56 Item EDC List – WHAT You Should Take & WHY

By Just In Case Jack | Last Updated: December 10, 2021

EDC ListThis article is Skilled Survival’s Ultimate 56-Item EDC List. 

A complete checklist that not only tells you WHAT to add to your EDC list but also WHY.

Everyday Carry – This is a term EVERYONE should become familiar with. Why? Because everyone has stuff they take with them when they leave the house.

Even if it’s items such as:

  • set of car keys
  • a wallet
  • and a smartphone

But here at Skilled Survival think you can do better. You should be strategic and tactical to help you prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

For example, small tools increase your ability to handle everyday challenges or critical emergencies.

So today, I will share with you my Ultimate EDC Checklist. This list includes every possible piece of everyday carry gear you MIGHT want to add to YOUR EDC.

Here’s a video I shot of my EDC list if you’d prefer to watch it instead of reading it:

EDC List – My Everyday Carry Setup

Note: I’m not suggesting you carry everything on this list. That would be silly; your EDC would get way too heavy. Instead, think of this as an EDC IDEA list. You get to pick and choose from this list of items depending on your preferences.

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Pockets Only EDC

These are all the small, frequently used EDC gear you can take with you, even if you’ve only got pockets to work with. I’m talking about pants, coats, or shirt pockets.

1. Car Keys

If you drive, you need a set of keys or a fob. Perhaps technology will change this someday. But the day this EDC list was published, most folks needed to keep track of their keys when they left the house.

I added this small Gerber shard to my keyfob, and I’ve used it to pry open a few bottles and used the Phillips screw head in a pinch.

2. Tactical Wallet / Money Clip

Even if you don’t carry cash, you still carry a few pieces of plastic (i.e., credit cards, loyalty cards, etc.)

Smartphone tech may replace these rectangles of plastic someday soon. But mass adoption of this tech seems to remain a few years out.

I recommend you check out these tactical wallets. Why? Because you should upgrade any piece of gear you carry with you EVERYWHERE, nearly EVERY DAY.

3. Cell Phone / SmartPhone

In modern times, nearly everyone has a cell phone or smartphone. And we’re all addicted to these things. How can you tell? Do you feel immediate distress when you can’t find your phone? If you’re like most people nowadays, you’re not likely to leave home without it.

It’s getting so bad; there’s a new phenomenon called distracted walking!

4. Survival Watch / Fitness Tracker

I currently wear this basic Casio solar watch. I’ve owned and worn this watch for nearly five years. But I’m currently looking at upgrading to this watch.

Why? Because I love the look and features of this tactical watch, plus I want to track my heart rate for fitness purposes.

But I know watches are a very personal EDC item. So, get what you like, but get a survival watch or tactical watch if you’re into preparedness.

5. Face Mask / Gaiter

I always keep a lightweight neck gaiter/face mask in my pocket.

That way, IF I’m required to mask up or ride my bike on a cold morning, I can cover my mouth and nose with something to cut the wind.

Here’s the neck gaiter I own and recommend.

6. Tactical Gloves

This EDC gear depends on what you do every day and the season. If it’s winter and cold outside, you’ll want to wear a set of gloves.

If you use your hands to lift or fix, we’ll then you might want to carry some tactical gloves to protect those digits.

7. Hat

USA Camo CapI wear a hat throughout the summer. I also wear a stocking cap in the winter.

So, while a hat may not always come to mind when you think EDC, for some, it IS gear you take with you when you leave the house.

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8. Pocket Knife

Pocket knives are one of the most popular EDC list items. Why? Because they help you take care of all sorts of small tasks.

Because cutting open Amazon boxes is quickly becoming a daily task. Plus, you could come across all the other thousands of pocket knife uses throughout your day.

9. Survival Lighter

Tough Tesla Lighter For Car Kit in EmergencyI was at my son’s friend’s birthday party the other day, and the parents forgot a lighter. Whoops! So they started asking around. Fortunately, I dug my survival lighter out of my pack and saved the day! Phew.

