Thursday, June 24, 2010

Minimal Bug Out Kit for EDC

Bug out bag checklists usually focus on a full-sized kit of everything you would need for at least the first 72-hours after leaving home.  In the case of a long-term bug-out situation, the bag will also include things you will need to sustain yourself for much longer - such as tools and hunting weapons to make shelter and gather food in the wild.  It is this end of the spectrum that is my focus in Bug Out, where I assume circumstances that make you leave in the first place will be so bad you that you won't be able to return in a short time, such as 72-hours.

But what about all those times in everyday life when you will not have your bug-out bag nearby, perhaps when you're at work, or traveling on some form of public transportation, or just out for walk or some other recreational activity?  This is where the extreme minimum bug-out kit comes in.  Such a kit is so small and compact that it can be considered an EDC (Every Day Carry) kit, and will only contain the most basic essentials that could make things easier for you if you suddenly have to run or evade with nothing but what's in your pockets or on your key chain.

The idea is nothing new, really.  Tiny pre-packaged kits and Altoid tin survival kits have been around awhile.  Just as with the larger bug-out bag, I don't care much for pre-packaged survival kits of any kind, as they tend to include things you probably don't need and may leave out other items that could be really important.  Such a kit may be fine for some folks though.  Here are some examples:

Whistle Creek Survival Kit in a Sardine CanCoghlan's Survival Kit-In-A-CanSAS Combat Survival Tin

Many of these kits assume this will be the only gear you have and some people buy them thinking this will be all they need.  Those of us who are prepared are usually never far from our more serious gear and tools, including things like knives, machetes, a tarp, some drinking water, emergency food and a handgun or rifle.

The kind of kit I'm talking about here doesn't try to be a do-everything kit, so I'm not including things like fish hooks or snares - just the basics that you need start a fire, patch up a wound, or treat a minor illness like diarrhea, a bad headache, or an insect sting.  This kit also includes cutting blades and other basic tools like a can opener, as well as needles and thread to fix clothing, footwear, gear or even sew up a wound.  Then there's the means to treat questionable drinking water and something for sun protection or making a tourniquet.  Best of all, it isn't any more bulky than the average wallet, and will fit easily inside a coat pocket or one of the pockets of a pair of cargo pants or shorts.

As you can see, when folded up inside the bandanna, it's hardly any bigger than a cell phone:

So what did I include in such a bare-minimum bug-out kit?  Here's the list:

Swiss Army Knife, a compromise from my larger Leatherman but still usable
Bic lighter (make sure to keep a new one that's full, not one used for lighting your smokes)
One Fire Stick broken in half for compactness
More than a yard of duct tape wrapped tightly around the lighter
Two straight-edge utility razor blades
Assortment of sewing needles
Dacron B50 bowstring thread (about 5 yards) for sewing and lashing
A few feet of Paracord 550 to replace a shoestring or whatever
Assorted Band Aids
Sterile pads, alcohol preps
Sterile liquid bandage sticks
Imodium A-D Anti-Diarrheal tablets
Anti-acid tablets
Ibupropen tablets
Benadryll capsules for stings and allergic reactions
Potable Aqua Purification Iodine Tablets (More compact than my preferred Polar Pure)
1 folded, gallon-sized Ziplock freezer bag for use as a container in which to purify water
1 Power Bar for quick, emergency energy
Small Ziplock bag to contain all of above except Power Bar and Swiss Army Knife
Bandanna - kit wrapped inside, can be used for head protection, a large bandage, or tourniquet

A business card like mine shown below makes a good way to safely carry razor blades and needles.  I use a short length of blue painter's tape to secure the needles and blades to the card.  This tape can be unwrapped and reused multiple times without leaving a sticky residue.  After that's done, the Dacron thread is wrapped around the whole thing:

Here's the Bic lighter wrapped with duct tape, along with the Fire Stick and Swiss Army knife:

And the First Aid supplies:

With the ability to carry so much useful stuff in such a small and lightweight package, it hardly makes sense to be without it.  The good thing about this kind of kit is that you can have it on you no matter what type of attire you're wearing or what activity you will be involved in.  I'm probably missing something you consider necessary for EDC.  I'd love to hear your suggestions and see photos of your own kits.


  1. In 'Oldene Times', it was a Sucrets box with razor blade or pen knife, boulloin cubes, candle (melted all the time), matches and a minimal sewing and fishing kit. For medications, some bandages and 'monkey blood' (Mercurochrome).

