15 Critical Survival Items for Your Purse

Part of being prepared means keeping certain tools and gear with you at pretty much all times. Improvisation might be a tenet of prepping, but only the unprepared or the extremely unlucky will have to resort to it. It is far better to go out into the world with a few, modest gear choices that will prepare us to tackle the vast majority of events that might befall us.

womens purse

Chances are if you’ve been prepping for any length of time you were already familiar with the concept of EDC, or “everyday carry”.

These items represent the gear choices that you will always, always have with you barring extreme circumstances. Put another way, the things you carry every, single day when you leave the house.

Sometimes it can feel like quite a burden carrying survival gear, no matter how small and convenient the individual components are.

As it turns out, some ladies have a major advantage in this regard since they habitually carry a purse. Most purses have room to spare for some choice survival gear selections, even if it is already laden with all the things ladies need to get through their day, or things they think they need to get through their day.

In this article, I’ll be providing you with 15 critical survival items that can fit inside your purse easily and hassle free.

You Really Can Take It All With You

I must digress for a moment to impress upon our ladies in the audience who do carry a purse as a matter of course just how big of an advantage that is when it comes to personal readiness.

As it turns out, you are carrying a piece of luggage, in the strictest sense, that is purpose-built for holding and organizing items that you carry every day.

Most men need some form of cover or excuse to carry luggage without a tracking attention, attention that they probably don’t want.

Now, I’m not a woman and I don’t pretend to know everything that you need to get through your day with sanity, grace and style intact but wherever you are and whatever kind of lifestyle you need, I would urge you to thoroughly audit your purse, making note of everything that is in there and cutting out strictly everything that is not essential.

This will literally as well as figuratively lighten your load, and more practically make way for some of the genuinely useful survival items we are going to add to it.

Your purse might be full of loose change, a billfold, a menagerie of various makeup items and all sorts of other things that might not add up to much weight, but as we like to say in the prepping business ounces make pounds and pounds make pain.

Decluttering your purse is the first step to setting it up for the proper carry of survival gear. Don’t fret, you’ll still have plenty of room left over for all the other womanly stuff you need. At least you will so long as you aren’t carrying one of those teeny, tiny fashion micro purses!

Quick Considerations for Purse Carry

Now that you have cleaned your purse out, take the time to take stock of the interior. How many compartments do you have? How many pockets? Where do things belong according to how likely you are to access them, or how likely you are to need them urgently in an emergency?

When it comes to survival gear, particularly weapons, safety tools and medical supplies you don’t want to be rummaging around in a purse that is positively chock-full of stuff looking for an item that you need right freaking now.

If you need your pepper spray or even just a humble flashlight at the instant and you reach for it only to pull out your makeup mirror, lip gloss, lip gloss, receipts, sunglasses, billfold- Aha! – flashlight, then you might be in for a bad time.

Also a prime consideration that you must always keep in mind is that in the event of a robbery the purse you carry is very likely to be the target of the attack. After all, this is where women carry their valuables- cash, credit cards, smartphone and occasionally jewelry. This can obviously mean big trouble if you lose your purse entirely and all of the precious survival gear it carries in addition to your valuables.

That’s it on the primer; let’s get on to the list!

15 Critical Survival Items for Your Purse

edc flashlights


Ounce for ounce the humble flashlight is very likely to be your most valuable and most commonly used survival tool.

A flashlight provides lighting on demand, which is an incredibly “duh” statement to make, but considering how dependent humans are on vision to master our world this seemingly simple capability cannot have its importance overstated.

A flashlight will help you find your way in a natural or man-made environment when light is low or completely non-existent.

The darkness can hide all kinds of hazards that will waylay the unwary, and included among these hazards are predators, particularly the two-legged kind. Illuminating these predators, and their potential hiding places, goes a long way to making you a much harder target.

Take pains to ensure that your flashlight, whatever model you choose, is placed in your purse in such a way that it is easily drawn in an instant should you need it. A good clip can help you here.

O.C. Spray

I think everybody should carry pepper spray, particularly women since you have such an easy way to carry it much of the time.

Chances are this is not the first time you have heard this advice, but I’m not recommending it because I think you can’t handle a firearm, a knife or any other more serious weapon.

Don’t kid yourself because I’m not kidding you: OC spray is an extraordinarily effective self-defense weapon, despite being rarely, if ever, lethal.

If you administer an accurate, full-strength shot of the hot stuff to somebody’s face chances are extremely likely that you are going to drain the fight right out of them.

The pain will be excruciating, their eyes will likely screw shut, and then the tears, coughing and mucus production will begin in earnest. Most folks simply cannot or will not fight through the pain induced by pepper spray.

