Whether preparing for personal emergencies and trauma and natural disasters or planning for a more serious SHTF event that could come up, an EDC kit is essential.
Most people don’t have the luxury of walking around town with a backpack full of supplies, so the next best thing is to have an everyday carry kit. In this article, we’ll focus on those EDC essentials that fit into your wallet, pocket or even be attached to your key ring.
Table of Contents
Benefits of EDC Equipment
A full EDC kit customized to your own needs provides the following benefits:
Convenience. Less time wasted looking for tools you need to solve a problem. With your EDC tools, each has a specific function and many of the tools have multiple functions. It’s like having a tool shed right in your wallet or pocket.
Efficiency. EDC tools can often reduce the number of steps you have to take, can reduce frustration over fighting with plastic ties, packaging, or a popped button. It can certainly provide comfort for things such as chapped lips, blisters, minor scrapes, etc.
The “cool factor”. Yes your everyday carry items are intended for survival and not to impress but many times your EDC kit takes on your personality. But if you learn to do EDC right, it grows and morphs until it becomes an integral part of who you are, it becomes uniquely you.
Coolness. Of course the main reason to have an EDC kit is to be prepared to survive whatever emergency or SHTF event may come at you. A proper EDC kit is designed to help you survive until you can get to where you left your GHB or to get your BOB.
About half of an EDC kit is the items that you can fit into your wallet and into your pockets. With many critical events happening around the world including in the U.S., France, and Belgium, many more now realize that life can change in an instant.
Personal trauma, accidents, terrorism, natural disasters, they all have one thing in common: they are unpredictable. You may not have time to get to your car in the parking lot or to get to your locker at work for your purse.
You may be trapped with only the items you have on your person to use as a resource to help yourself and the people around you, including your children.
It only takes being in the wrong place at the wrong time for you and possibly your family to be suddenly fighting for your life. Your EDC items are the items that you carry with you every single day, no matter where you are going or what you are doing.
Since accidents, emergencies, and other crisis events are largely unpredictable, the EDC is the only way that you can be prepared if and when something happens.
For most non-preppers, this means their pockets carry their wallet, phone, and keys already. So we’ll show you what you can add to just those areas to create an EDC kit without having to change to your daily routine much at all.
Items that Fit In Your Pants’ Pockets
In your pants’ pockets there are a variety of things you can carry including:
1. Wallet – You might not think your wallet belongs on a list of EDC essentials because it is taken for granted as a given, but it serves an important purpose beyond hauling your IDs and a little cash.
Your wallet can serve as a last-ditch container for ultra-compact tools, as well as a decoy in case of a stick-up. A good prepper-ready wallet will even include RFID signal blockers to keep your cards safe from technologically savvy criminals.
2. Cell phone – Smartphones definitely deserve the name, as these miraculous, pocket-sized devices can do so much it is hard to imagine life without them.
From GPS navigation and internet access to useful tools like compasses, flashlights and even drone controllers. Don’t be so quick to give up on your electronic devices, especially your smartphone, just because they require power.
3. Compact solar charger – Portable solar chargers are growing more capable and more compact all the time, and there are several varieties that can fold or roll up small enough to fit in the back pocket of your jeans or shorts.
You can keep all of your rechargeable devices gassed up while you are on the move using one of these, and not just your smartphone: flashlights, lanterns and other electronic devices increasingly rely on built-in rechargeable batteries instead of disposable cells.
Make the change now to get ahead of the curve and equip yourself with a solar charger.
4. Key Ring – This is another item that you simply should not leave the house without, and not just because your keys are essential for opening and securing your home or office as well as your car.
In a pinch you can use your keys as a pretty effective improvised flail if tied on to the end of a length of sturdy cord, like paracord for instance.
5. Lighter – Fire is one of mankind’s oldest tools, and arguably the one that helped us conquer the world.
Being able to produce fire in an instant is important not just for staving off the threat of exposure, which is nature’s biggest killer, but also for use as a light, for cooking, signaling and potentially even as a distraction or weapon.
Other fire starting tools are great, but nothing is as fast, convenient or as compact as a lighter.
