What is an EDC kit? Why is it important? And more importantly – how do you build one from scratch?
In this article, I will answer all these questions. Not only will I show you the exact items you need to include in your kit, I will also tell you why you need them and how to use them.
When you have finished reading, you will have everything you need to build an effective EDC kit.
What is an EDC kit and why should you care?
An EDC kit is a small collection of items that you carry on you in case of a disaster scenario. It includes only the most essential items – such as a firestarter, a pocket knife, or a whistle.
There is a big difference between an EDC kit and a bug out bag.
A bug out bag is a complete survival kit that you keep ready at a moment’s notice. It is typically stored in your home or vehicle and includes enough gear and supplies to survive for at least 72 hours.
The main problem with a bug out bag is that you may not have it on you when you need it. A disaster could strike when you are driving home from work, shopping at the mall, or filling up your car at the gas station.
And that’s where an EDC kit comes into the picture:
Unlike a bug out bag, an EDC kit is something you have on you at all times – except when you sleep 🙂
Because you carry it everyday, it needs to be small and compact. When building your EDC kit, you have to prioritize, think smart, and focus on simple, multi-use items that you can easily have in your pockets or attach to a keychain.
The question is: What exactly should you include in your EDC kit? And what should you leave at home?
10 essential everyday-carry items
While you can purchase a pre-packaged EDC kit, I suggest you build your own. By collecting all the items yourself, you will end up with a kit that is 100 % customized to your wants and needs.
Below I have listed 10 items that you should consider including as part of your EDC kit.
You may decide to get them all or you may find that you only need a few of them (the choice is yours).
A cell phone has more survival functions than most people believe.
Here are a few examples:
- The screen can be used to signal for help. Simply take it out and use it as a normal signal mirror.
- The circuit board can be turned into a powerful cutting tool. Just rub the edge on a smooth rock to sharpen it.
- The battery makes for a great, emergency fire starter. All you have to do is roll up a piece of steel wool and touch either end of it to the positive and negative contact points of the battery.
- The speaker magnet and wire can be used to construct a small compass. First rub one end of the wire on the maget for a few seconds. Next place the magnetized wire on a leaf and let it float in a puddle. The wire and magnet will now align so the end you rubbed will point north.
Bottom line: A cell phone is much more than just a communication device – even if it not a smartphone.
Some people carry a concealed gun as part of their everyday-carry kit. However, I wouldn’t recommend that.
In my opinion, it is simply too heavy and bulky. On top of that, carrying a gun is illegal in some states.
A pepper spray is much better suited for an EDC kit. It is lightweight and compact, does not require ammunition, and is legal in all 50 states.
I carry a pepper spray in my pocket most of the year. While I have not used it yet, it does give me a feeling of security.
When looking for a pepper spray, there are a few guidelines you want to keep in mind.
- It should contain the active ingredient Oleoresin Capsicum – which is is extremely effective in irritating the eyes and airways of an attacker.
- It should have a long spray distance – at least 8-10 feets. Pepper sprays that spray in a stream pattern typically have the longest reach.
Don’t forget to replace your pepper spray every other year. If you use it after the expiration date, it won’t be very effective.
Most survival experts will agree that a knife is one of the most important survival tools that you can own – if not the most important.
A knife comes in handy for a variety of purposes, including:
- Fire making
- Skinning game
While I almost always promote the use of a fixed blade knife, this is not the case when it comes to your everyday-carry gear.
In my opinion, a fixed blade knife is too large and heavy to walk around with on a daily basis. A pocket knife is much more convenient.
When buying a pocket knife, make sure that it is no more than 5 inches long and clocks in at less than 5 ounces.
It should also be reliable: If it doesn’t open on the first try with either hand, choose another knife. In a disaster situation, it is important that you can trust your tools 100 % of the time.
At the same time make sure that it feels great it your hands and doesn’t slip through your fingers when wet. There is nothing worse than a knife that you can’t use in wet and rainy conditions.
I prefer a whistle over a signal mirror. A whistle can be used 24/7 – even when the sun is not present.
It is also incredibly small and can easily be attached to a keychain for easy access.
On top of that, a whistle can be heard many miles away – making it extremely effective.
When looking for a whistle for your everyday-carry kit, be sure to choose one that is designed specifically for survival and emergency use.
Unlike a normal whistle, a signal whistle cannot be overblown. In other words, the harder you blow, the louder it gets.
A flashlight has many functions: It can be used to signal for rescue, temporarily blind an attacker, help you find your way in the dark, and much more.
