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[Updated] EDC Packing: Must-have Everyday Carry Items

Any prepper worth their salt knows what EDC is, but if you’re new to the club, here’s what you need to know.

Simply, EDC means “Everyday Carry.” Average joes have come to define it as all the things you bring with you when you go out, but in the world of prepping, EDC is something more than that. 

Just take a look at any preppers’ pockets, and you’ll find several everyday carry items that you would’ve never thought you needed.

Wanna know what these items are? Read on to find out:

Why Do I Need an EDC Bag?

Everyone and their aunt Judy know that today’s world is unpredictable. Minor emergencies usually catch us by surprise on a day-to-day basis.

The upside?

We can fight these nasty surprises by doing what we do best— preparing.

Enter your EDC backpack, prepped for your well-being and advantage. A well-stocked EDC bag can help out with everyday problems while keeping you on your toes for dangerous times.

Planning your EDC ahead of time is crucial, and anticipating the situations you might get into will be a big help for your preparation. Choosing what to put in your EDC pack can be tricky, but don’t worry. We’ll help you narrow down your choices.

But first:

Take These Into Consideration

Before we dive right into the deep end and list the things you need, let’s take a look at the factors you need to consider when putting your EDC together. Here’s what you need to think about:

What’s Your Daily Carry Like?

Step back and reevaluate. Empty your pockets or bags and take a look at the stuff you have. The best way to know what you need to put in your EDC is to understand what you already have with you.

What are Your Essential Everyday Items?

Which leads us to the next point — from the things you carry, which ones are the most valuable? What are non-negotiable, and which ones don’t mean jack? For example: do you really need to have four different multitools, or will one Leatherman do the trick? Sit back and evaluate. Clearing out the must-haves will help you understand how much space you have and need.

What Regular Situations do You Get Caught Up in?

Do you find yourself using scissors more often than not? Do you always pat yourself down for a pen? The daily situations, even the simple ones, are things you have to think about to determine your EDC needs. Consider your job, too. For example, if you’re a computer technician, you might need to carry a small flashlight to visualize the area, or if you take a bike to work, it might make sense to bring a pocket multitool that’s got small hex wrenches for quick fixes. 

What COULD Happen to You?

Now, hold your horses. We’re not talking zombies or TEOTWAWKI here. We’re talking about small emergencies like a power outage, a loose screw on your glasses, or that damn UPS package not budging. Do you have the tools to make those situations a bit easier for you? 

Do You Have Space and Can You Cut Down?

And lastly, consider the space you have. Is it enough without your tools bogging you down, or do you have to cut back and let some things go? Does everything go in your bag, or do you have a car for extra storage?

What You Should Generally Pack for Your EDC

Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty — what EDC items do you need? Here are some things to think about getting:

Pocket Knife

Ask any prepper about their EDC must-haves, and they'll whip out some knives for you. Literally. 

Now, pocket knives for EDCs aren't weapons but more of an essential cutting tool. Think of it as something that could help you perform simple tasks that need a sharp blade. Pocket knives come in handy when you need to cut tight packaging off or if you need to get rid of those annoying zip ties. You might even find yourself in a situation with gum in your hair but no scissors on hand. A pocket knife can easily solve that problem for you. 

We’re suckers for a good lock and fold knife for EDC since the locking mechanism keeps the blade in place. While full-tang knives are awesome for survival and bushcraft, folding knives are more discreet and easier to pack. Just make sure you're not carrying this if you're headed to the airport, the mall, and other areas that prohibit sharp edges.

Related: Finding the Right Bushcraft Knife for You

Smartphone

We can't harp enough on the importance of communication in any situation, especially with how useful smartphones are now. With a few simple taps, you can get updated on weather conditions, have a virtual compass, get directions, or go cashless with finances. The possibilities are endless. That's saving you some space and lessening the weight of your carry. Make sure, though, that you also have the means to charge your phone while on the go.

Wallet

Think it’s best to forgo a wallet when choosing items for your EDC? Think again. There’s so much you can store in a wallet that can prove to be helpful and valuable in times of need, but here are two major reasons why we think a wallet is a must for your everyday carry:

  • Extra Cash

In a world that’s going for cashless transactions, having extra cash on you is one of the most underrated things. It won’t take up that much space in your wallet, and it’s handy for when you find yourself in a place that somehow doesn’t accept plastic. Put a few loose bills, and you’ll be good to go. 

