One of the least discussed lists on survival sites is the everyday carry list. In my opinion it is actually the most important list of gear you can consider. These are items that you can keep with you all the time. These items could help you with smaller everyday issues like a car breaking down or getting mugged. The list should also include items that would help with major disasters but are able to be carried regularly.
As you consider this list, you need to think about a few points of focus. First should be items that are essential for any survival situation and could be carried daily. These are items that would be used in every survival situation. Focus on the four pillars of survival: food, water, fire, and shelter. You can also consider signaling for help and first aid.
Another consideration should be items that you can use on a regular basis that can be helpful for survival purposes. These items may be dual purpose or may be items you already use daily. Think about things you already have in your pockets, in your car, or in your desk at work. Also think about items that you could use at work with nobody asking any questions.
To further assess your list, consider places you go regularly. If you fly several times per month, think about items that can get through airport security. If you travel to climates different from your own, think about items that would be helpful in both environments. If you spend time in urban and rural areas, think about the gear that would help in either scenario.
Also, think about other people that may be with you. If you have a core group of people you work with every day, think about their needs as well. It is likely that you could end up in a survival situation with these people. Think about your family. Consider the people with which you car pool. Your best choices for gear will help you and those around you.
Contemplate how you may carry these items. How many pockets do you normally have to work with? Can you switch jackets to get a bit more storage? Do you have a bag that you carry with you like a computer bag or courier bag? How can you wear your gear comfortably in a way that keeps it hidden.
Smaller emergencies need to be a focus. To determine what you need, think about the last five years. Consider any situations that have happened for which you could have been more prepared. Maybe your car battery died and you had to hike to a gas station. Perhaps you got snowed in at the office and could not get home. Consider if these situations had been a bit worse. What can you carry to help if these difficulties happen again?
Each person needs to make their own decisions on their everyday carry list. You will not want to try and carry all the items on this list. Many items will replace the function of other items, so keep the number of items low and keep the weight down. Remember that this gear will be on you at all times.
Items You Already Carry
Here are some more common items that you should have on your everyday carry list:
- Cell phone – Anymore everybody carries their cell with them everywhere. However, you cannot sell it short on the dozens of ways it can help in emergencies. With all the apps available right now it can be your communication, map, compass, and survival guide.
- Backup charge – In order for your cell phone to be functional in any situation, you really need to have a way to charge it anywhere. I carry a solar charger with me, but backup battery packs are fine too. At a minimum you should have a charging cord.
- Cash – Americans have started to shy away from carrying cash, but in certain situations it would be absolutely needed. If phone lines or down or power is out, cash may be your only way to get the goods and services you need.
- ID – In many situations you would need identification to get help or to get where you need to go. Never leave home without it.
- Keys – Of course your keys are needed to get in your house or get your car going, but they serve another purpose. You can use them for self-defense. If attacked, either stab a key at the eyes or neck of an attacker or place keys in between your fingers and punch normally. This will take down an assailant quickly.
- Watch – They may seem outdated these days but a watch is important. Certain types of watches can withstand an EMP blast. This means you can keep track of time when your cell phone is shot. You can also use your watch to find what direction is North. Hold your watch face parallel to the ground and point the hour hand at the sun. Then split the difference between your hour hand and 12 o’clock. This direction is going to be North.
- Steel water bottle with filter in lid – Everybody carries water bottles to work, so nobody will ask any questions. If you buy one with a filter in the lid you can use it to purify water in a survival situation. You can also remove the lid and use the bottle for cooking or boiling water.
- Eyeglasses – Prescription or reading glasses are necessary for some people, but they serve another purpose. You can sometimes use the lens to start a fire. It may take some adjusting to find the right distance from you tinder will focus the light, but eventually you should see smoke. This will only work on a day with few clouds and direct sunlight.
- Brimmed hat – Many people wear a hat outdoors. This is a good idea for a few reasons. A ball cap or fedora will help protect your face and head from the sun. It also helps in the rain and allows you to see more clearly if facing the sun.
