EDC Check. For those who are veterans of survival and preparedness, if you think you are prepared and this article is old hat consider this: Where is your EDC bag / stuff? Is it on you right now? What is in it right this second? What does it cover? Have you ever used any of the stuff in it? I mean really used it? Does it have all the components needed to cover off your basic needs? Time to walk the walk. Buckle down, test your stuff. Make a real fire, check the expiration dates, etc.
Every time my mother-in-law picks up my backpack, she constantly exclaims “what’s in this” and “why is this bag so heavy”. While I wouldn’t say the bag is heavy, it does have some heft to it. I have gotten used to the weight of being prepared and I feel almost naked without my backpack – like when I have to go through airport security.
What makes up the majority of the bulk of my daily backpack is my EDC or Every Day Carry kit. If I took all the contents out and laid them on the table, the few items that I really need on a daily basis are my wallet, keys and maybe a pack of gum. But I don’t want to carry what I just need, I want to carry what I may use. Whether it is an emergency or just daily life, my EDC helps me cover almost everything that comes my way.
Every Day Carry
What is Every Day Carry? EDC is the price of admission into preparedness. It is the most basic kit you would need on you in an emergency – and on the other extreme – the things you just happen to use often. An EDC kit is like a very, very basic survival kit. It covers all your basic needs, and will keep you alive for a short duration of time. EDC is also an urban kit. It is not designed for the bush. With the contents of your EDC, you should be able to make it to your survival kit if things go south, if it gets that bad. If you cannot get to your survival kit, then you need to re-think your plans.
An EDC kit is not a survival kit or a Bug Out Bag (BOB). A survival kit is not something you can literally take anywhere. You cannot just strap a 5” blade to your side and walk around downtown Manhattan. Nor can you walk around with a bow saw or a full sized axe. At the same time, some of the items in an EDC kit may be questioned if it weren’t for the fact that they are discreetly packed in a backpack.
Parts Of An EDC Kit
The things that make up your every day carry should do two things; 1) cover your basic needs and 2) cover what you constantly use. Some people have loads and loads of kit that lock into a key chain or fit in a pocket Altoids tin, but that is often too limiting. Whatever you need should be on you, regardless of how cool it is.
Your basic needs are first-aid, shelter, water, fire, food and navigation.
On you at all times should be a first-aid kit. While it doesn’t need to be multi-casualty or have Israeli bandages, it should have things you may require if you cut yourself or you get a headache, etc. I like to carry a minimum of:
- Gauze and tape
- 4” compression pads
- 4” non-adhesive compression pads
- Ibuprofen and aspirin
- Adhesive sutures
- Hydocortosin or antibacterial cream
If you are like me and are mildly allergic to the adhesive on bandages, you will probably end up using the gauze and tape more often, but if you need to you can treat someone. My first-aid kit gets used a lot. Maybe a co-worker gets a headache or I mildly cut myself on the side of a cardboard box, regardless it ends up needing to be replenished a lot.
I pack all my first aid materials in a Ziplock bag that sits inside a pocket that I only store the first-aid kit in. That way, everything stays nice and dry and I cut down on the wear and tear on the Ziplock. If I press out all the air from the baggie, I can get my first-aid kit down to a almost-flat package that can almost be missed if it wasn’t in a designated pocket.
Appropriate clothing is the next thing I always have on me. Clothing makes up the bulk and majority of the weight of my EDC kit. If you work an office job and wear dress shoes all day, that is great, but in the middle of a Canadian winter, that is hardly enough clothing if you had to walk a couple of kilometres / miles. You can never guarantee the subway won’t shut down, or your car might break down, or worse, that you have to evacuate your office building during a fire evacuation.
Clothing should be selected that is season appropriate. In the winter, regardless of where I am going, I have a pair of heavy winter mitts, a toque / watch cap, a pair of long underwear – plus a winter jacket, etc. on me – if not worn, at least in my bag. In the summer, I carry a hat, sunscreen (and possibly bug repellent), and proper walking shoes (not thong sandals). As the weather changes, I may only wear a fleece, but inside my EDC pack, I carry a shell in case it rains, or the wind picks up. The clothing in your pack or on you should always assume the weather will be at its worst.
