Everyday Carry Bag-What You Need
EDC stands for an everyday carry bag, which is different than our 72-hour kits or bug-out bags. This is not designed to replace your 72-hour kit or bug-out bag, but consider one of these for riding on a bus to work, commuting by train, or one you would carry like a purse or small backpack. You see a lot of these on college campuses. These are great for commuters who ride the bus or train for transportation to work many miles away.
I strongly feel the need to update this post today, especially for those who have never heard of one of these handy bags. It’s basically gear in a strong bag with compartments, and will typically have shoulder straps. Mine has several zippers, I mean several. I love it. It has the main spacious compartment, but then the exterior has places to stash the accessories you need.
I could even call mine a laptop backpack because I bought it for our trip to Europe and I needed to carry some critical items with me. I call mine my everyday carry backpack because when we travel it goes with me, just like so many people rely on their backpacks for school, meeting presentations, and sales sessions. It’s water resistant and has a front zipper where I can place my passport or other ID. It even has a laptop pocket, but my laptop is only 13 inches, so it’s not a large laptop requiring much space.
The main compartment needs to have sufficient space to carry the majority of the items. It may prove to be hard to place things in a manner to have an internal organization that helps, but you may want to put some things in storage bags before putting them in the EDC itself.
We have all heard about cars being stranded on the side of the road or at a complete standstill on the highway due to congestion. We wouldn’t have our 72-hour kits with us 24/7 on most regular days, so this is why I like to talk about these. These bags aren’t designed for long-term survival, but they would at least get you through some minor glitches in everyday situations.
Some men and women prefer bags that look similar to a toolkit/belt that a carpenter would wear. It hooks to your belt and thigh. It can be looped onto a belt buckle and your upper thigh to secure the bag while hiking, as well. This list will get you started and you can add to it as needed. When we leave home we usually grab our phone, wallet, and keys to the car, house, and work entrances. I have friends that carry their concealed weapons in these as well. You would never know that, but they do it for security.
Items I carry in my Everyday Carry Bag:
- Multi-tool knife or Pocket Knife, you can use these for so many things. Our “handyman” son-in-law has his multitool everywhere he goes.
- Hand sanitizer – keep my hands clean from bacteria.
- Mirror – if stranded I can flash this to let people find me, or freshen up my hair or makeup.
- Compass – if stranded or lost I can at least know the direction I am heading when I try to get help if needed.
- Whistle – I prefer the extremely loud ones to get people’s attention if I need assistance.
- Cash – small bills and coins for emergency cash if the power goes down and you can’t use ATMs or point of sale units.
- Water bottle (with a filter)
- Lip gloss
- Small first aid kit
- Duct tape (small rolls now available)
- Seatbelt cutter
- Flashlight–extra batteries
- Pen and small paper tablet
- Folding knife – for protection or other uses when something sharp proves handy to have.
- USB charger – for phones and tablets
- Aspirin, Tylenol, and Benadryl
- Pepper spray (make sure it’s legal where you live)
- Black Sharpie
- Solar cell phone charger
Here is a printable to get you started: Printable. Now, remember, this list is just to get you started, you may have an emergency car bag in your vehicles with additional items. I wouldn’t be carrying an ax around in my EDC bag, just giving you the heads up here. I do have one in my car though. Please let me know of any items you would add to this list. I love your ideas!
Other EDC Items To Consider: (if not in your Emergency Car Kit)
- Names and phone numbers of who to contact in an emergency.
- Battery or crank-powered portable radio with extra batteries.
- Flashlight – preferably one that’s solar power or crank using a LED light.
- Compass and maps – not everyone has GPS in their car and on phones.
- Can of motor oil.
- Fire Extinguisher (5-pound ABC type)
- Flares and/or orange cones
- Jumper cables.
- Rags/paper towels.
- Tire gauge
- Window scraper for ice.
