Introduction: A GOOD Altoids Can EDC Kit

About: I build.... stuff. Mostly useless/prop type things, but I also try to improve on all of the tools and objects in my everyday life.

I've seen tens if not hundreds of Altoids can Instructables on this site, some of them good and most of them bad. This is one on an Every Day Carry kit, one that I actually use, and before you start groaning, let me explain. The main problem that I see is that people throw together a bunch of things that they think/have seen will be useful in their everyday life/the outdoors/some other environment and bring it along. I know there is merit to "being prepared", but why carry things you don't need and miss out on ones you do? I don't claim to cover all the bases here, and as such you need to adapt this to your own situation. Is it a survival kit? No, but it sure as heck would help. Can it play games and convert into a pool table? No, but with a little ingenuity you can entertain yourself.

So with that in mind, let's go forward, to what I believe is the most comprehensive and useful EDC kit on the internet, and it even fits in an Altoids can. This is simply a guide, and your items will vary drastically based on your environment, as I have said and will continue to point out. I hope only that I can help you design something that you will carry everyday, and help you as life flings it's challenges your way.

DISCLAIMER: In your rush to construct an Altoids can kit, please remember not to lose the delicious candy!  :)

Step 1: Assembling Contents

This is the most important step, and the only one that really matters. From here on out, all I'll do is help you pack the can. Using a small ziploc baggie or other container is just as fine.

The contents are noted. Remember, this is YOUR kit, and what YOU feel you need everyday/when you carry the kit is up to you. Don't overdo it, but also remember that some small objects can make a big difference in many situations. I use this for EDC as well as backpacking/hiking (see last step) and that has affected the item choice for me. More explanation of what I carry, and more importantly what I don't carry, can be read below.

1. Mini Spice Packages
         These are two of salt (the small ones) one sugar, and one crushed red pepper. Made from straws using Brian's (bfgreen) Instructable. I like tasty food, and these are a must to carry around. With my multitool and a lighter, I can easily reseal them and return them to the kit. I love being able to add just that little bit extra to food, especially bland backpacking meals. They're even nice just for a taco or burger that's just a bit bland. I plan to add one with curry powder soon, I've just been lazy.

2. "Boo Boo" kit
          Three bandaids, not much to say. Not anything major, and I do carry a first aid kit for backpacking, but nearly everywhere, especially in an urban environment, it's great to be able to patch up a small cut without a fuss, from my pocket. Carry more if you live/work/hang around in a high risk environment, carry less if you don't think you need it. It's all up to you.

3. ~2 ft. of Paracord
          There are varying views on paracord, and I oscillate between carrying this and just some good old string. Ultimately, paracord usually wins out, due to the fact that I can melt the ends to fuse it, can separate the core strands for a finer thread, and it is pretty strong for tying stuff together.  This is not all the cord that I carry backpacking, but for every day use (tying bags together, emergency belt, etc.) it seems to be enough. Your mileage will vary.

4. Wet Wipes
            Generally useful. I'm not a clean freak, but it's good to keep eating utensils (I carry a CRKT Eat 'n Tool) and such clean. I don't use these very often, but about every one or two weeks there comes a moment when I need one, and they're good to have around.

5. Duct Tape
            Again, pretty self explanatory. If you're on this site, you know what you can do with it.

6. Super Glue
             A large item, and thus one that I have thought over a lot, as I do carry it nearly every day. There are several reasons to carry super glue, the main being the following:
     - Fixing small things. Buckles, lenses, pens, you name it, a dab of superglue is usually a very strong, if temporary, fix. I've glued up enough things to know that super glue/krazy glue really works, and if you give it enough time, can form an unbreakable (almost) bond. I say almost because a few times I have put too much faith in the stuff, but looking back those were times where some more forethought could have prevented any problems.
      - Shutting deep, narrow wounds. This one is debatable, but in theory should work. I have never, and hope to never have to, try this, but I have heard it works, and it's good to know.
      - Adding texture. On many a cold, gloved night, I've had plastic and metal objects fly out of my hands, most notably lighters and flashlights. Having some super glue to add little bumps can help out the grip a lot. I usually do this at home, but it's useful to be able to do in the field.
   SOME NOTES:  Yes, it does bond skin. Be careful, as you would with any powerful tool or chemical.
                                Always carry a fresh tube. I leave the cap off to avoid puncturing the membrane until it is needed, and although in theory one can close the lid to preserve the glue, after a few days it will dry rock solid. Don't get stuck up the creek without a paddle. Replace the glue after you use it. This goes for many other items in the kit as well.

