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Survival Tips – How To Build The Best EDC Kit
How to build the best EDC kit
An Every Day Carry Kit, or EDC, consists of the everyday carry gear, including emergency items, that you may need to meet challenges or dangers that come between you and home. In the strictest sense, we all carry an EDC kit every day. Our purse or wallet, keys, money, mobile phone; these are the things we’ve decided we need every day to make sure we can do what we need to do and get home safely. But is that all you need?
Identification of your daily needs for carrying equipment
If only we knew exactly what situations we would face on any given day, we would never leave our house unprepared. No warnings of disasters are given. You should try to anticipate your needs before they arrive. Your daily routine can give you some ideas about what types of situations you need to be prepared for.
Where do you live? Do you live in an urban, suburban or rural community? Or do you live so far out in the boonies that without a four wheel drive truck you would need a 72 hour pack to get home alive?
Work environment? You may live in a gated community but work in a dangerous part of town. Consider where you will spend time, especially outside of your car, as part of determining likely risk.
Long commute? People who commute long distances are more likely to face certain challenges like car trouble or hazards like car accidents.
Responsible for others? If you often have children with you, you may need to consider their needs as part of your daily carry gear.
Unique medical needs? Do you suffer from food allergies, bee allergies, asthma, high blood pressure or diabetes? Rescue medications such as backup inhalers, epi pens, blood pressure medication, insulin, and needles should be part of every kit you prepare.
Assess what challenges or dangers you are likely to face?
There are three types of scenarios that you need to be prepared for.
Challenges: common situations like a flat tire or a dark parking lot, a power outage; things that won’t kill you, but a little preparation goes a long way toward making things easier.
Threats: a personal attack, car accident, injury, or an opportunity to help another person with one of these scenarios.
Disasters: Terrorist attacks, natural disasters, riots, getting lost or breaking down far out in the wilderness, anything that results in a major disruption of routine or requires you to survive on your own, at least for a time.
You know your routine. Only you can identify your unique needs and likely threats. It’s important to be prepared, but if you try to prepare for every emergency that could ever arise, you can end up with an EDC kit that’s so huge you never have it with you. The very best daily carry gear is the gear you actually wear when the need arises.
The difference between an EDC, a GHB and a Bug Out Bag
If your first instinct is to over-prepare, relax. At least you’re on the right track. There are several types of emergency kits that are valuable to have around, and they all serve slightly different purposes. A Get Home Bag, or GHB, carries a little more gear than you want to carry on your person and is designed to do exactly what the name suggests, get you home. Another type of emergency kit, called a Bug Out Bag or BOB, is as much as you can carry (within reason) and is designed to give you everything you need to survive for up to a week. The weight limit recommendation for a Bug Out Bag is 1/3 of a man’s body weight and 1/4 of a woman’s.
Preparing for eventualities with all three types of kits in mind can allow you to prepare effectively and give you ultimate peace of mind. You could think of it this way: Your everyday carry is designed to get you to your Get Home bag. Your GHB is designed to get you to your Bug Out Bag. And your BIR is designed to support you through at least a week in the wilderness, should the need arise. In the best case, you will never need a GHB or a BOB, but it is nice to have them. However, you are almost certain to need an EDC kit at least a few times a year.
What should you take with you in your daily carry kit?
There are many recommended items that you may want to carry as part of your EDC kit. Based on the risk assessment you have already performed, select the elements that will best help you meet these needs.
Must have items:
Self defense – a knife, box cutter, credit card knife, tactical pen – any item that you can use to defend yourself.
Fire – Lighter – windproof is best, waterproof matches, fire starter kit. Depending on the size of the kit you are making, you can choose the size. But at a minimum, you should have at least one way to start a fire.
Light – Flashlight – You can end up with several different light sources, stored in different places and in different sets. But you should always have some light source on you at all times. If nothing else, a mini flashlight on your key chain is a must.
Compass – this could easily be integrated with an analog clock, rather than as a separate piece of equipment. What you can’t count as a compass is the GPS in your cell phone. In the event of an infrastructure failure, one of the first things you lose is your cell service. You need an old-fashioned magnetic compass, either integrated into your analog watch or on its own.
Cordage – a box of unflavored floss, a paracord bracelet, a bundle of paracord, or even replacing your shoelaces with paracord – too many situations will require some form of rope. Don’t be apart of it.
Shelter – Mylar blankets are the easiest and lightest choice for very small sets. As you develop larger, more advanced GHBs or PDOs, you can incorporate better shelter. But a Mylar blanket or two goes a long way in a pinch.
First aid kit – This can be as simple as a couple of band-aids, a couple of alcohol pads and some antibiotics, or as advanced as a full-fledged first aid kit, complete with a defibrillator. Consider the other kits you are preparing and bring what you think you will need. First aid items you may want to consider, even for a small kit, include: plasters, bandages, alcohol, antibiotics, antacids, ibuprofen or acetaminophen, and should definitely include any personal rescue medication.