Necessities for survival in your Everyday Carry Bag:
- Water/Granola bars/Jerky
- Emergency cash: approximately $100.00 in small bills
- First Aid Kit
- Baby Wipes
- Hand Sanitizer
- Scissors/pens/pencils (not crayons-they melt)
- Emergency snack food and/or MRE meals (items may need to be replaced more frequently if stored in extreme heat conditions).
- Hand warmers
- Extra blankets
- Diaper rash ointment-zinc in packets
- Imodium or Pepto Bismol tablets
- From Deborah: “One easy-to-carry item everyone should pack is cayenne pepper. Sprinkle it on a minor cut (yes, it burns like the dickens) and the bleeding stops – immediately. Another excellent item for scrapes or scratches: is lavender essential oil. Both of these are well worth carrying.”
- From Sharon: “Cornstarch will stop bleeding without the burn. Also good for diaper rash.”
- From Frank: “I didn’t see a bandanna on your list. It seems silly, but they can be used for many things (Such as a tie down, a towel, a sling, a bandage, etc), and if you place one over a metal cup of boiling water it will absorb the steam and when you squeeze the water out is distilled. A neat trick when desperate for drinkable water.”
Who Makes The Best EDC Backpack?
Here is one of the EDC bags I recommend: Maxpedition Jumbo Versipack, Khaki I want my bag to feature good durability. As with other items I buy, I want high quality, so I stress to my readers to buy right the first time. I also want easy access, so I can see what I need without stressing to find things. You may prefer particular fabrics for comfort, style, or strength. I’ve found nylon is a fabric that tends to have longevity built in.
Here is another one that might work for you, this is the one I have: Maxpedition Fatboy Versipack Black
The bag can hold my iPad, my laptop, and a wallet, as well as the items in the EDC printable list. It never hurts to be ready for the unexpected. Just think over the last few years, or months for that matter, how many accidents on trains, cars, buses, or other forms of travel where the passengers were stranded for some time before help arrived.
The question here has to be what is the best bag for you? I wanted one I could travel with and keep in my car.
These everyday carry bags give you that extra level of comfort when you’re away from home knowing that you can take care of yourself for a few hours if need be. I haven’t listed travel on planes since you’d have to check the bag due to TSA restrictions on some of the contents, unless it were a private plane, then you’d be fine. Let me know your thoughts about what I feel needs to be added or deleted based on your own experiences. May God Bless this world, Linda
40 thoughts on “Everyday Carry Bag-What You Need”
Love this post, I am a new subscriber and have not been disappointed. An EDC bag is a great idea! Maxpedition makes great products (I have a few and LOVE them!!!) I keep and EDC box in both my vehicles. I love the window scraper on the list. Living in the desert south west I did not consider that item for my EDC box until we made a road trip to northern Nevada and needed one. Check that item off my list! One suggestion I would make is a Sharpie marker, longer lasting than pens in the heat, and it can be used to write on many different surfaces. Keep the posts coming 🙂
Hi Angela, you make me laugh because all 4 of my daughters carry black sharpies! They take after me! I am adding that to the list right now, thank you, Linda
We sell most of these items. One thing I did not see was a fire starter. We recommend you carry several different types. lighters, strikers and matches. Each works in different situations. A small Tarp in case you are trapped out in the weather. Bag items would differ as to your area of the country, season and if you are bugging out or Getting home.
Hi Dena, good idea! I have all of those in my car emergency bag. I really hope the post makes people think about what they should carry with them at all times. Not just chapstick. 🙂 Linda
A small handaxe/hatchet could be handy to have.
Hi Richard, you are right about the small handaxe/hatchet. I have one in my car but it would be handy in our EDC’s too! Thanks so much, Linda
We have one in the car; but, for the EDC I carry something else.
While it’s a bit expensive, I carry the Habilis Bush Tool (https://habilisbushtools.com/index.php/hikashop-menu-for-categories-listing/product/1-bush-tool) that is fine enough for shaving; but, tough enough to chop fire wood.
