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5 Useful Items You Should Never Be Without

Everyday carry is something anyone can benefit from. More than just a mindset of preparation and planning, more often than not it will require a specific set of tools that will fit a specific scenario for a specific person.  What isn’t as personal perhaps is a list of the most useful items that might find their way into your pockets, bags, or car. The list below is composed of some of the most impactful and utilitarian of all the items designed to fit in small spaces.

A note: The typical response by those looking to invest in everyday carry is to purchase the best tools money can buy as an extra level of insurance that these things will prove their worth; as such, it can become a costly “hobby.” Remember that a tool’s worth will inevitably be proven by the amount of action it sees. Everyday carry doesn’t have to be expensive; it simply needs to be usable and provide some level of efficiency for the user. It’s as personal as you want it to be, and therefore, only the specific end user can determine its value.

Additionally, everyday carry need not be over the top. While you might see someone traveling carrying a whole bag of goodies on a long trip, they may only utilize two to four items on a day-to-day basis. Starting with a pilot run of one or two items as an everyday carry package could probably give you enough insight over the course of a couple weeks to determine if this concept even really appeals to you. Perhaps looking through these items below will help you determine which items make the most sense for you to try out.

Flashlight: A flashlight will illuminate dark passages and help you on the road if your car fails or someone else needs some assistance.  It can help deter a shadowy figure in the distance behind you by alerting them to your knowledge of their whereabouts, your situational awareness, and your preparedness.  With a simple flashlight, you can change the mindset of an aggressive pursuer.  A high-quality small flashlight might only cost $10 to $25, and even high-end ones won’t cost more than about $100 for what can fit in your pocket. Remember the utility far outweighs the cost.

Fire: Depending on the situation, fire-starting capabilities may make sense.  Everyone from a motorist traveling in colder areas, to a camping fanatic, to even just a casual traveler can benefit from being able to easily start a fire during a stressful situation.  Matches, a simple lighter, or even more primitive methods like a fire piston and char cloth or a fire steel and knife can all make sense depending on your end usage needs. In addition, this is an item that may make sense on some days, but not on others—a resounding theme in the everyday carry world.  Much of the time, you will have to be flexible to find the best everyday items, as those items will change perhaps even daily as new challenges arise and the usability of items fluctuates.

The Secret To Starting Fires In Even The Most Extreme Conditions

Knife: While it doesn’t always make sense to have a fixed-blade survival knife, it is hard to discount the usefulness of a mid-sized folder.  It fits well in a pocket or purse and can be used as a last ditch weapon (or even a primary weapon in the well-trained hand).  The uses are plenty, certainly well past a defensive weapon. In a bad situation, you would be able to facilitate an automobile repair or a survival operation (like cutting branches for firewood or shaving tinder).  Furthermore, cutting a seatbelt or shattering a car window becomes infinitely easier with an implement in hand.  For the more mundane, opening boxes in the warehouse or opening bags of prepackaged food in the office kitchen probably makes it a bit more useful than most tools you may encounter in everyday carry.

Multi tool: A Leatherman on the keychain or in the pocket can save the day in an unexpected car stoppage or a work event.  (Although don’t discount other makes and models either, including Swiss army knives and Gerber. There are even several makes and models that are TSA flight-approved tools.) The pliers, wire cutters, blade, file, and other pieces can come in handy on an almost daily basis.  The trick is to find one that actually facilitates everyday carry by virtue of its size and ease of use.  The hardest part of everyday carry is picking items that you will remember to use and then knowing how and when to use them.  If you have something that may help, but you forget that it’s there, it will cease to be useful.  A Leatherman is straightforward, but it may take time to get used to the fact that you now carry it.  Try to buy as small as actually makes sense to you for use daily. Even if you eventually move up in size, you won’t likely regret the purchase as you acclimate to having something additional in your pocket.

Smartphone: It is almost second nature to carry a cell phone with us each day, but in a bad situation, a smartphone can be incredibly useful. If your phone is an application-driven interface (like an iPhone or Android), the usability increases exponentially as an everyday carry piece.

