What Should be in an EDC Bag?
Pack the Best EDC: Multi-tool, First Aid Kit and More
Reading Time: 8 minutes
Every Day Carry or EDC bags are about prepping on the smallest scale. You’re more likely to use what’s inside this kit than your food storage or bug out bags. So consider the most common emergencies and where your daily life takes you.
Have you made your bug out bag list? If so, you’ve packed enough supplies for three days. You’re ready for TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) or just a natural disaster that chases you out of your own home. But realistically, you’re more likely to encounter an automobile accident or a friend who needs help, than forest fires or flooding. Proper emergency essentials take care of that with EDC bags.
Parents of small children lug around diaper bags for hours spent outside the house. That’s an EDC bag for a baby. It prepares for whatever could go wrong. A diaper blowout? No access to healthy snacks? Perhaps it has a clean shirt for the parent in charge. (Those of us who have parented small children know how useful that can be.)
Think about what could go wrong during your day. While driving to work, you may see an injury accident. Someone could choke during lunchtime. Are you allergic to bees and must walk by a flower garden? How often do you need to stop and help someone? Does your blood sugar plummet when you’re stressed?
EDC bags are simple and discreet. They need to be easy to carry around, blend in with your appearance and surroundings, and be difficult to forget. A complex bag shouldn’t keep you from being prepared.
My EDC bag is my purse. Refusing to be the family carry-all whenever we went shopping, I’d limit my bag size to something that would warrant telling everyone to shoulder their own purchases. But little emergencies soon taught me to prepare. My husband asks for ibuprofen at least every other Sunday and my children complain of hunger before we even get home from church. A cut finger sends friends on long and fruitless quests for small bandages. Or I’d see someone who needed help lifting heavy objects but if I damage my hands too much I have to cancel a day or two at my massage therapy job. I need gloves more often than four shades of lipstick. And producing a bottle opener at a picnic can turn you into a short-time hero.
Of course, those small emergencies sparked my awareness for larger ones. If I was in a car crash, could I help myself and others with what I carry daily?
The Right Bag
I carry a small tactical backpack, mostly because that’s the kind of girl I am, but EDC bags can be simple or fashionable. What should you look for when choosing one?
Discretion – Preppers get ridiculed. I keep my first aid kit, glass-breaking tool, and mechanic’s gloves in a different pouch than my day planner to avoid questions. Office employees may not want to get asked why they have a flashlight and small spool of paracord instead of 10 different pens. Fear of public ridicule shouldn’t be a reason I’m not ready for emergencies. A good EDC bag looks like an everyday carry-all and has separate pockets and compartments so you can stash your emergency essentials out of sight and still have access to your schedule book or phone.
Easy to Carry – Save that frame backpack for your bug out bag. A smaller backpack holds what you need and still has room for textbooks and calculators. Plus, larger bags draw more suspicion when you enter places like banks or administrative offices. Your EDC bag needs to be something you’ll want to carry everywhere, not set down because it’s heavy and unwieldy. And once you’re past the teenage years, it’s time for people to stop asking you to leave your bag behind a counter while you shop.
It Fits “You” – My husband would get odd looks if he carried a camouflage backpack into the corporate office. My daughter’s pretty homespun purse with the sunflower design suits her perfectly. Whether it’s a leather laptop bag, a casual messenger bag, a purse, or a belt pouch, let your bag be as stylish or simple as you want. Because you are going to be the one carrying it. (Though, because I chose an army green tactical backpack, my husband isn’t ashamed to hold it while I’m trying on clothes.)
But why would preppers want to hide their emergency essentials? If you identify as a prepper, you probably have several reasons. We really don’t like being made fun of. We don’t want to draw suspicion when we’re not even breaking any laws. And we don’t want people to rifle through our belongings and remove items that we may depend on. We just want to be prepared when the time comes without any additional hassle.
The Right Contents
Your EDC bag may differ from mine. If your child has food allergies, you may include an epi-pen. A farmer’s EDC bag might have a spool of wire for quick fence fixes. Vary the contents based on your urban or rural environment, daily needs, and the needs of friends or family within your care.
The following list fits within a cosmetics or toiletry pouch and can slip into larger containers such as laptop bags. Small, portable kits allow you to switch bags as you wish. Though some websites prepare you for TEOTWAWKI, this one helps you overcome whatever happens in your everyday life.
Multi-tool – Chances are you’re going to need to cut or open something. A good multi-tool combines screwdrivers, bottle openers, files, picks and blades within a small and convenient unit. Many come with cases which keep debris from entering the workings. Some are the same size as credit cards and fit in your wallet. And unlike many knives, multi-tools are considered “tools” in almost every state or establishment except the airport and some federal buildings. Don’t spend too much on one, in case you don’t have time to return to your car before your flight leaves.