    It is amazing how much progress has really contributed in the miniturization of the items carried - LED flashlights are a godsend.

  2. I remember those Sucrets box survival kits, and the ones in Bandaid tins. You don't see bouillon cubes mentioned any more these days, that's true.

    I didn't mention the LED flashlight because that's usually on the keychain, but if not it's easy enough to add one to the kit.

  3. 1 pistol belt
    1 sheath knife
    2 one quart canteens, filled
    4 bandoleers filled, one en-bloc clip in rifle 200 rds
    1 Zippo, WWII vintage, extra flints and wick
    2 cans lighter fluid
    1 U.S. rifle, caliber .30, M1

    Mountain Rifleman

  4. Mountain Rifleman,

    Guess the contents just depend on your everyday routine and circumstances!

  5. Another item but a bit bulkier for the minimalist EDC - gloves. Man is the Tool User, and damaging / incapacitating your hands would be a major set back in survival efforts. Anyone who has broken an arm can attest to the difficulties and adjustments they had to make while they were healing.

    A good - no GREAT set of gloves should be in your kit as well. Good boots / footware is a foregone conclusion.

  6. That card is a good idea, but if you have one already, replacing the cardboard with a Swiss Quatro tool could work too. Spare little blade and a few tools in there as well, take up a little bit of extra space.

  7. This EDC kit and the comments contain great ideas.
    To protect hands, I will include gloves (credit anon)in my kit and tweezers for splinters.
    My eyes are my most important asset so I will include a few Qtips and a small mirror to aid getting something out of my eye. And maybe not in the kit, but close by, sun glasses. Amber is good for visibility in fog and rain.
    Aspirin is my choice over Ibuprofen. Reduces fever, lowers blood pressure, thins blood, and strongest non-prescription pain killer you can legally buy. (Emergency treatment for heart attack is aspirin and oxygen.)
    A small tube Bacitracin anti-septic ointment and tiny bottle of Oil of Cloves (topical anesthetic) could be welcome.
    Also a bit of aluminum foil to form into funnel or drinking cup, or whatever.
    Last, not least, my favorite. Super Crazy Glue. Can glue gaping wound edges closed better than sutures, re-glue caps on teeth, and other repairs. Don't swallow glue! LOL

  8. Thanks for the great suggestions guys. Keep 'em coming!

  9. Tin foil cup substitute - emptied Capri Sun pouch with top cut off. I keep one folded in my wallet - it comes in real handy when standing in lines when a water fountain is right over there. I've wondered if pouch was stood near a flame, would pouch survive, heating fluid to at least 'tolerable warm'?

    Good piece of emergency sealant - 1/2 a glue stick. Just needs a heart source to warm tip and a whole lot of things can be fixed up. Doesn't dry out like SG, but doesn't have the same strength either.

    Thanks for the meds list - these comments are productive!

  10. Anon., great idea with the emptied Capri Sun pouch. The glue stick is a good idea too.

  11. I wouldn't include Super/Crazy Glue in your kit, my girlfriends mom knows a guy who used to use that ALL the time, now he has brain tumors and a shitload of other problems and he thinks the glue is a contributing factor, now im not saying "don't carry it" just saying be aware of the problems that could arise from using it, my advice is use it only as a LAST resort

    If you can get your hands on something that is similar that people with hemophilia keep in case they start to bleed

  12. David, are you talking about Quik Clot? A powder that is spread in the open wound to stop profuse bleeding?

  13. One thing I would suggest, swap out your Swiss Army Knife for a model that has the saw blade. Such as a Camper, Lumberjack, Huntsman, or (if you can find one) Woodsman. It adds no real weight or bulk, especially if you are talking about the Lumberjack (84mm) or Woodsman (91mm), they are both just a Main blade, wood saw, the lumberjack adds an opener/screwdriver. I EDC a Huntsman and it rides quite nicely in my watch pocket of my jeans, and my Lumberjack and Woodsman both are Alox, so they are very thin.

  14. I wouldn't ever use glue as a medical supply. It's not intended for that purpose, and could cause medical issues- as David pointed out. Find something intended for medical use instead. I'm sure someone with actual training in first aid-like a nurse- could help you find something suitable. The chemicals used in Super/Crazy Glue don't sound like something you want in your body by any means.