Food – or more correctly, a way to get food. At a minimum, you choose a few fish hooks in your everyday hat, or folded into a piece of aluminum foil in your purse, or a small medicine bottle full of supplies. These can be combined with your dental floss for fishing line.
Cash – You should always have at least some cash that is only for emergency use. It’s probably a good idea to keep it separate from your normal funds.
Must have items:
Items you should incorporate into your everyday carry if you can. If necessary, use this list to start putting together a Get Home bag.
Small pill bottle with Vaseline – Vaseline (or any Vaseline-based jelly) has many different uses, including treating chapped lips and hands, cuts and scrapes, and for use as a fire accelerator
Cotton balls – first aid use and as tinder to start a fire
Weatherproof matches or Fire Striker
Battery – at least AA size. You may already have one in your flashlight, but bring spares if at all possible. They are also useful for other things, like starting fires.
Small wire saw – This can be included as part of a credit card sized multi-tool to cut down on the amount of gear you have to carry.
Fishing supplies – a pair of fish hooks in your everyday hat, or folded into a piece of aluminum foil in your purse, or a small medicine bottle full of supplies of your choosing.
Food – hard candy, a bullion cube, anything to give you calories and a morale boost. The more the better, within reason.
Water purification – Whether it’s tablets or a filtration system, something to get you clean water in a pinch. There are straw-sized filtration systems.
Multi-tool – either full size or a multi-tool credit card that you have in your wallet.
Whistle – To signal, scare away wild animals or human attackers
Super glue – comes in mini tubes and can serve a number of purposes, including minor repairs, first aid and as a fire accelerator.
Nice to have items:
A few things that would be nice to have if you can fit it in. If it doesn’t fit in your everyday carry, this could be the start of a great Get Home bag.
Small address book – in case you lose the use of your mobile phone, you need the emergency contact information for your loved ones. Include any other information that you may have difficulty thinking about during stressful situations.
Shoe – an extra pair if you have to go far. Hiking boots would be preferable. This is especially important for women who may be wearing heels when they find the need to walk.
Larger knife or weapon – Better to have it and not need it than to have it and not have it.
Light yellow poncho – good for weather protection and easier to spot.
Stainless steel water bottle or thermos – This can also be used as your kit container, as a weapon or just to hold some water.
Food – One or more high-calorie energy bars or protein bars, enough to get you through a few hours of stress.
Find the right container for your EDC kit
Once you’ve assessed your needs and chosen the things you can and will wear every day, it’s time to figure out how to wear it. There are a few ways to go. The typical method is to get a small container and fit your gear inside. You should choose a container size based on how you will be carrying your kit. If you have a briefcase or purse, you can accommodate a larger size. If it’s going to fit in your pocket, use a smaller container and be more creative in the way you carry anything that doesn’t fit.
Metal box – If you can find some metal that suits your needs, a metal container is optimal. It will hold its shape and maintain a waterproof seal better than some plastic containers. If necessary, you can also use it to cook with. Altoids tins are a popular choice, especially for a pocket EDC kit, even though it is limited in size.
Plastic – The advantage of a plastic container is how easy it can be to find one in a size that suits your needs. Rubbermaid style containers come in a variety of sizes and are inexpensive. The downside is that the lid can sometimes be too easy to remove; you may need to seal it with some duct tape.
Organization package – Commercial EDC Organization Packs are available in a variety of sizes, designed specifically to help you organize your essential Every Day Carry Gear.
Wearing your gear – You can distribute your gear throughout your clothing using cargo pant pockets, your hat, key chain, wallet, a chain or lanyard, etc. Women have a distinct advantage because they are expected to carry a wallet, and by simply carrying a slightly larger, they can hold many more items with little difficulty. Men can improve their carrying capabilities, depending on their work dress code, by wearing cargo pants with a number of pockets or carrying a briefcase or small backpack to work. (Maybe now is the time to consider buying that ultra-trendy men’s wallet you’ve been secretly eyeing.)
Self-contained set – Your container can also be part of your kit. A thermos or metal container that can be used for cooking, etc. The only downside to this container is that you still have to figure out how to carry it with you every day.
The best EDC kit
There’s what you have to wear, and then there’s what you want to wear. The very best Every Day Carry kit is the one you have with you when you need it, and it contains the knowledge to use the gear you’ve been carrying. All the preparation in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t have your gear or don’t know how to use it. So be realistic in your risk assessment, practical in assembling your kit (remember you can also assemble a GHB and BOB, you don’t need to carry everything every minute), learn to use the items you’ve chosen and be faithfully carrying your Every Day Carry Gear, weekday!
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