6. Bandana – The humble bandana might be a prepper’s best multi-purpose tool.
Aside from being used to clean up your hands or your clothing when you get dirty, you can use a bandana as a head cover, a scarf, a bandage, as padding, tied as a bindle, a lashing, a signaling device and so much more. I highly recommend you carry two!
7. Tactical pen – Everyone needs a good pen for signing receipts, jotting down notes and sketching out maps but a tactical pen they also serve as an effective striking tool in a close-quarters fight, helping to inflict more damage while also protecting your hand.
Try to pick one out that does not have any sharpened crenellations on the top or bottom to help keep your clothing intact and reduce snagging when drawing it.
8. Flashlight – If there is one tool you should never leave home without, it is a flashlight. Modern LED flashlights feature extraordinary brightness, excellent runtime and highly ergonomic controls and also feature such niceties as built-in rechargeable batteries and multimode operation to suit any task.
Even if you don’t have the latest and greatest in state-of-the-art, modern flashlights (some of which are so tiny, they can be attached to your keychain) that run on disposable batteries are still extremely capable.
9. Small notebook (preferably waterproof) – From jotting down grocery lists to leaving crucial notes for family or friends in a great hurry a notebook is mandatory, because paper will “remember” when your other devices have “forgotten” due to power loss.
If you are wise, spend a couple of extra dollars for a waterproof variety that will withstand rough handling, rain and more importantly sweat when riding in your pocket all day. Write in the rain is a brand that is exemplary in this category.
10. Pepper spray – Pepper spray is a superb self-defense tool and one of the few ranged non-lethal weapons that is both compact enough to carry and effective enough to be worth carrying for civilian.
The vast majority of confrontations you will get into that cannot be solved with words will be solved by pepper spray and all without having to shoot or stab someone and then deal with the attendant legal aftermath. Get some, get trained on its use and carry it!
11. Kubotan – A kubotan, or pocket stick, is a small palm-sized baton usually made of wood or a high-impact acetate plastic designed to enable targeted non-lethal strikes, pressure point manipulation and small joint locks by skilled users.
These are effective self-defense weapons if you have the martial arts training to back them up, but they have a huge advantage in that they are highly compact and can go anywhere with no restrictions.
12. Swiss army knife – For many preppers their first and only true multi-tool is the old Swiss Army knife, and it is hard to argue with that logic.
Highly compact, versatile and eminently handy you can do a lot worse than going forth equipped with a Swiss army knife as your pocket knife, and depending upon how much room you want to devote to the knife you can carry one that has the bare minimum of accoutrement or dozens of different tools.
13. Specialty Knife – I use the phrase “specialty knife” to describe an additional pocket knife, or belt knife, carried for more serious purposes then your humble utility knife or more mundane folder.
Your specialty knife should be reserved for true emergencies, be that slicing off a stuck seat belt after a car crash, cutting away rope or webbing that has turned into a life-threatening tangle hazard or opening up a bad guy’s belly who has shoved a gun in your face. This knife should say razor sharp at all times.
14. Portable water filter – It is surprising how many preppers forget to take a compact water filter with them when heading out on their adventures, especially ones that take them deep into nature or far from home.
Models like the Sawyer Mini and the Lifestraw are so small and easy to carry they can easily ride in a back pocket or cargo pocket if you are going out on an ultra-minimalist hike.
15. Pistol – You might think I am trying to get away with a technicality by including a pistol on this list since pistols typically ride on your belt, but that’s not the case!
There are many high-quality and reliable pistols that are truly pocket-sized on the market today, first among them the Beretta Tomcat series.
Even a pint-sized pistol in a puny caliber is still a formidable weapon, one that can go nearly anywhere completely concealed and conveniently carried in your pocket. For survival situation or self-defense, a pistol is tops.
16. Tourniquet – It stands to reason that if you’re going to have the ability to make holes you should have the ability to fix them, and for fixing hemorrhaging in the extremities nothing is more effective or more compact than a tourniquet.
No matter if you are dealing with a self-inflicted wound from a knife 4 pistol accident, or trying to keep the red stuff in your body after a nasty car crash, a tourniquet can do it and do it fast. Make sure you get trained on how to use it properly!