I don’t smoke, so I carry this lighter mainly as a “just in case” survival tool. But it can come in handy from time to time in a pinch.

And in a worst-case survival emergency, being able to start a fire can be a lifesaver. So I recommend you add a survival lighter to your EDC list.

10. Tactical Flashlight

I think EVERYONE should carry a bright tactical EDC flashlight. Because you never know when you’ll be out in the dark. What if your car breaks down? What if you get lost walking across town?

The point is that a tactical flashlight is a wise piece of gear to add to your EDC gear.

And at the time this article was published, the team at SkilledSurvival was giving away our excellent EDC Tactical FireHawk Flashlight for FREE (plus a very reasonable S/H fee). Click here now to see if this deal is still available.

11. Ear Buds

Wireless earbuds are small and allow you to listen to music during a workout or a podcast while working.

They are an excellent addition to your EDC list for entertainment purposes.

Here are the earbuds I own, use, and recommend. But there are hundreds of earbuds to choose from.

12. Whistle

A simple deterrent you can add to your keychain is a loud whistle. In an emergency, blowing a whistle will get you immediate attention from strangers and freak out a would-be attacker.

Both are good when you’re alone and scared.

A whistle is also a good idea in case you ever get lost. A loud whistle can travel much further than a human can scream. You are helping search and rescue teams locate your faster and from further away.

I recommend this small but insanely loud scream whistle.

13. Hand Warmers (coat pocket)

Electronic hand warmers are an excellent EDC gift for the right person. I know my Wife, Mom, and Daughter all get cold fingers in the winter. Well, an electronic hand warmer solves this problem.

But electronic hand warmers are also a nice gift for hunters. Perhaps you head out early in the morning and sit for hours in the cold waiting for prey. Good luck shooting your target with accuracy if your fingers go numb.

Instead, get some hand warmers to keep your fingers both warm and agile.

Here’s the hand warmer I own, use, and recommend.

14. Neck Knife

Survival Neck KnifeA neck knife is a small, fixed-blade knife that fits into a compact, slim sheath. Then this sheath connects to a necklace.

That way, the knife hangs down beneath your shirt and won’t leave an imprint.

It’s an intelligent way to carry a knife without anyone knowing.

Here’s the neck knife I own, use, and recommend.

15. Tactical Pen

Survival Tactical PenMy favorite EDC list gear is stuff that pulls double-duty. That’s why you should invest in a tactical pen.

First off, I believe everyone should carry a pen. Why? Because shared pens at the bank or other public places are chock-full of bacteria. Gross!

Plus, you can use a tactical pen to protect yourself in a pinch. This ability goes double for anyone who knows how to use one.

A tactical pen can be a deadly self-defense weapon in the right set of hands.

Here’s the tactical pen I own, use, and recommend.


16. Paracord Bracelet

Some people wear a paracord bracelet to “look cool.” But those who know understand paracord has dozens of survival uses.

That’s why I wear a paracord bracelet every day.

17. Credit Card Knife

Credit card knives became popular a few years ago; they even ended up on TSA’s most confiscated items list.

And lots of cheap versions of them flooded the market. But there are also a few that are of very high quality.

If you get one of these, it’s another way to carry a valuable piece of survival gear as a part of your EDC list.

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Small Bag, Purse, Or Pouch EDC

If all you have are pockets, you’re limited in how much EDC gear you can carry. That’s why I suggest you at least consider a purse, pouch, or EDC bag.

This will give you more flexibility to add a few more items to your EDC list.

I wrote an article on several high-quality small EDC bags and pouches.

18. Phone Charger & Cables (Dual)

You should carry a charger to keep your phone (or other electronic devices) from dying while you’re out and about.

Get one with dual USB ports. That way, if someone is already hogging an electrical outlet, you have a way you both can plugin.

19. Tactical Sunglasses

Sunglasses are a popular EDC item. So why not upgrade yours to a tactical pair of sunglasses?

20. Small Water Filter

The size of personal water filters has become extremely small. So small that it makes sense to add one to your EDC kit.