These are relatively standard everyday carry items for many people, but you will find that even if you stay “mainstream,” there is plenty of personalization and potential within these items.  Some people carry additional items like firearms, pens and paper, sunglasses, cameras, books, transit passes, and passports. Any number of items that make your daily life easier or add some additional level of protection or utility are eligible to become everyday carry. The goal is to give you an edge in a world where people are increasingly less prepared, less likely to help, and more aggressive than ever before.

© Copyright Off The Grid News


  1. 2 things to add,,,,,, a john wayne canopener, and a 6 inch pair of channel locks……… trust me folks….trust me
    The Col

    • Bought a deal on 300 John Waynes…….plus 100 Lg JW’s. for about $25. Never needed them yet……..but good to have.

    • what is a channel lock?

      • Channel locks are pliers with the teeth to the side that can be adjusted to fit nearly any size pipe or nut. Ask for them at the hardware store. They will know exactly what you mean. Some old timers called them “well pump pliers”.

        • Actually, that is incorrect. A Channel lock is a brand name, ( high quality). The tool you are referring to is called water pump pliers incorrectly called channel locks.

          • Technically correct, but you go into a surplus store and anyone will know what you mean on both accounts!
            The Col

          • Would this tool also be referred to in some areas as a vice-grip? kind of a cross between toothed pliers and an adjustable wrench with a knob at the bottom of one handle to turn that tightens and locks them once you have them on whatever it is you need to turn.?

          • NO a vice grip is something else, it locks in place, channel locks do not lock in like a vice grip.

        • They are called “water pump pliers” or were, not well pump pliers…..

          • They are technically known as “slip joint pliers” technically. but if you ask for any of the above the salesperson should know what you are talking about

      • Actually, channel locks, slip joint pliers, and water pump pliers are all different. Channel locks, more properly ‘Channel Locks’ after the original brand name, are tongue & groove adjustable pliers that have several steps of adjustment. Many companies make them. Slip joint pliers are your typical household pliers with both narrow and wide jaw settings. Water pump pliers, also known by some as well pump pliers, primarily come in two varieties, which are distinguished by their jaw shape and/or jaw cutouts, and are specifically designed to work on well heads. Hope this helps, although it matters not as long as you can use what you have. Sort of like oldtimers (me) calling a screwdriver for slotted screws a ‘common’ screwdriver and those for a crossed slot a ‘Phillips’ or “Reed-Prince” screwdriver, instead of the more commonly-heard today “flat tip” and “cross point”.

  2. If u carry a firearm add of extreme shock fang face ammo. If the bullet does not kill the target the tritium poisoning will

    • What tritium? That compound is used for night sights, not for the bullets used in frangible ammunition such ass Extreme Shock brand ammo.

  3. Ditto on the channel locks, I also carry a 6X screwdriver. Although I use the driver in my job it is better than the driver tools on a multi-tool, though I also carry a Leatherman.

  4. No damn smart phone do you really want TPTB tracking you?

    • I agree, besides WTSHTF, do you think we’ll have satellite access?!?!! PLUS how do you expect to be able to PAY the bill and still have service?!

    • carlos good comment it can be called a dumbphone a deathphone but it sure the hell isnt a smart phone wake the hell up ben

  5. I have had my Swiss Army Knife in my pocket for many years. No matter the situation when I pull it out people are amazed that at “girl” carries a knife. My standard answer is “aren’t you glad”.

    • Your a smart and experienced women. I pack along a 1st aid kit. I’m an old Boy Scout.

      • Hey, Charles, One of the biggest thngis holding me back is that even though the knowledge I have to share in the Health/Recovery area is good enough , I am not confident in making my own videos. I have many years experience and have been a NetWork Marketer for over 30 years but the fact that I haven’t made a HUGE amount of money yet ..stops me from Just Doing It . Making my own videos, I mean. I have YouTube, Facebook, Linked-In and Twitter accounts, but still haven’t uploaded any of the 12 Videos I made yet. HOW do you do your FIRST ONE? What steps did you take to get over the fear factor? Thanks for any feedback and I look forward to your Teleseminar. I long to hold one of my own one day .Blessings, Dolly

    • Mary, I get the same thing, and then when I have it fixed they are truly amazed. Thank you Grampa for teaching me all those useful skills.

