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Making a 32-Piece Every Day Carry (EDC) Survival Kit

February 11, 2013

Survival Kits

my edc

My wallet isn’t thick and it’s certainly not lined with credit cards, but I do carry something with me every day that is much more important than any piece of plastic from a financial institution. It’s my Every Day Carry (EDC) Survival Kit.

I put this kit together many years ago with one thought in mind: if I were to get stranded on the side of the road over night, if I were to get lost in the woods for a few days, if I were to not be able to make it home for any reason and had to spend the night without food or pre-made shelter, what would I want to have with me to make my stay more pleasant.

As I assembled the items, I wanted the kit to be lightweight and easy to carry. A heavy or cumbersome kit will most often get left behind and that defeats the purpose.

I started with a small Altoids tin but I quickly found some deficiencies with that container. Now I use a Maxpedition EDC Pocket Organizer. It works well despite being a little larger than I’d like.

Here’s what my EDC includes:

  1. Contractor yard bag
  2. 5 self-adhesive bandages
  3. 4 self-adhesive butterfly bandages
  4. Moleskin
  5. Index cards
  6. Cotton balls (inside the Altoids tin)
  7. Ibuprofen (inside the Altoids tin)
  8. Altoids Mini Tin
  9. Duct tape
  10. Waterproof matches
  11. Iodine tablets
  12. Iodine tablet neutralizer
  13. P-38 can opener
  14. Whistle
  15. Aluminum foil
  16. Sterile surgical blade
  17. Safety pins
  18. Snare wire
  19. Pen
  20. Emergency Thermal blanket
  21. Mag Lite Solitaire flashlight
  22. Swiss Army knife
  23. 10′ of paracord
  24. Firesteel
  25. Small fish hooks
  26. Split-shot fishing sinkers
  27. 50 feet of fishing line
  28. Rubber band (around the plastic bag)
  29. Resealable plastic bag
  30. Bandana
  31. Maxpedition EDC Pocket Organizer
  32. Resealable dry pouch

That’s what’s in my kit as of today. However, over the years, I’ve found that my kit is always a work in progress. I’ll find something else that may be of use to me in a survival situation and stuff it in the kit. As I learn new skills or grow in ability, I may remove other items.

my edc put togetherIn prior posts, I’ve written about the multiple uses or purposes of many of these items. For example, the yard bag can be used as make-shift rain gear, a water catch, a shelter covering, an insulated jacket, or a distress signal. Likewise a handkerchief or bandana has a bunch of uses for the survivor. You can find these posts in the Survival Kit category. I’ll continue to post about the other items.

I typically carry this kit in a backpack with other supplies including my first aid kit, some homemade MREs, a rain coat, a water bottle, metal cup, fixed-blade knife, etc. So, although this kit is designed to be self-contained, I do typically have some other items with me as well. I’ll post that list another time.

What am I missing? What do you carry?

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97 Comments on “Making a 32-Piece Every Day Carry (EDC) Survival Kit”

  1. takesonetwoknowone Says:

    Its a tricky one to carry and i carry mine in first aid kit but super glue… Glues up deep wounds of all types where strips just wont cut it and repairs things like zippers or boot soles, did me on a 6 day extreme remote highcountry hike… Beautifully pieced EDC and well written, thank you…

    Reply

  2. Scott Says:

    Two things to eliminate. the iodine tabs (your “neutralizer” IS a purifier) and the P-38 (can opener in the swiss army knife if it’s a real SAK, instead of one of those 2 blade pos. ADD a mini Bic or similar lighter and an extra pair of batteries for the solitaire, and replace the bulb with an LED or replace the whole light with a single triple A powered led light (again keep a pair of spare batteries for it) And add a foil pack or two of petroleum jelly to go with the cotton balls for fire starting, and perhaps a few birthday candles (non- “blowoutable” novelty are perfect)…

    Reply

    • Joe Says:

      I like the idea of a small bic lighter and some spare batteries, Scott. Thanks. I haven’t seen where the neutralizer has purification properties. Can you point me to a reference?

      Thanks!

      Joe

      Reply

    • Rhonda Morin Says:

      I wish there was a like button, the non-blowoutable candles is perfect!

      Reply

      • Larry Kendall Says:

        small trick B-day candles. They have gun powder in them.If u watched dual survival were they poured the beer out in the desert it was stupid. worried about alcohol dehydrating them. alcohol evaperates faster than water in the heat,so the water would be left after awhile and not the alcohol after being OPEN in the HEAT ! better than no water !

