EveryDay Carry. Simply it means the things you carry in your pockets or on your person every. Single. Day.

These are the items, whatever they are, that as much a part of your wardrobe as underwear, as much a part of you as your own beating heart. These are the things that go with you out the door, literally, every time you leave.

There is, of course, some arguing and purity testing among enthusiasts. The fact that there are enthusiasts for the carriage of things in pockets is proof of something profound, I am sure, but don’t let their bickering distract you as even a decree from the Pontiff on the specificity of EDC would amount to no edification.

Nevertheless, some readers will be unhappy if I do not make at least an attempt to highlight the differing “doctrines,” you might say, when discussing it so I will do my best.

Some folks describe EDC as a formalized, miniature packing list of things that an individual chooses as their “loadout” whenever they leave the house.

It does not have to have a tactical or survival connotation: An office worker or cubicle drone may have sunglasses, wallet, watch, lip balm, pen knife and water bottle as their EDC. Cool.

An average suburban housewife may have a baby-supply bag and her purse loaded with all the things she needs to get through her day. That’s an EDC for sure.

Other EDC fans describe it as more of a wardrobe if you will; you will carry or “run” a certain piece of kit or gear for a while before sampling something else, or you might dump everything in its entirety for a fresh, new pile of stuff.

For them, they ask “what’s your EDC?” in the same way you may ask someone what their ensemble is; it is treated as another layer of attire in a way.

A few treat EDC as a tag or label, one that denotes any item small enough to be carried in the pockets or on the belt, or useful when “out and about” hence they treat entire categories of things as “EDC”.

edc pocket dump

EDC for Prepping

All of these classifications are correct enough in their own way, but for our purposes we are going a little more objective.

For preppers, folks with dangerous jobs in rough places and proponents of self-reliance, EDC means simply the life-saving tools and gear we take with us into the world as out absolute minimum level of equipage, the things we know we will have on us unless we get strip searched or have our clothes burned off us.

Some of us that can choose to carry a small bag or satchel in addition to what we can carry in our pockets and on our belts.

A purist, above, may decry this as not in the spirit of EDC, whatever that might mean, but to a serious guy or gal who is absolutely committed to a certain level of preparation they may very well take that small bag or sidepack with them every single time they walk out the door or back out of the garage it damn well is.

Things like tools, first-aid, weapons and more all have a place on your belt or in your pockets. The trick is carrying them in such a way you do not draw attention to yourself or find it so uncomfortable you start leaving things behind.

Like I said, don’t get caught up in all the minutiae: all we are concerned about is determining what we should carry to help us get through our day with relative ease, and few items to deal with emergencies if so inclined.

We’ll deep dive into all of that in the remainder of the article.

Different Loads for Different Folks

Consider also that an EDC kit for readiness will often look very different to different people.

A woman who is serious about prepping would do well to keep some feminine hygiene items on her or in her kit in case she gets stranded or caught without and has need of them. She may also not be the one who needs them.

A younger child would benefit from having some snacks, a treasured toy and  a small book or list containing emergency contact numbers and instructions in an easy to follow format should they be separated from mom and dad.

The toy will give them much comfort when they are stressed, as moms and dads the world over know.

Folks who are very infirm or even disabled can still benefit from an EDC kit just like all the rest of us, but they can boost their chances of avoiding a show-stopping mishap by carefully adding a few things that are specific to their needs.

For a person that uses crutches or a wheelchair it might be a few key fasteners, or a tiny oil bottle to keep the wheels moving. It could be a spare pair of gloves or extra padding should they need it, etc.

It goes without saying that anyone who needs life-sustaining medication had better have it with them at all times, but have you done anything to harden that precious resource when you are out in the world? How about an environmentally sealed, durable pill container instead of a dinky prescription bottle?

Have you considered a medical alert bracelet should someone find you in a bad way or unconscious? No stranger can be expected to know of your condition.

What Should You EDC Carry?

You tell me. Seriously, I want to know! EDC equipage is an intensely personal thing. Some minimalist (or just lazy) preppers feel fine with a small pocket knife and few matches to go with their wallet.

Other more security-conscious folks want a pistol, spare magazine, spare mag, flashlight and tourniquet. A few geardos, either from enthusiasm or significant difference of opinion carry all of the above, plus rations, compass, map, ferro rod, and more. You can tell these guys apart from how much jangling noise accompanies their passage.

