Urban everyday carry gear is the central theme within the urban EDC community. What to carry, and what not to carry is the question. There are as many different setups as there are EDC junkies and the kind of urban EDC gear you choose is as much a personal choice as it isa logical one.
So what then are you to do when you’re just starting out? What urban everyday carry gear is the right choice for you?
I’ll tell you what it is I do, and why in the hope that you might pick up a thing or two. Likewise, use the comment section to tell me what you do and think so I can improve on what I do.
Collaboration and sharing of ideas is what makes the EDC community great. I like the feedback I get and used it more than ones to improve on my gear setup, so don’t hesitate.
Share, like, comment and contribute!
What does EDC mean?
EDC, or Everyday Carry refers to the collection of items you carry with you everyday in preparation of an incident or disaster.
In the article ‘Building an urban survival kit yourself‘ I go into three tiers, or organisational levels that I think are needed to build up an optimal preparedness. The three tiers help you pick the right urban survival gear that you need for your preparedness setup.
In this particular article I’ll dive a little deeper into what makes a good EDC and show you what it is that I choose to carry. Keep in mind that my focus is on urban survival, so it’s not the best guide for survival in the woods (although you might get a long ways with my setup).
Tier 1 – On Person Gear
The rule for Tier 1 is that it’s only good when you know in advance that you’ll survive an incident for the short term, and that you’ll get home in case you get stranded in the city somewhere.
To find out if your Tier 1 is good or not you go through all the scenarios’ applicable to your situation that you can think of and see if you have them covered. Whenever you’re not sure, you need to revisit your setup and tweak it a little.
What goes into Tier 1 as your urban survival gear?
The categories of gear you’ll need to have covered, matter where you live are:
- Unlocked Android phone
- An office safe urban survival knife
- Assortment of small tools
- Something to write with, and on!
- Must have medication
Reading this short bullet list of categories already gives you a great indication of what your Tier one needs be comprised of. It’s not spectacular, or awe inspiring. It’s not something you couldn’t have come up with yourself. It’s not even new.
But it ís exactly what you need to carry on your person, everyday. Cover the above categories right and you’ll have something for every incident you might end up in.
Depending on how you got to everyday carry you might think of it in terms of doomsday prepping. But that’s for just 0,01% (or less) of the time that you’ll be using your urban everyday carry gear. The other 99,99% will be situations you could, and do, run into at any time.
Like paying for gas, having to leave a note under a windshield wiper, a city wide power outage, a flat tire, some packaging that needs opening, a torn nail, a small flesh cut or maybe but hopefully never, a self defense situation. To name just a few of the myriad of things an urban EDC is good for.
Let’s take a closer look at the categories themselves.
Cards are used for practically anything related to services. Examples are your debit and credit cards, your AAA, gym and health spa membership cards. But also your healthcare or health insurance card.
Not to forget your driver’s license, ID card, public transport card or the access card you need for work.
The average person has at least a few that are important, if not critical, to have on you all the time. That’s why I place them at the top of my list. Easy to carry, lots to gain from them. So don’t lose ‘m.
Unlocked Android Phone
An unlocked Android phone is a must. First of I’m sure you’ll agree with me that you can’t do without a smartphone. Period. So I don’t expect to have to spend a lot of time on convincing you on that point.
But maybe the unlocked and Android part might need a little explaining.
First unlocked phone users are the truly free ones amongst us. No restrictions (like tethering), no contracts to bind you. You can swap any time without worry or hassle. That is good for your wallet, go where the deals are.
Second, it isn’t outside the realm of the possible to find that your provider is knocked off line, but not others. An unlocked device allows you to barge into a phonehouse
Also, next to it being handy in a SHTF scenario, there are quite a few interesting uses for a phone in any small disaster or incident situation as well.
Apps I personally like and use are:
1- Evernote Free (I use the paid version for sharing features)
A great way for keeping notes, plans and entire strategies even, on your phone. It’s made to journal what you’re doing. Or as they say it themselves: “Clip anything from the web. Evernote Free lets you collect information quickly, organize it easily, and find it when you need it.“
2 – Kindle reader
Free e-reader app from Amazon. Mine is stuffed with all kinds of books that I’ve bought over time. But just in case real S will HTF, I downloaded The Urban Farmer, Prepping for Survival, The Nomad Prepper, SAS Survival handbook and The Hacker playbook 3 onto my phone.
3 – Google Maps
I I really hope I won’t have to say anything here. Unless you want to know how to download offline Google Maps for when there’s no more internet. Go here where I tell all :)!
If the book wasn’t enough. Here’s the app. It’s the real deal. Learn how to survive any situation, anywhere in the world. Just be sure to read it ahead of time and not right after you figured out that getting the app was the best thing you’ve ever done.