    • I have a Leatherman I keep on my person. I’ve actually used it while bugging out for Hurricane Hugo to change my flat tire. The piece that cranks the jack UP to pull the tire off was missing. I used my leatherman to crank it WITH 4 kids huddled in a ditch while I changed my tire IN a hurricane w/wind and road crud battering me.

    • I carry a pocket knife all the time. Unfortunately, I have forgotten a couple of times and donated two to the TSA when flying. If I had been thinking, I could have stuck it in my checked baggage and been fine. The same with pepper spray. Pepper spray will serve well, but I carry backpacking “bear spray” in my car. I also keep a candle, some silver coins, a lighter and a mylar survival “blanket” in my glove box. If you are serious about EMPs and drive a pre-82 car, you also need to carry a siphon for gas. I sure hope we are all crazy, I don’t want to have to use all this stuff, but my grandkids will be protected.

  6. No cell phone for me. Everything else makes sense, but the electromagnetic field the phones give off is a major problem for me health-wise–major headache, stress neck-ache and other issues.

    • Patty,

      I believe what the author is trying to communicate is the need to carry a spare cell phone. By smart phone I believe the author is trying to point out the availability of prepaid cel phones that can be purchased at most big box stores. Having a Simm chip for another carrier with prepaid minutes will provide a backup in th eevent the disaster causing the bug out takes down the network and towers of teh pepaid plan you purchsed for possible use in an emergency. .

      • To a degree, but do you actually expect service? I SURVIVED 9/11 working AT the pentagon. Took me 4 DAYS to WALK home!!! In a dress!

        ALL THE PHONES ON THE EAST COAST WERE SHUT DOWN! Even land lines! Totally useless piece of equipment. Useful NOW, but not WTSHTF.

        • Natasha Posted on Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry you are in pain, it’s very very dcuiifflt. Try to stay positive and move forward. Peace and blessings, Natasha

      • What you need for communication is a HAM radio. Test is easy if you study and no more morse code. it is also very educational to learn how they work. I know guys that were stuck in 3rd world countries that got communications with a piece of wire for an antenna.

        • lonetrader, that is exactly why I recently got my ham license. I took a course at the local junior college and had my Extra license by the time the course was done. If you can put in one full, uninterrupted hour a day for every day leading up to the next license level, you’ll probably ace each level as I did. An applicant can actually take all three exams in one sitting if the motivation is strong enough, and all for one price ($15.00.) Bob K4RDG

    • A cell phone can be used to track you within 20 ft. A little too close……

  7. I carry a leatherman surge and Swiss army knives made a dual pouch with a mini survival kit on one side and a large Swiss army knife in the other pouch. I use one or the other at some point everyday. I wear them both 99% of the time. I added a ferro rod to the survival side of the pouch.

  8. Great comments, all. When travelling by car or light plane, I always have my “3-day” kit with me. While it is a LOT more extensive (actually consists of a backpack and a seperate duffel), in the trunk or luggage section, it bothers me not. I always have a small multi-purpose tool, good-quality flashlight, and my “rod” in my purse.
    NEVER a “smart phone”. A cell phone, can have the “tracking/listening” feature disabled, by removing the battery- NO such option, with a “smart phone”. TPTB can ALWAYS follow/moniter you. How “smart” is that??

  9. whqt is a john wayne can opener???? what is a leatherman surge ??? what is a ferro rod ????