I’m not mocking them any of them, really, as all of those things will make a big difference in your outcome should fate truly give you cause to use them, and at worst most of them can make your day a little more convenient.

As far as what you should carry, dear reader, you’ll need to start figuring all that out and the first step to do that is by assessing what it is you think you’ll need and the likely threats you will face on a daily basis.

This is not as tough as it sounds, and you probably will not even spend too much time on this part. The real trick comes later.

First, where do you live and what do you do? Are you a rural, suburban or urban person? What does your job look like? Office dweller? Tradesman or factory worker? Are you a road warrior, constantly travelling? Is your commute always the same or does it change depending on what you are doing that day?

These questions will inform much: a rural dweller may have more opportunities to become stranded in remote or less traveled areas than an urban resident or suburbanite who is only ever steps away from a phone and shelter.

Your job too will give us a little risk info, as will our typical commute. A blue-collar trade certainly has more possibility of grievous injury than a cubicle-bound programmer or typist. Someone who travels farther more often and to unknown or new locations may become lost or blunder into hostile or dangerous neighborhoods.

Similarly, what are constant threats no matter who you are? How about a car accident? Definitely. How about getting stranded away from home? Sure.

Maybe it is a simple repair of an essential or important item or piece of gear. “For want of a nail,” eh? Think it through: the potential problems you are trying to avoid are probably obvious, you just have not thought about them this way before.

A General Guide for EDC Success

In the end, life is too random for any small cache of gear in your pockets to be the ideal solution to almost anything.

This part is hard on specialist personality types, as constantly toting an assortment of “perfect” solutions takes up a lot of real estate on your body and in your pockets.

The good news is life will often furnish ample opportunity for generalists to get by just fine, and it is here that I believe the archetype of EDC readiness rests.

Consider the Boy Scout motto of “Be Prepared.” It is not “Be Prepared” with a couple dozen riders and clauses after it. Be prepared.

It is a reminder, a mild admonishment and a sort of mantra. I cannot prepare for everything, but I can prepare enough. I like that. I won’t spend time worrying over the 1 in a million chance that no one could predict or prevent anyway. I still have to live life, and I plan on living it like the sky will not fall at any second.

I personally carry and like items that serve multiple purposes. This saves weight, expands my capability and gives me the most options for the least possible expenditure of room. That is efficiency starting back at you!

Referencing our conversation above, I always, always, always have my GHB in the vehicle as a secondary source of gear.

This fits into my EDC plan as a sort of reserve of tools and supplies. I am relying on my own skills and wits plus whatever I have in my pockets to be enough to extricate me from a pickle and get me back to that bag should I need it. If I am travelling far from home or flying, my GHB morphs into my travel Go-Bag, sanitized for airline luggage checks.

Additionally, my EDC serves as a “back-up chute” to my Go-Bag, having much of the same items included, just in smaller, sometimes less capable versions. So should I lose my bag but still have my pants on, I am not as helpless as a kitten.

In the grand scheme of things, I would classify my kit as a “medium” in the kingdom of EDC equipage. It is not minimalist; I like having good tools close at hand, and will sacrifice a certain amount of comfort for it. It is also not a heavy or geardo load; I am not willing to adapt my daily attire or business dress too far outside what I wear to gain the pockets or concealable belt space needed to hoist all that stuff. If I must have it but am unwilling to keep it on me, in the bag it goes.

EDC Categories

The following are subsets of EDC gear that you might consider toting along. The idea is to get you thinking about where a certain solution will fit into your personal EDC kit.

Some items you might “splurge” on when it comes to size and weight, as you have assessed them to be of greater importance. Others you may omit entirely or only spare enough ounces and inches for a small or minimalist solution.

That is all fine as wine. There is no one right solution, but remember this! The only person you will fool if you “phone it in” is yourself.

You can waste a ton of time, space and energy on toting neat but ultimately useless gear, or by overemphasizing the things you enjoy carrying that gobble up room that may have been used on more important items.