  15. Super glue got it's start as a medical application in Vietnam. There are two basic types: regular super glue, which is derived from methyl alcohol, and medical-grade super glue, which is derived from butyl alcohol. The methyl-derived glue can be toxic in large amounts, but the butyl-dervied glue becomes inert, so is considered safe.

    You can get butyl-derived glues easily as veterinary supplies.

    Love the idea of wrapping it all up in a bandana! Makes every item have multiple uses.

  16. Obviously extra blades can always be used for some purpose, but is there any specific reason for the straight-edge utility blades?

  17. Hi All: I have read some of your post and I like what I have seen and like the ideal of a bandana. The only thing I disagree is the use of Big lighter I would use some thing else maybe matches I use one of them pill bottle with childproof cap. Which is water proof I try it out for over 2 hours under water. Also duct tape around it just big enough to go around it.. Keep up the good work.

  18. I like a peanut lighter (available from County Com) better than a Bic. It is refillable and will work with most fuels if necessary. Because it has an O-ring under the cap the fuel doesn't evaporate like it does in a Zippo. Also,it's waterproof if you fall in a pond.

  19. Foam ear plugs are great. They are light, cheap, small to pack, and have tons of uses.

  20. I wonder why so many EDC kits have alcohol wipes? They're almost exclusively used for cleansing the skin before needles or incisions. I don't know of any doctor who recommends cleaning a wound with an alcohol wipe (OUCH!). I suppose one could wash their hands with them...

  21. Awesome. You've got some great ideas here, thanks a ton!

  22. I carry a needle and dental floss. Floss is non porous and in general sterile. I have taken to wearing cargo type pants and shorts almost exclusively, they are comfortable and allow more flexibility in what you can carry. I drive a bus so I carry enough stuff to get me back to my car where my get home bag is. Great suggestions all of you and remember " In an emergency when seconds count, the police are only minutes away!"
    Semper paratus

  23. I have separate EDC (being a female I have both the convenience and inconvenience of carrying a purse and usually not having large pockets), GHB and BOB. Although my EDC is "okay", most of my "serious items" are in my GHB which is usually quite near my person--but not usually conveniently light enough to carry everywhere 24-7. Hence EDC. My EDC also includes a commercial "survival kit" In a leather case that I got many years ago. It proved to be pretty useful several times, even recently. We were looking at property in the middle of no where where Phone GPS was no longer an option. Literally offroaded until the truck could no longer make it, switched to dirt bikes until those could no longer make it (seriously) and then switched to foot. Before I left the truck I threw some necessities from my GHB and EDC into my Camelback: water, lighter, magnesium fire starter, beef jerky, Clif bars, a folder, Leatherman Micra, basic first aid, bandana, paracord, water resistant windbreaker, tp, flashlight, some random other items, and my EDC "survival kit" which includes another firestarter, magnifying lens/thermometer/compass combo, signal mirror, medium Swiss Army Knife, various fishing stuff (useless for actually fishing where we were but you can catch birds with hooks as well if need be, not that it was remotely necessary but the fishing essentials were just included in the kit, not added). It wouldn't come to that however because the location was within walking distance of a 1/4 to half day to other cabins, on a mountain top with plain view of the valley (civilization. Well, sort of).

    Point of the story, I know it seems to be a lot of gear for a hike, but there was leftover snow at the top, treacherous ground and I was also responsible for a Prepping-reluctant dependent. Le Boyfriend. Of whom must eat every few hours.

    Yes, he gave me a hard time about my "Crazy Bag". Yet we wound up using the compass, knife, food, water, showed him how to start a fire with lichens for practice, how to mark trails, build a debris shelter (minor one, this was a demo). Also he was thankful I made him bring his jacket since he thought he was too hot to need it earlier. He became pretty cold once we stopped for a break at the slowly fading snowline. We also used the micra to adjust the dirt bikes to the altitude before resorting to foot. And also cut brush to hide the bikes when we had to abandon them.

    Obviously we did not need all we had, I didn't bring anything to collect water (other than the bladder to melt snow) but not to purify it as like I said, it was a doable hike back to the truck where I did have the gear to do so. Our water supply lasted both of us adequately. The property was insanely steep but after the second wind, all was good. And the hike down, much easier ;)

    This little trip, as mild as it was, actually turned Le Boyfriend pro prepping for whatever event may come up. He has seen most of my "camping" gear over the last few years but not the defensive items other than a single handgun. I'm slowly trying to get him on board and even made him his own GHB and BOB. However, more trips to teach him how to survive are needed. A lot more.

