An EDC or ‘Everyday Carry’ kit refers to a personalized collection of the essential items for carrying with you at all times to ensure that you’re prepared for whatever may come your way when you’re out and about.
Whether it’s helping you react to a disaster or emergency, for personal self defense or just for the general utility value, the equipment in your EDC gear loadout are the handful (or pocketful) of items which help you get those essential and sometimes even life saving things done, wherever you are and whatever the scenario.
What is an Everyday Carry Kit?
Building an everyday carry kit is ultimately, highly tailored to the individual carrying it with really only one rule holding true over every case – the equipment must be carryable on an everyday basis.
This means the EDC gear in your everyday carry kit needs to be useful, compact, lightweight and resistant so that you can quite literally carry it with you everyday and be totally confident that should you need to call on any of the constituent pieces, they won’t let you down.
Think of your EDC kit as that small set of practical items that in an ideal situation, you’d never leave the house without.
Typically consisting of some form of wallet or compact carrying pouch, a tactical everyday carry knife, a couple of key chain tools (like a compact flashlight or multitool) and even a tactical pen, your everyday carry set is your first line of defense for reacting and responding to a situation head-on whenever you’re away from home and don’t have a more comprehensive range of gear to hand.
Many people will include a high performance tactical or military watch as a natural extension of their EDC loadout but in this guide, we’re mainly referring to the EDC gear you wear on your belt, keep in your pockets or store in your personal bag or purse.
A bit like your own bespoke personal and mobile “break in case of emergency” kit, your everyday carry items are there to help you out when things go south, giving you the vital support you need to get to safety or deal with a situation on the ground.
How is an Everyday Carry kit Different to a Bug Out Bag?
There are a couple of key distinctions between an EDC kit and a dedicated bug out bag and while there’s a definite cross-over between the two, knowing the major differences and the best situation in which to deploy each separately will allow for complete optimization of your preparedness strategy.
At the most basic level, you should think of a bug out bag as a set of supplies and equipment designed to cover periods of time usually starting at around 3 days/72 hours and often longer.
In comparison an EDC gear kit is the ‘take everywhere’ set of pocket tools and equipment that you can call on quickly, no matter where your main preparedness gear is.
You may not have your bug out bag with you at the grocery store or at work, but a well considered set of EDC gear in your pocket will become your first line of defense if disaster strikes.
One way to think about your everyday carry gear is as the tools that allow you to deal with a situation or emergency as it develops on the ground, buying you the valuable time and safety to get you back to your main cache of equipment and supplies at home or in another pre-designated location.
Tactical EDC Gear
Pinning down what it means for an item to be considered ‘tactical’ can be a tough one, but there are definitely a specific set of criteria that make elements of your EDC kit tactical in nature and mean you can be ready to deal with whatever situation you may end up facing.
Generally speaking, tactical refers to the ability to perform under a potentially extreme set of circumstances in possibly adverse environment, achieving an intended goal but with enough versatility to then perform other functions as well as in everyday life.
As with other preparedness gear such as tactical flashlights and survival knives, building a tactical EDC kit or everyday carry solution means choosing a set of equipment that is able to offer continual high performance throughout a multitude of scenarios.
Building a Bespoke EDC Kit
An effective EDC kit is one that’s tailor made to fit your exact situation and circumstances perfectly, meaning you’re covered for any and every eventuality.
After all, your everyday carry gear is likely to be with you for the long-haul, and like anything you carry with you daily, you want to make sure that practicality is the primary consideration when building the best EDC kit for your requirements.
With that being said, there are a number of common items that typically go into a EDC kit and can be considered essential everyday carry gear if you’re starting from scratch.
One good rule of thumb to consider when assembling your everyday carry gear is to spread out the carrying requirement of the equipment you pick, utilizing as many of the areas around your body as possible before getting down to what you actually carry in your pockets.
A good example of this kind of EDC gear planning might look like carrying your equipment in the following ways first:
- Performance or Tactical Watch – Wrist
- Tactical Flashlight – Keychain
- Survival Multi Tool or Pocket Knife – Belt or Ankle
With this extra pocket space effectively ‘freed up’, you can then dedicate your jacket, pant, or bag pockets to carrying extra essential EDC items.
Multi Tool or Pocket Knife
One of the best things you can look to integrate into your everyday carry gear list is a high quality multi tool, Swiss army style knife, or even a pocket sized tactical knife.
When it comes to bang for your buck, multi tools are where it’s at and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better survival solution that packs so much into a modular footprint that’s literally designed to be carried at all times.
The best Multi Tool systems will incorporate a ton of features into their design ranging from multiple knife blades, to saws, tweezers, magnifying lenses, and tools for opening cans and bottles.