7. Matches
          Start fires/light things wherever you are. I could elaborate on uses, but again, as a visitor to the site, you know what they can do. I do carry a lighter on backpacking trips, as well as additional matches, but for less than an ounce in the pocket, it's nice to have a backup.

8. Extra Plastic Bag
            Hold leaking things, contain things that you don't want to get wet, etc. A very useful object.

9. Mini Toothbrush
             A one or two time use item, great to have if you need to talk to people you respect/reenter civilization after a trek/enjoy keeping your teeth clean. I've removed the little ball as it will just pop in my tin. Some people think this is too little, some people think you don't need it. It's your choice.
   Side Note: The main part I use of this is the toothpick, so it might just serve me to carry a little plastic one, like the ones in swiss army knives. I'm keeping my brush, however, as it has been used once when it was needed, and is good to have along. Better save than sorry.

10. Rubber Band
             Self explanatory. So many uses.

11. Paper Clips
              Again, I could elaborate, but with a little ingenuity and some elbow grease, you can do a lot with these little bent pieces of wire. Hey, and you can also hold papers together!

That's all. Now some things I don't carry, and why:

- A blade of any kind:
           This is an everyday kit. Knife blades are not appreciated everywhere, and when I can I carry a pocketknife. Again, adjust for your own needs.

- Fishhooks/signal mirror etc.:
             Again, this isn't a survival kit. I'd also like to add that just because you've seen Bear Grylls do it, doesn't mean you can. I don't carry fishhooks/snare wire/a whistle because for everyday use, I see no purpose of these, even in the wild. I do carry some of these items backpacking, but they have no place in this kit.

Step 2: Packing the Base Layer

How I pack my kit. Yours will vary. I find this method allows things to be used and accessed easily, while all fitting within the Altoids tin.

Step 3: Packing the Second Layer

How I pack my kit. Yours will vary. I find this method allows things to be used and accessed easily, while all fitting within the Altoids tin.

Step 4: Packing the Third Layer

This one is where the bulk of the kit goes in. Matches and band aids go in the upper area, flat, while the spices go in the sides. The cord gets stuffed in where there's room- this isn't a science, and also helps to stop anything jangling around. The rubber band and paper clips usually go on top here, but I don't have a photo. 

This is only how I pack my kit. Yours will vary. I find this method allows things to be used and accessed easily, while all fitting within the Altoids tin.

Step 5: Packed

The packed tin. I ACTUALLY USE this every day, and I think that is the key difference here between mine and others. Although this particular iteration, and the tin-packing method (rather that a baggie/loose in pockets) is not more than a week old, these items are tried and true, and are packed in a way that I can access without fuss and without things spilling everywhere. I can't stress this enough, but YOUR KIT WILL VARY. This is what I hope is a good guide for choosing items to carry every day, and can be applied nearly everywhere.

Ideas/suggestions? Please leave a comment.

Step 6: Backpacking/Camping

For backpacking and camping, you will need to supplement this kit. I include this step simply so that you can get into the mindset that this is for EVERY DAY, and that your camping equipment is not stuff you want to bring around town. 

I do bring camping: Whistle, duct tape, fully featured first aid kit, small sewing kit, tiny mirror, small amount of wire.

I am making a foray into ultralight backpacking, and as such may not carry my Altoids kit on every trip, but I'd much rather have it and a good pocketknife than comparable (in size and weight) "survival" kits.