Putting together an EDC Bag isn’t hard, but it does take thinking and forethought. An Everyday Carry Bag is something that you’ll be carrying around everyday, and if done correctly, will have at least 80% of the things that you’ll need at any time during the day. There are many different approaches to putting together an EDC Bag, and the one that I’m going to show you is just one way you could do it.
First Things First – Don’t buy your EDC Bag first. A well planned EDC starts with the things that you’ll actually have to carry. We’re going a bit beyond what might fit in your pockets or on your person here, but keep in mind that this bag should be well stocked.
Second, How are you going to carry? Once you’ve assembled the items that you want to carry, how will you carry them? What’s preferrable for you? Do you rather have a belt pouch or over the shoulder carry? Personally, I’ve found that using Molle Pouches is great for carrying stuff, but they’re cumbersome to attach to the belt as the straps have to loop inside the belt, and they’re not quick to put on or take of by any means.
The Function of Everyday Carry
Again, there are many reasons and ideas behind carrying an EDC, and I’m not saying that this way is any better than any other you might read, but it’s what works for me and if you can get any ideas from it, then I’m glad.
I consider a useful everyday carry to serve three main functions:
- Cater to your basic needs – The everyday carry should have exactly what you might need on a daily basis, and so, I’ve put many things into mine that are used during the course of any given day. In the bag dump, you’ll find that I have put items such as a P38 can opener in because the can opener at work keeps disappearing. I also have a small tin of mints (Altoid Smalls, to be exact) Nail clippers, tweezers, toothbrush and toothpaste (travel size) and many other things. There’s also a rain poncho and mylar emergency blanket if things ever get severe, and flashlight for nighttime use or power outages.
- Medical Needs – I carry a basic medical kit that I’ve pieced together. There’s Bandaids, gauze pads, triple antibiotic ointment and surgical tape to start, but I also carry ibuprofen, aspirin, day/night-quil gel tabs, TUMS, cough drops and a few other types of pills needed if a cold, fever or allergy attack should strike.
- Basic Tool Set – Starting with the multi-tool, I have tools for small jobs in one single tool. I also carry zip ties, duct tape, safety pins and a few other things that make getting the job done a little easier.
Basic Needs In The EDC Bag
I thought quite a bit about this, drawing on daily experiences and things that I wish I’d had over the years. I decided that having personal hygiene products would be a good start, so that’s where the travel toothbrush and toothpaste came from. I also have a travel size deodorant, nail clippers, file and tweezers in the bag. I have mints to take care of the bad breath after lunches, and chapstick.
Other than just having one for the sake of having it, I keep a lighter for sure fire in the bag along with some tinder. Since I live in an urban environment, starting a fire is probably not going to be much of an issue, but it’s there, just in case. There’s also a small signal mirror and emergency whistle in the bag. Like the lighter and tinder, there was no real purpose to have them, but they’re there just in case.
I collect flashlights, and have a particular interest in them. I decided that I’d put in a high power tactical flashlight when I needed a lot of light, and a low power, but long lasting option too. This comes in the form of a cheap 2200mAh portable cell phone charger with a small 5 lumen LED light. With the power capacity, the LED light will burn well over 60 hours on a single charge meeting my need for a long lasting light source. I finally decided to carry a small AAA light with a 8 hour run time so that I could have a balance of both light and longevity — not to mention the fact it’s easy to find AAA batteries in stores and to stock up on them (I currently use rechargeables, but also have 24 AAA disposable cells in stock at home). The Tactical light runs on 18650s or (R)CR123 cells, and they’re harder (and more expensive) to get. The portable charger needs power to recharge, and if there’s an extended power outage, it will be useless after a week or so.
During winters, I carry a minimum of two 8-hour hand warmers, surgical gloves and knit gloves. The surgical gloves are worn under the knit gloves to keep the hands dry if needed for extended periods of time (like getting a stuck car out of a snowbank). The hand warmers of course, keep the hands and toes warm, and have been used even under normal conditions when sledding with my kids out in the snow.
