Instructables

The "Everyman" Every-Day Carry (EDC) Survival Kit

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I've seen dozens of Altoid Tin and similar survival kits here on Instructables and elsewhere.  Many of them are quite good, while others--both home built and off-the-shelf--are left lacking some key components.  EDC kits are as varied as the people who create them, but there are some key features and "must have" items they have in common...no matter if you're traversing the urban wilderness or truly miles from civilization.

I just wanted to share the handful of items I carry day-to-day, in the hopes others here would experiment and see what works for them.  The point of an EDC kit is to have something small and light on your person at all times, as a redundancy to the better and more specialized gear you may have for whatever adventure you're planning.  Think of it as the fire extinguisher of your preparedness, in that it should be out of the way and little noticed, but readily available and easy to use should you need it.  While it can be agreed having *something* is much better than having nothing, those "somethings" you carry should be worth their weight and the space they take up.  More importantly, knowing how to *use* those items is much more important than having the best out there.  It's no point to have top of the line gear if you haven't practiced with it, hence the danger of the off-the-shelf "sealed" kits.  Rather than sticking a lighter, stick of gum and a sewing kit into a tin or buying one of those God awful "survival" kits and thinking you're ready to live off the land, these few items are readily available and easy to procure or make.  Remember that survival isn't about comfort, but rather just making it out of there alive.

I should note the best "survival" scenario is to have a game plan and stick to it.  Tell at least two responsible people where you're going, how you plan to get there, when they can expect you back, and at what point they should be alarmed if they haven't heard from you.  Even better, have a description of your vehicle, what you're wearing, and any backup plans you may have should the weather turn.  Have a charged cell phone handy, but realize chances are it won't work when you need it to.  Most survival situations play out within 72 hours, and by far the majority start out as "day hikes".  Pack light and go far, but pack for what *could* happen.  There are many, many articles both on this website and others as to how to plan an outing and pack for it, so I won't repeat those here.

Now on to the "Everyman" (or woman!) EDC kit...
 
 
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punkhead582 years ago
Great kit!

By the way, are you referring to Doug Ritter the knife designer? He also produces survival kits?
Airth (author)  punkhead582 years ago
Thanks for the comments! And yes, the very same Doug Ritter...just google "Doug Ritter Survival pack" and you'll see his original pocket kit. For $30 and under, it's by far the best pocket kit on the market right now, as one would be hard-pressed to gather the exact same stuff for under $30.

Cheers!
boris400 Airth4 months ago

I will agree that the Adventure Medical Kit is good, but it's definitely not the best. I like what you have done here, addressing it's shortfalls by adding your own stuff, as it's always important to customise and practice with whats in a kit so it suits you. I personally find that the best "commercial" kit to use as a base is the standard NATO survival kit, which can be picked up for around £15. Again it's nowhere near perfect, a great case in point being the shitty folding knife they put in it, but I found it to be the most comprehensive kit out there. it is also much smaller than your kit, which personally suits me better, though it is at the expense of a lot of space. Again i think it's just important to know what you have and know how to use it.

Oh my, he designed the AMK survival kit? I own one, and I had no idea. :P
okoshima2 years ago
not bad, but i dont see any chemical water treatment. water should be the number one priority and relying on boiling it isnt the best idea. plus most water treatments are 1 tablet to 1quart/liter of water.

other than that, a little bulky for my personal taste, and a little overkill on tinder (not that its a bad thing)

if i may make a suggestion though. throw in a couple 1 quart and 1 gallon ziplocs, so many uses with little space. a small candle is also a good addition so you have a small flame, it could make a huge difference if your wood is a little damp. and of course some chlorine based water purification tabs. iodine ones taste foul.

also its nice to see a kit on here that isnt lets see how much junk we can shove in an altoids tin
Airth (author)  okoshima2 years ago
Thanks for the positive feedback!

You're very correct, in that part of core body temperature regulation is proper hydration. That's why there *ARE* chemical water treatment tabs in this kit--item #13 in the first-aid kit :) I prefer iodine as my primary means in my carry pack (not this EDC), since you can treat a liter in about 30 minutes. If you're thirsty enough you don't mind the bitterness of iodine so much, and you can easily kill the taste with anything containing vitamin C, such as Emergen-C. Even tiny amounts are very effective at it. Iodine has a secondary purpose of being a first-aid item, so there's one item with multiple uses.

Ziplocs are worth their weight in gold--I agree with you there! It's why I have several gallon and quart sized ones in my standard pack. Since they have a bit of bulk, even when rolled up tight, I left them out of this kit to save the space for other items. A couple of non-lubricated condoms would serve the same purpose as water containers with less weight and bulk. Practice with them is key though...there's a definite technique to scooping a liter of water from a sill without it gushing back out.

