What to Carry in Your EDC Bag

Helikon-Tex EDC Sling Backpack

Everyone who wants to be prepared should have an EDC bag. An EDC bag is an “everyday carry bag,” which is stocked with the essentials that you might need for a natural disaster. Whether you’re worried about fire, flood, or just generally prepping, an EDC is exactly what you need to be prepared for wherever you are. It shouldn’t be confused with a Go Bag, which is a bag you grab and go; an EDC is with you all the time.

We’ve put together a list of the essentials that every prepper needs to have in their EDC bag.

1. Knives: A Good Folding Knife is an All-Around Tool

Everyone starts with a knife. While a high-quality knife is very expensive, you can begin with a “medium quality” knife that’s robust. Use it for building shelters, hunting, cooking food, chopping firewood, and self-defense. On a daily level, you’ll frequently find that your knife is used to open boxes. Still very useful. 

2. Watch: A Solar Watch to Tell You The Time

Being able to tell time is very important. A watch can be used to coordinate plans, navigate through the terrain, deal with weather changes, and much more. A good watch should have at least these three features: water resistance (ideally waterproof), high visibility display, and durable battery life (preferably rechargeable). If everyone has a watch, that means that you’ll be able to tell people to meet at a certain time. But if your watch is a “smart watch” that has to be charged regularly, it’s less useful.

3. Compass: A Physical Compass to Tell Where You Are

Being able to tell where you are without any kind of GPS is very important. You need to be able to navigate through trails, know where water sources are, and find your way back home. There are plenty of compass apps available for smartphones, but it’s always better to have a backup at all times. Having a small compass that fits in your EDC bag is a must. Also, learn how to actually read a compass. If you don’t read it properly, you’ll walk in circles.

4. Hats: A Durable, Ideally Waterproof or Wide-Brimmed, Hat

Keep the sun off your head and keep dehydration at bay. Real survivalists know that your head is actually where a lot of heat is focused and a lot of hydration is lost. Exposure is actually the most dangerous issue when it comes to a disaster, but most people don’t really think about it. If you commonly wear a hat, you already have this one (and your head) covered.

5. Pen and a Notebook: Leave and Write Notes

Take notes and map out the surrounding terrain. Leave notes behind if you’re lost so that others can find you. There are infinite uses for a good pen and notebook, even if you’re just trying to track the days. You can leave a note regarding where you are and where you’re going to, or try to take notes about what is happening and what you’ve seen.

6. A Flashlight or Headlamp: Don’t Be Vulnerable At Night

You never know when you’re going to need light, so carrying a flashlight or headlamp at all times is always a good idea. Your phone’s screen isn’t enough for most needs; if the power goes out and you don’t have any other way of creating light, you need it more than anything. There’s some debate over a flashlight or a headlamp. A flashlight is easier to carry in your EDC, but think about putting a headlamp in your Go Bag.

7. A First-Aid Kit: Patch Yourself Up

Accidents happen and sometimes you’ll need to fix them. A first-aid kit can help prevent infections and treat minor injuries, which is crucial when you need to go, go, go. Of course, you should also know basic first aid, which also includes CPR. Another thing to consider: a part of your EDC bag needs to be dedicated to hygiene products (toothpaste/brush, soap, toilet paper).

8. Fire Starting Equipment: Keep Warm and Cook Food

This can include matches, lighters, or just a regular fire starter. Be confident about your fire-starting skills. Make sure you’ve practiced with a fire starter before you go anywhere with it. A lot of people get into the woods and find that they can’t start a fire because they have no idea how to use their tools. If you carry matches, make sure they’re in a case where they won’t get wet.

9. Can or Bottle Opener: Open Your Food

Many food stock piles will have mostly canned food. A can opener will allow you to easily open these foods without causing yourself injury. The easier the can opener is to use, the better. Remember how we said to get a knife? A knife will also usually come with a bottle opener tool, or you can learn how to use a knife to open cans. But you should do that early on.

See also  Backpacking Stoves that are Good for Your Bug Out Bag

10. Paracord, Twine, or Other String: A Tool With Many Uses

Cross Strap

Paracord or twine has multiple uses and is extremely useful in survival scenarios. It can help you build a shelter or catch food like rabbits or squirrels. There are bracelets that are actually made of paracord. You can make these yourself; they can be unraveled to be used when you need to. 

11. Solar Charger: Keep Your Devices Powered

If you have your phone with you, a solar charger can keep it alive for long periods of time. This is essential for your EDC bag because you never know when you might get access to electricity. Even if you don’t want to keep a solar charger on your person at all times, consider keeping one in the glove box of your car.

12. Water Filtering Device: Keep Yourself Hydrated

A water-filtering device will allow you to drink water from streams and other bodies of water without getting sick. Make sure you have a water filtering device and a water bottle, so you can also easily transport water as you travel. Look at the rating of the water-filtering device. Some are just for the taste of water and others are actually rated for survival situations.

13. Personal Protective Device: Guns and More

Many preppers want to have pepper spray or a gun at their disposal to protect themselves from wild animals, or an attacker if it comes to that. Be realistic about what you can or can’t use. A knife is often better than a gun in close quarters, but a gun is better for hunting. Whatever you carry, make sure you’re well-practiced. A survival situation is often very tense and your body will fall back on the things that you have practiced.

14. Warm Clothes (and Blankets): Protection From the Elements

No matter where you are, nights can get really cold. Having warm clothes at your disposal can protect against colds or hypothermia depending on the climate you live in. Also consider insulating blankets, the kind that folds into a 4 x 6-inch square. Whenever you go out, especially when hiking, make sure you’re dressed appropriately for the area and for survival.

15. Tarp: A Home Wherever You Are

A tarp can help you build a quick shelter to keep you out of the elements. But, it’s a pretty big thing to carry in an EDC bag, so be sensible. Find a tarp that fits easily in your bag but can still withstand the weather. A good tarp should tuck into a bag and be able to be folded out into a nice tent at any time.

Go Bag vs EDC Bag 

Many people new to the prepper lifestyle have heard of a go bag. But there is a difference between an EDC bag and a go bag. While these bags have many of the same things, an EDC bag is something you carry with you everywhere, while a go bag is something you set up and leave in a special location to pick up in a disaster event. 

EDC bags are on you at all times, so no matter where you are, you’ll be ready for a disaster scenario. That also means they have to be far more lightweight and portable.

Start Building Your EDC Bag Today

You can add anything in your EDC bag that will make you feel more comfortable in a survival scenario. Some people want to add a book or an iPod loaded with songs. Other people have pets and need to add items related to their four-legged companions. But the above items are essentials that you should always have.

Let us know what you’d put in your EDC bag in the comments below.


What should I pack in my EDC backpack?

At a minimum, you should have a multi-tool. Multi-tools often contain knives, can openers, and even fire starters. You should have the minimum that you might need to survive, which also includes water filtration.

What every EDC should have?

What type of apocalypse event are you most concerned about? There are battle-ready EDCs, survivalist EDCs, and all-around EDCs. Tailor your EDC to your greatest concerns.

How do I organize my EDC bag?

There are many shops that specialize in EDC bags. They have tons of pockets and some of them even come pre-filled with some useful items. Look for an EDC bag that will let you organize all your things in a small, compact format.

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