  • Important Info

Get a piece of paper, list down all your emergency contacts, all the medical information about you, and have that piece of paper laminated. This is an essential and a must-have in your wallet.

Aside from that, you can also store band-aids and important cards. There are a lot of cool designs for wallets that will best fit your taste and need. Consider going for slimmed-down wallets that are durable and can take a beating. You don’t want to be that person who changes their worn-out wallet every other month.

Wallet Multitool

We love multitools and having one on hand, but on the off chance your EDC is space-limiting, we recommend opting for a wallet multitool instead. As the name suggests, these bad boys have many functions and can fit in your wallet. Good wallet multitools are made of sturdy material like stainless steel, and an even better one is TSA approved. Before buying one, make sure that it fits easily into your wallet without making things bulky.

Tactical Flashlight

Next on our list is the tactical flashlight. Tactical flashlights have always been a must for many preppers, and for a good reason. Aside from being portable and fitting great into tiny spaces, flashlights are super helpful during emergencies.

Let’s give you a situation:

A lot of crimes happen in dark or poorly lit areas. With a flashlight beaming up, the chances of someone jumping you are highly unlikely, all because you packed a small yet powerful flashlight. Crime averted. Kudos!

Besides that, make sure your flashlight has a long run time and is okay for any weather situation. The last thing you’d want is your flashlight dying on you just because you forgot to check if it was okay to use in the rain. If you can get a tactical light with USB-charging capacity, all the better.

Related: Other Helpful Ways to Use a Tactical Flashlight

Pen & Paper

Lots of tactical pens on the market have dual or several purposes and are easy to keep in the pocket with its small size. What’s so great about a tactical pen is that you can use it as a writing instrument and a self-defense weapon or window breaker.

Slim designs with quality material are your best bet for a tactical pen. Make sure you’re comfy writing with it, too. As for paper, well, you can either use it to jot something down or use it as tinder.

Lighter

Some might opt to go for a firestarter, but a lighter is something that many survivalists choose for their urban EDC. Think about it: lighters are less suspicious if you’re planning to simply blend in with the crowd and not attract too much attention with your gear.

You can use your lighter to make a fire, as a source of light in case your flashlight runs out of juice, and for melting plastic if you ever find yourself in need to do so. A perfect choice for any prepper would be good old BIC lighters, which are cheap yet reliable.

Paracord

Paracords are crazy impressive and deemed one of the most useful items you can bring with you. You can use it for an emergency tourniquet, tying up bundles together for a more comfortable carry, or for that impromptu pet leash, should you need it.

Don’t want to look a little out of place, taking a bunch of rope with you? Go for a paracord bracelet. There are loads of different designs available today, and most of them look badass.

Related: Using a Survival Bracelet for EDC

Metal Water Container

 By far the bulkiest item on the list, a water container is a lifesaver. Aside from storing water, you can also use it to boil or cook food like noodles. To cook some quick grub, make sure your water bottle is made of stainless steel, has a single-wall construction, and a wide mouth.

Some Additional Stuff to Look at

We’ve listed out the basics above but here are some other items you might want to consider putting in your EDC backpack or pouch: 

Food

Now, this has gotten preppers divided; some are for bringing food, others not so much. We think it’s fine to bring food for your EDC as long as you make sure it isn’t causing problems. Beef jerky, individually packed protein bars, hard candies, and gum are great EDC food. They’re tasty and have just enough to give you energy to power through until you get a proper meal. 

Filtration Straw

Of course, we’re gonna bring up water. A filtration system is vital for survival, and it doesn’t have to be heavy or bothersome. Many companies now offer filtration systems in the form of filtration straws, which are easy to pack in a backpack. Portability is the number one thing to look for with this system and how many liters the straw can take before having to replace the filter.

Safety Pins

You know how Mcgyver escapes death with nothing more than a safety pin? Yeah, you can’t do that in real life. But safety pins can provide infinite uses for the average and expert prepper. From something as simple as securing clothing or becoming an impromptu toothpick to coming in handy during first aid situations or various jerry rigs, you can do no wrong with a safety pin.

What to Look for in an EDC Bag

 Now that you’ve given your everyday carry list some thought, it’s time to look into EDC bags. 

