Practical Every Day Carry
So, my post on packing a bug-out bag was thorough. It was also expensive; even on the modest end, a person could easily drop several hundred dollars picking up what they needed.
So, as an alternative for the budget-conscious, I have created a list for your everyday carry. Nearly every item on this list is available for under $20 and you will probably already own much of this.
On your person:
- A survival keychain. I carry this one. Get something that you’ll actually carry— if it’s too bulky, you’ll probably unhook it at some point. <$10
- A small flashlight. $5-$15
- Mini lighter. ~$1 at any mini-mart, bodega, corner store, pharmacy, etc.
- Multitool. I personally carry a Leatherman. $10-$60
- Flat multitool for your wallet. Pick something that works for you. $5-$15
- Watch. Hopefully you already own one, but if not, you can pick up a waterproof one. $12+
- Ball-point pen. It doesn’t have to be a fancy astronaut pen; a simple clicking pen will work just fine.
Total: $30 (if you already own a watch and a pen)
For the cost of two pizzas you can be much better prepared.
If you carry a purse or messenger bag, you have some extra room. Here are a couple of things you can add:
- Collapsible water bottle. $10-$20. I got mine as swag at a convention.
- Water purification tablets or a Lifestraw. $10-$20.
- Survival blanket. $7
In your car:
- Survival blankets. $7
- Regular blankets. You can pick up old military blankets or source it however you want — thrift store, your closet, or make one. Even a picnic blanket is better than nothing. $0-$25.
- Sleeping bag (if you already have one!)
- An old backpack, duffel bag, or satchel of some kind that you already own. Everything that follows in this section goes in the bag. $0
- Clothes in Ziploc bags. 2 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of underwear, a t-shirt, a flannel shirt, a fleece, and gloves. Even those thin dollar store gloves are better than nothing. $0-$1. This should all come from things you own. Might have to spring for the spare gloves. In a pinch, a spare pair of clean socks can double as mittens.
- Hand warmers. $9+
- First aid kit. $12-$35 If you have spare meds you want to keep in this, I recommend doing so! I have a spare inhaler in mine. Just make sure to cycle it out occasionally.
- Small tool set — at least enough to do basic car maintenance. The one I’ve linked is $45, but it does include jumper cables, a tow rope, emergency triangle, a flashlight, and a first aid kit. It’s thorough. (Obviously, if you get something like this, you probably don’t need a separate first aid kit.)
- Water. I keep a 2 gallon container in the trunk. Be sure to rotate this out semi-regularly.
- Food. At least a few granola or protein bars. Again, cycle these out occasionally.
- Flashlights. A big one and a small one, along with spare batteries. Keep one in the glove compartment and the other in the trunk in the survival kit. Get whatever level you can afford. $5-$40+. If you have a Harbor Freight near you, they frequently give away flashlights and other small tools for free (no purchase required; just turn up with the right coupon from their website or mailer!).
Total: $62 at this point, assuming you already have a spare blanket and that you opt for the roadside tool kit.
- Money. If you can spare it, stash a few twenties in various spots. DON’T put money in the glove compartment or the center armrest between the driver and passenger; those are the two places thieves look first. This way, if your car runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere, you can call AAA (you have AAA, right?) and they’ll bring you gas. You have to pay the guy who brings you the gas in cash and it’s usually something like $7 for a gallon.
- Survival kit. Should have a way to purify water, a way to start a fire, shelter (whether that’s a couple of tarps or a mylar survival tent), paracord, a good knife, a hatchet, a compass, sewing kit, and a bandana.
The survival kit is admittedly where it can get pricey. Pick things up as you can and prioritize: shelter, water, fire. Hold off on getting doubles of anything that’s already in your EDC (every day carry).
Also for the car:
- Flares. This should already be part of your car’s emergency kit, but I’m putting it here just in case you haven’t gotten around to it yet. $10-$25
- Jumper cables. Same as with the flares. $15+ (if you get the tool kit above, it comes with jumper cables)
- Couple of spare spark plugs for your car. Make sure you know how to change a spark plug in your car!
- Motor oil.
- Fire Extinguisher. Get a small one meant for the car (will say for auto or gasoline fires). $16+
- If you live in a place where it snows, keep a bag of kitty litter in your trunk; you can use it if your car gets stuck in the snow.
Total: $30+ (depends on the spark plugs and motor oil your car need).
Okay, that’s it. You can get up your preparedness game piecemeal. Your EDC can cost as little as $30. Your car preparedness can start at around $50. If your budget is really tight, that’s okay. I know what it’s like to live on $5 for two weeks of food. Prioritize what’s important to you. Work on it bit by bit.
You can do it and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.