5 – A Compass
The Android app store has over 200+ compass apps. Some are really great. I got one just for fun, as I was thinking that as long as I could use a compass app, I could also just use Google Maps. Which is totally true until you got no internet or GPS. Than that compass app will become awesome!
6 – More Apps
Those were five of ‘m. if you would like to know all the apps I have on my phone to cover all thinkable urban survival incidents, hit me up in the comments. I’ll do an article on ‘m.
Office Safe Urban Survival Knife
There’s more to walking in to the office carrying a knife than one might think. Are you allowed? Is it expected or is it frowned upon? People are very judgemental, do you know how your newly won colleagues will judge you when they find out you’re ‘secretly carrying weapons into the office’?
A good place to start when figuring out if you can take a knife to work is by reading the workplace rules of your company. Not many companies have an explicit policy against them, but you should know for sure they don’t. Find that out about the laws in your city, county and state as well.
Even when all signs are green and you are allowed to carry you still have to take the social aspect into account and be careful. Here are some ideas on selecting the appropriate knife for at work.
Small carry on EDC tools
Urban everyday carry gear should contain some kind of tools. You don’t have to carry a mechanics toolbox, we are afterall talking about ‘Tier 1 – on person gear’ here. But you should at the very least have some tools on you.
Examples of things to have on you are small scissors, a few screwdriver options, a pry bar, a nail clipper, a nail file, tweezers, a lighter, basic lockpick set.
Why name money separately, isn’t it covered under the cards section? Yes and no. Normally you debit or credit card will be sufficient. I had it happen more than once however that for some reason payment cards didn’t work. Either not at the particular store I was at, or nowhere because the payment providers systems were down. It happens.
Good ol’ greens, real money, cash. Saves the day every time. Keep it one you. I would suggest something in the order of a hundred dollars or euro in different size bills. Remember, you’re not buying your way to freedom here. The point is that you’ll be able to live through the day when cards don’t work anymore.
Must Have Medication
I can’t stretch this point enough. Take your meds with you. You won’t believe how many people I know who are on a must-take-or-die medicine regiment and who don’t have extra meds on them.
When you need pills to function properly, or even to stay alive, you better always have an emergency stash on you. And I don’t mean in the neatly organized box in your backpack that has ‘m all sorted per interval, which you should also have. I mean on you.
At the very least carry the ones you really need in something like a keychain pill holder. There are various kinds and sizes that look really cool even. So stay safe and get yourself one.
What Isn’t Part Of Your Tier 1?
As you can see it doesn’t take much on person gear to be prepared in a urban, downtown city environment. The gear mentioned is easy to acquire, doesn’t have to be expensive but is nevertheless enough to make your life much more comfortable in the event of an incident.
I didn’t mention cordage. It doesn’t have to be part of tier 1, but I got it on me anyway. On my feet to be exact. I’m talking about shoelaces.
Shoelaces are more than twice as long as they have to be. Whenever you need cordage to tie your knife to a stick, you can use your shoelaces. Just take them out, cut one in half, use these two halves to tie up your shoes and use the other complete lace for whatever you need cordage for. This trick is the sole reason why all my shoes have shoelaces.
The one thing I’ve clearly not covered in Tier 1 is self defense. I choose to defer that to my ‘Tier 2 – near person gear’ as it will won’t be accepted by my employer or colleagues when I walk around with a can of mace on my hip. Let alone a knife or gun.
As you can see Tier 1 is the bare minimum to carry. It will help you through the day and in case of incidents it will give you some more options. But it doesn’t provide you with the tools you need to survive for a day or two during a disaster. For that you could use a little more gear. Onto Tier 2.
Tier 2 – Near Person Gear
The idea is that Tier 2 urban everyday carry gear helps you to hold out longer and to cover greater distances to get to safety. The second tier includes items that you’ll need a small backpack for to carry.
Depending on the size of bag and the number of items you’ll decide to go with you should get about 24 to 48 hours survival time out of it.
An easy way to organize your gear is to work with dedicated modular sub compartments. This brings focus in the organisation of your items. It makes for a neater backpack (versus all your gear stuffed into one or two main compartments, through which you have to dig around to find what you need) and thus makes for quicker access to your gear.
Trust me, you’ll love this kind of compartmentalization. Examples of sub compartments are a fire kit, tech-pack, med-kit, food pack, tool kit, hygiene kit and a general survival kit. To name a few I have, I’m sure you can come up with more though.
There will be many days that you won’t need all your sub compartments, which is fine. Just leave the ones you don’t need at home and take the ones you do need with you for the day.
My Urban Everyday Carry Gear
I sport a wicked, yet very simple fire kit. It won’t blow you away in terms of coolness, but it does give me the option to start up to twelve different fires, with ease. And that is exactly what I’m looking for in a fire kit: The reassurance that when I need a fire, I can get one going quick and easy.