Some naysayers, who are typically idiots, denounce pepper spray as not worthwhile because it is not “100% effective”. Guess what? Nothing that you can carry under your own power is, including a firearm. Get pepper spray, get trained in its use, and carry it all the time. No exceptions.

recently cleaned Swiss army knife


Perhaps second only to the flashlight and importance as a survival tool, a knife is a mandatory inclusion. Don’t worry, you don’t have to make it some giant, lethal looking commando dagger or anything like that.

A tasteful, conservative folding knife or a lean, compact fixed blade will do the job. In fact, our knife is, almost invariably, a tool first and a weapon second or even a distant third.

Your knife will have all sorts of uses in a survival scenario, from cutting away jammed seat belts or moving clothing quickly and easily from around an injury.

Of course, it will still serve admirably for all sorts of other mundane, daily chores as well, from opening packages picked up from the post office to neatly slicing a piece of ripe fruit.

Every, single good citizen should carry a knife of one kind or another, and that includes you!

first aid kit

First-Aid Kit

It is hard to state all the many and varied ways you can be injured in an emergency situation. Your daily routine alone probably furnishes no less than 100 unique and uniquely painful ways to get hurt, and you have only avoided such due to long practice or even luck.

Another tenet of prepping is getting ready to become your own first responder in a crisis, and that means you’ll need to carry a first-aid kit with you.

If you are imagining some large, navy blue duffle bag type of first-aid kit, the kind that paramedics typically carry, put that out of your mind for now: I am instead talking about an extremely sparing, lightweight kit that will cover only the necessities along with the most serious injuries that can be easily treated by an individual, comparatively.

A first-aid kit that has a few band-aids, antiseptic, burn gel, gauze and gauze pads, compression wrap and perhaps a tourniquet we’ll take care of 99% of your problems so long as you have the skills to employ it.

Also, more good news is that these supplies are as a rule extremely lightweight, and by packing them together in an equally lightweight first aid pouch you’ll have a seriously compact but very capable package.


Your phone of choice does not need much in the way of introduction or explanation here. It is not much of an understatement to say that these devices make modern life possible, but more germane to our topic of conversation they are packed with potentially life-saving capability, including multiple modes of communication, navigational equipment, databases and more.

So long as your phone is powered rescue personnel and law enforcement agencies can also potentially locate you using it, so don’t discount that.

Yes, I know you love it because it takes all of your best selfies and helps you stay connected on social media, but do keep it in perspective: these little technological marvels are borderline miraculous. Keep it charged and keep it close!

Power Bank

I wasn’t exaggerating about your phone’s importance to your overall personal readiness condition. Those things are so capable and so important that it is generally a good idea to carry an additional power source just to ensure that your phone stays up as long as you need it.

You have a couple of options to do this, with one way being the carrying of an entirely separate, charged battery for your phone. Workable, but with the preponderance of phones on the market moving to non-detachable batteries the sun might be setting on this idea.

A far more adaptable plan is to carry a power bank, or power cell, for your phone. Just about as slim and as light as your phone itself, these little gadgets function as a spare “fuel tank” allowing your phone to draw power on demand.

You do have to remember to periodically recharge these the same as your phone, but it is a small burden to give your phone two or even three times as much run time as it would have with its internal battery alone. Don’t forget the appropriate cable!

Disposable Gloves

You know life is going to get nasty from time to time, and that might take the form of picking up dog poop with a dodgy napkin, fishing your keys out of a filthy storm drain or tending to a bleeding, screaming casualty.

Whatever the case, it is always in your best interest to keep disgusting and potentially dangerous biohazards and other nastiness off of your hands.

The single, best way to do this when it is time to get dirty? Simple: disposable gloves. Latex, nitrile or other, as long as they are impermeable to fluids you are in good shape.

Make sure they are sized to fit your hands and you keep them in a protective container so they don’t get torn up. They essentially don’t weigh anything, so bring several pairs.


The age of the germ is definitely upon us, and life going forward will never quite return to normal. This is likely to take the form of paranoia and religious adherents to hand washing, at least I hope it does.

Considering how mobile your hands are, anything that they touch will eventually get all over you, and all over everything you keep near you and very short order, exponentially multiplying infection vectors. Washing your hands is the single, best way to stop that.

But, as it turns out, you won’t always have the ability to wash your hands with soap and running water. You know what I’m going to say next, grab the hand sanitizer.

Hand sanitizer made with plenty of alcohol will absolutely destroy the overwhelming majority of germs on your hands with a brisk washing then rubbing motion. When in doubt, sanitizer out!


You might be as smart as a whip with a memory like a steel trap, but you should not depend on it when you need to remember important, novel information. That could be a phone number, a description of a person, a description of a vehicle, a license plate, anything.

If it’s important write it down! Yes, you can always use your phone and dictate to it or manually type in your notes, but for certainty that is only born from tactile feedback nothing beats a notepad.

You don’t have to go crazy here; a bog common 90 cent pocket memo notepad will work fine, but you’ll always get better mileage and durability out of a higher quality one. Moleskines are cute and classic with a proud literary history, but spendy.