        Reply

  3. David Says:

    A few strips of duct tape in the flat packaging like http://www.coghlans.com/products/handy-duct-tape-0661 can be useful. Can use it as a bandage for a field dressing, or with the plastic bag for puncture wounds. Duct tape is awesome.

    Reply

    • Joe Says:

      Absolutely. Duct tape is also great for blisters. When you feel one developing, apply a bit of antibiotic ointment to the blistering area and then cover with Duct tape. Works even better than moleskin.

      Joe

      Reply

  4. snb Says:

    An EDC is always easier for women to carry than men since most women are used to carrying a purse and it is the first thing they grab when they need to move quickly, at least at our office during fire drill-the purse and umbrella with coffee!, which makes it easier to remember. I can see the problem for a man-it isn’t instinctive for men to grab anything instead they go as is to deal with the situation.

    Reply

    • Rhonda Morin Says:

      In an office situation don’t men typically carry a briefcase, man bag, messenger bag? If so all this stuff would fit in your bag easily. My brother works in an office situation but he almost always has a bag on him, even shopping. If his son’s allergy dog is not with them, my brother carries a small backpack with epi pens, instructions, and things needed for my nephew so he always has some kind of pack.

      Reply

      • Joe Says:

        I keep mine in a backpack that I take with me everywhere. The backpack also contains a first aid kit (described in another post), some homemade MREs, rain gear, etc.

        Thanks for the comment,

        Joe

        Reply

    • Larry Kendall Says:

      I’d take care of me ,check out whats going on. then think,is she ok for the next few seconds that just maybe i can do what i need .keep her calm ,and come out all right. Quiet her down and stop the mother f–ker !

      Reply

  5. Lux Says:

    How about a mirror and a magnifying glass,

    Reply

  6. John Sigman Says:

    It might be because I’m disabled and need a lot but the first thing in my EDC is two or three days worth of my prescription drugs. I don’t carry a Swiss army knife, but I have a small multi-tool that I carry instead. Also instead of a Pen a pencil stub is in mine with a few feet of Duct tape and fishing line wrapped around it. Instead of index cards I carry neon colored post- it notes.

    Reply

    • Joe Says:

      Sounds like you have a well thought out EDC, John Sigman. The addition of the Rx is a great idea if you’re on maintenance drugs.

      Joe

      Reply

      • js Says:

        Another thing along the lines of meds I keep handy is a couple of caffeine pills. 2 reasons: 1. if you’re accustomed to having it daily, then suddenly being without it brings on a headache that no pain reliever can handle. Persistent headache isn’t the best idea in a number of survival circumstances. 2. You may find yourself in a situation where you have to keep moving or stay alert and drowsiness could kill you. Half a caffeine pill could be the difference between life and death.

        – JS

        Reply

  7. Glenn West Says:

    maybe throw a couple of beef or chicken bouillon cubs for a quick food source.

    Reply

    • John Sigman Says:

      I have four single serving packets of instant coffee in mine

      Reply

      • Joe Says:

        I typically carry this as part of a larger bag, a backpack that includes 3 homemade MREs, water, rain gear, a first aid kit (that I described in another post), etc. So that’s where I keep my food stuffs, but adding a small bouillon makes sense.

        Thanks!

        Reply

  8. James Says:

    How much is it to put a bag like this together, approximately?

    Reply

    • Joe Says:

      Ah, great question. Most of the stuff gathered from things laying around the house. The candle was from a pack of birthday candles in the kitchen’s junk drawer. Same for the safety pins, contractor bag, bandana, aluminum foil, ibuprofen, etc.

      I did buy the water purification tablets (~$7), the flashlight (~$10), the maxpedition case ($20) expressly for this purpose.

      Reply

  9. Kamala George Says:

    a small Fresnel lense, a few herbal supplements for energy and mental alertness. a suture kit and pepper spray, a couple golden seal root caplets. Life straw.

    Reply

  10. Ric Cervantes Says:

    I would recommend adding surgical tubing and a steel tube to fit inside. This can be used to make small fire burn better. The trick I learn is to make a small fire with no larger than pencil size sticks. Use the tubing to blow on the coals. You can then wrap up with a blanket, poncho, plastic sheet, etc. I carry a similar kit , with some different items.

    Reply

  11. Rhonda Morin Says:

    Over all I am very very very excited to see this instructable. I have been studying prepping for a while but have always been a bit of a carry it “in case” you need it type person. I need to take photos of my purse because of all the stuff I carry but I also need to get my everyday carry bag put together first. I purchased the one Bear Grylls sells at Gander Mountain but my husband wanted me to leave it in the car, so that is where it stays.