I've seen candles in various kits, and honestly I haven't found a use for them enough to account for the weight and space they take up. They're a "one show pony", in that candles are really only good for burning (and gooping up the rest of your EDC if they get hot). I prefer items you can get at least three different uses for. My tinder overkill is pretty practical--the fire straws take a spark quickly and have a good, *hot* burn time of at least 30 seconds each. If, with practice, someone can't get a fire started with that, they should get out of the water and try again :)

Cheers!
boris400 Airth4 months ago

Natural, old fashioned tallow candles are excellent, as they can be used as an emergency food. They are made from animal fat, and they smell awful when burned. However it's worth remembering that fat has a huge energy to weight ratio and is very hard to come by in a survival situation, as any wild animal you catch will likely have very little fat.

okoshima Airth2 years ago
-facepalms- i missed the iodine.

as for the ziplocks i tend to fold them instead of rolling them, that way they lay flat and the space taken is flatter than rolling them.

a great tinder ive found is similar to your fire straws, instead of petroleum jelly use melted wax onto the cotton then insert into straw, i timed a 1cm piece at 60second burn. so its fairly impressive, needs a small patch fluffed before use though.

ive used candles to help start fires in damp conditions, used the wax from them to create small torches when needed, as dumb as it sounds used the wax as a light duty lube, and a light duty glue. never been a time where ive needed a candle but theres been a few times when its come in handy. just personal opinion really.

if i come off as hating or w/e i honestly dont intend to. its nice to see others are prepared even if its just a day hike or w/e
B2BSurvivor2 years ago
Nice instructable. I do find your choice of size a bit bulky for a true EDC. A good EDC is just that, EVERY day carry. Not EVERY day I happen to have on my cargo shorts or pants or jacket with huge pockets. This is why there are so many featuring the convenient size of the Altoids tin. I do agree, too many of these kits are just "how much can you cram into the tin." Someone commented about boiling water being a poorer option for disinfection. Actually, it works better than chemical, especially if you are in a hurry. Do take the time to learn about adjusting for altitude when boiling for disinfection. Also, there are actually medical cases reported in professional journals about people getting ill from overtreated (chemically) water. Diarrhea is nobody's friend, and especially in a survival situation. Too much chem water will take you down that road. 35 years of medical experience teaches many hard lessons.
Also, don't rely too much on the condoms, they break very easily and are hard to carry, store, etc. Over 20 years of military experience on several continents also teaches a few hard lessons.

A tip with the condoms, fill and carry them inside a sock, this provides some protection and ensures you don't overfill it. if you're in sub zero conditions put the sock under your clothes as well, or the water will freeze in short order.

Airth (author)  B2BSurvivor2 years ago
Thanks for the comments!

Good tip on the antibiotic ointment--I haven't tried to light the stuff, but its certainly worth a try...might be worth replacing if it's just as effective! The Swiss Card is plastic, and the thinnest on the market as far as I've found, but yeah there are a few redundant items I could probably do away with--I just liked how all the little bits you usually have to fumble for are all self-contained. I agree--boiling is certainly the way to go--much more preferable to any chemical treatment. Plus, boiling is a sure way to kill any critters some chemical treatments will leave behind. It's just nice to have more than one option available, right? Since collecting water with condoms is an art form in itself, and perhaps *not* the best option if you're already a bit hyperthermic and panicked, I'm looking at throwing in a few produce bags folded flat. Those thin bags from the grocery store are already food-grade plastic, and fold or roll up super thin!

As for this EDC, I pretty much always wear pants or shorts with a cargo pocket. It is bulky, but you get used to it fairly quickly, especially if it's taken every day, and the size of the container holds a full 8oz of water--enough to make the fuel expense count to boil and make an actual difference in hydration. For the times it's impractical, I'm working on a smaller but just as robust version...will keep you posted!
wb7okh2 years ago
This is a very nice kit. I would like to know where you got the container and lid. I see there would be room a few extra rounds for what I hope you EDC under your shirt. Like the six month trip mentioned above, how much is enough?
Airth (author)  wb7okh2 years ago
Thanks for the comment! The container was a dollar store find, and was marketed as a "stainless steel freezer container". This kit was geared towards something you'd drop into a cargo pocket and practically forgot about until it was needed, or if you wanted to get some practice in. Of course all my other pockets have things too :)

As I mentioned in another comment, if you've been able to subsist on what's included here for six months, you're a much more well-practiced survivalist than I could ever hope to be, and probably never wanted to be found! There is "never enough stuff", but the trick is practicing with enough of the basics to limit yourself to only key items. Survival isn't about comfort....it's just making it out alive.
Airth (author) 2 years ago
Just to give credit where do, here's the instructable for the heat-sealed ointments!