It also has an integrated Ferrocerium rod and notch to easily use it.
Since I live in a rural area and am seldom without my car, I use my ECB for a different purpose, more like a mini- grab bag. A friend took her mom to the emergency room in the middle of the night where they immediately loaded her mom and her into an ambulance. She didn’t have time to gather things from her car go kit. Several days later when all was said and done, she shared that her take away from the experience – she put together a small ECB for just such times. I decided to make an ECB as a supplement to my car go bag that is always with me in the car. There are some duplications but holds items I don’t want to carry in my regular purse, although my ECB is a nice canvas room purse.
One item I would suggest for an ECB is pepto-bismol tabs in the first aid kit and diaper rash ointment – zinc cream that is good for all kinds of rashes and skin care. Walgreens carries them in travel packets so one or two will do the trick.
HI Debbie, great comment, I am adding those items to my list right now. Thank you so much, Linda
Thank you, Linda, for your informative posts!
Here’s one easy-to-carry item everyone should pack: cayenne pepper. Sprinkle it on a minor cut (yes, it burns like the dickens) and the bleeding stops – immediately. Another great item for scrapes or scratches: lavender essential oil. Both of these are well worth carrying.
Hi Deborah, great comment! I’m adding to my post, thank you!! Linda
Corn starch will stop bleeding without the burn. Also good for diaper rash
Hi Sharon, oh my gosh, I used to use cornstarch, thanks for the reminder! I’m adding this right now! Linda
Cayenne works fine; but, Bleed Stop, Wound Seal, and Quikclot come in self contained packets and are inexpensive additions for the FAK. Cayenne mixed with A&D ointment canalso be used topically for sprains and strains.
Hi Linda, I wanted to suggest that as a cheaper alternative to the Maxpedition Jumbo or even the smaller “Fatboy” is the UTG Tactical Shoulder bag. It sells for $25.00 on CheaperThanDirt.com and other places. It’s the same design and size as the Jumbo.
I have two other bags that I got great deals on, but otherwise they’d be a little rich for my budget. All these bags (511 P.U.S.H. Pack, Condor, Rapdom, etc.) can be found on sale or clearance if one looks. Failing that, the UTG is a nice bag for the money and comes in brown, green and black and a camo pattern.
I did not see a bandanna on your list. It seems silly, but they can be used for many things (As a tie down, a towel, a sling, a bandage, etc) and if you place one over a metal cup of boiling water it will absorb the steam and when you squeeze the water out is is distilled. A neat trick when desperate for drinkable water.
I love the idea of a bandanna! Thank you for this, Frank.
Hi Frank, great comment, I Love it! I’m adding the bandanna right now!!! Thank you! Linda
P.S. I’m adding it to my post!!! Happy Thanksgiving! Linda
I carry several bandanas. One has a list of the 10 C’s by Dave Canterbury
1. Cutting Tool.
2. Combustion Device. …
6. Cotton Bandannas.
7. Cargo Tape
9. Cloth Sail Needle
10. Candling device
Here is a list with more detail: https://blog.ucogear.com/the-10-cs-with-dave-canterbury/
My other bandana is Bright Fluorescent / Blaze / Hunter Orange and makes a great signaling device.
On the subject of signaling, if you are using the whistle to attract help, at least in a rural / wilderness situation, you should blow three short blasts and then pause, followed by three short blasts, and pause, and so on. This is how you signal that you need help; but, you should also be aware and listen for those same three blasts, indicating someone else is in need of help. The three is important and if you are lost an signaling for help, that number three comes into play again. Three small campfires arranged in a triangle can be seen from a distance or from an airborne SAR team, and means the same thing as would 3 brightly colored bandanas laid in a triangle.
Hi Linda, great time for a repost of this! I choose a cute and colorful but still strong bag, like a dakine one. If something did happen, it does not look tactical and while anything you have may make you a target, I think you would be less than if you looked tactical. Just my two cents. God bless!
