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Best Practices: The Every Day Carry Bag aka EDC

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: November 24, 2020
Best Practices: The Every Day Carry Bag aka EDC

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When it comes to survival kits, there are a group of items that are traditionally found in all kits.  A flashlight, a knife, and some sort of fire-starting tool are ubiquitous and universal.  But beyond that there are so many variables that I really have to go with the cliché: one size never fits all.

Personally, I have a number of different kits.  Most are currently in a state of disarray as, over time, they are being reworked and broken down into additional separate and discrete kits.  You know the old saying, “if only I knew then what I know now”?  Most assuredly that applies to bug-out-bags, go-bags, survival kits, and every day carry bags!

Every Day Carry Bag - Backdoor Survival

Today I want to share the best practices of Karen Skoog, a long-time Backdoor Survival reader.  Like me, she has determined that for her purposes, it is more suitable to have a separate bags and kits serving different purposes.  When she offered to share the contents of her kits with me, I was thrilled.

We all can learn from the research and experience of others.  My opinion, after all, is just that, an opinion.  I still want to grow and still want to do things better and thus, the term “best practices”.

Today Karen writes about her personal EDC, or Every Day Carry Bag.  Like me, she relies  much of here gear but whether you choose to your gear online or locally, makes no matter.  Her gear and her insight in putting together this kit is fantastic!

The Every Day Carry Bag According to Karen

Have you ever noticed that over time, with more great posts on Backdoor Survival and more reading and searching on the internet, that the contents of your Bug Out Bag change or are updated?

That is what has happened to me recently. I noticed I was adding more items to my purse, such as a knife, fire starter, flashlight, and a big rain poncho. The navy blue poncho is sturdy enough to use as a tarp, and it really does fit in my purse.

Adding all these items led me to wonder if perhaps there was a way to carry more basic survival items on my person, without looking tactical or downright odd in the middle of the city.

At the same time I asked more “what if” questions about disruptive events.

What if I was somehow prevented from getting to my car?

Or, a question I read online: What if there was an earthquake and a slab of concrete fell on my car?

What if a sudden blizzard swirled to life while I was inside all day? Traffic would be at a standstill, no one could see, my car might not start, and AAA might be so backlogged with calls they could not help.

Perhaps the biggest disruptive event to which our minds turn is an EMP strike or electromagnetic pulse. It can be caused by nuclear detonation high above or by a solar flare. Much has been written about this event, although it is not an immediately likely crisis. In this situation I would not be able to drive my car home.

My goal is to be able to walk the long way home with nothing but what I can carry without calling attention to myself. And so I have outfitted several ways to carry supplies and equipment. I am also concerned about civil unrest, therefore I wanted my carry methods to be redundant. If one or two bags are lost or stolen, I may still have the others.

Getting the Right Gear – Finally

The big excitement today is that all the items arrived  so I can complete one of my small everyday carry bags.

This survival bag itself is actually a 32 ounce water bottle holder. It is large enough to hold a Nalgene bottle within a stainless steel cup, and has a handy side pocket. The cup has folding handles. The bag is  a Molle bag, so many items can be attached, or the bag itself can be attached to a belt or pack.

Although slightly tactical, this is a small over-the-shoulder bag. Many people carry water today, so I feel comfortable carrying this daily, each time I leave the car or house.

Karen’s Choices:  Rothco MOLLE Compatible Water Bottle Pouch, Nalgene Tritan Wide Mouth BPA-Free Water Bottle, and GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Bottle Cup/Pot

Speaking of redundancy, this bag includes several ways of obtaining and purifying water. The bandana can be held over the mouth of the water as a pre-filter. Then it can be boiled in the stainless cup, or a water purification tablet can be added.

Karen’s Choice:  Military Army Trainmen Paisley Bandana

From Gaye’s recent podcast on water, we learned that there are only three approved ways to sanitize water. Distilling, boiling, and bleach. Therefore I chose purification tablets that are essentially bleach. Please note that they require four hours to work once you have added a tablet to the bottle. The tablets purify 32 ounces.

Karen’s Choice:  Katadyn Micropur MP1 Purification Tablets:

Besides finding water in streams, I have included an urban way to find water. It’s called a Sillcock Key and will open faucets on the outside of commercial buildings. Perhaps it is not legal for an unauthorized person to do this, so it falls into the category of things we might do during a crisis that we might not otherwise do. A very personal decision.