17. Altoid tin – Altoid tins are splendid multi-purpose containers that can give delicate or small items carried in your pocket some significant protection compared to clattering around with everything else in there.
You can even use them to assemble your own mini survival kit or for storing important specimens or evidence in.
18. Mini fishing kit – A miniature fishing kit including hooks, bobbers, weights, high-strength line and more that can easily fit in a small bundle or tiny container that can then ride in your pocket.
For the ultimate in ultra-minimalist hiking expeditions or as a just-in-case method of provision whenever you are working or playing in remote country with bountiful lakes or rivers, definitely consider a miniature fishing kit.
19. Sewing kit – You will rarely meet a prepper who is not interested in repairing their own gear, one category of gear that is often overlooked is their clothing and other items made from fabric.
Plenty of people, and that includes men, in days gone by knew how to sew and sew well, and that means you should too since that is the only way you will be able to effectively mend fabric in the field and expect it to last. Needles, thread, darners and other supplies are all very small and can go with you almost anywhere.
20. Fire starting kit – There is more to starting a fire then clicking your lighter or striking a match, though both are crucial tools for the process.
A fire starting kit will help give you a leg up on getting a fire going using any found fuel, and should include a couple of types of tinder, such as wood shavings, dryer lint, or petroleum jelly-soaked cotton balls and a couple of backup storm matches to supplement your primary fire starting gear found elsewhere on this list.
21. Infant diapering kit – Preppers that have small children or babies don’t just get to take the day off from dealing with their constant needs just because there is a disaster on.
A compact diaper care kit consisting of baby wipes, disposable gloves, a packet of powder and ointments for dealing with irritation can help keep your child clean and happy and keep you sane.
22. Chemlight – Chem lights, or snap lights, are an excellent option for no heat, no risk area lighting, marking and signaling.
These things last for hours and are highly reliable, making them a good backup or even tertiary lighting option. Miniature versions, like fishing lure lights, can be used as trail markers in dark conditions.
23. High Protein Snack Food – Survival is hard work, and you never know what kind of situation you will wind up in where you’ll be burning through calories very quickly.
Though most of us carry plenty of spare fuel on our bodies in the form of fat, you can improve your short-term energy and morale by having some quality snacks on hand. Beef jerky, pemmican, nuts and dried fruit are all good options.
24. Mini Compass – You might think it impossible to get lost if you never leave your hometown and surrounding area, but disasters have a way of changing the landscape for the worse, and there is just no telling where you will wind up on some other, planned adventure.
A miniature button compass can take care of your rudimentary direction-finding with ease. You can easily fit it in a pocket or attach it to a watch strap, belt loop or some other similar mounting location.
Items that Fit In a Wallet or a Purse
In your wallet or purse, you can easily carry:
25. Emergency cash – Naturally you should have some cash in your wallet, but this item specifically refers to an emergency stash of cash that you keep completely separate from your main supply and use it only for, you guessed it, emergencies and nothing else.
When things really go to crap you will be able to depend on cash where you cannot depend on cards or other methods of e-payment.
26. Safety pins – Safety pins have all kinds of survival uses and are light and thin enough to be kept in your wallet.
Safety pins can be fashioned into fishing hooks, tines on a gig or spear, trap triggers or used for conventional purposes such as clipping two pieces of fabric together or attaching something like a note to a piece of clothing or other fabric.
The longer you think about them the more uses you will find for them, so keep a handful handy at all times.
27. Band-Aids – Not every injury needs a serious medical intervention, but letting a cut or scrape go untended is not only unsanitary but risks more serious injury should it get infected.
Band-Aids are the standard level of care for this type of wound for a reason, and there is no reason you shouldn’t keep one or two Band-Aids in your wallet for just such an occasion at all times.
28. AEKU M5 Mini Card Cell Phone – A specialty prep, this phone is only scarcely bigger and thicker than a credit card, and works great as a backup option for your dedicated EDC smartphone or as an insurance policy sport just in case you are traveling in areas where being seen with a nice smartphone is an invitation to be robbed.
There are other brands and models besides this one, but this is one of the most highly-regarded for the purpose.
29. Fresnel lens – A fresnel lens is a special type of magnifying lens that is ideal for fire starting, which it accomplishes by focusing the sun’s rays.