Hi Jan, I really wanted a purple one! LOL! But I didn’t want to stand out! Linda
Depends on where you are, camo or military colors are sometimes seized at country borders–although I do not plan on leaving this country! I remember some guy saying he had his little daughter’s old pack in bright pink because he thought nobody would think of trying to take that one… I just picked nice florals, that should make it kind of like camo for city or forest…
Hi Jan, oh the pink backpack, love it. I wish I could have found a floral one, that sounds awesome!! Linda
When you state:
I personally leave out the bag part. We do have bags in our vehicles that are a permanent part of the vehicle kit, along with a large Rubbermaid tub containing extra oil, windshield wiper fluid, and jumper cables or a lithium battery bank jumper pack, plus wool blankets, space blankets, tarps and#10 can candle car heater. The bags we use are the UTG Ranger Field Bag 36x17x12″; but, these are not the EDC, since EDC means to me, that you carry it every day, on your person at all times.
My EDC is packed and ready to go at all times, since it’s contained in one of two ”5.11 Tactical Vests” like this one: https://www.511tactical.com/511-tactical-vest.html . I have two, one with a lighter summer material and the other with a heavier canvass for more insulation in cold weather.
In the various pockets I have glasses & sunglasses, wallet, keys, change, and a whistle on a lanyard, all clipped to one of the pockets equipped for that purpose. I keep several flame starting items from butane lighter to Swedish fire steel to a fully charged plasma lighter. I also use the vest as a cover garment for carrying my firearm and have extra loaded magazines tucked in one of the pockets. I always have one of my cell phones and one of my 2-way radios (HT’s or Handy Talkies in ham radio parlance), again with fully charged batteries.
Like a woman’s purse, I can carry all of the essentials and can grab them all in one shot on the way out the door; but, unlike a purse or bag, I don’t have to carry or worry about dropping it.
If people ask me about the loaded vest & radios, I tell them it’s my version of my wife’s purse; but, they often ask if I’m a photographer or going fishing, so at least in our rural community, I don’t really raise any red flags.
In my parlance these are the “car kit”, “vehicle kit”, or “GO kit” and travel with you always in the vehicles, in our case the UTG bags and the Rubbermaid tubs.
You hit the nail on the head and why my vest fits the bill.
When you lit the “Items I carry in my Everyday Carry Bag:”, it’s a good list.
Multi-tool knife, you can use these for so many things
Mine fits in a nylon sheath on my belt and goes on in the morning when I put on my pants and fasten the belt.
Hand sanitizer-keep my hands clean from bacteria
Individual packets in the FAK in the Vest; but, since this can really dry out the skin, some lotion for that problem>
Mirror-if stranded I can flash this to let people find me
I have a mirror; but, also carry a LED tactical flashlight. These are available everywhere and inexpensive.
Compass-if stranded I can at least know the direction I am heading
I carry one of these, and know how to walk a waypoint straight line course with it.
Whistle-I prefer the ones that are extremely loud to alert people
Mine is loud; but, also made from bright orange plastic and on a lanyard. Should you drop it, the orange is easier to see, and the plastic, unlike metal, won’t freeze to your lips in cold weather.
Small bills and coin for emergency cash if the power goes down
Cash in the wallet and coins in the pocket with the keys and lighters.
Water bottle (with a filter)
In the car kit and a filter straw in the vest.
Chapstick, since the wife sees that everyone gets a new one in their Christmas stocking every year.
Small first aid kit
We start with the one from Dollar Tree & add to the contents in the nice plastic case.
Duct tape (small rolls now available)
Usually in the car kit and not the vest.
I carry a rescue knife that can break glass and cut belts, and we carry a Resqme: The Original Keychain Car Escape Tool on our keychains.
Carried in a vest pocket and connected with Velcro so I can’t lose it. We use the 18650 rechargeable Lithium Ion batteries and keep a dozen of them in chargers, ready to swap out when needed.