During summers, I’ll carry a small travel size sunblock, insect repellent (98% DEET), bite and sting cream and a Coghlan’s Double Mosquito Net when hiking or picnicking with the family.
Medical Needs In The EDC Bag
With four kids that ride bikes every day during the summer, having Bandaids, Triple Antibiotic Ointment (Neosporin) and gauze pads are essential. I have this basic first aid kit in every bag I carry, the car and in a pouch on my bicycle. I also carry an assortment of over the counter medications — Ibuprofin, Asprin, Dayquil & Nyquil gel caps, antihistamine, cold and cough medications (during the winter), and finally antacids and laxatives.
Tools In The EDC Bag
I find that I don’t really need many tools in my EDC. I don’t do a lot of repair work, and the most I’ve really used them for are quick fixes around the house, or tightening something on one of the kid’s bikes during a bike ride. I do carry a multitool with me that has a knife, can opener, flat head & phillips head screwdriver and of course, the pliers. I also carry a pocket knife on my person, so the knife on the multitool doesn’t see much use. I carry a bunch of zip ties which do come in handy a lot, duct tape and electrical tape are also essentials. Other than that, I really don’t carry any other tools.
Miscellaneous Items In The EDC
A Pen with a fisher space pen cartridge and “Rite In The Rain” 3″X5″ notebook are two items that just didn’t fit in a category, so I’ve put them here. I take a lot of notes because I have a reasonably bad memory (according to my wife, that is – LOL) so I always make sure that I have a notebook and pen with me. I also use Moleskine cahier notebooks that I carry on my person, and I usually make my notes in those rather than the RITW notebook, but it’s there when I need it.
16GB Pendrive and 16GB MicroSD Card with Adapter — I don’t want to be in a situation where I max out the phone’s memory or need to transfer files and don’t have anything to do it. I keep one of each in the EDC Bag just in case.
Micro USB Charging cables, 1x 6″ cable and 1x 10 foot cable — The six inch charger came with the portable battery charger mentioned above and I purchased the 10 foot separately. I’ve used the 10 foot more often, in my laptop, wall chargers and in the car charger as well.
Extra Batteries – I carry 2x AAA, 2x 10440, 1X 18650 and 1x 2032 coin cell (for the car remote). Pretty self explanatory, but I once was caught locked out of my car with a dead battery. That’s why I carry the 2032 cell. The AAA flashlight is a Streamlight Microstream, capable of running either the 1.5v AAA cell or a 3.7v 10440 cell that puts out double the light the AAA battery does, but only offers 20 minutes runtime on the 10440 due to its high output.
The Last Thing Is The EDC Bag Itself
I consider an EDC Bag as part of the EDC itself. I’ve used many different types of pouches and bags, and realized that I don’t like the belt pouch style because after I put stuff in them, they become cumbersome and heavy. I prefer an over the shoulder setup, and using a belt pack with a strap that’s long enough to go over the shoulder works perfectly for me.
After doing some shopping around, I chose the Outdoor Products Echo waistpack. It’s roughly 9 inches wide by 6.5 inches tall and 6 inches deep when filled with EDC Gear. While the pack isn’t water proof, there is some level of water resistance, but I also do carry a plastic shopping bag in the main compartment that I can easily wrap the bag into if caught in a downpour.
There’s three padded compartments – A small one on the front, big enough for the rain poncho, emergency blanket and the 18650 battery. The top loading front compartment carries the bulk of the medical supplies and miscellaneous items, and finally the main pocket carries the basic needs items. There’s still a bit of room to add more stuff if needed too. There are small straps on either side of the front of the bag that are great for hanging keys or small keychain tools if desired, and there’s two side mesh pockets. In one I put the tactical flashlight, and the other has my MultiTool for easy access. The strap is long enough to convert the waist pack into a shoulder pack, so I wear it that way. “Fanny Pack” is such an ugly term anyway.
Since the pack is a waist pack by design, it does wear a bit funny when used as a shoulder bag. The front of the bag has a natural tendency to face downwards but it’s something I just got used to over time, and I don’t really notice it anymore.