I’m talking about a filter that weighs only 2 ounces and is just four by three by 8 inches.

Plus, the manufacturer claims its filter can remove 99.999% of all bacteria. And it’s rated for up to 100,000 gallons of water!

That’s why I recommend everyone carry this small water filter.

21. Survival Blanket / Tact Bivvy

TACT Bivvy In HandAnother lightweight survival tool EVERYONE should carry is an Emergency Blanket. These are shiny, paper-thin blankets made of Mylar. The ones most first responders use to help keep victims warm in cold weather.

The power behind Mylar is it doesn’t allow ANY heat or air molecules to transfer. So it traps any heat your body produces inside the blanket. This helps keep you warm (as long as your body has some heat left).

I upgrade from a blanket to a sleeping bag version of this. That’s why I own, use, and carry the Tact Bivvy.

22. Multi-Tool

The multi-tool is the gear that embodies the essence of Everyday Carry. These tools often include the following items:

  • a sharp blade
  • a serrated blade
  • a pair of small scissors
  • a screwdriver head (regular and Phillips)
  • a pair of needle nose plyers

If you consider yourself handy, you should upgrade from a pocketknife to a multi-tool.

I carry this leatherman multi-tool.

23. Minimalist Medical Kit

You should always have a small medical kit with you, especially if you have young kids. You want to be able to deal with minor scrapes, cuts, burns, chapped skins, etc.

Now, if you’re limited on space with a purse or a small pouch, you’ll want to keep this medical kit minimalistic.

However, if you have room, I suggest you upgrade to a MyMedic IFAK Kit (I’ll cover this again in more detail later).

24. Pepper Spray

Pepper spray has proven to be an effective deterrent to unwanted attacks. And if you choose not to carry a firearm, you should still protect yourself.

Pepper spray is simple to use and effective. So, get a small bottle of it, and stash it in your EDC purse or pouch, just in case.

25. Personal Alarm

A safety alarm siren has the same benefits as a whistle, but instead of needing to blow into it, you just pull the pin. These devices are not as easy to silence as you think.

Once, my daughter accidentally pulled the pin on my wife’s safety siren at a restaurant. I grabbed it and tried to silence it by putting the pin back in (nope).

Then I covered it with my hands to try and muffle it. But that made things worse. Because now EVERYONE was staring at us, wondering if I was a bad guy trying to hide my intentions.

So I quickly left the restaurant and stomped on the thing once outside. Nope, it kept blaring.

Finally, I removed my multi-tool from my pocket, pried the thing open, and cut the wires. That silenced it, but then I had to explain to the restaurant management what had happened.

It was embarrassing, but I take comfort in knowing it’s an excellent deterrent to a would-be attacker.

26. Stun Gun

A stun gun is a high-powered nonlethal weapon to neutralize a threat. Just push the button and jam it straight at the bad guy.

This is a must-own EDC tool for anyone who doesn’t know much about self-defense or carrying a firearm.


Self Defense Kit to Keep in Car

Self Defense Kit to Keep in Car

Note: The past three items on this EDC list were self-defense-related.

And I think you should carry all three (personal alarm, pepper spray, and stun gun).

That’s why I recommend you check out this self-defense bundle by Survival Frog.

SURVIVAL FROG Lifeshield Self Defense Kit

27. Medium-Sized Folder Knife

EVATAC Rescue Knife

You can often add an excellent-sized folder knife to your EDC kit with a purse or pouch.

A folder takes up less space than a fixed-blade knife. But if you get the right kind, it can still be tough enough to deal with most survival and preparedness tasks.

I own, use, and carry this EVATAC Rescue Knife.

28. Paracord Grenade

Perhaps you’d prefer not to wear a paracord bracelet, well, I still think it’s wise to carry some paracord with you. So, stashing or clipping a small paracord grenade is the answer.

Plus, they stuff these paracord grenades full of a small number of survival tools, such as:

  • tinder
  • fishing line
  • hooks
  • Ferro rod,
  • etc.