A better use of that coin would be on a durable, waterproof notepad of the type exemplified by Rite-in-the-Rain brand notepads. Using one of those you can be sure that whatever you write down will survive your personal apocalypse.


Your notepad won’t be any good without something to write with, and nothing beats a dependable ballpoint pen. Whip it out and start writing. Easy, fast, certain. That’s what you need.

Pencils need sharpening and mechanical pencils are not durable under stress. Consider upgrading your pen to a quality model with an ink reservoir that won’t dry out, leak or smudge on the paper.

If you pick a durable pen with a machined aluminum or even steel body it can make a handy improvised weapon when all other methods fail.

Getting a hardened metal cylinder jammed into the soft parts of your body with force is going to get someone’s full and total attention, I promise you! It might be just the opening you need to get away or execute your next move.

Tiny Roll of Duct Tape

Laugh all you want, but for all the memes and the cliché, borderline worship of the stuff duct tape can really solve virtually any problem that you might have.

From holding a busted heel on your favorite shoes to mending a hole in your jacket or even patching your purse after it is nearly yanked off your body. Duct tape will do it with its unrivaled combination of extreme stickiness, water resistance and durability.

But a giant roll of duct tape is heavy and hardly easy to carry, plus if you are spotted carrying it in your purse people will rightly wonder just what in the hell is wrong with you.

An easy way to avoid this is to create your own tiny roll of duct tape by first pulling off a long section of at least several feet and then cautiously rewrapping it around a thin dowel rod or even a length of cord.

The end result will be a compact cylinder scarcely bigger than an old film canister and far easier to carry, but you’ll walk a little easier knowing you have it with you when you need it.


A bandana, or handkerchief, is a survival and EDC superstar tool. Aside from its mundane purposes of serving as a headband, sweatband, napkin or tissue it can be pressed into service as a bandage, mask, padding, a small bag and so much more.

Bandanas are even useful for self-defense by forming a sort of improvised flail. If you really get in a pinch you can take a rock, padlock or any other dense, heavy, small object, roll it up in the bandana and then swing for the fences.

Make sure to rotate your bandanas out periodically if you use them for more mundane purposes, and keep a healthy supply in rotation so you’ll always have one on you when you need it. You’ll never be remorseful that you brought one with you.


The mastery of fire is mankind’s oldest and most primordial technological achievement, and though it is surely taken for granted today you should never underestimate the blessing that fire can bring you.

Even in our modern times clever survivors have started fires to signal for help, stay warm and hostile conditions, light their way and even save their own lives from hostile attackers. You never know what you’ll need a fire for, or when.

Instead of rubbing sticks together when the chips are down, you can cut to the chase by simply clicking your Bic, just like the slogan says.

Modern lighters are ultra-reliable, dirt cheap and available everywhere so there’s no reason you shouldn’t have at least a couple of these little things in your purse, even if you are a non-smoker.

Also, don’t underestimate the social value of sharing a cigarette with someone or just providing them a light even if you don’t smoke.


A proper multi-tool makes a great accompaniment to your knife when it is time to fix something, jury-rig something or just bring a little more force to bear on the problem.

The Leatherman is the classic example of this tool but for something even smaller, lighter and leaner the Swiss Army knife works just as well and also includes a knife blade, obviously.

The pliers are really the star of the show, however, and make most multi-tools worth caring so think about it before you give them up.

If you are worried about the weight and bulk of a proper multi-tool you can take heart that there are compact and even folding models that have a far smaller footprint and pose less of a burden.

Some, like the Swiss-Tool and Gerber Dime are so compact you’ll forget about them until you need them. But once more, when you need them you’ll be awfully glad you have them!


If you were going any farther than across town you’d be wise to keep a compass on you. As good as our smartphones are they can fail. Even dedicated GPS systems can fail.

Even if you have a map and atlas in your car (and you should) disasters can so ravage the landscape that areas you know well are unrecognizable, or nearly so.

The compass is another ancient tool that is just as important today as it was all those many hundreds of years ago when it was invented.

Luckily for us we have access to incredibly tiny personal compasses, commonly called “button” compasses for their shape.

These little compasses can provide rudimentary direction finding only compared to larger and more accurate field compasses but they are more than accurate enough to tell you which way you are heading which is usually enough to help you lock onto a road or other pathway and get to where you need to go.

These button compasses typically clip on to straps or watch bands so you should have a home for it somewhere inside your purse but it will stay secure and out of the way until you need it.


Purses are a blessing as far as the carry of emergency survival items is concerned. Your purse can easily haul an assortment of useful or even lifesaving gear with nary a problem, and so long as you choose intelligently you’ll have plenty of room left over for your other daily items without overburdening yourself.

Take the time to review the recommendations on our list above and you can quickly set up your purse for survival!

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