http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Single-Use-Antibiotic-Ointment-Blister-Packs/step5/The-final-result/

Nice that you give credit where due. I agree with your choice on the straws of vaseline VS wax candles. As you mentioned, not much use and often messy in hot climates. Consider putting triple antibiotic ointment in the straws, instead though. It burns much like the vaseline, but can be used for it's antibiotic purpose also. It's all about compactness and weight for an EDC. Consider taking along the individual components that you like from the Swiss card and dump the heavy metal card itself. No need for an extra knife blade, unless you expect your EDC to be all you have for a six month trip. Again, keep it light and compact. This isn't about who's right or wrong. Some of this is personal preference, but all of us can learn from each other. Overall, a good USABLE and USEFUL instructable !!!
About the six month trip; who even expects to be in a survival, and who knows how long it will last?
Airth (author)  wb7okh2 years ago
Most survival situations occur within 72 hours, so that's what this is geared towards. If you've subsisted for what's in here for six months, you didn't want to be found ;)
tomsoulm82 years ago
Could the lip balm be used as a makeshift candle if the kit included a wick?
Airth (author)  tomsoulm82 years ago
It's waxy, so sure. Not sure why you'd want a candle with all the other firestarting options, though.
EmcySquare2 years ago
This kit has some serious thinking behind it. very good
The first aid kit seems very good too

Still I don't get one thing:

Why do all keep addind fishing stuff in theyr kits?
The chances of gettting anyway near to ariver/lake/sea are small, then the chances of having fish in it are even less, those that that type of fish can be fished with those hooks etc are even less... simply too few...
Plus, can you fish? did enyone try? it's not as easy as it seems... so why rely on the "tool" if you don't have the "skill" ??

He does mention in his last step to *practice* using the items. It would be my luck that I would leave the fishing items out of the kit and end up stranded next to a river or lake. I would want the items in my kit, even not knowing how to use them. I'd rather have the option of trying instead of watching a dozen fish swimming around at my feet, trying to catch them with my bare hands :P
Airth (author)  EmcySquare2 years ago
Thanks for the kind comments! Hopefully more folks will find this useful, or at a minimum as a prompt to experiment with what they have and ensure they can use whatever they put inside.

For the fishing stuff, as I mentiioned the contents from this kit also include the contents from the Doug Ritter kit. The vial containing the few fishing items, safety pins and needle was in his, so it's in mine as well. The amount of space and weight it adds overall is negligible so I left them in there, and being a pointy piece of wire with a looped end could produce something more creative that just fish hooks. You're very correct in your assessment, in that not knowing how to fish would pretty much eliminate the need for fishing gear of any kind, and that space could be best utilized for something you *would* need and use. As I reiterated in the last "step" of this Instructable, knowing how to use what's in your kit is just as important as what's in it.

Food procurement is the very last priority "out there", as the priority should be rescue first and foremost, and keeping the core body temperature regulated until that happens. If someone does manage to get themselves into an extended stay, expending the fewest amount of calories to get the greatest caloric gain is an art form itself. Since the "Everyman" concept is most wouldn't be familiar with what plants are safe to eat, critters are the way to go, using passive techniques. This is where the snare wire and fishing equipment come in, as you can set up lines and snares to do the "hunting" for you while your energy is best used elsewhere.

Thanks again!
AZbubs2 years ago
Great ideas here!! You may want to also consider a small tube of superglue. It can seal a cut as well as its normal intended usage.
EmcySquare2 years ago
You are right, the idea is very good and shows you used the "ITEM-0" in a survival kit: your brain! ;-)

By the way: There are 2 things I'd like to include (as I have them in my kit)

1) sawing kit : 2 or 3 needles and a couple yard of heavy duty line, black and white
2) zip ties: just like paracord and duct tape you can never have enought of these
Airth (author)  EmcySquare2 years ago
Thanks again for the kind comments, Emcy!

Believe it or not, there is a sewing kit in there! The vial with the fishing items also includes a heavy-duty needle, and in a pinch one of the fish hooks could be re-bent into a makeshift needle if you needed more. Between the spool of black nylon thread and the strands of the white nylon cordage, one should have plenty of line to stitch until their hearts are content. I personally haven't needed zip ties, but I see their usefulness! Adding a few is virtually no weight and space, so why not?

I was thinking to save even more space and have room for more "stuff", either I could just remove the vial altogether and wrap the contents in plastic (like the matches), or reuse the vial as a small pill-caddy and add it to the first aid kit. See how this thing continues to evolve?

Cheers!