You likely will never need this stuff, but it’s a nice bonus, just in case.

The bottom line is that paracord is extremely useful for all sorts of tasks, so you should add some to your EDC list.

29. Pocket Knife Sharpener

If you carry a bladed tool, you should also find room for a small pocketed knife sharpener. Now don’t let the size of this knife sharpener fool you; it can sharpen nearly any size blade.

It’s also much easier to carry than a traditional whetstone.

Here’s the one I own and carry.

30. Small Portable Battery Bank

Nowadays, it can be a real bummer if your cell phone goes dead when you’re running around town.

A dead phone can’t communicate with a friend you’re meeting via text. It also can’t direct you to a nearby restaurant via GPS.

Instead, you could easily carry a bit of extra juice around in your EDC with a small USB-based battery bank.

31. Small Solar Charger/Battery Bank Combo

Lantern SolarAnd if you want to upgrade your small battery bank, get one with a built-in solar panel.

That way, you’ll never be completely dead in the water.

You can always get some extra power via the sun in a pinch.

32. Poncho

Like the Mylar emergency blanket discussed above, an emergency poncho is lightweight. But if you’re ever caught out in a rainstorm, it’ll be well worth the few ounces to haul it around every day.

If you ever find yourself both soaking wet AND freezing cold, hypothermia is a real threat. But a poncho can help keep the dampness out of the equation.

It’s one of those everyday carry tools that is a real-life saver if you ever truly need to use it.

33. Selfie Stick

I admit that I have a LOVE / HATE relationship with selfie sticks.

First off, I rarely use mine, but I’m glad I have it when I do. You see, if there are other people around, I’ll ask them kindly if they could take a picture of our family.

But we often hike out in remote places, and sometimes there’s just no one around. In those cases, the selfie stick comes to the rescue. It allows you to capture family adventures even in remote places. Worth it!

34. Tissue

I’ve added a small pack of tissues to my EDC list. I have small kids, so a random blast of snot is always a threat. But also, if nature calls and I’m nowhere near a bathroom, I don’t think I need to explain any further.

Plus, public bathrooms are notorious for being completely out of the TP!

35. Toothpicks / Floss

There’s nothing worse than getting a piece of meat or popcorn seed stuck in your teeth and being unable to get it out. Places like a movie theater or at a campsite, where toothpicks can be hard to come by.

That’s why keeping a few in your EDC kit makes sense.

36. Ear Plugs

You never know when you’ll run into loud noises. But with earplugs, you can take the edge off and retain some of your sanity.

And if you’re ever forced to stay a night in an airport, you’ll thank me.

37. Notepad & Pencil

I like to jot things down on a notepad to keep from forgetting and relax my mind. I hate trying to remember something important (like something funny kids said) only to forget it later. And then “poof,” it’s gone forever.

I prefer a pencil because pens can run out of ink. I can use a pocket knife to expose some fresh lead (at least until the pencil runs out). But it’s often a complete surprise when a pen is out of ink. Plus, many pens will freeze up in cold weather.

So, while a pen may be mightier than a sword, a pencil is more resilient than a pen.

38. Hand Sanitizer

In our world of infectious diseases, it makes sense to keep your hands germ-free. A tool that helps prevent unnecessary illnesses is worth carrying.

Also, public restrooms are just nasty and often out of soap.

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EDC Backpack

Now, if you’re like me, you carry around a small everyday carry backpack. If you do, you can take even more EDC gear with you. Heck, I consider my EDC backpack my Get Home Bag as well!

With that said, I chose this EVATAC Combat Bag.

It’s not too big and not too small. It uses high-quality fabric, uses double sticking in high-stress points, uses thick non-snag zippers, and it’s’ got MOLLE all over it.

I believe it’s one of the best Everday carry packs – especially at this reasonable price point.

row of images combat bag

Here are some of my favorite EDC gear items to add:

39. MOLLE Capatable Medical Pouch

MyFak IFAK Emergency Trauma First Aid KitIn the previous section, I suggested adding a few first aid supplies.