My apartment building has several faucets without handles on the outside. Since learning about Sillcock keys, I have been seeing faucets everywhere. Of course this water, like all other water in a crisis, should be boiled or treated.

Karen’s Choice:  Cobra Products 4-Way Sillcock Key

The bag incudes two ways of making fire, a lighter and a Swedish fire steel. There are many great Bushcraft videos on You Tube that detail making a fire with a fire steel. Even with a lighter, I would still follow the guidelines of shredding fibers for tinder, then adding sticks starting with pencil lead size and increasingly larger. I also save drier lint and it is easy to cram a small bag of lint into any carry bag.

Karen’s Choice:  The Friendly Swede Magnesium Alloy Emergency Easy Grip Fire Starter (2 Pack)

Finally I’ve got a small flashlight clipped to the bag. And there is still room in the side pocket for a knife, the bandanna, socks and a granola bar.

Karen’s Choices:  Dorcy Waterproof LED Flashlight and MTECH USA MT-378 Tactical Folding Knife

One Week Later

It has now been a week since my gear arrived and I wanted to add a real-life update. I’ve been carrying the water bag over my shoulder every day. The strap is a bit narrow. So I’ve purchased a guitar shoulder pad which will be easy to fit around the shoulder strap.

Karen’s Choice:  Planet Waves Gel Guitar Strap Shoulder Pad

In addition, my food pouch arrived. This is a small zippered bag that is Molle compatible. That means it has many straps covering the surface and can be easily attached to other Molle bags. I have attached the food pouch to the water bag. It is large enough to hold ½ pound of almonds and many breakfast bars or protein bars.

Karen’s Choice:  5.11 Molle Padded Pouch

Note that my skills are rusty I could not insert photos of all of my items but these are the actual items I have chosen.  Thank you for reading and thank you for the opportunity to share my latest Every Day Carry bag with you.

I look forward to posting about 2 other small bags and a Paracord lanyard that complete my EDC.

The Final Word

As I said in the beginning, Karen has been following this website for quite some time and is a familiar voice in the comments section.  So who is Karen, really?  I asked her to tell us a little bit about herself:

I’m married with 3 pets and live in the Washington DC area. My introduction to homesteading and survival was the Foxfire series of books that I read in the 70’s. I also completed an Outward Bound wilderness skills course in 1979. I am interested in anything low tech and off grid.


Most recently I’m working on bush craft skills. I love Backdoor Survival because Gaye covers so many important topics but keeps the fear factor as low as possible. I appreciate that because the world is scary enough as it is.

I so love it when readers are willing to share their personal experience while coping during a disruptive event, learning a new skill, or, as in this case, researching the right gear to suit their practical needs.  If you have something to share, then by all means, do get in touch.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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For your convenience, here is a list of most of the items Karen as shared with us today.  A few are new to me so of course I plan to check them out.  I love the idea of the Rothco Water Bottle Pouch and “food bag”.

Rothco MOLLE Compatible Water Bottle Pouch:  I never would have considered using a water pouch as an EDC bag.  This one is a MOLLE compatible pouch so it can be easily attached to the rest of your MOLLE gear.  It features MOLLE loops around the entire pouch, two 6 inch straps on the back, and D-rings on each side. The straw hole on the top and a drain hole makes hydration simple. A perfect companion to my favorite Rothco Medium Transport Pack.  I own three of these packs – two in black and one in tan.

5.11 MOLLE Padded Pouch: When I read about the “food pouch”, I had one of those “why didn’t I think of that moments”!

Nalgene Tritan Wide Mouth BPA-Free Water Bottle:  This is the bottle that Karen chose and it is one that I have recommended in the past.

GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Bottle Cup/Pot:  Nice and something that I am adding to my own shopping cart.  It is designed to slip over standard 1-litre water bottle and holds up to 18 ounces.

Military Army Trainmen Paisley Bandanas: Speaking of bandanas, be sure to check out the article How to Use a Bandana to Save the Day.

Katadyn Micropur MP1 Purification Tablets:  Ultralight tablets provide fresh drinking water anywhere you go. Effective against viruses, bacteria, giardia and cryptosporidium. Fresh tasting water-no unpleasant taste. These easy-to-use tablets meet EPA purification guidelines. Purification method: Chlorine Dioxide tablets. 1 tablet treats 1 qt. of water.

Cobra Products 4-Way Sillcock Key:  This 4-way sillcock key has a 1/4″ , 9/32″, 5/16″ and 11/32″ stem to service most sillcocks in common use. It is durable, easy to use and has an attractive finish. Used to open and close sillcocks or spigots and made of durable steel construction.