 Your EDC bag is just as important as your everyday carry items. Why? It stores all of your gear safely and neatly in one place. Plus, you won’t have to dig deep into your backpack or empty the contents of it anymore just to find that one item you need.

 Your best bet is to find a reliable bag that can carry everything securely. If you’re curious about what makes up an excellent EDC bag, here are the essential features you should look for:

Strong and Sturdy

Since you’ll be carrying the bag every day, make sure you pick one made of high-quality material. When we say high-quality, we mean fabric that can take a beating.

A common material in tactical packs is the Cordura nylon fabric, known for its durability and resistance to abrasions, tears, and scuffs. In short, it’s a solid fabric and an excellent material for outdoor use.

Modular

The best kind of tactical or preparedness bags are those that have a modular design. Modular packs are integrated with the MOLLE attachment system, which is short for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment. Its primary purpose is to make the attachment of external pouches and gear possible. 

This system works when you add everyday carry items to your bag when the need arises. The design allows for limitless customization options no matter the bag size and style..

Adjustable

Imagine if you get caught in a sticky situation, and your only option is to flee. Now picture yourself carrying an EDC bag that’s a little loose. It would be super inconvenient to run to safety with a bag that’s dangling over your body like a monkey.

A well-fitted bag will do you good in scenarios like this. With that said, one of the key features to look for in an EDC bag is adjustability. It should have multiple adjustment straps and clips at the shoulders, hips, and sternum. This way, your pack is secured to your body and won’t restrict your movement.

Ample Compartments

An EDC bag is unlike any consumer-style bag because it has a meticulously constructed set of practical compartments built into the pack.

With a feature like this, you won’t have trouble finding your items. You can organize them logically based on your needs. You’ll know your EDC bag is a good one when it has pouches and webbing for storage purposes.

Quality Zippers

At first, you may not even glance at the finer parts of your EDC bag, but if you do, you might find out that they’re faulty most of the time. For example, the zippers.

You have to consider that you’re gonna be using them probably a thousand times until your bag gives up on you. So, better make sure that your EDC bag has quality zippers that won’t break or get stuck quickly.

Look into zippers made of solid plastic, thick aluminum, or other rust-proof material to guarantee your bag survives for a long time.

Hydration System

We mentioned your stainless steel water bottle is the bulkiest in the bunch. But what if we say you don’t have to carry one anymore? If you want to save some precious real estate, we suggest integrating a hydration system into your EDC bag.

Types of EDC Bags

By now, you’ve probably realized that your EDC bag is not just some random bag you buy.. It takes a trained eye to spot a pack that has the features a prepper needs.

You must know that EDC bags come in different types, too. After you’ve carefully assessed its features, you have to choose which type suits you best. Here are the common types of EDC bags:

Organizer Pouch

If your EDC items could no longer fit in the pockets of your pants, you might need to migrate them into an organizer pouch.

An organizer pouch is the smallest type of EDC bag; however, it comes with many interior pockets, hooks, and webbing that are great for organizing.

It also has MOLLE attachment points, which allows you to integrate the pouch into larger kits.

But the best thing? You can wear it on a belt or just snuck it in your cargo pocket.

Lumbar Pack

Next to an organizer pouch’s size is the lumbar pack. This pack can accommodate larger EDC gear or a greater quantity of smaller items.

Its multiple compartments that each have various webbings, pouches, and hooks prove that anything that fits in your organizer pouch and more could easily fit in the lumbar pack.

This type of EDC bag is also perfect if you need a full range of motion since it can be worn around the waist or carried by hand. You can also attach smaller pouches to this pack or bind it to larger bags with the MOLLE attachment system.

Sling Bag

If you carry many heavy items daily, an EDC sling bag is the right choice for you. Its over-the-shoulder design is meant to carry heavier loads comfortably. Like the organizer pouch and lumbar pack, it has plenty of pockets and compartments for easy storage and organization.

You can easily fill these sections with EDC gear as the entire pack can take in 10 to 20 liters of volume. And no matter how heavy it gets, it’s still easier to carry around since you can secure it tightly to your body. Plus, you can also switch the weight from your left side to your right.

Backpack

Most of the time, preppers like us never leave home without hauling as much EDC gear as we can, even items we don’t actually need every single day. It’s funny, really, but we just have to carry all of them in case something terrible happens.