    My “purse” has a first aid kit, food (tea bags, sweetener, peanut butter crackers, Breakfast on the Go bags), pepper spray, flash light, faux swiss army knife, sewing kit, any kind of medication you might need for quicky stuff (asprin, Tylenol, Motrin, Pepto, benadryl, tums….), Albuterol for my asthma, essential small office supplies (stapler, paper clips, scissors, tape, post it notes, etc.), smart phone, Kindle, headlamp, electronic connectors, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, handiwipes, kleenex, tampons, pens, contact info/credit cards, lady stuff (lip stick, chap stick, hair spray, nail glue, nail file), reading glasses, keys and this thing called Go Girl with toilet paper so I can stand up and pee like a man in bad situations. :)

    What I have discovered that I need to add is the EDC bag, some better food options, prescriptions that I take every day, an umbrella, and packets of water, just in case. And yes my purse goes everywhere with me (sometimes even to bed) and yes it can be used as a weapon. I bet I could take down a pretty big guy from the weight of it.

    Keep up the good work, love this site!

    Reply

  12. Beth Says:

    How about some homeopathics like Arnica and a couple Essential Oils?

    Reply

    • Joe Says:

      You know, Beth. We do use Essential Oils at home but I haven’t considered those as part of an EDC. I’ll have to give that some thought. Thanks for mentioning it.

      Joe

      Reply

      • Tracey Says:

        I keep a mini set of EOs in my purse. Just the ones we use most often. Small vials in an altoids tin with cotton balls for application (and cushioning). That little tin has been an awesome addition to my purse and used by many for everything from a headache to disinfection.

        Reply

  13. Violet Says:

    I would include dental floss and a toothbrush and toothpaste. Your ideas are excellent.I would love to win such a bag.

    Reply

    • Joe Says:

      Ha! You know. That’s not a bad idea. I’ll look into maybe putting together a drawing or contest or something, Violet. Thanks for the idea.

      Reply

    • Fred Says:

      Walmart sells “Brushpicks”, tough plastic reusable toothpicks with different ends… Not as good as a brush and/or floss, but much more portable and better than nothing.

      Reply

  14. Nomad Says:

    great post! i’m in the process of building one of these for an EDC but also to use in emergencies on my upcoming dual sport trip (full expedition to be documented on my site). never know when you might breakdown and get separated from the pack. thanks for the ideas and i’m a huge fan of the petroleum jelly soaked cotton balls, that stuff works great.

    Reply

    • Chris Ratliff Says:

      maybe I just overlooked it but did you mention a small signal mirror, and also a small amount of money like a $20 and maybe $2/$3 of quarters taped together.

      Reply

  15. Wes Says:

    One major item is missing. A metal container big enough to boil and carry water in. I use a SS water bottle. You can put most of the items inside the water bottle and wrap a lot more cordage around the bottle

    Reply

  16. glenda Says:

    get the little wind up flashlight then you dont have to worry about batteries some even have a compass on

    Reply

  17. Angie Says:

    So many good ideas on this page! Maybe also add toilet paper or baby wipes.

    Reply

  18. Timothy Stormbear Bell Says:

    i carry a UTG tactical messanger bag as my EDC bag. its light and im able to carry all the things you have + my 1911 and a spare mag. along with a med kit and small tarp 8×8 i found at wal-mart. along with sun glasses and my cel-phone and charger. my bags stuffed but i feel im ready to go. oh btw, a lighter and cotton balls coverd in chapstick will light even if the lighter is dead. if it still sparks it will light the cotton ball in chapstick.

    Reply

  19. Joe Says:

    Alcohol wipes are good for wound care but they also can catch a spark and burn to help start a fire. They are small, lightweight and relatively inexpensive.

    Reply

    • Fred Says:

      Alcohol wipes are a great, small, useful item,..but they dry out over time..replace with new ones every year.

      Reply

  20. Eric Says:

    Great stuff but the only thing I would add is that everyone is hung up on all of the different ways to make fire like the steel you have included but I would simply include a mini BIC lighter. I carry a full sized one wherever I go along with a pocket knife and the most useful survival tool of all…my head!

    Reply

  21. mpodlesny Says:

    Thanks! I was looking for this …. I am sure I will make some adjustments here and there … but it is a great place to get going.