Now, with a backpack, you should add a MOLLE-compatible medical pouch.

I highly recommend this IFAK pouch from MyMedic.

40. Water Bottle / Coffee Thermos

With a backpack, you now have room for a water bottle or coffee thermos. Now, let me say I carry a double-wall insulated water bottle in my EDC kit.

But I carry a single-walled water bottle for my get-home bag and bug-out bag. Why? Because, with a single-walled water bottle, you can safely boil water in a pinch.

It takes much longer to boil water in a double wall over a fire, and it could be unsafe to do so.

41. Fixed Blade Survival Knife

Again, with your extra space, you might want to consider adding a fixed-blade survival knife to your EDC kit.

Here’s an article that reviews several quality survival knives.

42. Small Binoculars

Binoculars are such powerful tools. I mean, they’re like having a superhero’s powers being able to zoom into items too far to see with the naked eye.

You can’t tell me that’s not a significant advantage in a bug-out situation. And I find myself using mine often. For example, whenever we spot wild game out (deer, elk, moose, fox, coyotes, hawks, eagles, etc.)

So, it’s a fun AND useful EDC tool to add to your list.

43. Larger Solar Charger / Battery Bank

This one is like the solar battery bank device I shared earlier, but it’s a significant upgrade. This solar charger includes a larger battery bank AND includes four solar panels.

The Quadro pro-Solar Bank Charger is a device that has saved my bacon on several occasions.

And I even experimented to see if I could keep my smartphone charged up for an entire week on this quadra pro alone.

And yes, as long as I remembered to take full advantage of the sun throughout the day. I was able to keep my smartphone charged up just with this tool. Pretty sweet – especially in a wilderness survival situation.

Quadrapro Solar Panels usage images

44. Hand Crank Radio

This device does take up a bit more space, but it could be worth it to some. You see, communication is critical in an emergency. And radio waves will be one of the more resilient forms of emergency broadcasts we have.

Plus, you’ll never run out of power with a hand-crank radio. The built-in hand crank generator creates energy using your muscles.

Honestly, if you choose a hand-crank radio, you can use it as a power generator, battery bank, and radio.

This single device can replace several of the other EDC list items. But you just need to have a large enough EDC pack to fit it.

45. EMP Pouch

Have you ever heard of solar flares? Or how about an EMP strike from a nuclear explosion? These are not science fiction – these are real proven threats.

For example, small electronics become paperweight after a large EMP.

But you can protect your EDC list electronics with the use of an EMP bag. I use this one from Mission Darkness to keep my solar charger and hand-crank radio in there.

46. Backpackers Blow Up Mattress

I keep a small backpacker’s blow-up mattress in my EDC backpack. Why? I want to be comfortable no matter what life throws at me. This goes double if I’m traveling on planes and have layovers.

You can’t assume everything will go smoothly with air travel. Every year thousands (perhaps millions) get stranded in airports worldwide. Sometimes for several days!

If that happens to me, I want something I can lay on to get a comfortable night’s sleep no matter what.

To me, it’s worth it to take this device with me since it’s compact when packaged up and weighs less than 1 pound.

47. Skivvy Roll

Another item I always keep in my EDC backpack is a skivvy roll. This is a small bundle of underclothes to change into if you are ever stranded somewhere.

My skivvy roll consists of socks, a white tee shirt, and a pair of boxer shorts. And this skivvy roll can double as a small pillow in a pinch if I’m forced to sleep on my backpacker’s mattress.

In a miserable situation, it’s hard to believe how much of a morale booster fresh undergarments can be. Don’t discount them.

48. Tinder

Starting a fire is much easier with the right kind of dry tinder.

Of course, you’ll also need to gather up the proper type of kindling, but it all starts with tinder. The good news is tinder is easy to carry. It takes up almost no space and is very lightweight.

You can buy several different types of tinder online. OR you can use something like dryer lint or pencil shavings. That’s what I use, I have a manual pencil sharpener, and when it gets full, I empty it and save the shavings in a ziplock.