  • Tools and Blades
    • Knife, fixed blade
    • Knife, folding
    • Knife, hideout, could be neck knife, razor or other tiny cutting tool hidden on your person.
    • Multi-tool
      • Multiplier e.g. Leatherman, Gerber, SOG, etc.
      • Trapper or Swiss Army knife
      • Utili-Card i.e. flat, credit card sized options that usually include drivers and wrenches machined into them.
    • Flashlight
      • Pocket Sized, e.g. Surefire G2 or similar
      • Micro Light, e.g. ASP Sapphire, Streamlight Nano, etc.
      • Headlamp, small.
several open multi-tools
several open multi-tools

Notes: –The right knife can do all kinds of tasks, and serve as an effective weapon. A multi-tool could be a veritable toolbox, like a large Leatherman, or a slim solution like a Swiss Army knife orUtili-card, a flat gadget that carries in your wallet for super low-profile carry and space savings.

  • Defense
    • Firearms
      • Revolver
      • Semi-auto
      • Pocket Pistol
    • Spare Ammunition
    • Pepper Spray
    • Knife (Could be same knife as above)
    • Sap or collapsing baton
    • Yawara stick or Kubaton
    • Improvised or innocuous defensive item, i.e. tactical pen, fist load, etc.

Notes: This could be a knife, above, or a pistol, pepper spray, sap or something else. Make sure you know the laws in your area, and carry it in such a way it can be deployed instantly.

A flashlight is also invaluable for defense and also simply seeing what you need to see at night. Of all the things you may carry, weapons and medical gear are the things you will need to access the quickest if you need them. Carry accordingly.

tactical pen clipped to back pocket of camo pants
tactical pen clipped to back pocket of camo pants

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  • Medical
    • Boo Boo Kit – band-aids, gauze pad, antiseptic, common medicines, tweezers, burn cream, bite relief, moleskin etc.
    • Trauma Kit – Tourniquet, hemostatic gauze or sponges, battlefield dressing, chest seals, gloves, EMT shears, etc.
    • Sunscreen
    • Bug Repellent

Notes: At the very, very least carry a tourniquet. Extremity hemorrhage is a very common and very treatable killer. A TQ will stop it.

You may also consider carrying a compact trauma kit with additional goodies like bandages, gauze and the like. Even a tiny kit gets bulky, so consider an ankle rig or small pouch for a belt or cargo pocket.

a mini survival kit inside an Altoids tin
A mini survival kit inside an Altoids tin. This one has some matches, band-aids, fishing hook, zip ties, and a multitool, but you can put anything you think you might need.
  • Survival
    • Fire Starter
      • Matches
      • Lighter
      • Ferro Rod
    • Compass
    • Mini Survival Kit (In a tin or woven into gear, bracelet, etc.)
      • Fine cordage
      • Emergency blade
      • Tinder
      • Fishing kit/snare triggers
      • Water purifier tabs
      • Duct Tape
    • Bandana

Notes: Exposure is another super-common and deadly killer, even for short duration scenarios in your “backyard.” Anyone who is ever away from the warm, neon nightscape of a city should have a plan for surviving exposure.

Altoids tin fishing kit
an Altoids tin fishing kit

Fire is one sure way to help with that in the cold, so carry a lighter or small pack of matches. You can also use fire for signaling. Heatstroke is another threat in some places, so a bandana which you can douse with water for evaporative cooling and shade is worthwhile and also has a dozen other uses.

  • Admin
    • Memo Pad
    • Pen
    • Pencil
    • Marker

Notes: Do you have a way to take reliable notes besides your phone? How about a small pad and pen or pencil? Even better, a waterproof memo pad and all-weather pen? Something you learn or hear may be important enough to write down, and trusting to gray matter in a high stress situation is a great way to forget or misremember essential details. Maybe you need to leave a message for someone when phones are down.

  • Morale
    • Lucky charm
    • Family item or photo
    • Talisman
    • Religious Icon
    • Bible

Notes: There is a place for something meaningful and nifty you keep on you so long as it is not too huge. A piece of jewelry, a lucky coin, tiny toy or gift, it could be anything. If it brings you luck, focus or helps you keep your head, go ahead and include it if you are sure it will not get in the way.

Charles’ EDC Kit

Again, I know some readers will be steamed if I do not include this, so for one and all to enjoy and dissect, my personal, real-life everyday carry selections. I hope it gives you something to think about and perhaps inspires you to create your best kit.