The Friendly Swede Magnesium Alloy Emergency Easy Grip Fire Starter (2 Pack):  Firestarters are an essential piece of any survival/outdoor kit – waterproof, durable and easy to use as follows:

1. Scrape off black protective coating from firestarter rod
2. Prepare your tinder
3. Hold the striker at a 45° angle to the firestarter. Scrape striker hard and fast down the firestarter
4. Allow sparks to fall onto tinder

Dorcy Waterproof LED Flashlight with Carabineer Clip:  This is a floating waterproof flashlight that provides 55-lumens of light output and a 31-meter beam distance. I am a big fan of Dorcy products so this one is definitely going in my shopping cart as well.  Not that I need more flashlights!  Wait – you can never have too many!!

MTECH USA MT-378 Tactical Folding Knife 4.5 Closed: This folding knife features a 3 inch black finished 440 stainless steel tanto style blade with a quick opening thumb stud. The comfortably contoured black steel handle features a brushed metal finish, a heavy duty pivot pin and the liner lock blade locking design. It has a closed length of 4 1/2 inches and comes with a durable pocket clip.

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30 Responses to “Best Practices: The Every Day Carry Bag aka EDC”

  1. I really enjoyed the article and went ahead and saved some items for my next Amazon order. I do have a suggestion for one substitution though. Instead of a large cotton bandanna I would suggest a REAL cowboy bandanna, or wild rag, as their called on some sites. They are made out of silk. If you do some reading you’ll find that silk has some properties that would be of more use. My husband comes from a long line of cowboys, and we have an antique chuckwagon and have traveled all over the USA doing history presentations about cowboys and cattle drives. When we talk about the clothes they wore the bandanna is one of the main things. It wasn’t just for decoration! The silk will help to strain your water. The silk bandanna helps block out the dangerous UV rays of the sun. There are bunches of uses! And it can be folded down to such a compact size! You may want to do some research on the many uses of silk!

  2. Since I have kids that are with me 24/7, no one gives me a second glance when they see me with a backpack. I keep the basic “diaper bag” items (diapers, wipes, extra clothes for the kids and myself, burp cloth, snacks…) in there, but I also keep a multi-tool, notebook, pen/pencil, wrap to carry the baby, a couple water bottles, and many other things… but it just looks like a diaper bag backpack….lol. I can go a couple days before needing to replenish anything other than the water… With a stroller, I can get anywhere with my two kids, including out of town on foot, and head for the hills. I also have a bike and bike trailer outfitted with gear, though I need to upgrade the trailer, as my oldest almost maxes out the weight limit on her own.. As well as since we have to replace a wrecked vehicle, we are looking into a slightly larger vehicle that we can outfit better for the crazy change in the weather we have on a regular basis.

  3. For those intentionally avoiding the tactical look, consider those removable reflective patches. As a kid a few friends and I started carrying adjustable wrenches as keychains. It let us make adjustments to our bikes w/o going home and doubled as a small flail. We even carried them to school. Especially to school! Also, I have a pair of socks and underwear in a Ziploc freezer bag in my bags and car. Money is tight but I’ll be adding hiking boots to the car kit.

  4. Pentod, sounds like your friend has really thought through his office and car prepping. Very good point that he could survive with either one, independently. Redundancy is my primary objective. My final objective, is to be able to survive with items worn under my clothes. I think someone also mentioned a vest with pockets. Hopefully disasters will be limited to the natural ones. They are tragic for the people affected by each one.

    • Sorry, autocorrect messed up again. I apologize for misspelling your name.

    • Hi Karen, “friend has really thought through his office and car prepping” Yes, I think he has, and it turned out he really doesn’t need much to significantly improve his options if a problem comes up.

      His office is fairly close to a shopping district which on a couple rare occasions had some violent protests in the past and if something like that got seriously out of hand, I think he would be very well advised to stay put for several hours.

      In an extreme situation, of course, a day or two might be even better. It’s the sort of thing which one would have to decide to the best of one’s ability under the specific circumstances, and he wants the flexibility to stay in place or head home either on foot or by car if that is possible.

      I don’t know what kind of radio he keeps, other than it runs on batteries, but that aside, everything he keeps at work cost trivial amounts. A flat of water under the desk, a handbag with some supplies in it. A radio on his shelf. Nothing dramatic, nothing to excite comments. Standard, everyday stuff, but if he ever needs to bug in, he can get by just fine for a couple days, and if he can’t get to his car, or he finds it looted or stolen, he has enough to make it home.