    • Where the *John Wayne* comes from, I have no idea, but I suspect they are talking about a P38 can opener.
      You can get them on ebay very inexpensively, get at least 10 to just have around for emergency’s.
      Use one several times to make yourself familiar with how they work.
      Feels awkward at first but you’ll get the hang of it quickly.
      Here is what they look like:

      • “John Wayne” comes from “The Sands of Iwo Jima” where John Wayne used one. Hence for the Marine Corps it became a “John Wayne” There are also John Wayne Crackers and John Wayne toilet paper (Its rough and tough and wont take you know what off anyone) .
        Got to run we are getting fired at! Back to work!
        The Col

  10. This Army Ranger carries a P-38 can opener. About 50 cents or a buck at most Army surplus stores. Randall knife is the best choice – sharpening stone on its case.

  11. If it’s just a case of a cell tower losing power, no worries There’s usually a backup system somewhere that can power the repeaters for several hours.

    If cell service for a particular carrier is completely lost due to other reasons, chances are that it is lost for most if not all of the other carriers in a particular area. Government regs force the big companies (AT&T and such) to lease lines to the little guys (Mom & Pop Cell Service) at a lower rate than the big boys can charge for use of the same lines. Few carriers can afford their own towers for all the service areas, so they rent from each other. You’ve probably noticed that roaming charges don’t appear very often any more; they’re now built in to the monthly charge. In an extreme emergency, too, incoming telephone and (possibly) cellular circuits are often seized and turned into outgoing circuits so that fire, police and other emergency services can more easily make calls outside the stricken area.

    A prepaid cell would be good but a hand-held radio, though bulky, might be a better way to go.

  12. ditto Raymond’s questions. I know what a GI can opener is and highly recommend them. My swiss army knife has a working canopener but its a slow process. Is the ferro rod some kind of a fire starter?

  13. In my pockets at all times are:
    RF pocket: Dorcy flashlight, single AAA cell and a BIC lighter
    LF pocket: lockblade folder, 3″ blade and a keyring with pushbutton button cell LCD flashlight and a P38 can opener
    LR pocket: 14″ bandana
    RR pocket: wallet with cards, cash, signal mirror, wafer magnifier, plastic cards with spare house and vehicle keys, 10′ of coiled masonry twine.

    When I leave my property I put a 10′ tape measure in my pocket, turned off cellphone, small pad and small pen.

  14. A COPY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT–the sword of the spirit. No stronger weapon than that one!

    • You are so right! We run around scared and worried about what the future will be like and how to prepare. All we really need is to rely on the one who created it all and will be returning to claim those whose hearts are truly His. We should be prepping for eternity, not our short stay on this evil earth. It is not our home.

      • So if God provides you with the signs of impending trouble, are you going to ignore those signs and do nothing? Do you expect that manna will be provided for you when the grocery store shelves are empty, and you have done nothing to prepare? Nothing sadder than a misguided Christian. I will pray for you.

    • Arnaldo,

      The Arabs have a saying for situations like this. “Trust in Allah, but tie up your camel”. In other words, trust in God, but be prepared. Or like my mom (and Ben Franklin) used to say, “God helps those who help themselves”.

      • Screw the arabs. Our fighting men have better words to live by. From WWII: “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.”

        • To “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition”, I would add “and when I die, I want you to bury me upside down, so the whole world can kiss my a** (rear end). Very funny, isn’t Scotty. Now beam down my clothes. A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices but gravity always wins. First you forget names, then you forget faces. Next you forget to pull your zipper up and finally, you forget to pull it down. (Assembled from . You gotta visit !)

          And by the way, I would add water purification chemicals, and/or purifying filter and small portable hand generator crank and/or solar cells AM-FM-SW radio.

  15. I have a Kimber pepper spray gun in my carry bag…Never without it…it is amazing and can easily be pack in you luggage for travel.

  16. What is a TPTB??

  17. And don’t forget a derringer. I got a kit from Dixi Gun Works for $145.00 that buys a two barrel .36 caliber “twister” derringer. You put it tigether yourself, blue it, take out the little “bugs” that prevent good accurate aim (even though it’s a “belly gun”) and you’ve got something.