Its compact, rectangular profile means that this one belongs in your wallet so no matter what it will always be with you. Unless, of course, you have lost your pants in which case you might have bigger problems!
A fresnel lens can also be used for signaling if you catch the light just right, making this another excellent multi-purpose tool that is well worth the few grams of weight it adds to your load.
30. Medicine – Individual doses of ibuprofen, antihistamine, aspirin, etc.
There is no need to suffer with an illness or ailment if you have the right medicine available, and modern over the counter medicines are both affordable, effective and available nearly anywhere, meaning there is little excuse for not having some individual dose packets as part of your EDC.
If you cannot find the sometimes overpriced travel dosages, you can make your own by inserting pills into tiny plastic bags or even clear straws before sealing them with heat and marking them with a date, name of the drug and the dose.
31. Credit card knife – This tool is exactly what the name says on the tin; a flat or nearly flat tool that folds to form a handle while revealing a compact knife blade.
Only suitable for light and limited medium duty tasks, its sublime concealability and portability makes it a great last-ditch option when all other knives are lost, broken or taken from you.
Use these with care, as their very nature makes them comparatively fragile and also easy for your fingers to slip up over the blade in use.
32. Lock picks and shims – If you have lost your keys or need to help someone else out who has lost theirs, a set of lock picks and shims, along with some practice and a little bit of know-how, will help you defeat all kinds of conventional door and padlocks.
All of these tools are flat and weigh nearly nothing in the case of portable versions and many of them, pre-fitted onto a credit card size platter that can slip into your wallet and be forgotten until needed.
Do make sure you check your local laws concerning the ownership and carry of such items because several states have stringent laws regarding the possession of burglary or locksmith tools!
33. Coil of snare wire – Snare wire is used for exactly what you would expect with a name like that; setting snares for small animals.
But it has many other uses besides, and is great in applications were you need a little more tension and rigidity compared to paracord while still being quite strong. A small coil or bundle will easily lay flat and slip into almost any slot on your wallet. This makes a great compliment to a fishing kit.
34. Tool Logic CC2HB Pocket Hunter Card Tool – This ingenious gadget is a credit card sized multi-tool, one complete with a bottle opener, knife with gut hook, LED flashlight, tweezers, ruler and screwdriver.
As the old saying goes if two is one and one is none, then this lightweight low-profile tool set makes an excellent backup to a larger dedicated multi-tool and can easily handle most minor chores you encounter day to day.
35. USB drive – Should you ever go through a disaster where you lose your home and everything in it or are just caught far away from home and wind up living in a sort of refugee status it would be a good idea to have all of your most important documents close at hand while still being secure.
Making copies of your passport, IDs, deeds, licenses, mortgages and more before scanning them and then encrypting the files on this USB drive will essentially give you a bank deposit box that you can access remotely.
It is of course also handy for pulling any information off of a computer that you might need to in a hurry.
Items that Fit On Your Keychain
On your keychain, there are a variety of mini-items that you can include for everyday survival use including:
36. Small Whistle – A small high performance whistle is a great tool for emergency signaling, attracting attention and communication over distance when other methods might fail or visual methods are not applicable.
This is one of those tools that you will never think about until you really need it, and there have been many survival situations where a piercing, shrill whistle has helped get someone located by rescuers. Don’t neglect this one!
37. Lanyard – A retractable lanyard or similar strap on your keychain just makes sense when you really don’t want to lose track of the one item that is going to help you gain access to many of your possessions, property and tools.
But in a survival situation the lanyard might not best be served on the keychain, but repurposed for some other tool that you cannot risk losing. In the meantime, the best place to keep it is on the keychain.
38. Mini flashlight or firefly – A miniature flashlight or firefly, sometimes called a map-reading light, is right at home on a keychain considering they weigh next to nothing, and the models we enjoy today put out a surprising amount of light, more than enough to read or navigate by at night.
If you lose your primary light, it runs out of juice or you just need to hand off a light to a buddy these will definitely come in handy.
39. Paracord – Preppers always need paracord, and the question of how much paracord is enough is a hotly contested topic. You can give yourself a leg up and a little bit of extra cordage by adding a decorative knot or hank of paracord to your keychain.