Bandana – They can cost less than a dollar and have many uses. Wrap a sprained wrist or ankle. Tie a red bandana to the back of oversized cargo. Or wave to signal for help alongside the freeway. Use as a cloth for hygiene or first aid needs. Soak with water to cool someone with heat distress. Tie up as a head covering, sunshade, or dust barrier. If you can, find an oversized bandana because it can also suspend an injured arm.
Non-perishable Food – Keeping food around solves problems from hungry children to insulin shock. But don’t pack just anything. It should stay edible in heat and cold, if it’s crushed or squished, and if you forget it’s there for several months. Good choices are dried fruits and nuts, granola bars with no chocolate, or envelopes of protein powder that can empty into water bottles.
Cash – Stash this in a place where it won’t be easy to find but where you won’t forget about it. An extra $20 can get you out of a lot of jams. Why not just keep a credit or debit card? Because cash can help you survive a mugging or can go to a stranger in need without risking your personal information.
Gloves – Keep two pair. One to protect your hands from hard work. And another to protect your body from pathogens. If you only keep one, your mechanic’s gloves can provide a minimal barrier against contaminated blood, but they don’t give you the dexterity necessary for first aid.
Alcohol or Hand Sanitizer – Though vodka has many uses, carrying a bottle of it could get you in trouble at work or during traffic stops. Choose isopropyl alcohol instead. And if even that causes problems, or you don’t want it leaking in your EDC bag, purchase hand sanitizer. Just keep it under three ounces so you can carry it onto airplanes.
First Aid Kit – A full trauma pack isn’t necessary, especially if it becomes so bulky you don’t carry it. Even an old prescription bottle can hold some bandages, a gauze pad, and a bundle of self-adhesive athletic tape.
Emergency Numbers in Your Cell Phone – 911 is easy to remember. But what about your child’s doctor, the poison control hotline, or even your senior dog’s vet? Keep the numbers easy to search, in case a coworker finds you unconscious and needs to inform your wife.
Phone Charger – We’ve all become dependent on our cell phones. But if the battery dies, we’re short on options. Packing an extra cell charger helps you, or a stranger with a compatible cell phone, as long as you can find an outlet somewhere.
Pen and Paper – Draw maps, send messages, or just write a note apologizing for hitting someone’s car as you transport an injured loved one to the hospital. Paper can also become tinder for emergency fires.
Space Blanket – Shock is deadly. And it doesn’t take a life-threatening accident to put someone into shock. Foil-type space blankets fold into tiny spaces but hold in a lot of heat. If you encounter an accident and first responders haven’t arrived, what are the chances you have a quilt in your possession?
Flashlight – Even penlights pack a lot of power these days, thanks to LED bulbs. A flashlight can help you cross an icy parking lot or signal for help if your alternator goes out on a rural road. Check the batteries every few months so it’s reliable when you need it.
Glass-Breaking Tool – This resource is often overlooked. Myth Busters studied claims regarding submerged cars and they found that it’s impossible to roll a window down because of the water pressure from the outside. But the window can be broken with the right tool. Thanks to the surging popularity of tough-looking tactical pens, more people carry tools to break through glass windows. But tactical pens aren’t legal everywhere because they can be seen as weapons. Rescue tools, more legal than Kubotan-like pens, have a seatbelt cutter plus a glass-breaking end.
Fire Starter – The simplest and most portable fire starter is a cigarette lighter. If you don’t smoke, you may need to call someone who does. Or you may need to start a fire to keep warm.
Rope or String – Twine, paracord, or survival bracelets are useful if you need to tie something up. You could secure a load in a pickup truck or secure an injured limb while transporting someone to the hospital. Secure twine or cord into a tight bundle so it doesn’t come undone and tangled up in your EDC bag.
Medications – Remember yourself and those in your care. Don’t get caught without your insulin; also, prepare for situations where you may race out the door and forget your daily prescriptions. Simple allergy medicine can save lives during a reaction. Aspirin can stop a heart attack. Even everyday ibuprofen feels like a lifesaver if you have to endure four more hours of an annoying meeting. If you pack extra doses of a prescription, keep it in its own bottle or carry a copy of the prescription. You may need to prove to law enforcement or airport security that a controlled substance has indeed been prescribed to you.
What About Water?
Many prepper sites don’t advise carrying water for the same reason I don’t have it in my purse. It’s heavy, bulky and the container can break or burst. If it leaks, much of my gear or daily supplies are ruined. It’s better to concentrate on sources of clean water or to pack water purification tablets. Keep bottles in your car. Even if they get hot in the summer, they won’t burst as long as there isn’t anything resting on or damaging the containers. If you have a habit of carrying water with you, purchase a container that clips to the outside of your bag with a carabiner.
It isn’t difficult to see why you should have an EDC bag or decide what to include in it. And once you have one, you can feel more secure knowing you’re prepared for inconveniences and emergencies.
Do you have an EDC bag? Tell us how you stay prepared day to day.