Your EDC kit, that’s Everyday Carry kit, is a set of helpful items that you carry with you everywhere. These aren’t just items that you think are handy but will eventually get lost in your couch cushions. An EDC kit is a purposeful plan for being prepared for anything, everyday.
Your EDC kit should be small and lightweight, so you can carry it with you. It should be waterproof/resistant (because you never know when you might get wet), and not easily crushed, keeping its contents intact. An Everyday Carry kit is intended to provide the basics, such as first aid, fire making, signaling, food/water gathering and shelter.
There are many ready-made EDC kits available, but you can make your own. Either way, here are the top 10 items (plus more!) that you need in your EDC kit.
Durable Metal Case
What type of case should you choose? Well, that depends on what you want from your case. A metal EDC kit container can be used in a variety of ways beyond a simple container. You can collect and sterilize water, you could potentially prepare food inside of it, and most importantly, a stainless steel EDC kit case won’t rust. Plastics are more affordable maybe, but plastic becomes fragile or brittle in cold weather. Look for a stainless steel container with a polyethylene lid, which remains flexible in cold weather and, when properly fitted, will provide a watertight seal.
Survival Instructions “Cheat Sheet”
This should be small, but legible, and waterproof. These cheat sheets give very helpful information about medical care, building shelters and fire, signaling for help or communication and finding water and food. This little instruction pamphlet/cheat sheet/survival card should give you the steps to calm yourself down and take stock of your situation. Don’t get overwhelmed: you can do this! I personally like the ones from Doug Ritter and Daily Self Reliance.
Folding Pocket Knife
Knives come in handy for so many different things. My dad always carried this little bone-handled pocket knife that he kept incredibly sharp. He used it for removing wood splinters in our hands, cutting rope and twine, fishing and hunting and so much more. We were never allowed to actually touch it because he didn’t want to lose his knife. He had the knife when I was a child and he still has it, and he is in his 70s. That is how important a knife is.
There are a lot of different styles of folding knives. Find one you like and add it to your EDC kit. Remember to keep your knife sharp, or it could be more dangerous than beneficial.
A mirror is the most basic, but best, signaling device commonly available. The flash from a mirror can be seen up to 10 miles away, and on a clear day, perhaps up to 50 miles. Mirrors will work during slight overcast days, and even moonlight, but with a reduced visibility range.
Yes, a whistle. Find one that is at least 120 decibels and compact. Brightly colored whistles or lanyards for you whistle, will help you find your whistle in case you drop it. Look for a whistle that won’t freeze or break. A whistle blast can carry for up to 2 miles in the wilderness, perhaps more. Your voice only carries a few hundred yards and will get strained quickly. Three blasts, repeated, is the universal signal for help.
Look for a sturdy compass that won’t burst when frozen and is fairly reliable. You may need to fully remove the compass from your EDC kit metal container to allow it to work properly. If you haven’t used a compass before, you can easily search for compass training exercises and activities online through the Boy Scouts and Army. It is a good idea to practice with your compass until you feel comfortable with the basics of compass navigation.
First Aid Kit
Your first aid kit should be clearly labeled and meet some basic requirements. It needs to be compact, lightweight, ideal for common injuries and illnesses, as well as major injuries and illnesses. Your EDC first aid kit should also be durable. You can buy ready-made first aid kits or assemble your own. Have on hand a pain reliever, an antihistamine and aspirin. **Careful with the aspirin, since it is a blood thinner. It is used to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.** You should also consider including any medications you need on a regular basis, such as rescue inhalers and EpiPens. Keep medications up-to-date.
Keep band-aids, antibiotic ointment and burn cream in as well. You can find little packets of ointment and creams that will fit well in your EDC first aid kit. Keep in mind the size and weight limits of this kit. Bandages and gauze are slim and can be slipped in as well. Feminine sanitary napkins can serve a dual purpose; they are handy for women, and great at absorbing blood and can be used as a wood bandage in a pinch. For a more in-depth first aid kit that can be kept in your car or home, please see our post on First Aid Kits.
Heat reflective emergency blankets are inexpensive and folded flat and slim for portability. They reflect up to 90% of body heat. Your emergency blanket can also act as a shelter if needed. Be sure not to open the emergency blanket before it is needed. These things are nearly impossible to refold as neatly as before.
Rope or Nylon Cord
Rope can be used for building shelters, catching food (fishing), securing items and more. Try to have at least 25 feet, although more is always best. Also consider a spool of nylon thread and steel wire. Both are good for fishing, repairs and possibly snares.
Waterproof Matches/Ferro Rod and Tinder
Being able to build a fire is one of your top priorities when in an emergency situation. You can make your own waterproof matches by taking strike-anywhere matches and dipping the match head in wax and keeping them in a waterproof container. Keep tinder in a waterproof container; you can find ready-made quick “wet” tinder or make some yourself. Take a length of jute twine and dip in melted wax. Seal in a waterproof container. Paraffin wax is preferred and can be found in most grocery stores. To use your tinder, unravel a 6-inch section and pull the strands apart with your fingers until it looks fluffy, like a bird nest, and it is ready to ignite. You can also use cotton balls saturated with petroleum jelly (Vaseline) and dipped in melted paraffin wax. The wax allows the cotton ball to light, even in the rain.
Flashlight and Spare Batteries
You won’t need the fanciest or most expensive flashlight available. Remember, weight and space are a concern. Maglite Solitaire flashlights are small and cheap and available almost everywhere. You can also buy the same model in LED, which won’t cost much more. Pack in a few extra batteries for your flashlight. Wrap your flashlight in electrical tape or duct tape. You can always use that tape in an emergency!
Do not buy the cheap brand of batteries for your EDC kit. You want batteries that will last. Be sure to rotate them out every 6 months.
This will get your EDC kit off to a great start. You may fit more or less in your everyday carry kit, depending on the size of the container. Check your local dollar stores before forking out more money than necessary.
For information on 72-hour kits and emergency kits for your car, please read our blog posts.