Tactical Pocket Flashlight or Key Chain Light
The obvious addition to any everyday carry kit is a high quality tactical flashlight or keychain survival flashlight that you can call on if the lights go out.
As with the other elements of your everyday carry gear, the essential consideration for an EDC flashlight is finding a solution that combines convenience (size and weight) with performance (power and battery life).
Most of the best tactical flashlights are designed around this same set of considerations given the fact that the very situations in which they’ll likely be used require these same areas to be covered as a baseline.
High Performance Tactical Watch
The best modern chronograph, tactical, and military watches do a lot more than just tell you the time.
As well as providing a level of durability and resilience not found in conventional timepieces, tactical watches or devices designed for expedition or military use deliver a whole lot of additional functionality and a feature set that can help you out in a wide range of emergency or survival situation.
From GPS to barometers, thermometers, and even altimeters a high performance tactical watch can provide a lot of information at the glance of a wrist when disaster strikes.
Add to this, the ability to operate in extreme conditions while often providing water and shock proofing, and a well considered tactical watch soon becomes an essential addition to you daily EDC gear.
Extending your EDC Inventory
Creating an everyday carry kit that’s compact enough to slip into your pocket whenever you’re out is an excellent way to ensure you remain prepared at a moment’s notice but as with other areas of preparedness, there are ways to further refine and extend the effectiveness of your gear with a bit of planning.
We’ve covered the importance of keeping a complete bug out bag and while you may find yourself initially separated from your survival gear when an emergency situation presents itself (maybe you’re at the office or out picking up the groceries), having a carefully considered EDC kit or a set of everyday carry essentials on your person can make all the difference when it comes to getting back to your bag and implementing your reaction plan.
One of the most effective ways to prepare yourself in advance so you can have the maximum response impact during an unfolding situation is to build in layers of reaction planning for when a disaster strikes.
By “layers”, we’re really talking about the order of preference of go-to solutions when you need to act immediately.
Think of this kind of like when you (or someone you’re with) sustains an injury – the crucial first response is to apply emergency triage or first aid, then getting the ambulance and EMT’s on the scene as soon as possible is the next critical objective, while reaching the hospital and receiving full medical attention is the ultimate objective.
So it also goes in an imminent or unfolding disaster situation – your everyday carry kit becomes the first line of defense in your response and reaction plan.
While the ultimate goal in such a situation is to get to a place where you can implement your full reaction strategy (maybe evacuating to a bug out location), the immediate objective is to calmly and effectively deal with the developing situation.
Taking the example from earlier a bit further, your everyday carry gear is your equivalent of immediate first aid in an emergency situation. Similarly, while it may be possible to get to the hospital (or back to your home in this case) without an ambulance, things are certainly easier if you can call on one when needed.
Creating an EDS (Everyday Survival) Kit
Somewhere between your EDC collection and a fully loaded bug out bag, an EDS or “Everyday Survival” kit is designed to increase your options and allows you to extend the gear you have on hand by providing additional essentials and vital resources to help you get out of danger and to get you where you’re going.
The role of the EDS is to get you from where you are now to where you need to be, as quickly and safely as possible.
Due to this, there are some key considerations and criteria that an everyday survival kit ideally needs to meet:
- Must be small enough to carry in a jacket pocket, bag or purse (alongside any existing EDC gear).
- Must be able to be self-contained in a tin, box, pouch, or container that can be stored discretely in a desk drawer or similar space until needed.
- Must contain durable and long-lasting supplies that are lightweight, strong, and useful
An everyday survival kit is effectively a larger and more comprehensive version of your EDC gear – too large to keep in your pocket, but absolutely compact enough to grab and attach to your belt when disaster strikes.
With these factors in mind, an everyday survival kit can quickly (and affordably) by multiplied to ensure you’re able to keep kits in a variety of strategic locations away from home to call on when needed.
Keeping an EDS kit in your vehicle, workplace, and with frequently visited friends or relatives will mean you’re covering the maximum number of bases in the event that a disaster or emergency strikes when you’re away from your primary supplies.
Prepare. Survive. Thrive.
As with all of our preparedness guides, we reference as many expert sources, real world user reviews, and opinions as possible so we’re able to provide the most relevant and educational information on how to prepare an everyday carry kit.
Knowing how to prepare the best everyday carry kit for you is ultimately a highly personal activity with individual needs and preferences sometimes varying considerably between people, locations, and specific situations.
With these considerations in mind, this guide looks to provide advice on our own opinions of how to prepare an EDC kit, however, it’s always important to carry out your own due diligence to find the best solution for you when developing a solution that’s perfect for your situation.