Pen and small paper tablet
This an a pencil, since in bitter cold weather, pens can freeze. Mine is a mechanical pencil so I don’t have to worry about sharpening it.
Folding knife for protection or other uses
Clipped into my pants pocket. That knife and my handgun are with me as I type this.
USB charger for phones and tablets
These are OK when you have power, even in a vehicle; but, a lithium battery power bank is portable and can do the same. Some versions can charge your phone or tablet AND jump start your vehicle.
Aspirin and Benadryl
Yep and some antacid & ANSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen.
I prefer Saber Red Pepper Gel since it’s sticky and hard to clean off, giving you more time to respond.
CERT training at work here? LOL
Solar cell phone charger
I have some of these with the built in lithium battery bank that seem to work well. You can lay it out during the day and still charge the phone after dark with the stored energy.
This is a pretty good list that everyone should already have; but, I’ll only add one comment:
12 VDC air compressor or other tire inflator.
Here are some details on my Tactical Vest:
• 17 total pockets, including:
• Dual covert CCW pockets at the chest
• Low left AR magazine pockets
• Twin hydration pockets at the rear
• 360 degree wraparound pocket
• Tablet pocket
• Shoulder design maximizes weight distribution
• Reinforced half-collar
• Integrated D-ring secures your keys
• Quad-stitched reinforcements
• Extensive bartacking at major stress points
• YKK® zipper hardware
• Prym® snaps
The 5.11 Tactical Vest is this one: https://www.511tactical.com/511-tactical-vest.html
Great list!!! Linda
That list was just the list of features for my EDC vest. I’ve been doing this a long time, and sometimes you just see an item, like the vest, that you just know you need for a particular function you are trying to fill. The rolling toolbox where I keep my main FAK was similar. I saw it and its features, and just had to have it. I suspect that with your preparedness mindset, you’ll often do the same thing, even for small, seemingly insignificant items.
Hi Ohio Prepper, it’s so funny because whenever I see something, I almost immediately think how can I use that for an emergency!!! So true!! Linda
That’s good to hear. My parents grew up during the depression and by today’s standards would have been called preppers. Back then (50’s & 60’s) it was just frugal living and we didn’t waste anything. Even wax paper and aluminum foil were washed and reused.
As a certified instructor in numerous disciplines, the primary thing we teach is that an instructor has to produce a change in Knowledge, Skills, and Attitude in a student, with Attitude often being the most important. For preparedness that attitude is the ”Self reliance mindset “ where we look at the world just a little different than our non self reliant counterparts. As you probably understand, that means that sometimes everyday items can fulfill a need in our minds eye, and when you have that mindset, the lifestyle works very fluidly with little extra mental effort.
Great comment, let’s hope the world listens. They better, we can not take care of everyone. And the government will not be coddling anyone! We must have a Self-reliance mindset.Linda
In the bag industry the acronym EDC meaning is E very D ay C arry. A subset of tactical survivalists coined the term to label all the everyday carry essentials they haul around in their pockets or on their person. These are everyday carry items they have with them to survive an apocalypse .
Hi Welby, thank you for the clarification. Linda
Love this! Friends laugh at my “magic bag” but are always appreciative when I whip out exactly what might be needed. I don’t have a vehicle so rely on various backpacks for different purposes and distances from home. I got tired of transferring useful items between them so made specialised storage solutions for each one and they are always ready to go with exactly what I need for a short hike, grocery shop in the nearby village or over to the bigger stores by ferry and bus. I also made some vests with pockets for the absolute bare minimum essential items that I prefer to keep on my person. There’s a mesh version with zippered ripstop nylon pockets ideal for hot weather or to wear under warmer clothing and a basic cotton duck for most purposes. I keep whistles clipped on to pack straps with a carabiner. I always have a mending kit, headlamp and some paracord as well as a very tiny AM/FM radio. In cold weather I also carry a small bivy sack if going farther than easy walking distance from home.
