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8 Essential Items: The Perfect Portable Survival Kit

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: December 16, 2020
8 Essential Items: The Perfect Portable Survival Kit

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There is a popular school of thought that dictates that your survival kit should follow you everywhere.  Within this context, I am not referring to a bug out bag or a vehicle emergency kit but rather a small, portable survival kit that you carry with you during the normal course of living your life.  This kit is commonly referred to as your EDC or everyday Carry.

I feel that the term “EDC” is misleading because it implies a set of items that is always with you, no matter what.  The reality is that you may have multiple kits and multiple EDCs, each suitable for a different set of circumstances.

Perfect Portable Survival Kit

In my case, for example, I have a portable survival kit for running around the neighborhood, either on foot or by vehicle, and another for venturing into more populated urban areas.  They both, however, have as their basis some basic, foundation items that I will describe today.

I call this my perfect portable survival kit.

The Portable Survival Kit

One thing we all have in common is the need to have on our person a few essential items that will get us through a day pack, handbag, and glove box.

Or even better, for almost nothing if you use items you already have laying around the house.,

1.  Pocket Knife

The knife I chose is my favorite Kershaw OSO Sweet.  It is sturdy with a strong blade that holds its edge well.  It is not as bulky as some other folding knifes nor is it as heavy.  It just works.

2.  Flashlight

Because I wish to carry my portable survival kit in a tin, size in important.  I like the Blocklite because its form factor allows it to easily fit in tight space.  The LEDs are bright and the 9Volt battery holds it’s charge of a long time.

3.  Paracord

I prefer a paracord lanyard over a bracelet because I can use it’s clip to attach my whistle as well as other items that I may want to add from time to time such as a second flashlight, a Swiss army knife, pepper spray, or a flash drive (thumb drive).

4.  Lighter

While not a fire-starter per se, I carry a BIC lighter in my tin because wood and biomass is abundant in my home community.  In my vehicle and bug-out-bag I have a magnesium flint plus petroleum jelly soaked cotton balls.  I do not include them in my  day-to-day portable survival kit.  Your needs may vary.

5.  Survival & Safety Whistle

I own at least a dozen whistles.  Even though it is larger and more bulky than most, the Windstorm Safety Whistle is the one that carries its signal the furthest and the loudest. I know this because I performed tests myself. For day to day running around, I consider my whistle to be as important or more important than any other item in my kit.

6.  Band-Aids

The ubiquitous band-aid requires no explanation. Cuts and scrapes happen and band-aids take up so little room that there is no reason not to include them.

7.  Lavender Essential Oil

Because of its powerful antiseptic qualities, I include a small bottle of lavender essential oil in my kit.  Lavender can be used to clean a wound, prevent infection, zap a headache and serve as an all-purpose first aid ointment.  There is a reason it is called the Swiss army knife of essential oils.  See 25 Uses of Lavender Oil for Survival.

8.  Tin or Pouch to hold It all

I am a neat freak so having everything nicely organized in a tin is a bonus.  I know that many folks can stuff their EDC items in an Altoid tin but I needed something larger so I re-purposed one of my Spark Naturals tins.  What I like about it is that it has a clear lid so I can see inside.  My tin is approximately 3.5” by 5.5”.

You may prefer a pouch or plastic container, but regardless, this is something you likely already own that can be repurposed to hold you kit.

Beyond the Foundation Kit

Before you click away thinking that this is in no way a survival kit, remember what I said at the onset. This is a very basic and very portable survival kit designed for every day running around as you go about the daily business of life.  It does not include water or water purification tabs, food or protein bars, pepper spray, space blanket, compass, or any of the myriad of other items we need to have with us during our travels outside our immediate our home area.

Modify this foundation kit or add to it.  It is your job, no, it is your duty, to evaluate the risks you face daily and build a perfect portable kit that meets those needs.

The Final Word

When it comes to a portable survival kit, you can opt for 10 pounds worth of gadgets stuffed into your pocket or on a massive key ring, or, you can do what I do and create different kits serving different purposes.

I have shared my personal kit with you not so that I can sell you stuff or even postulate the pros and cons of one kit over another.  Rather, in my usual style, I want you to think about your risks and your needs and put together a portable survival kit that not only works, but that is one that you will actually carry with you.

At the end of the day, it is the kit you are willing to carry that becomes the ultimate EDC.

Bargain Bin:  Below you will find links to the items to consider as you are building your own perfect portable survival kit.

BIC Classic Lighters (12): A dozen full-size BIC lighters at a bargain price with free shipping.

Rectangular Tin with Window: I found this tin that is very similar to mine.  Chances are you have something similar already that can be repurposed for free.

Pepper Spray:  It is always good to have some form of defense that will temporarily halt a bad guy that is in your face.  I  suggest purchasing the type you can carry on a key ring or lanyard.

Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets: You will be surprised at how warm these will keep you. Be sure to test one out in advance so that you have the confidence to trust the blanket in an emergency. You will be amazed at how small and portable these are; a packet will easily fit in a back pocket.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter:  At only 2 ounces (in weight), the LifeStraw is suitable for a backpack or bug out bag.  It is easy to use and requires no chemicals to remove a  minimum of 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria.

Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets: Water treatment tabs are a survival essential.  They don’t cost much and take up very little room.

Kershaw OSO Sweet Knife: This “oh so sweet” knife is solidly built, stainless steel knife that comes razor sharp right out of the package. It will pretty much cut through anything the price is amazing.

Windstorm Safety Whistle: This particular whistle can be heard a long distance away and above howling wind and other competing sounds.  I love my cheapie whistles but this is the one I would depend on for wilderness survival.

Lavender Essential Oil:  My favorite lavender oil from Spark Naturals.  Enjoy a 10% discount with code BACKDOORSURVIVAL.


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11 Responses to “8 Essential Items: The Perfect Portable Survival Kit”

  1. My pill bottle edc, has fishhooks, , dental floss for line, tiny bober, tiny copper bell, aluminum foil folded two pieces, three candles,cake top type , five matches , striker strip, needle, alclhol wipe x 2 bandaide. I am an avid reader over the past year an altoid tin edc with other essentials , purification tabs, etc. I feel i have a good start, yet i never feel , ready! Ty for ideas i read on posts.

  2. Some aluminum foil fold could serve a few uses . Be folded up so would not take up much space in a survival tin or pouch

  3. The contents of your kit are great however I carry a bit differently. A braided 550 paracord lanyard ends in a neck knife and small, flat LED light. In addition, I wear a paracord bracelet that has a ferrocerium rod and striker built in and I keep the Bic lighter in my pocket. I also keep a fresnel lens in my wallet as well as a list of important phone numbers, emergency contacts, etc. In addition to my weapon and spare mags, I carry my cell phone, a small first aid pouch and a multi-tool on my belt all under a T-shirt. On my key ring I have a P-51 can opener, a thumb drive, a second LED light/whistle combo and another small ferrocerium rod. I have fashioned a small leather pouch that attaches to my lower, inside leg like an ankle holster that contains an emergency mylar blanket, a large square of heavy duty aluminum foil, a wire saw and some cotton/vaseline tinder in a small zip lock baggie. A second pouch on the other leg has some high calorie snack bars, an emergency poncho, a quality button compass, another large square of aluminum foil and another baggie w/ half a dozen water purification tablets.

    Other than the weapon and mags, you hardly know you’ve got the stuff on you and I’m comforted in knowing that I have redundancy and won’t get separated from anything. Remember, ‘Two is one and one is none’.

  4. What ! Where is the gun? I don’t carry mine all the time but if I go on the road or in a not so nice part of the city I do. Also where in the tomahawk and machete? I do have most eveything on the list. When you break down on the road -you are a target! The witch has her own pink pistol too and she can shoot because I taught her. By the way if you think I’m a keyboard warrior – forget it- I’m a retired SF sniper and mean as hell!

  5. i have my edc in two big pill vials in my purse. in a wee ziploc bag i have a week’s worth of rx meds which i rotate every 3 months. i was fretting about water purification, but then i found that several water purification tablets and a couple of condoms are compact enough to stuff them in too. a mini computer disk is a less bulky signaling device than a mirror, and most of us have a couple lying around that we don’t need–no, that doesn’t fit into a pill vial, lol! but it’s good for my compact get-home bag that i carry when i ride the bus instead of driving somewhere. i bought a couple of those blocklites on your say-so, and love them, even tho i’m not a flashlight junkie. and of course, there’s at least one p51 in every kit and stash.

    • LOL – As you know, I am a flashlight junkie. Those Blocklites are great. The 9V batteries recharge nicely and seem to last forever in the Blocklite.

    • Good thought here on the CD disk instead of a mirror. One can get bogged down in the Need to buy the essential items until we actually come across something that gives us the Bam moment of an other-use-for item. Gaye, you do a fantastic job, but I always learn some little tidbit from the comments. Be Safe and Be Blessed. ps. It might just be our family thang, but we call our bags INCASA. Never used the B.O.B. term. We’ve prepared for one thing or another in case of something happening.

  6. I prepare with the mindset, “having anything is better than having nothing”. If you end up in a situation, and you had to survive having a pocket knife with you, & a lighter for starting fires, is better than not having nothing at all. You will never have everything you need. But having a few items can make all the difference.

  7. I do something similar to what you do with different kits for different uses (each in a altoids tin). I have a old repurposed first aid pouch that holds them all, so I can bring just one with me or all of them. I have a dedicated fire starting kit, a basic kit, a kit for water collection and purification, a food kit (stuff for fishing, snares…etc), a tool kit, and a first aid kit. I also keep some supplies for creating a shelter in the pouch too.

  8. Very nice kit! I like the lanyard idea and I never gave a thought to the whistle range and effectiveness. Thank you – I will be checking out my whistles soon.

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