This will serve first and foremost to help you fish it out of your pockets when you need your keys but it will be standing by and ready to be unloaded and put to work in a serious situation.
40. Leatherman Juice, Gerber Dime, or SOG Micro Tool – These handy tools are nothing more than smaller sets of multipliers you are probably already familiar with and might even carry on a daily basis.
When your pocket knife just can’t get it done or you need a legitimate set of pliers, even a small one, these bad boys will definitely save the day. Each weighs only a couple of ounces and is packed with useful attachments.
41. Fire starter – A proper fire starter is an essential part of any prepper’s preparedness kit, and a ferro rod or compact blast match is totally at home on the well-equipped keychain.
Do take care with a ferro rod that it is not allowed to bang and clatter into other tools on the keychain as it might inadvertently spark in your pocket, and you definitely don’t want that to happen! If your ferro rod has a safety scabbard or cover, make sure you keep it on until you need it.
42. Can opener – You have just got to have a can opener!
The classic military P38 can opener is the ideal choice here; utterly compact, super lightweight and most of all effective, making short work of all kinds of cans with surprisingly little effort once you have a little practice.
43. Geocache container – The tiny but durable geocache containers used in the scavenger hunt activity of the same name are ideal for keeping the smallest of items completely protected and also conveniently close at hand.
These are ideal for storing a few doses of medication, some tightly rolled cash, important notes or similarly sized items. The inconspicuous nature of these containers means they are likely to be overlooked even when someone is shaking you down.
44. Glow fob – A glow fob is a small vial of tritium or a similar, mildly radioactive substance, the same kind of material used in the luminous inserts on watch hands and pistol sights.
Don’t worry, even if it looks like it will give you mutant superpowers it definitely won’t, but what it will do is glow brightly in all conditions for years with no exposure to light required.
That makes it super handy for locating your keys when you drop them in the dark, or detaching to use as a personal marker light, or even cleverly being attached to a lanyard or length of paracord, and swing around and around over your head as a signal to aircraft.
45. Roll of duct tape – The only thing that preppers might potentially love more than paracord is duct tape, and with good reason. High-quality brands of duct tape are extremely sticky and strong, useful for all kinds of improvised creations or repairs.
You can greatly cut down on bulk while still keeping this wonder tool with you by carefully rolling up a strip of tape around a thin dowel or even a length of paracord that you have tied onto your key ring.
Survival “Items” For Your Phone
There are also a number of different things you can save to your phone that will help you in a survival situation.
The key for this is to make sure that you have an extra battery for your phone as well as a portable charging device that can be used without electricity.
I also recommend getting apps that work both online and offline in the event that you have power but not internet connection. Don’t forget your phone usually has a flashlight feature but you can also add these informational apps:
46. American Red Cross First Aid App – An excellent app that contains resources and instruction for all kinds of first aid procedures as well as directions on how to obtain higher level care.
A great reference app that you can consult whenever you have a few minutes to help keep your first aid skills and procedures foremost in your mind.
47. Emergency Radio Apps – This is an app allows you to tune into emergency weather notification channels just like you could with a proper NOAA emergency radio.
Be advised, many phones rely on a set of headphones being plugged into the phone to serve as an antenna in order to make use of any factory or third party radio app capability,
48. SAS Survival Guide App – One of the longest-running and most popular survival guides on the market now has an app version.
The SAS survival guide app is packed with information, pictures and instructions they can help you negotiate any survival situation, and is an invaluable reference work that can go with you anywhere.
49. MotionX GPS App – Motion X is a navigation app for iOS devices that works even offline so long as you have downloaded all the relevant data beforehand.
This is a great way to set yourself up for success in an emergency situation since you can preemptively load your phone and equip yourself with powerful GPS capability and free yourself from the reliance on a functional internet connection. A great way to maximize your smartphone’s capability.
50. Military Manuals – There is a wealth of free information contained in military manuals and field guides of all kinds, and a great many of them have been converted into app or PDF form over the years.
Definitely take the time to download any and all versions that you think might be useful into your phone since you probably have plenty of storage that is being wasted and you never know when you might need some specialist information in a given situation.