Hi Alice, thank you, my friend! I love hearing about your “magic bag”! I also love the idea of a vest with several pockets, why didn’t I think of that??? Great tip! Linda
As a person with mobility problems who is currently using a walker to get around, I need to fit the EDC items into my backpack purse or the walker pocket I have on the front. My list is very pared down. At the same time, I have my “Emergency Bag” that has a lot of the items you list plus some protein bars. The Emergency Bag goes in whatever car we are traveling in. I’ll list the items in that bag at the end of this post.
One item that I will not leave home without is a small manicure kit with fingernail clippers and toenail clippers. My fingernails are at a modest length, but in case of a major emergency, they will need to be clipped. Even with short nails there is nothing worse than a broken nail that could scratch your skin.
We have seatbelt cutters with window breaking ability in all our cars. I bought a set of these https://amzn.to/3Rc1Qve and everyone has one in the back pocket of the passenger’s seat. That way no matter what car we are in we know where it is. Hopefully these handy little tools will never be used.
Items in the Emergency Bag:
Big pocket of Duffle Bag:
Sewing kit: Mine is one I got at Walmart, but this one is better and cheaper. https://amzn.to/3DS5J5z
First aid kit: This is fairly comprehensive.
Flashlights: two small flashlights that can be cranked or solar charged
Ponchos: I found some that are lined with emergency blanket material so they would be warmer.
Light sticks: I bought a box of 24 on Amazon and gave them to everyone to keep in the car.
Diabetic Kit: glucometer and tablets to help with low blood sugar.
Microfiber towel: https://amzn.to/3xT1Zgh
Protein Bars: I forgot where I bought these, it was a sample back of 12 with different flavors. They are not bad tasting.
Wooden Ruler: This might get some giggles, but it can be used with bandanas to make a splint for a broken bone. Or various actual measurement things.
Bandanas: probably the most versatile emergency gear.
One end of Duffle Bag:
Heat emergency kit:
Cans of water: Open Water – Still Cans https://amzn.to/3xN6Z5Z
Packets of Electrolyte drink:
Instant cold packs: https://amzn.to/3BIFETY
Cooling towel: https://amzn.to/3RkDBva
Thermometer: instant read, one good thing from the pandemic is that these are lower cost now
Forehead thermometer: https://amzn.to/3dJHlbI
The other end of Duffle Bag:
small stove and fuel: https://amzn.to/3C5DuPA
Two Emergency blankets
Small roll of toilet paper with small baggie with toilet wet wipes
Small roll of duct tape
Small front pockets:
Tool to remove ticks
Insect sting wipes
Sterile lancet for splinters
Kit to treat blisters
Mirror for signaling
plastic and metal emergency whistles
Hi Topaz, I love hearing how prepared you are in every way! I love your thoughts and wonderful tips! Good ones! Linda
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but when I went to buy a whistle for my survival bag, I told the salesman my purpose for getting the whistle. He left the register and brought me a marine whistle. He said regular whistles are affected be high humidity and rain and may not work when needed. The marine whistles are made for wet conditions and will work well even if wet. It wasn’t that much more either. I love having people who know their products and enjoy helping!!
HI Peggy, oh this is so good to know!! I will look for some Marine whistles, I love hearing this! Linda
I want to say thank you Linda, from all the people in Florida preparing for this hurricane. Thank you…..because all the people who listened to you are NOT in the stores taking the limited resources because they all ready have them. The people who read your writings have what they need to stay or to evacuate. The people you offered wisdom and advice too can remain calm, because they are prepared. God Bless you and all your readers
HI Chris, thank you so much for your kind words. I have been in contact with some of my readers that live in Florida and most have evacuated. I understand the storm (Hurricane Ian) is expected to be the worst in a century in that area. Some have sent me pictures of the evacuation kits, it makes me so happy. We are all praying for all those that are close to the Hurricane. Linda