      Simple, cheap, yet rarely done.

  5. Hi Penrod, that is a lot to think about with flashlights and batteries. I have seen the adapters. Amazon has some flashlights that are sold that way. Having something to trade is always a good idea.

  6. Since I work in a school and certain items are prohibited, I keep a full Get Home Bag in the car, and have a smaller bag at my desk with school-safe items. For water purification, I rely on the Berkey Sport bottles. I have one at my desk for when the tap water turns brown (as it does every time the town starts cleaning the lines, usually two or three times a year), and another in the GHB – same black Berkey filter as their full units (just smaller to fit in a sports bottle) so I can fill up in stagnant water if necessary. Between the two bags I have about a man-week of FD food, and the full GHB has a Esbit super lightweight stove and enough fuel tablets to heat water for all the FD meals.

    And one thing I didn’t see mentioned here, N95 masks. I have two in each of the bags, stored in ziplock baggies in case of a dirty bomb, or just heavy dust (maybe volcanic ash?) This reminds me, I need to add goggles to my office bag to protect my eyes….sharing tidbits always brings up new thoughts. 😉

    Of course either bag is overkill since I work less than 7 miles from home, so in anything short of war or meteor swarm I should be able to get home in 3 hours taking my time. But if I need to shelter in place before hitting the road, I’m in good shape. I keep a gallon of water in my office at all times, just in case…

    • Wow these are great preps. I don’t think there is any such thing as overkill in prepping. I have n-95 masks in one location and keep meaning to transfer some to EDC.

    • “I keep a gallon of water in my office” That’s a great idea, and few people do it. It is utterly inconspicuous, even in plain sight, especially if you use the individual size commercially bottled water. They are so common that people see them and think nothing of them being there.

      I was talking with a friend in Milwaukee a while back who works downtown within long walking distance of home -several miles, not several dozen- and he mentioned that he keeps bottled water, cans of food/soup, an opener, pepper spray, a flashlight, radio, and several other items in his office.

      He also keeps a Get Home Bag in his car, which is parked off site, plus a gun locked in a gun box bolted under the seat. He could spend at least a couple days in his office without problem if circumstances dictated that. If he closed and locked his door no one at work would even know he was there. My impression is that his GHB in the car would useful, but he doesn’t need to count on it being there in order to get home. At least unless he needed the handgun along the way, but he can’t have that at work.

    • You mean everyone doesn’t keep a few cans of soup and canned pasta at their desk? Must be because I’m in IT that I didn’t even think to mention those. I work such weird hours and can’t always leave by dinner time, so I make sure I have food for those occasional 12+ hour days, and it’s food that doesn’t eat into my FD supplies in the GHBs. Plus snacks…PB crackers, pretzels, Hershey bars, microwave popcorn, sports bars. Heck, if I stretch it out I probably have 5 days of food here, so I’d be in trouble water wise well before I’m out of food. Although the microwave popcorn is a bad idea in a shelter-in place after the first few hours, kind of gives away your location, assuming the power is still on.

      And my office security is pretty good too, only 20 keys can open my door, and I have a server room that only has about 6 keys in the building. Neither spot is visible to the corridor, let alone the outside world.

      I live and work in the suburbs, so fortunately the chance of local riots is minimal, but I’m always watching the local environment for threats and ways out. Situational awareness is a must. I’m sure it drives my wife nuts, but I’ve been doing this since childhood…I’m sure a psychologist would have a field day, but I’m functional and don’t have the time or money to waste on psychoanalysis. 😛

  7. Ken, making a solar oven is a heck of an accomplishment. Reading Gaye’s article on her solar oven made me realize how much more I could cook than boiling food in a pot every day. Are they at all portable or pack able?

  8. Hi Chuck, I am so envious you can carry when you choose. My state is so restrictive I have no chance of getting a permit. At least I can transport in the trunk. I am right there with the foraging. I too plan to start immediately. Actually every weekend. And learn to fish with hook and line on a stick.

  9. Hi Kathy, a laptop is a GREAT EDC. It looks like something people carry daily as part of their normal lives. My husband will ONLY carry a laptop bag and now he is slowly outfitting it for EDC.

  10. Dear Barbara, I know what you mean about the Amazon cart filling up fast. I constantly move groups of stuff from the cart to Save For Later and back.

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