49. Ferro Rod

You should always carry at least two forms of fire starters. Or even three if you want to make sure you’re covered. But I take a survival lighter and keep a Ferro rod handy.

Now, if you choose to carry a Ferro rod, please take the time to practice. It’s not as easy to start a fire with a Ferro rod as you think.

First off, it takes the proper tinder (see item above), but it also requires the appropriate technique.

For example, you should never push the striker toward your tinder. Why? Because you’ll more than likely run your hand into the tinder knocking it everywhere.

Instead, leave your striker’s hand still and pull back from the tinder with the hand holding the rod.

Both methods will send sparks into the tinder, but one way disrupts the tinder while the other way won’t. Practice, practice, practice!

50. Folding Toothbrush

I suggested you pack a toothpick and floss in your small EDC pouch, purse, or bag. But once you’re working with a bit more space, I think you should also add a small foldable toothbrush.

Dental hygiene is essential; for me, it’s also a morale booster. Clean teeth always make me feel a little better if I’m feeling dirty after a long day of backpacking.

Sure, it’s a luxury item, but they make such small ones nowadays it’s hard to pass up, IMO.

51. Compass

I don’t like relying on electronic data for my navigation. Sure, I use GPS when it’s available, but I know it won’t ALWAYS be available.

While I know a compass will show me N.E.S.W. no matter what’s going on with the state of the world.

If you’re going to carry a compass, take the time to learn how to use it to navigate across wilderness terrain.

At a minimum, watch a few YouTube videos and then practice in your neighborhoods.

52. Deck Of Cards

You can play so many fun games with a deck of cards. My kids play a game called garbage all the time. They also play slapjack and war.

I like to play solitaire to pass the time. And if you have a group, euchre is fun.

Sometimes, life is downright dull (i.e., doctor’s offices, long lines, etc.). That’s why it’s worth packing something to keep your mind busy and calm.

53. USB Rechargeable Batteries

If you carry gear that requires AA batteries, add these USB rechargeable batteries.

These batteries are not only rechargeable but plug into ANY USB port to juice them back up. Heck, you can even rechargeable them using your hand crank radio’s USB port.

For example, perhaps your tactical flashlight takes an AA battery. Well, what happens if you are away from home (or civilization) when the battery wears out? Well, that excellent flashlight is now a useless paperweight.

Don’t let that happen; snag some USB rechargeable batteries.

54. Koozie

Koozies are small and lightweight but keep your drink nice and cold for longer. Because not everything has to be about survival; this is one of my most used EDC items.

If I visit a friend and they offer me a beer, well, out comes my handy dandy koozie.

55. Harmonica

This is another luxury item and won’t be something everyone packs. But a harmonica is a pretty easy instrument to play.

Sure, you might not be able to play any tunes other folks recognize. But even my five-year-old can play some stuff that doesn’t sound too bad.

So perhaps a harmonica is something you’d like to take to enjoy some downtime.

56. Small Puzzles

This is another entertainment idea. I can get at least 30 mins of peace and quiet when I bust out a puzzle for my kiddos.

Puzzles are a fun way to pass the time and allow you to converse with those you’re puzzling with.

Try adding a small portable puzzle to your EDC kit and watch everyone enjoy themselves.

57. Good Book

Finally, I try to always keep a new book with me. I’m a constant reader, and I enjoy both fiction and non-fiction. Physical books are more resilient than E-books or podcasts.

I never want my EDC gear and supplies to be reliant on electricity or power.

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it. That’s everything I carry or have carried in the past. Again, I don’t necessarily recommend you pack everything on this EDC list.

Perhaps you only want to focus on a minimalistic EDC setup. Or maybe, like me, you don’t mind taking a small backpack everywhere you go.

The bottom line is that you should consider what makes sense. What gear do you feel you’ll use? What items will make life just a little bit better?

Then put together your plan and start testing it out.

Remember: Prepare, Adapt, and Overcome,

“Just In Case” Jack

P.s. Are you ready for the tough times ahead?

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