    Next? Camping with only BOBs for him. Have a feeling we'll be eating prep food as it is not hunting season where we live (although I may set some No kill snares for practice)... and not too many large fish supplied areas. Not too many areas closeby that welcome firearms under the current circumstances. Besides , I'm afraid he'll pass out if I try to feed him small game other than fish anyway. Contrary to what he may believe, you can't expect a large mouth with every try, but you can live off of crappie and sunfish. This ought to be interesting. Lol

  24. The American Heart Association recommends taking an aspirin if you are having a heart attack.
    "Should I take aspirin during a heart attack or stroke?
    The more important thing to do if any heart attack warning signs occur is to call 9-1-1 immediately. Don't do anything before calling 9-1-1. In particular, don't take an aspirin, then wait for it to relieve your pain. Don't postpone calling 9-1-1. Aspirin won't treat your heart attack by itself.

    After you call 9-1-1, the 9-1-1 operator may recommend that you take an aspirin. He or she can make sure that you don't have an allergy to aspirin or a condition that makes using it too risky. If the 9-1-1 operator doesn't talk to you about taking an aspirin, the emergency medical technicians or the physician in the Emergency Department will give you an aspirin if it's right for you. Research shows that getting an aspirin early in the treatment of a heart attack, along with other treatments EMTs and Emergency Department physicians provide, can significantly improve your chances of survival." This is from the AHA website.
    I am not allergic and I carry aspirin in my EDC. Preparedness is not just about "SHTF" it is about everyday emergencies as well.
    One of my best friends is alive because his wife gave him an aspirin during a major heart attack. Be ready for everything you can be.

  25. really intresting stuff thanks yall but how about a water container? and caribeaners you can never have enough lol. and with the BOBs i dont know if i missed it or if its not there but what abut a mess kit? i keep a cheap compact mess kit and silverware in mine.

  26. Anon 4:58, check out a product called AQUA POUCH, it might fit the need for a water bag you can fold up for this kit.

    Cheap compact mess kit - That larger can opener with spoon on opposite end might work for you as well. I forget the model # but I think the Australian military had something to do with their invention. I may be wrong on that though. Hope this helps.

  27. I packed an ample bug-out/survival kit with most of the essentials listed above, and then some in a 500ml nalgene bottle with a carbiner. Water proff, rodent proof, clips onto my daily bag, water container, it floats....and I can even fit a garbage bag for quick shelter and a mini LED light.

  28. I fit my own EDC in an army surplus canteen cup. My primary concerns are dehydration and exposue. The cup is handy for collecting water and can be used to boil-sterilize - though the kit contains purification tablets. Cup can also be used to heat hot drinks to combat hypothermia. Other key items are a space blanket, large plastic bag, fire starter, small pocket knife, wire saw. The cup makes for a rather bulky kit, I admit.

  29. Hey guys- you do know you can use a tampon as an emergency water filter right? You should include one in your kit...ok now that I am red faced -time for me to exit.

  30. I have two different EDC setups, one is for in town use and one rides with me whenever I am going to be in the rural area where I live. I have a Maxpedition Fatboy bag that is my manpurse. It can carry a ton of supplies and serves as a carrier for my backup gun a .327 Federal Magnum revolver. It has two means of making fire, a trauma pak(tourniquet, blood clotting gauze, sterile bandages, Israeli Pressure bandage), a boo boo first aid kit which has pretty much what the author has listed with more quantities and some extra large bandages and gauze. I also have 5 energy bars, water bladder(able to be folded to a very compact size but holds 2 litres of water) a micro water filter, stainless steel water bottle, compass, water pure tabs, leatherman, pocket knife, flashlight(800 lumen self defense type), headlamp, two large trashbags(shelter, water collection and poncho), spare magazines for my main CCW gun(Glock 10MM) which is capable of taking down deer and other game as well as a few carabiners and about 50' of 550 cord. In my pocket EDC its a keychain with a flashlight, small multi tool and can opener. I also have a stainless steel tool that is the size of a business card that fits in my wallet that has 9 different functions. A folding tactical knife, leatherman, two spare mags for the Glock 10mm, 9mm derringer with 4 extra rounds or the .327 Federal magnum with a speedloader reload, small tactical light, cell phone loaded with topo maps of the regions in my area and several survival guide books on it, water bottle and at least one reliable fire starter. I have replaced all of my shoe and boot laces with 550 paracord and I always have a trauma first aid kit in my cargo pants along with some minor first aid supplies as well. The in pocket kit can be daunting to some people but once you learn to dress accordingly it is very comfortable and is reassuring to know that even without the big bag I can survive and thrive just about anywhere and through any situation. I also forgot to add a Casio G-Shock watch that can be used as a compass as it is both analog and digital and with some very simple training you can learn to tell direction with just the hands of a watch. To me this is a routine that has become second nature as far as getting ready to go out and it is very simple once you become accustomed to it. I would much rather to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. I have used a lot of my kit in varying situations and have always been glad I had the item with me. I have not yet needed it for true survival but after practicing and using all of my gear I can feel confident that I am prepared for anything that will come my way when I am away from my vehicle kit and BOB.