    Reply

  22. Tara Jenner Says:

    MMS and a little plastic bottle of lime juice to activate ift for water purification. Lugols solution (in addition to the iodine capsules), hand crank recharger for cell phones (assuming they are functional) and other power driven objects (no battery needed) and it also has an AM FM radio built in with emergency channel, a flash light and a siren to get attention if needed.

    Reply

    • Rhonda Morin Says:

      This has been the best conversation but my bag is getting heavier and heavier. :) I have the crank thing with a flash light, NOAA radio, AM/FM radio, and it’s solar powered. It lets you plug in USB plugs and then it’s “supposed” to charge things like cell phones. I cranked and cranked and cranked one time but could not get it to charge. I have things on my cell phone and Kindle that would help in an emergency situation like a flashing light, a flash light, SOS signals, first aid manuals, etc. Even if I could not connect to phone services, I would be able to survive with books, content and flashing odds and ends.

      I keep adding these things to my purse that you suggest and it’s getting heavy. I also want to take photos of it BUT I am also thinking that I would like to get a new messenger bag to carry everything. The only thing I don’t have is a gun but I have other forms of protection and I don’t own a gun nor a conceal carry permit.

      Thank you all for the great tips.

      Reply

  23. Tara Jenner Says:

    I don’t have one yet but I am also looking to get and epi pen.

    Reply

  24. Ixcacel Says:

    I loved reading all these ideas but these seem impractical to carry on your body all day every day. What do you guys keep on your body full time everyday everywhere you go?

    Reply

    • Ixcacel Says:

      BTW, for me it’s 2 bandanas, king size swiss army with magnifier and saw etc., and .380 7+1 and cell phone with built in flashlight and $100+ in my wallet + credit cards.

      Reply

  25. Sam Says:

    Here are some of my thoughts and always haves;
    1. Dental floss, as fishing line, sutures, sewing repair, trip wires, snares, ( it’s mostly water proof.)

    2. Surgical rubber tubing for, sling shots, fishing spear or frog gig power, water still straw, gasoline siphon, bungee cord tent lines, tourniquet, camel back water straw, I V hookup (if you have paramedical training…

    3 wine cork, for holding fish hooks, sewing needles, suture needels, thum tacs, and can be used for fishing bobber, when burnt at one end it can be used for face black camo and eye shadow…

    4. Small can of WD 40, it has hundreds of uses. Some of my favorites are; fire starter and accelerator, fish lurer spray, gun cleaner, bug and tar remover, cooking pan grease,
    Bug spray, etc. (it’s 98% fish oil so it’s safe for just about any thing)

    5. Stainless steel nails; tent stakes, frog gigs & fish spears (using # 1 & 2 above), fishing sinkers (use 1, 3 and 4 above), close hooks,

    One of the best survival tricks is to lash three nails to one end of a 6 foot stick with dental floss, and 18 inches of surgical rubber in a loop to the other end again with dental floss. Clean off the bark and water proof the whole thing with WD 40. This makes a great fish spear or frog gig that is lightning fast when used with the surgical tubing.

    Reply

    • Doug Crawford Says:

      I have always been curious why people will have an emergency fishing kit with them in their EDC? I figure mine is just to get me home (or some other safe place). Never figured on having to use it for more than 24 hrs max. Can you explain.

      Reply

  26. Doug Crawford Says:

    I have always been curious why people will have an emergency fishing kit with them in their EDC? I figure mine is just to get me home (or some other safe place). Never figured on having to use it for more than 24 hrs max. Can you explain.

    Reply

    • Rhonda Morin Says:

      Get out there, stuck and can’t get home, you have a fishing kit to find water and fish. When I first got my kit I thought this is stupid. Then I was on a trip with my husband and we were play fighting. I told him he could leave me with my purse and I could survive for a week. We were traveling by water and I had materials to make fire, gut a fish and catch the fish, so I could have survived. I HATE fish so I am not sure how that would work but there it is, better than eating worms I guess. Now I have 3 days of food in my purse so I am good to go. Yes my purse weighs about 20 pounds. :)

      Reply

      • Doug Crawford Says:

        I guess if you are out for more than a day AND have water with fish it makes sense. I travel all over S. Texas and sometimes water alone is hard to find. I doubt I will ever pack fishing gear though. Usually have 3-4 energy bars, 2 dehydrated meals, water (2 gal), knife, flashlight, poncho, first aid kit, etc.

        Reply

  27. Todd Says:

    I would include a couple of tampons for puncture wounds they work great we carried them during Desert Storm. You could include some extra absorbent pads too.