The other major bulk item in my EDC is my Nalgene full of water. In the summer it is a big mistake to not have water on you, but even in the winter, who knows how long you may wait if the subway or train has to make an emergency stop (I once waited 2 hours, stuck on a commuter train). My water can also be rationed out to my daughter into her sippy cup if she runs dry. While it ain’t juice (little does she know that it is 90% water), it will easily do. My Nalgene water bottle has an extremely strong seal and won’t explode in my pack. On the outside of it, I have ducktaped 4 water purification tablets – just in case. I saw this technique on Envirosponsible’s YouTube Channel and I liked it. They take up no additional room.
On the side of my pack, in a tin that was originally used for pipe tobacco, I carry a small fire kit – a Bic lighter, a number of storm proof matches and a couple of balls of petroleum soaked cotton balls in a Ziplock. The container is held together with a strip of bicycle inner tube (flammable and secure) and strapped to the can is a spare fire steel and striker I had.
I have used the lighter to light a birthday cake, give someone a “light”, burn the ends of paracord and start a fire in a woodstove that was missing matches. Technically, the tin could be used to boil water in if it came to that as well as making charcloth, but not required to do so. Fire is a useful tool and easy to have on you, especially in today’s modern age.
I also have a Victorianox / Swiss Army knife in the fire kit. It is small, discreet and is there “just in case”
For food, I usually have two types. One is a Met-RX Big 100 protein bar chock full of calories ( with 410 calories and 32g of protein). The other is a Clif Energy Bar / Cookie. It is more of a carb / sugar hit but it does have 240 calories. These are by no means enough to fuel an adult body for a whole day, but they do have enough in them to ward off hunger pangs until you get home or figure something else out. They also make a good option if you are hungry but want to stay away from some fast food that is now usually not that cheap.
Proper footwear is the last need that I cover in my EDC kit. If I am wearing dress shoes that are comfortable enough that might suffice or I may also pack a pair of running / trail shoes. In the winter, I wear hiking boots that are dark brown or black. They blend in to the urban landscape, they are easy to re-black if they get worn, and they will keep my feet relatively warm down to -20 Celsius / -4 Fahrenheit. Anything lower and I wear purpose built winter boots, style be damned!
Proper footwear will get you to wherever you need to go. If you are breaking in a pair of hiking boots or runners, a back up pair of shoes is an easy addition. My wife knows what happens when she decides to go for a stroll and doesn’t have broken in shoes or has opted for heels.
What Else Do I Carry?
These other items are what I often use and so have been incorporated into my EDC:
- Wallet with credit cards, various licenses, debit cards and money
- Transit tokens (TTC tokens)
- Dollars and quarters for shopping carts
- Cloth shopping bags – doubles your carrying capacity
- Moleskin Notebook – for recording ideas
- Rite-In-Rain Pad and pen (on me) – grocery lists, etc.
- A book or a fully charged tablet with PDF books on it – entertainment
- Phone, headphones and phone charging cable (if the charge is low on my phone)
- DSLR camera – less now that cell technology has gotten so good
- USB thumb drive
- Keys for vehicle and house
- Folding Gerber EAB Razor Knife (on me) – box cutting, etc.
- Wiley-X Gravity Sunglasses for driving
- Hatch driving gloves
- Folding umbrella
Where Can I Get All This Stuff?
You could go out and buy everything for your EDC. Many people have – there is a whole world of EDC porn out there. But you don’t have to. Everything you need is probably in your home just waiting to be put into service. You are just not used to packing it and carrying it with you daily. You already own appropriate clothing. You already probably have a lighter somewhere in your house. And if you don’t have a Nalgene or a Kleen Canteen, you can start with the lowly water bottle.
The bag that I use to carry all this stuff is actually quite small. It is a MEC day pack that came with a luggage system, not a tactical assault whatever. It is well designed, and fits my needs. There are many bag that will fit and EDC system, provided that is convenient to carry all the time. I am constantly reminded that I could just “leave my pack in the car”, but I don’t. It is too easy to bring it with me and have what I need.
The only addition that I added to the day pack is a sternum strap, which transfers load off of your armpits and across onto your chest. It takes the comfort level to a whole new level, and is why, the pack is always at the ready.
Do you have an EDC bag? What do you carry as Every Day Carry?