  18. Duct tape is a must. Can be used to help build a shelter, emergency first aid, assist with building crude weapons.

  19. I keep it simple, I have a 410/22 rifle some hand tools “including duck tape” and a Sat phone. I have a 72 hour bag and a 2 ltr canteen. I live 7 mile from work and if I had to walk home I could. I am CPL but I work for an air kitchen and have to be careful with the gun thing.

  20. What coinage or kinds of silver coins and how much/many of them would be recommended

  21. A smartphone isn’t needed at all…and I agree with many other comments..a smartphone would be more of a OPSEC liability, not an asset. For communication, I would suggest straightline communicators. Family radios would be good…but a small handheld Ham radio would be better. Buy, it, learn HOW to use it…but don’t transmit…as this requires a FCC license. Getting a ham license will identify a LOT about you, which also kills the whole OPSEC idea. THEN If the SHTF, go ahead and use it….at that point it won’t matter

  22. He forgot the biggest thing WATER. I always carry enough to walk 25+ miles or more if car breaks down, mass panic, EMP rays, etc.

    IF things get worse add a weapon to your bugout bag. To kill wild animals on the loose. You will be an open target.

  23. Have to agree Bimbam. One has to be able to hydrate and defend oneself should things fall off a cliff. Old-school canteen and a .44 Magnum ?

  24. Keltech p3at pocket .380 with 9 round clip. Never leave home without it. If its not welcome neither am I.

  25. great ideas! i esp like the addition of a pocket new testament, water and duct tape. add zip ties and ziploc bags – both in a variety of sizes, and a tarp. this is going to require more than pockets — maybe a backpack. a friend who survived katrina says the boost mobile walkie-talkie feature was the only working communications method in NOLA.

  26. If at all possible strap a machete to your pack. You won’t down a 10″ oak but you will be surprised at what it will do.

  27. I’d make it six: a large caliber pistol ( my edc preference is .45; apologies to Revs. Al & Jessie…).

  28. A 9v battery and a lump of steel wool (metal Brillo pad will work) is a very good firestarter.

  29. If being tracked by your phone bothers you, look up “faraday cage” on wikipedia or wherever. Basically, you wrap a radio transmitter in something conductive (aluminum foil works fine), and the radio waves can’t get out. No signal, no tracking.
    Just make sure it’s fully wrapped and that a metal antenna isn’t touching the wrap (most phone antennae are encased in plastic, so that’s handled).

    • And what happens when you pull the phone out of the cage? The reason you had it covered is gone. May as well not bother. As for Wikipedia that is a good source for nothing. Do some real research.

      • wikipedia is certainly good for far more than nothing – and if you don’t like it, you can always blame yourself for not contributing 😉

        On the cell phone, remember those are traceable EVEN WHEN TURNED OFF! I’d pull the battery out (make sure the contacts can’t short!) and put the phone in the faraday/wrap.

        Well said bimbam on the water. Dehydration is no fun. A plastic bottle, and a filter in the car – which gives you room for more options including emergency blanket etc.

        Compact flash drive, 16-32 meg for me, carried on person with spare in the vehicle. All my personal docs easily carried in the size of a matchbox. Family pictures, music, copy of OpenOffice and other apps to install anywhere. SHTF in many forms, probably a lot of Katrina people wished they’d had that too – though water and personal security were big ones for that. And it never hurts to know your alternative weapons just in case somebody did succeed in confiscating a firearm.

        Water, water, water for sure.

  30. southern patriot

    Short story. We had some construction done in our home recently, an we divided the room off with a sheet of plastic and put it up with ” Duck tape to keep the dust down. Construction worker comes in and tries to pull the plastic down from the wall and ends up rippling off some of the sheet rock instead. He looks at me and said the tape was to strong. So in my survival kit I’ll have plenty of duck tape? As far as being prepared goes, we plan for an extended camping trip an buy accordingly . Being prepared and stocking up does not mean buying the most expensive item in the story. Food, water, first aid and shelter. Not sure you can go wrong with that for a start. Thanks for letting me has my 2-cents worth. Take care. Southern Patriot

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