To far too many people, being “prepped” means accumulating piles and piles of stuff, much of which various so-called experts insist you carry with you at all times. Some of those folks apparently feel you should never leave the house without a 95lb expedition style pack strapped to your back, even for a walk to the mailbox and back.
EDC stands for Every Day Carry. Today, we’re going to talk about taking a minimalist approach to what you really should have with you at all times, or at least any time you venture out from home. The goal is to have at least some amount of survival essentials at arm’s reach, without your pants threatening to fall from the weight of all the gear in your pockets. While it doesn’t need to all fit in your wallet, that’s closer to the size we’re talking about than a tactical backpack is.
First and foremost, I firmly believe a good quality knife is essential to survival. It should be your constant companion, leaving your side only when mandated by law, such as when entering a government building like a courthouse or when flying. For most people, this means either a folding knife or a multi-tool. Personally, while I’ve been known to carry both on occasion, I tend to favor the knife simply due to weight. My suggestions for a folding knife include a Bad Monkey Folder (which I’ve carried constantly for about two years now), a Swiss Army Knife (Tinker Model is my preference), or a Buck 110 lockback. For multi-tools, I don’t know that you can go wrong with anything produced by Leatherman or SOG.
Next on the list is fire making. This is another survival essential. A butane lighter will suffice in most cases. I’d caution you, though, about buying one of those cheap ones you’ll find at gas stations, the ones that are typically sold two or three for a buck. They tend to leak and will go dry over time, perhaps without you realizing it. Better to invest an extra dollar and get a brand name like Bic. You could go a step further and wrap a few feet of duct tape around the lighter as that can come in handy for quick clothing patchwork and other uses. Duct tape even makes decent tinder.
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For most of us, a cell phone is already part of our EDC gear. If you’re reluctant to invest in any sort of monthly service, at the least perhaps consider a pay-as-you-go phone. A cell phone can be your lifeline in an emergency. Get into the habit of charging your phone each and every day. What I do is plug my phone into the charger every night before heading to bed. This way, I start every day with a full battery. If you’re a heavy cell user, consider purchasing a portable power pack that to keep in your pocket or purse. Be sure to have the proper charging cord with you as well.
A small flashlight will be very appreciated should you find yourself out and about when a power outage hits. More than once, I’ve ended up using my pocket flashlight to illuminate my way through a darkened store or mall, even when visiting the facilities at work.
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I like to keep a flash drive (sometimes called a thumb drive) with me as well. It contains copies of my identification and important papers, such as insurance policies. Probably overkill as I already have copies of these things elsewhere, but the flash drive or a memory card weighs nearly nothing.
Finally, a small amount of emergency cash is advised. In this day and age, many people use plastic for almost every purchase from filling up their gas tank to their daily caffeine fix. The problem comes in when there is a power outage or perhaps something goes wonky with the local online services and stores are unable to process credit card transactions. Keeping $20 or $30 in cash on your person allows you to still make those purchases you feel are necessary to daily life, though admittedly I doubt you’ll be able to fill your car’s fuel tank with just twenty bucks. The cash can be kept in a concealed pocket in your wallet or purse, if not directly in your pocket.
The overall idea behind a minimalist approach to EDC is to always have some amount of survival gear with you, without resorting to lugging an entire bug out bag in and out of every place you go. Naturally, you should have a bug out bag or a get home bag in your vehicle or at your workplace, but you don’t need to carry it to the bathroom or lunch. The EDC gear is just for normal day-to-day use.
So, what’s in your wallet that will help you in an emergency?