- Warm jacket – This may be common sense, but many people dress based on the temperature in their car or office instead of the temperature outside. If you have remote start or park your car in a garage, you may see no need for a warm jacket. Even if you only plan to be outside for a few minutes, you should always have a warm jacket just in case. It also gives you more pockets to store other gear.
- Comfortable shoes – You may work a job where you are sitting most of the day and do not need to worry about blisters. However, there are many situations where you may need to do some serious walking. Try to always wear shoes that would allow you to cover some distance if needed.
- Gloves – Sure you can always put your hands in your pockets, but not if you need them to work on something. Try to carry gloves if it is cold outside.
- Warm hat – A great deal of your body head escapes through your head. During the winter you should wear a warm hat in any scenario, not just survival situations.
- Conventional knife – I prefer a fixed blade, full tang knife, but you cannot always get away with carrying a knife on your belt. If needed you can keep a folding blade knife in your pocket. Just be sure to test it thoroughly to make sure it will not break when you really need it.
- Credit card knife – You can purchase knives that are folded to the shape of a credit card to fit in your wallet. This is a good way to conceal an extra blade.
- Pendant knife – There are thin knives that you can wear as a pendant on a chain around your neck. Most of these fit over or in between your fingers and are used in conjunction with a punching motion for self-defense.
- Multi-tool – These are pretty common for people to carry on their belt or in their bag. You can get a full sized one or get a smaller one to put on a key ring.
- Credit card multi-tool – There are multi-tools designed to be the shape and size of a credit card to fit in your wallet. They are always a good backup.
- Flashlight – You can carry a full sized tactical flashlight in your bag or carry a small LED light on your key ring.
- Tactical pen – This item looks and functions like any ball point pen, but it is so much more. Most have a grip carved into the metal and are made of steel or thick aluminum. They are pointed and make an excellent stabbing weapon. They can also be used to break open a car window if needed.
- Zippo lighter – Many people still smoke and carry a lighter on them. These are great for starting fires as the flame is windproof. They also can be refilled with several different flammable fluids.
- Small pencil sharpener – This item still makes sense in an office setting, but it means more for us. It can be used to shave tinder off of sticks and also to sharpen sticks for arrows.
Important Survival Items
Here are some important survival items that you definitely should include in your everyday carry list:
- Pry tool – In a car accident or a stuck elevator, having a pry tool can get you out of a jam. You can get small ones that fit in your bag or on a key ring.
- Straw style water filter – This can fit in your pocket or in any bag. It will filter water from any source to provide clean drinking water.
- Iodine tablets – These come in a tiny bottle and can purify water if your water filter is broken or clogged. They fit in a pocket or bag.
- Survival bracelet – You can wear one of these on your ankle if you do not want it to be visible. Mine is woven with paracord and has a rescue whistle, a compass, and a ferro rod built in. Once pulled apart, the bracelet provides about 50 feet of cordage.
- Fire laces – These laces look like any other boot or shoe laces. The inner strands are highly flammable and the come with a striker and ferro rod strung on the lace.
- Fire cubes – These small cubes are individually packaged so you can just throw one in your pocket. Shaving off of the waxy cube will give you a pile that lights with one spark and putting a chunk on top will keep it lit for several minutes in any conditions.
- Char cloth – These shards of cloth can be kept in an Altoids tin. They will catch a spark and help you get a fire going.
- Ferro rod – You can purchase small rods that fit on your key ring. This item will produce hundreds of fires and works even when wet.
- Blade sharpener – This is great for sharpening a knife or hatchet. I have a small one on my key ring so I do not have to go searching for a stone.
- Emergency blanket – There are a variety of blankets you can purchase to help build shelters or just to wrap up and keep warm. The thick ones will fit in a bag and the thin ones are small enough to fit in your pocket.
As you can see there are plenty of items in our everyday carry list that you can carry with you to help in any emergency. In fact, I could carry all of these objects on me at once and still look fairly normal. The truth is that I can get by with just a handful of these items. Take the time to consider your needs and make it a rule to carry your items every single day. You never know when it may save your life.