Because a flashlight has so many functions, it is an essential part of a well-constructed everyday-carry kit.
Following are my general guidelines for choosing an effective EDC flashlight:
- Make sure that it is small – ideally, no more than 4 inches long. I would suggest getting either a mini keychain LED light or a mini keychain Maglite.
- Buy a flashlight with a brightness of at least 35-100 lumen. If you want to be able to use it for self-defense, consider going even higher than that.
- Most importantly, be sure that it is weather- and shock resistant – it should be able to handle rain in a downpour and drops from several feet.
Ideally, you want a flashlight that can easily be attached to your keychain – having to bring a lot of items with you everytime you leave your home is not practical – nor something I recommend.
Fire making is probably the most essential survival skill you can learn. Fire has been the core of survival since the beginning of time and allows you to accomplish a variety of tasks, including:
- Cooking food
- Signaling for help
- Dry your clothes and shoes
- Warm you up
Because fire is such an important skill, I suggest you keep a firestarter in your EDC kit at all times.
It could be a lighter, a pack of matches, or a firesteel.
I personally prefer the latter because it is has a simple construction with no moving parts, can light a fire in any condition (even when wet), and can be attached to your keychain for easy access. It is also lightweight and compact – taking up less space than a mini snickers bar.
A watch has a number of survival functions.
In addition to telling your what time it is, you can use it as an improvised compass:
Simply point the hour hand in the direction of the sun and halfway between the hour hand and twelve will be a line pointing south.
If you are on the southern hemisphere, point the twelve o’clock position (not the hour hand) in the direction of the sun. Halfway between the sun and the hour hand will be a line pointing north.
You can use your watch for other things as well, including:
- Starting a fire with the convex lens
- Signaling for rescue with the back of the watch (if it has a shining surface)
- Sharpening your knife with the strap (if it is made of leather)
Bottom line: A watch is an excellent multi-use item and should be an integral part of your everyday-carry kit.
A tactical pen is different from a regular pen: It is a writing implement and a self-defense weapon in one.
Some tactical pens have other functions too – such as a glass breaker, a survival whistle, a firestarter, handcuff keys, and more.
All these features are nice to have. They can actually make a real difference in a disaster scenario.
However, if you lose your pen, you also lose the tools that were integrated in the pen. So keep that in mind when building your EDC kit.
What I love about having a tactical pen is that it doesn’t look like a weapon. To the untrained eye it just looks like a normal pen.
Other weapons – such as knives and guns – are not very discreet and will immediately draw the attention of other people, including law enforcement authorities.
When using a tactical pen for self-defense, try to aim at the pressure points (as shown below):
That way you will cause an immediate pain to the attacker.
USB stick with important documents
Having important documents at hand is vitally important in a survival scenario. If a disaster strikes in your area, your house may get destroyed or robbed.
Getting your life back in order again after the dust has settled is much easier when you have the right documents on hand.
Here is an overview of the documents you may need in an emergency situation:
To save space and weight I recommend storing a copy of these documents on a USB encrypted flash drive.
Since it takes up minimal space, a USB stick can easily be attached to your keychain, making it a perfect addition to your EDC kit.
You can also store other files on it – such as survival guides, checklists, and references.
It is a good idea to keep a small amount of cash on you in the event of a disaster.
As Creek Stewart puts it:
Don’t expect to swing by an ATM on the way out of town while a hurricane is tearing through behind you. First, all the “unprepared” will be doing the same thing, so prepare to get in line. Second, the ATM probably won’t work anyway.
Money can open a lot of doors in a disaster scenario and may come in handy for a variety of purposes.
For example, you may need to refuel your car, get a ride, or just buy a few last-minute survival items before you head out of the city.
When building your EDC kit focus on small, lightweight items that you can easily carry with you on a daily basis.
Instead of packing a plethora of gear and gadgets, learn to use what you already have on you. That way you will be able to simplify the heck out of your kit and keep the weight to almost nothing.
Note: As I said before, the list above is very general. If you live in an area prone to a specific type of disaster, you may very well need one or more items that are not listed above.
That’s why it is important to customize your kit to fit your wants and needs. If necessary swap out one or two items and replace them with something that is more appropriate for your situation.
Here are some additional items that you may consider:
- Handcuff keys
- Small compass
- Razor blade
- Wallet pick set
Now go ahead and build your own EDC kit. I have given you all the information you need. So there are no excuses for not getting started.