Don’t Leave Home Without It!

We’re Americans. We travel. A lot. Whether it’s commuting to your job, going to the movies with a buddy or family, to the beach with the family, or any other locations life brings us. You want to be prepared in case of an emergency or disaster of sorts always, but let’s face it, there are times when it’s just not practical or we’re simply unable to have a Bug-Out-Bag/72-hour bag/get home bag (what are we calling it these days, anyway?) with you. Even some of my closest friends would look at me funny if I said, “hey, you mind if I bring my 30-pound bug-out bag with me on our 20-minute drive to the movies? You got room in your truck?” And the wife, well, she kind of thinks people who feel the need to stay prepared for disasters unknown are kind of off-kilter, so I kinda gotta try to sneak the bag into her SUV if we take a family trip. But, there are times when it’s just not feasible.


A scenario that makes my heart start going wibbly-wobbly on me is one that Jarhead Survivor put forth a couple months ago, where he mentioned going for a quick walk in some unknown woods, and he almost got turned around when he didn’t have any gear with him. I try to combat a situation like that by ALWAYS having a couple things on me, depending where I am and who I’m with, method of travel, etc. Having a few basic items on your person will help you stay prepared, even if all you’re doing is donning the flip-flops and heading to the beach with the wife.



There are a few items that go with me everywhere, and they stay in a pile on my night stand, do I can don them every morning. What are they? I’m glad you asked!


Clip-on pocket folding knife: I don’t leave home without a small knife on my person. Ever. A folding knife with a small belt or pocket clip can be a godsend, and as soon as you start carrying one, you’ll wonder how you got by without it. From opening up boxes to cleaning under your fingernails, these puppies are a must-have. I carry one visibly clipped on my pants pocket so it does not violate any concealed weapon laws, and I also carry one with a 3″ blade or less, as this keeps me within the confines of local laws on knife carry. Keep it sharp, and buy quality. The $7.97 Wal-Mart knife looks like a good deal, but they break pretty frequently.


Flashlight: In the opposing side pocket from my knife, I clip on a Streamlight MicroStream. This thing is the cat’s ass. It is only about three inches long and barely a half-inch in diameter, and it uses one AAA battery. It has a dual-clip system that allows you to clip in on your belt/pocket, or onto the brim of a hat to use hands-free. And bright? Holy crap…its white LED will outshine my two-AA battery Mini maglite with NO problem. You never know how much you use a flashlight till you have one with you all the time. And at like 17 bucks (get them through the above link, or Cabela’s has them), it is a complete no-brainer.


-Cigarette Lighter: I don’t smoke, never will. But a small mini-Bic lighter gets slipped into the coin pocket of my pants. The knowledge that as long as it’s dry, I can make fire is comforting. Plus I can give smoker babes a light if they need one.


Watch: On my honeymoon in St. Thomas, I bought a killer Timex Expedition E-Tide Compass watch. This little baby, while battery-fed (that sucks), has a built-in compass that is remarkably accurate. It also will tell you the tide and ambient temperature, and oh yeah, time and date. It’s waterproof, good-looking, and rugged. Plus I don’t need to find a place to keep a full-sized compass on my person.


Those four items, along with the other daily must-haves such as cellphone, wallet, and truck keys go with me everywhere, and it helps me breathe a little easier. With a bit of knowledge, these four items can really help my ass out in a survival scenario.


If I can get away with it, I have an L.L. Bean backpack (very non-prepper looking and unobtrusive) that I keep a spare pair of socks, appropriate footgear (in case I head out wearing flip-flops or what have you.), waterproof matches, a jacket, a bottle of water, and a couple protein bars in. That way, I can keep calm knowing I’m a bit more prepared when I’m on the go and can’t go with my BOB.


What makes your “Don’t Leave Home Without It” list?


Stay Safe!


26 comments… add one
  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. August 14, 2013, 7:38 am

    I usually carry a pocket knife, but what I ALWAYS carry when I leave the house are my car keys. On the key ring, a BSA spark rod, magnesium rod / striker and a SAK Midnight Manager (I think) attached. The plastic scales were taken off the knife to reduce bulk.

    My wife carries the Streamlight Nano, a great little keychain flashlight. I need to add that to my key chain, but more bulk – dunno about that.

    When I remember (not that often) a sewing bobbin of G.I. trip wire is put in my pocket. Useful for STRONG repairs and weighs practically nothing. I gorilla glued another bobbin onto a spark rod for kit use, going to do it again for another kit.

    I used to carry another ‘key chain’ of just these emergency items, but it became a hassle to carry and I stopped doing it. A Bic lighter inside a Bic case was part of the chain – I should follow your example and daily carry one. I do keep one in my car kit, along with a glue stick for instant repairs – melt and apply, fast and easy.

  • Ray August 14, 2013, 8:05 am

    1944 Camillus boy scout /survival knife on a lanyard in my pocket-zippo lighter checked dayly – p-38 can opener on my keys-1 box “blue diamond” strike anywhere” matches in my shirt pocket.-Mod. 19 S&W with 20 rd. in my 1944 navy shoulder holster. “Bail out” bag—-One poncho liner-1 LW poncho Woodland cammo.-1 small first aid kit-1 pilot water bottle-1 MRE -1 USMC survival / fishing/ E&E kit sealed- 1 combo. smoke /flare, orange

  • Yukon Harris August 14, 2013, 8:13 am


    My list is identical to yours, except for the brand names.

