The EDC (Every Day Carry) Bag
Your everyday carry (EDC) bag is one of your most important preparations. It is lightweight bag of gear to backup, support and compliment your on-person EDC. Pockets have limited space–this bag catches the overflow. It should be able to keep you going for a day or two in case you need to pick up and go, if you get stuck at work, or if disaster strikes and you need to bug out for home.
A Few “Don’ts” To Keep in Mind:
- Don’t buy an overly tactical bag that will look out of place. Multicam, magazine pouches and MOLLE panels draw attention and mark you as a “tactical” kind of guy–probably armed, too. Don’t be that tactical goober guy–save the stuff for the range or the end of the world, not your daily carry. Carry something average looking.
- Don’t overload the bag with gear–one, you’ll have to haul it around. Two, you want to have extra space to add things as needed–books, a laptop, etc.
- Don’t limit yourself to a shoulder bag. Shoulder and sling bags provide easy access to their contents, but a backpack is more stable when moving and can carry more stuff. Pick which one works best for your needs. Shoulder bags are more common in the workplace, but a nice backpack will blend in nicely in all but the most upscale offices.
- Don’t pack for war unless you are in a warzone. You don’t need smoke grenades, an AK and 53 magazines or a folding katana. If you want to have a dedicated active shooter/fight your way home/anti-zombie hordes bag, that’s cool. But don’t make that your everday carry unless you live in a really, really bad place.
- Don’t carry stuff you never use. Every few weeks, evaluate what’s in your EDC bag and cut stuff that you haven’t used.
- Don’t make it just a survival bag. This is your EDC bag, so make sure you have plenty of EDC items–stuff like kleenex, phone chargers, extra batteries and so on. This is the bag that you live out of, so it should have the stuff you need everyday.
- Don’t just dump all your stuff into a bag–keep things organized so you can find them in a pinch. I like to kit things up when able.
Things to Pack in your EDC bag:
- Water: 1L or more; I’ve found stainless steel water bottles to be the best, and you can cook/boil water in them in a pinch. You probably don’t need water purification tabs unless you frequently travel pretty far from home..
- Food: I carry 4 cliff bars with me; energy bars are generally a pretty good idea. Snacks, gum, mints, and your daily lunch are good too.
- Fire: I carry two Bic lighters in my bag. Lighters are probably your best bet.
- Cash: A few extra hundred dollars can get you pretty far in a pinch–even an emergency $20 will come in handy fairly often. Some coins for use in vending machines are also good to have.
- Shelter: This is a bit tougher, as you probably don’t want to carry around a tarp or tent every day. A mini space blanket and disposable poncho take up little space. Contractor-grade trash bags work too. As an alternative, you can pack an ultralight rain jacket–these can pack down very small. Mostly, just dress appropriately for the weather.
- Medicine/First Aid: I carry a small bottle of Ibuprofen, Tums, extra chapstick, some small bandages, alcohol prep pads, tweezers and some super glue. A small gunshot wound kit is another good idea, especially if you carry a CCW.
- Hygiene: Kleenex and hand sanitizer are a no brainer. A small mirror is a lightweight, often overlooked multipurpose item. I also carry a small travel pack of wet wipes for cleaning up or a quick scrub down–if you can’t have a shower, this makes a big difference. I also carry a razor, a travel toothbrush and roll of floss. If you’re frequently overnighting, a travel sized deodorant and shampoo don’t weigh much.
- A better flashlight. Unless I’m out after dark, I just have a small keychain light on my on-person EDC. I carry a better light in my bag. If you have a good flashlight on your on-person EDC, consider packing a small headlamp like the the Petzl e+LITE.
- Caffiene. Good for late road trips, all-nighters, or just sleepy afternoons. Pick the form you like. I have a couple little packs of Nodoze and a few little packs of Crystal light energy drink mix.
- A cell phone headset. Bluetooth or the cheapo wired ones.
- Gorilla tape (the better duct tape). I wrap mine around old gift cards to make it flatter and more compact. A bajillion uses.
- A bandanna (or similar). If one’s not in your on-person EDC, you should at least have one here. A bajillion uses.
- Paracord. You decide how much is enough.
- A small radio if you don’t already have one–many MP3 players and cell phones have a built in radio tuner these days. Keeping up on the news is important.
- A small camera/camcorder, if your cell phone doesn’t have one. YMMV on this one.
- Gun stuff. Extra loaded magazines, maybe a back up gun or a full size pistol to compliment your carry gun. If you live in Mogadishu or Detroit, you may want to pack an M60 and a couple belts of ammo.
- Zip ties. I used to carry these and ditched ‘em because I couldn’t find a good way to carry them and never used them. But lots of people like ‘em.
- Tools. A multitool, some small screw drivers and a little pry bar can do quite a bit.
- Whistle or other signaling device.
- A USB Thumbdrive or portable hard drive. With important files encrypted with TrueCrypt.
- A spare knife. If you can legally do it and have the space to do so, a small fixed blade like the RC-3 or even a cheap Mora knife can come in quite handy.
- A laptop and cords. This is of dependent on what you do for a living. Some people need to carry a laptop around with them, some don’t. They are a major source of weight, so weigh the pluses and minuses carefully. Lightweight, durable and long battery life are the top criteria for an EDC laptop. Get a good protective case, too.
- Electronic backups: Phone chargers, extra batteries and connector cables for your electronics. Those little battery backups are handy too, in case you aren’t near an outlet or power goes out.
- A small powerstrip/surge protector. Dependent on whether you’re going to carry a laptop and what other electronics you have to charge. The Belkin is the most popular and has two ports for charging USB devices.
- Extra clothes. YMMV on this one, although a jacket is nice to have around. If you have a messy job, frequently spill all over yourself, or often take spontaneous overnight trips, a change of clothes may keep you from looking like a complete slob.
That’s a good start, I think. Again, watch the weight and bulk of your pack. Keep things organized. And carry a bag with an average, boring, “grey man” look, not one that screams “I am an action hero.”