The Critical EDC Items You Should Always Have on You

“You step outside, you risk your life. You take a drink of water, you risk your life. And nowadays, you breathe, and you risk your life.”

Hershel Green, The Walking Dead

Just like many people today, Hershel wasn’t always aware of the risks that were in the world. He had to come to it in his own time.

But once he did, it was clear things needed to change, he knew they all needed to be more alert and ready. In reality, there’s no way you can ever predict exactly if and when you, a friend, or a family member will end up in harm’s way or how severe it will be.

But those who are paying attention, know life is risky and it’s unpredictable. We know you can’t see something coming at you and hold up you hand and say “wait, let me get my gun, my flashlight, etc.”

Imagine you’re at a stadium concert with your family and there’s an blast and the building fills with smoke. Or you witness a car accident on the highway and find a child trapped in their car seat. Nowadays you could be attacked while walking your dog or while loading groceries into your car.

Preppers know that being prepared can truly be the determine life or death for you, your loved ones, even a stranger.

And this is where everyday carry (EDC) comes in. It’s a strategy of readiness that focuses on some critical EDC items you should always have on you, so you are prepared to deal with what life throws at you, no matter when it comes.

When it comes to your EDC strategy, you need to prepare to address critical survival issues such as fresh air, water, shelter, and food in the best way you can.

You also need to be prepared to any of life’s little inconveniences that crop up, address any medical issues that may arise, and be prepared to defend yourself against any person with an intent to do you harm. Your EDC are the items you carry with you at all times, on your person, so they are always with you.

Fresh Air…

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to breathe is critical. The average person can survive only up to 3 minutes without fresh air. If you find yourself in a smoke-filled building or trapped in a debris-filled area, you need to protect your lungs, so you can stay alert and get to safety.

For this reason, many people carry an N-95 or even an N-99 filtration mask or even a simple bandana as part of their everyday carry.

Bandanas are versatile and can be used to carry things, to protect your head or neck from sunburn, to help filter water, to make a sling, or signal for help.

If you suffer from asthma, your inhaler would be part of your EDC. Some people choose to carry a shemagh which is larger and even more versatile than a bandana.


…to drink is the next most critical survival issue. Most people can survive for as many as 3 days without fresh drinking water, but many people will start to feel the impact of dehydration even before that. You can be alert and help yourself out of a bad situation if you are suffering from dehydration.

So, having the ability to get fresh water is critical. Most people include a portable water filter, such a lifestraw or a sawyer mini, as part of their EDC. You may also want to carry a water bottle or packet of water, or/and iodine tablets to purify any fresh water source you do find.


isn’t always something people think of as being a critical survival need until they find themselves caught in a bad situation. The average person can only survive about 3 hours in extreme weather, so shelter is actually more critical a need than food.

When it comes to EDC, you can’t really carry a tent or a tarp around with you everyday. But you can carry paracord which can be used in combination with things you find around you to create a temporary shelter to protect from extreme sun, rain, or snow.

You can also carry an emergency space blanket which comes in a small square package. Even just having this to wrap around you or someone who nearly drowned or was in an accident can make a huge difference.


…is something that can be a critical resource for staying warm and for keeping wild animals away in a more rural situation. Fire is also necessary to boil water to purify it and to cook any small game you may catch in a longer-term survival situation.

Most people carry a fire striker but since you won’t always be in a scenario where you have the time and materials for a tinder ball, lighter, and waterproof matches as a backup are a great addition to your EDC.


When it comes to food as part of your EDC, what you want is to have enough energy to keep up your strength in a short-term emergency or a survival situation. Sure, the average person can manage to live as much as 3 weeks without food but lack of food, specifically protein, will sap your energy long before that.

Carry something like a protein bar or package of nuts to boost energy. For longer term situations, you may need to catch and clean small game.

A fixed blade knife is great to have on hand for this. A knife also is great to have for a variety of other tasks such as cutting paracord or even self-defense.


When it comes to emergency situations, many of them involve some type of medical issue. Whether it’s a car accident, a drowning, an accidental laceration to the arm, or low blood sugar, you’ll want to be prepared if professional medical help isn’t immediately available.

Consider including plastic straws or a pen, to make an airway, needle and thread for sutures, a packet of sugar, bandages, an epipen, etc.

You’ll also want to be prepared for life’s little medical inconveniences so add things such as pain relievers, triple antibiotic ointment, and antihistamine medication. If you have any chronic personal medical issues such as heartburn, high blood pressure, etc. you’ll want to carry at least one dose of your personal medications.

Security and Self-Defense

Many types of survival situations occur because someone else intends to harm us. Whether you are a random victim, or someone targets you, being prepared can save your life or the life of your loved ones. An intruder in your home isn’t going to wait patiently while you get your gun from upstairs.

If you are attacked or mugged, you need to be ready to defend yourself immediately. Consider adding pepper spray, a firearm, or a Kubotan to your EDC.

A tactical pen or even a tactical flashlight are also great additions. A whistle to signal or small mirror to signal for help if you are trapped and can’t yell loud enough to attract rescuers attention are good ideas.

clipping a tactical pen to camo pants pocket
clipping a tactical pen to camo pants pocket

In addition to the above items, other critical EDC items you should always have on you are your cell phone, your keys, and your wallet. Believe it or not, there are many essentials that fit in your wallet, keychain, and phone.

In fact, by including just these three items as part of your EDC, you can easily carry a ton of items that are useful in an emergency or survival situation.

Obviously, no one person can carry everything we’ve listed above. You will need to customize your EDC to fit your lifestyle and your personal needs. Concealed carry laws also differ in every state and sometimes depending on the building you will be in.

Some preppers have multiple EDC kits and they swap them out based on what they are doing during the day and where they expect to travel.

When it comes to EDC, experiment with different items until you find the combination or combinations that work best for your situation. The key to a successful EDC strategy is to feel confident that you are prepared to handle whatever life throws at you.

Note: I am not a doctor, so please don’t mistaken this for medical advice. neither the author nor shall be held liable for any side-effects as a result of applying the advice in this article. The advice is for information purposes only.

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