You don’t have to carry impressive survival ferro rods and magnesium fire starters. Not necessary at all. As smokers already know, all you need to light a fire is a lighter. Take a look at my very effective, cheap and easy to build yourself fire kit here.
Chances are you’re not a medical professional. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t carry a med kit though. I’m not a medical professional either but a med kit’s definitely part of my urban everyday carry gear.
As I’m in no way a medic I’ve simply packed my med kit with items I’m likely to need and understand how to use. My suggestion is that you do as well. Figure out what situations you’re likely to run into and prep for those.
General Survival Kit
The point of having a general survival kit is to have items that make it easier for to survive one or two nights out in a city environment during an incident or disaster. A secondary upside is that a well selected assortment of items makes your regular days go much easier as well.
Items to pack on a regular basis should overlap and complement your on person gear. They should be quickly accessible in one place and consist of new and bigger items that bring you new capabilities and an extra level of comfort. Here is what I pack and carry.
Urban Everyday Carry Tech Pack
It took me a while to figure out what to include in my tech pack and what not to. I started of with just a few things, it then bloomed into something worthy of its own naming convention and through trial and error I brought it back to something useful again.
Useful is the operative word here. When your an urban survivalist you know that your world is dominated by tech. And your ability to operate within it is paramount.
When it comes to an urban urban everyday carry gear tech pack the tricky part is to include things you need everyday. With a tech pack I’ve come to believe that there is no ‘this is what I’ll need after SHTF’ category of gear. You either need, and know how to use it, or you don’t. SHTF or no.
Not every item has a place in a sub compartment. Mainly for reasons of size and ease of accessibility, but also because there really isn’t a pack for it like, say, food or tech. This means I’ll miss the added benefit of being able to quickly pick my EDC loadout in the morning that sub compartments give me.
The miscellaneous items I’m showing here aren’t always part of my EDC. It depends on what I’ll be doing that day. These are however items I have on me on a regular basis.
The two packs I didn’t show are equally important as part of your everyday carry gear setup as the ones I did show. The reason I’m not showing them is that looking at a picture of a bunch of Snicker bars jammed into a Eagle Creek cube probably isn’t that exciting, nor will looking at a toothbrush or toothpaste rock your boat much. ‘Cause let’s face it, that’s really all it is when it comes to a food or hygiene pack. But I will talk about them a little here.
I expect a food pack to keep me afloat for two days, maybe three. Now you can go that long without food anyway, so the food bars I carry are simply the most calorie holding energy bombs I can get my hands on.
For me that’s good enough. I’m not going to spend money on expensive SHTF proof, must have, you-won’t-be-taken-serious-by-your-prepper-friends-without-these food bars. Just not worth it.
My hygiene pack does hold quit a few things. Enough to get me through a two week vacation, easily. It includes, next to indeed toothpaste and a toothbrush: hand sanitizer, paper handkerchiefs, small container of shower gel and shampoo (just in case to hotel forgot to supply some), toothpicks, sterile cotton tipped applicators, 100 ML Dettol Med spray for disinfecting surfaces and wounds, a small soap bar, a small spray can of dove men care deodorant, and one Gillette razor (best in the world if you ask me).
That’s it. Not a lot in terms of items, but more than enough for personal hygiene. I don’t carry my hygiene pack everyday, that’s a bit much. I just take the deodorant separately just in case, and that’s it. I do however take it with me on those two or three day trips I make for work. Then it is brilliant to have such a small and versatile hygiene pack on you.
Now you know it all. This is the Urban Everyday Carry Gear I have on or next to me every day, and all day. Now the keen observer is maybe wondering where my fishing kit is, or where I tucked away my assortment of guns. Bad news. You didn’t see them because I don’t own them. When I comes to guns that is not a choice, it’s unlawful to own guns where I live. So that’s it on that.
On the items I carry as a whole you’ll notice that I am decidedly urban survival focused. Even the terrain in between the city I live and the city I work is pretty much classifiable as urban. Yeah, patches of green can be found, and the government does call that nature. But it is obviously not. It has all been cultivated, more like a camping area then anything that resembles creation at it’s own will. So betting on surviving there is crazy talk. Not even if nobody else went there to sit out a SHTF or WROL event I might have a chance of not starving to death. Thus, not an option.
None of my packs are definitive in any way. I change out, add and remove items as I find it necessary. Please keep that in mind when looking at my setup. In no way am I proclaiming that this is it.
That’s all for now, thanks for reading this far. I’d love to hear what your ideas are and what you have as everyday carry gear, and especially why, so please leave your comments below and share your thoughts. I can’t wait!
Till next time, Kain.