Tools- Swiss Army knife, Tinkerer. I prefer this over bulkier multi-tools. It gives me backup blades, plenty of bits, even tweezers. Plus it opens bottles of Mexican Coca-Cola that I enjoy, so there!

Knife- Buck 112 Ranger. A smaller version of the legendary 110. It is heavy, but the weight keeps it right side up in the pocket of my slacks, and it stays sharp for a long time. I only use this blade for serious cutting tasks, and use the SAK for more usual chores.

Gun- Sig P239, 9mm or Ruger LCR, .357. I choose an option depending on my mode of carry. The common denominator both share is that they are both plenty potent for self defense, have good sights and both of these small pistols shoot as well as much larger guns.

Medical- RATS TQ, sometimes with Quik-Clot Gauze pack and Israeli Bandage. Depending on my attire.

Survival- Bic lighter, button compass. I am a stickler about having a good compass at all times. The little button compass is brass, sturdy and rides in a coin pouch or pocket. I can also tether it to anything I want so I don’t lose it. The Bic is reliable, disposable, and if I cannot start a fire with that I can fall back on friction methods which I have practiced.


EDC kits mean different things to different folks, but they all share the common virtue of arming a person with the tools they need to conquer their day or get themselves out of a bad situation. If all you have is what is on your body or in your pockets, make sure you loaded them with more than just gum, a phone and your wallet. It may not seem like much, but a few thoughtful items can spell the difference between life and death.

7 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Having an EDC Kit”

  1. Stop with the “Ultimate” for pete’s sake. Are you saying you have something that quite simply could NEVER be improved upon? You might have a really good idea. Someone will do it better tomorrow

    • woodchuck,
      I have always seen the word “Ultimate” as a challenge to get readers to comment and find flaws in a plan. We all have our own way of doing things; but, with an open mind and comments from others, we can all improve and to me, that is the whole purpose of an article like this one.

  2. Living in a rural agricultural community, I can do things that might seem odd to city folk, and on the occasional trip to the city, I simply ignore the stares. My EDC for the most part is carried on my belt and in a 5.11 Tactical® Vest (, and like a car kit, some of it changes with the seasons.
    When I put on my belt in the morning I pick up my Gerber Multitool in its nylon sheath / case and one of my handguns, both of which are placed on the belt. A knife with a pocket clip sits mostly in my pocket and a small utility knife goes into the watch pocket.
    Most of the rest of my gear is already in the vest; but, I will also grab one or two cell phones and at least one of the radios that allow near county wide communications.
    The vest BTW also doubles as a concealment garment for the firearm, and most people are then generally unaware that I am carrying either a firearm or pepper gel.
    In the vest I have radios, a small first aid kit, work gloves, numerous ways to start a flame for building a fire, my keys, a whistle, pocket change (in its own pocket) ID and spare loaded magazines plus at least one space blanket that can be used for cold weather for me or some unfortunate person needing help. I also have an LED flashlight with spare battery, several other small tools like a multi-bit screwdriver assortment and small Hex Key set. As I mentioned before, the load is changed a bit based on the seasons, with additional gear for winter excursions. I also always have a few hanks of paracord and a compass.
    Someone with a tactical mindset might see me and think “gun”; but, nearly all of my encounters were someone even bothers to notice or ask, think I’ve been fishing or I’m a photographer. For those who ask what the vest holds, I show them a few items and mention that it is like my wife’s purse and so far (for nearly 20 years), everyone has been satisfied with the answer.
    Your mention of “Be Prepared” is a good admonishment for everyone, and the absolute best way to prepare for all matters large and small is not something you carry on your body or in your pockets; but, in your head. It has been said that ”Skill and Knowledge are versatile, light to carry, and can’t be taken from you, so with a well chosen EDC load and the right skills, you can do a lot with a little.
    When you state:

    Notes: Exposure is another super-common and deadly killer, even for short duration scenarios in your “backyard.” Anyone who is ever away from the warm, neon nightscape of a city should have a plan for surviving exposure.

    This is the place I live and spend most of my time. I always carry a ferrocerium rod with tinder as well as butane lighter and one or more fully charged plasma lighters. In winter I also carry an extra heavy duty space blanket with grommets and a build in hood, that in a pinch can help make an instant shelter.
    My admin is done with one or two voice recorders and I always have at least one of them in my pocket.
    As a retired engineer, I have a ton of hobby projects in the works, and often just zoneing out and working on those designs can pass the time for Morale purposes, even if it’s just thinking through the code or hardware in my head.