…and many more.
EDC for Serious Survival
Some people like to make the distinction between EDC gear and proper survival gear, believing that your EDC tools are not things that will help you in a legitimate survival situation.
At best, they’re only intended to help get you back to your proper survival kit, be it a BOB or go-bag. Like most of these assertion that is not quite entirely true or entirely false.
As it turns out, tools are only tools, and they do not exist in a vacuum or under any sort of barometer where the right tools or enough of them means you’ll survive or lacking a certain number or certain kind of tools will mean that you die.
A tool can only serve a purpose; it can only perform a certain kind of work. The kind of work that it can perform is entirely dependent upon the nature of the tool.
A tiny pocket knife and a large machete have virtually identical DNA as far as the tools are concerned; both being a blade attached to a handle, but the type and nature of work that each can handle is almost entirely different though there is some significant overlap.
Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees; your basic EDC tools might make all the difference in a survival situation. Consider this scenario: you crashed your car in a remote part of the country that is little travelled.
Unfortunately your car burns up entirely and night will soon be approaching. With it, drastically lowered temperatures and the risk of death from exposure.
Everything in the car is completely unsalvageable- you got out with only the items you had in your pockets or attached to your body.
Would you rather be confronting that situation with absolutely nothing except your wallet and perhaps your phone, or would you rather confront it with just a few simple EDC items like a good sturdy pocket knife, a multi-tool, a compass, a bandana, a lighter and your pocket flashlight?
Some people would have you believe that those tools are not suitable for survival situations. Give me a break!
They definitely are, and just because some folks would feel ill-equipped without a massive BOB bursting with every potentially useful bit of survival gear does not mean you won’t get a substantial leg-up on the situation if you are facing it with only a rudimentary EDC kit.
Going Heavy with EDC
Some people by trade or by desire might have reason to carry some form of luggage with them day to day. For a lady this might be a ubiquitous purse. For gentlemen this could be something like a messenger bag, backpack or even a briefcase.
Whether you do have some other reason to carry one or not any kind of luggage that fits your attire and your environment (meaning it doesn’t stick out) can be a huge boon when it comes to carrying EDC equipment as you now have considerably more room to add useful items without spoiling your appearance or tipping your hand that you are going well equipped.
This is definitely something worth considering as we go forward into increasingly uncertain and perilous times.
There is no shortage of evil people, natural disasters and simple accidents that can suddenly thrust you into a situation where knowing what to do and having the right tools to do it might make the difference between obtaining a good outcome and a bad one.
Don’t let anyone call you a fool for carrying around useful items just in case. After all, being prepared is a virtue.
But do give some thought to your appearance, and not just because your friends might not want to be seen with someone who is so socially rudderless as to be toting a tactical backpack or tool bag with them everywhere they go.
Sure, it might not be illegal but it definitely has social consequences, and those consequences do make a difference. Your bag, whatever it is, should fit your appearance and the setting.
Give it just a little thought, and you are sure to come up with some kind of EDC luggage that will expand your capabilities.
Normal, everyday occurrences may or may not be life threatening, but can certainly be annoying or cause delays if you don’t have the right tools. As you use your EDC kit, you will find there are some things that just don’t suit you and other things that you need to add.
Allow for your EDC kit to be modified, and develop over time until it really becomes almost an extension of your body.
When you are unpredictably thrown into a more pressing emergency situation, you will find that you instinctively reach for and use the items in your EDC kit.
What’s your favorite place to carry your EDC items? Do you have a favorite mini-tool or another gadget that is part of your EDC? Let us know in the comments.
Born and raised in NE Ohio, with early memories that include grandpa teaching her to bait a hook and watching her mom, aunts, and grandmothers garden, sew, and can food, Megan is a true farm girl at heart.
For Megan, the 2003 blackout, the events of 911, and the increasing frequency of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, spurred a desire to be more prepared for whatever may come along. Soon to be living off-grid, this mother of four and grandmother of nine grandsons and one granddaughter, is learning everything she can about preparedness, basic survival, and self-sufficient homesteading. She is passionate about sharing that knowledge so that others can be increasingly prepared to protect their families.