  31. i was a LRRP in the Vietnam war. I've lived in the Arizona desert and Wyoming. The past 15 years my daily work commute was 6 miles round trip in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Rain or shine. Every day.

    I'm a believer in carrying the minimum items to keep you moving and to KEEP MOVING! I can't believe how many people list enough stuff in their EDC kit to require an assistant to help carry it. Why the guns? Someone bigger and meaner will just take 'em away, so don't put yourself into a situation to begin with. Super glue? Mess kits? Five food bars?

    Get yourself into shape. Hike and do some sit-ups. That's the most important survival item.

    Realize you don't need all the stuff. It just slows you down and makes you a target with the nice para-military bag, etc.

    I do carry items I consider to be EDC important. Trial and need dictated the items I carry, not a what-if "I think this will be needed". Improvise and overcome.

    My list:
    Half a pencil with 6 ft of duct tape wrapped onto pencil
    Small Swiss army knife. The one with 1 blade, scissors, tweezers, toothpick, bottle / can opener and nail file.
    2 large band-aids and two butterfly band-aids
    Tube of Neosporin cream, not ointment (good for all scrapes and cuts)
    Small LED firefly flashlight (the one with the coin cell battery) Works well enough to get me home in the forest after dark.
    1 qt. plastic baggy ( all items above are put inside the baggy)
    Bandanna wrapped around the plastic baggy and items inside the baggy. Bandana has too many uses to mention.
    Six foot length of 550 cord wrapped tightly around the bandanna.
    This kit readily rides in my coat or pants pocket.

    During summer commutes through the hills, I carry a 12 or 16 oz. bottle of water. It's nice when the temp. hits 90 and I have 3 miles of uphill grade to slog.
    I'll carry the water bottle in a waist pack. I'll also wear a floppy hat and carry an 'extra' bandanna for sweat relief. Wet it down and wrap around back of neck.

    In my pockets, I carry separately:
    Buck 301 traditional stockman knife. It's legal to carry and three blades are all you'll ever need. Forget rambo.
    Good butane lighter
    Cell phone
    pack of kleenex (nose cleaner, blood stopper, butt wiper, fire starter. It's done all this for me)
    Small 1oz. bottle of alcohol hand sanitizer. Also a good fire -starter.
    Small wallet
    car / house keys
    Pen and sheet of paper. I'm a habitual note taker. I like to write my to-do lists and ideas while on the trail.

    What I carry is tested. This "kit" has remedied all sorts of problems on the trail and in daily life (soccer coaching, hunting, etc.). Many times over, one of these items kept me going until I could get to either work in morning or car in evening, or to obtain water or food. I travel fast and light with this minimal kit.

    I also wear sensible shoes and layered clothing. Working-class urban attire.

    Compass? Learn to tell your direction by the sun and stars. Always be aware of your surroundings. Go native
    Food bars? Water? I'm 65 and in good health. I know I can go five to six hours without either. I've done it. I just slow down and regulate my sweating. I do hydrate regularly every chance I get when water is available.

    I've had stare-downs with mountain lions, bobcats, including drunk / homeless wood rats and crazed mountain bikers who feel they own the trail I'm traveling. I've never needed a weapon, other than a decent tree limb and attitude.

    Assemble a minimum kit like mine. Get out and walk for 4 to 5 miles weekly with just your kit. Find out what's important and what's fluff. I'm sure you'll find health and being fit is at the top of your lis

  32. Put Bic lighter in waterproof plastic baggie, they are useless when wet.


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