If you have a long EDC list or carry large-sized everyday carry items, you might have a better chance of taking everything in an EDC backpack.

This type can fit 20 to 30 liters of volume with its many compartments. It even includes a hydration pocket and has more modular customization possibilities for external pouches.

Related: Finding the Perfect Tactical Backpack for You

Maintenance Tips for Your EDC Gear

 For your gear to be as effective and dependable as you want them to be, you have to keep them in tip-top condition. They’re bound to wear down over time, but if you follow a regular maintenance routine, your EDC gear will last longer than you think. Here’s how you can maintain a few key pieces of your everyday carry items:

Knife Care Tips

  • Sharpen your knife regularly. Chances are your knife has been through a lot of slicing and dicing. This much work could eventually dull the blade but a sharpening stone usually does the trick to keep your knife razor-sharp.
  • Lubricate your knife as needed. You don’t need to slather your pocket knife with oil. All it takes is a few drops of high-quality oil in friction areas, so it stays moisturized, decreasing the chances of wearing out faster.
  • Adjust the pivots or tighten the screws from time to time. Check the screws of the pocket clip and the tension screws of your blade. They might need some quick adjustments. Pro tip: never play with the screws with your blade closed. You can get cuts if the lock springs and slams the knife into the frame.

Smartphone Care Tips

  • Protect your phone with a case. Not all phones are made of shatterproof glass, and it’s only a matter of time until you drop yours and break it. So, a case is the best protection for your phone.
  • Apply a screen protector. Some screens may be built to be tougher than the others, but it’s still smart to consider a protector anyway. Scratches on the phone might affect its responsiveness to touch. A screen protector will help avoid that.
  • Keep it clean. Dust and particles may interfere with your phone’s performance over time. A microfiber cloth with some hand soap on it or alcohol-based wipes are gentle cleaners you can use to wipe your phone clean.   

Wallet Care Tips

  • Moisturize. Organic materials like leather need extra care since leather is prone to drying out and cracking when used daily. You need a leather-care oil or saddle soap that will keep the material smooth and protected. A clean cloth with a bit of oil or soap is all it takes for your wallet to look brand new. If you want a squeaky clean finish, apply a leather conditioner.
  • Lessen the bulk. Get rid of all the unnecessary stuff you keep in your wallet, like receipts from months ago and a bunch of expired vouchers. You don’t want to overstretch your wallet with junk you could’ve thrown away.

Wallet Multitool Care Tips

  • The best care you can give your multitool is to wipe it clean after every use. Your biggest enemy is rust, so best to wipe or wash it with clean water and allow it to dry.
  • Just like your pocket knife, your multitool needs some lubrication, too. Dabbing the entire area with an oiled cloth will do just fine. After everything, you’ll have a multitool that functions smoothly without a hitch.

Flashlight Care Tip

  • The one thing you should watch out for is corrosion. You can prevent it by checking or changing your batteries every month. When your flashlight starts to flicker, or it doesn’t turn on when you’ve just pulled it out of the drawer, it could mean the battery has leaked and corroded. Your best solution is to switch your regular alkaline batteries with lithium-ion batteries. They’re safer to store, more reliable, and last longer.

Pen Care Tip

  • If you don’t fancy the patina look, you can restore your tactical pen’s former glory with some metal polish. All you need is a clean cloth, a dab of polish, and your metal gear will look as good as new.

Final Thoughts

Many agree that EDCs change depending on where you’re going and what you are doing. Some days, you might feel like your EDC pack is too much, while on other days, it might seem lacking, but either will be of no use if you don’t plan wisely.

There’s a saying that goes that a carpenter is only as good as his tools, and it’s the same for prepping your EDC. Stuffing your pockets with useless items or things you don’t know how to use is inefficient. Meanwhile, limiting what you pack and keeping stuff out of your EDC might have you in an awkward position one day.

Plan and figure out what items you would find most useful, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

 Happy packing, preppers!


Posted in  Tactical Gear   on  May 2, 2021 by  Jay V.0

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About the author

Jay loves to travel and grew up with sports being a huge part of her life. Adventure is her game. In her free time, she likes to go hammock camping, and she’s an avid believer that prepping is the way to go.

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