    Reply

  28. Sharon Says:

    I think this list is an outstanding place to start for such an item!! Understandably, we will all have things that we add or subtract from it based on what we each believe to be more or less important, but the list is great anyway! I like the addition of the mirror, and personally, I’d add another big contractor bag–they have a million uses. (and you never know when you’ll have to hide a body in one, LOL–just kidding)

    Reply

  29. Michael Heiser (@reclusiveknight) Says:

    I think that you should see these packs! I know putting one together will take me back at least $25. Just an idea, it seems very logical. The only thing that I had noticed missing; is a button compass. Thanks for sharing this article; I’ll pass it around on facebook ;-)

    Reply

  30. chris Says:

    A condom or condoms. You can easily carry 1,5 litre of water in it. You can also use it as a waterproof bag for your papers, medicine etc in extreme conditions.

    Reply

    • Rhonda Morin Says:

      So, ribbed not ribbed, glow in the dark, lubricated or not, florescent colors or ones with flavor – ‘cos then you could eat them for *some* nutrition. :) It’s a fabulous idea made me chuckle and I needed that BADLY today!!!

      Reply

  31. Cindy Cordova Says:

    I carry a bag in the car and it gets very hot here. Any suggestions on food that would not go bad? Even my mints melted.

    Reply

  32. Sean Says:

    small compass like the one I have linked is what I see missing. Can be cheaply purchased at wal mart and once deployed, can be pinned to a shirt sleeve or hat for fast reference.http://www.fleetfarm.com/detail/Allen-Liquid-Filled-Pin-On-Compass/0000000021043?gclid=CMXQ5IS06bkCFVNo7Aod830A3A

    Reply

  33. Krista boston Says:

    Wondering if you have a different post that has the purpose and use of the items …i think i know most but not exactly sure on a few. Thanks! Great info.

    Reply

  34. Sam Says:

    I have most of this stuff in a small back pack that mostly stays in the car. But I keep other stuff in here as well that I use very often; Digital camera to take photos or videos. This is great for fender benders. Binoculars, Turkey call, fishing gear because some days you just need to fish, sun glasses, reading glasses, head phones for I phone, charging cables for iPad iPhone & camera, sun screen, insect repellent, work gloves, hats, clean shirt, socks, shoes… This help me get thu many little day to day emergencies or disasters, like stepping into mud holes, spilling coffee or lunch on my shirts. Changing tires, finding your kids at the high school foot ball game, I like to take this on vacations because I have all the things I need from time to time.

    In another smaller bag I keep my perishables or snack bags, along with extra meds, vitamins, water bottles, condiments, spices and camp cookware. This is a bag I will freshen up from time to time and will leave in the office and out of the sun on very hot days. This also makes for a good cary on for flying since there is nothing to scare TSA.

    Also in the car are other tools, and fire arms. Here I keep an axe, small shovel, tire irons, tow straps, ropes, tarps, large fist aid kit, blanket, socket set, hammer, screw drivers, tree saw….here I keep a 357 pistol and a survival 22/410 rifle shot/ gun under the seats.

    Between the three I have any thing I might need and can adjust as necessary to circumstances.

    Reply

  35. April SpringBlossom Lent Says:

    I have most of these items in my bag, however, something that no one has mentioned in theirs, is a pair of tweezers. Also, a couple packs of chewing gum. The gum curbs the appetite, and can be used to plug holes. A dog whistle would be a good thing too, as it would cause dogs to carry on, and people would check to see what the commotion was about. I also have several wood shints, to use as splints if needed.

    Reply

  36. Nancy Says:

    I used the micro and the mini to make EDC bags for my teenage daughters to carry in their school bags. I had to adapt for school rules (no weapons or fire starters etc.) but they have the rest and the Maxpedition bags are actually smaller than their makeup bags!

    Reply

  37. randall noll Says:

    ive read all of these posts and the etc article above and like it all. even gave me something to get extra for mine, nylons, maxi pad or two, several paper clips, and safety pins, i also believe that some of these people have to much weight in thier bags. i read that your edc should be of 2-3 days to get you to your bob or home or both. more will drag you down after bit .

    Reply

  38. Sarah Says:

    Perhaps a small bag or nuts?! And or a “jack link” beef jerky?!

    Reply

  39. RJ Says:

    Just a thought for the more frugal. the Maxpedition is a bit pricey. most blood glucose meters come with a bag of similar size and construction. Since you get raped on the price of testing strips, most meters are less expensive than the Maxpedition.

    Reply

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