    My only thoughts on your personal kit would be the Swiss Army knife. I learned a long time ago that when people get stressed and in a hurry, you can get careless and a knife that does not have a locking blade, can fold up and give you a nasty accidental cut. That being said, I too have several of those knives and they can be very useful with care and patience.
    For prying off bottle caps, the little Buck Whittaker in my watch pocket does that job nicely.
    I carry one of 4 firearms in .38 special, ,380 auto or 9mm parabellum, depending on the circumstances; but, rarely leave home without at least one, plus spare ammunition.

  3. Inside of those Mentos containers, I keep a SAK pen, Leatherman CS Style multi-tool and BIC mini lighters. Always in pocket.

    Around my neck, an air crew ‘thataway’ compass, a SAK Classic and James #14 sail needle, contained inside a coffee straw that is threaded around the cord. The only time I remove is when I shower – otherwise, its on me all the time. The compass is kept separated from the knife and needle to prevent them affecting the compass bearings.

    In my trucker’s wallet is a SOG Crosscut multi-tool, along with a sewing spool of trip wire approximately 50 feet long. The plastic sheath gave up the ghost a long time ago – I made a leather sheath from a leather luggage tag and it is still going strong after 12 years of use.

    • Anonymous,

      Inside of those Mentos containers, I keep a SAK pen, Leatherman CS Style multi-tool and BIC mini lighters. Always in pocket.

      I always have a Swiss fire steel (Ferrocerium rod), matches, a fully charged plasma lighter, a BIC butane lighter and a Gerber Multi-tool. I did not know about the Mini Lighter; but, I just ordered a few. These fit in one of the pockets of my 5.11 Tactical vest; but, when I need a container, I use the Altoids tin. The Gerber tool is always in a leather pouch / sheath on my belt as is a firearm. Like you, things are always ready at hand exceept when in the shower.

  4. My pants are huge, most of this is just EDC because I am always tinkering and fixing stuff for everybody.
    I always carry some kind of firearm.
    A mini stanley 3′ tapemeasure.
    A mini Bic with a lighterbro(has a sharp blade and a little drug poker thing or something)
    A luxpro 130 LED light, found them for 4 bucks on sale at lowes one day. it has been my favorite pocket carry flashlight for a long time now. Very bright and durable, sucks it uses button cell batteries though.
    A swiss tool multitool or leatherman wave
    SwissChamp SAK awesome knife pliers, screwdrivers, saw, mini pliers it has it all, toothpick replaced with firesteel. Mini super strong magnet attached to file. Sewing needle inside it.
    Usually a assorted kershaw speedsafe knife, this seems like a lot of knives but I like the lockback and 1 hand opening and stronger blade.
    mini squeeze led light on keys
    Gerber artifact tool on keys with exacto blade, modified so it no longer opens in pocket, OUCH. It works as a very strong prybar as well. Between this the Swiss Champ and the multitool I can fix a ton of stuff.
    Bandanda in back pocket.
    assorted first aid stuff in wallet bandaids ect ect, extra old strong cards for shiming locks, ice scrapers ect
    Altoids tin, has gaffer tape and electrical tape in stips on the back of it.
    Inside is a ton of crap I use all the time I will try to list it all
    5 super strong 5mm magnets
    3 extra excacto blades
    2 safety pins
    2 paper clips
    lockpick kit
    plastic handcuff key
    mini ferro rod and striker
    2 sewing needles with about 6-8 yds of upostolstery tread
    wrap of fishing line, with mini fishing kit
    extra mini squeeze led light
    tube of quickclot
    sting swab
    more first aid stuff, bandaids, mini superglue squeeze tube, burn cream, steristrips
    toothpick from SAK
    3 zip ties
    extra pair or SAK tweezers
    trick candle
    cotton swab with vaseline in tiny ziplock bag
    water purifing tablet
    chunk of starw with baking soda in it, pour it over superglue(youtube this)
    2 forever stamps
    10 bucks
    small roll of stainless wire

    • Forgot
      in altoids tin I keep 2 benadryl, 2 immodium, and 2 aspirin and 2 of the blood lancets because they are great for lancing stuff or removing slivers
      and my boot laces are paracord


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