    Flashlight, lighter, blade, compass.

    One tip I could add: The next time you are in a bar/restaurant that provides match books, grab one and slip it into one of the deep compartments of your wallet. You’ll forget about them and probably never use them. But you’ll remember them when you need one.
    Plastic lighters (which I carry) can stop working suddenly. Even a Zippo seems to run out of fuel at the worst possible time. But a book of matches in a leather wallet will be good for a long time.

    Great article

  • Roseman August 14, 2013, 9:37 am

    I always carry a small fixed (3 in.) blade knife. The sheeth has a belt loop but the unit easily fits in my front pocket. There are always matches and flashlight in my vehicles.

  • irishdutchuncle August 14, 2013, 9:51 am

    Victornox “scout” style pocket knife, and MAG-Lite “Solitaire” on a lanyard. key ring secured to belt with a 99 cent dog leash chain.

    • irishdutchuncle August 15, 2013, 7:13 am

      I stayed out of the service, for the good of the country, but I often bring a BDU shirt with additional “stuff” in all the pockets. (in case I need to walk home, etc)

  • JAS August 14, 2013, 9:55 am

    On my person at all times:
    S&W Mod 60 357 Mag
    Tactical folder
    leatherman tool
    two lighters
    match tube with matches, needles, fish hooks & line
    fire steel
    2 short pieces of cord
    mag light solitaire

    When ever I leave the house I take a small fanny pack with the following.
    first aid items
    sewing kit
    Flash light
    pocket knife
    small Smith knife sharpener
    magnesium bar
    magnifying glass
    plastic garbage bag and extra zip lock bags
    germ X wipes
    extra ammo

  • Road Warrior August 14, 2013, 10:05 am

    I gotta admit, I REALLY like the suggestions so far, especially the fire steel on the key chain. Gonna implement THAT trick ASAP!

    Keep ’em coming, guys and gals. There’s gotta be tons of great ideas we can pick up on.

  • Brad in South FL August 14, 2013, 10:09 am

    Gun, xtra mag, Blackhawk flashlight( 3.5 inches long x 1 inch wide) 60 lumens, folding spyderco knife, cell phone, keys, sunglasses ( gotta protect your eyes, especially here in Florida), wallet, g shok watch. Guess that about does it for what is on my person!

    Stay safe all!

  • Peanut_gallery August 14, 2013, 11:00 am

    One thing I don’t see people list is dental floss. If you remove the floss from the case it takes up very little room, roughly about the size of a nickel only thicker. Yet now you have 55 yards of some very strong string. If you get the plain, not the flavored or waxed ones you can use it for fishing as well as other obvious uses. I always have some on me.

  • riverrider August 14, 2013, 11:45 am

    ruger lcr in my pocket, two inova lights on the keychain along with a gerber 2 inch knife and a spark rod and a p38. …..theres a small sling bag in my truck within reach that has essentials to get home. theres always a six pack of water in the truck and various useful items like rain gear and a fleece jacket and my issue benchmade auto. theres a pocket in back of the seat where an extra set of class2 rests. if i switch vehicles the sling bag goes with me.

  • s. florida jimmy August 14, 2013, 12:51 pm

    regarding the cig lighter – they don’t need to stay dry. I’ve accidentally ran them thru the washer machine and they still work fine.

  • Nor' Country August 14, 2013, 2:42 pm

    A friendly suggestion about the Bic lighters in pockets:

    I had trouble with the fuel button getting pressed down while having Bic lighters in my pocket. The lighter would be out of fuel when I would go to use it. I tried using some duct tape to to build a small protective cover, but it didn’t work well. I looked around to see what others were doing and got this idea from John D. McCann of

    Put a small nylon zip-tie around the top of the Bic lighter to keep the fuel button from being pressed down while in your pocket. McCann even suggests using a small length of jute to do the same thing. If using jute, you have some tinder to use then when you need to start your fire…

    • j.r. guerra in s. tx. August 15, 2013, 8:41 am

      Another suggestion I’ve read is a plumbing gasket around that BIC button. The jute is a good idea, as is wrapping the BIC with a few turns of duct tape, which besides the utility is also a good firestarter.

  • Badger359 August 14, 2013, 2:46 pm

    I like these articles because there is something one can learn.

    My EDC is a Maxpedition Condor II typically but it’s down for repair of the QD buckle that broke from the center yoke strap. I’ve punshed this ruck for almost 4 yrs now. I through the larger assualt ruck in the car for now while it’s being repaired.

    I much appreciate the tips from you guys.

    I carry simular items mentioned on my person in a layer one approach, I only wear (5-11:TAC_LITE) trousers and they hold my layer kit in the right places. Layer-Two is in my day pack, Layer-Three in my vehicle.

    I am having to make adjustments because here in Metro-Plex of DFW Texas, there weather changes rapidly with in a 24 hr period. I am not used to that coming from CA

  • Ray August 14, 2013, 4:11 pm

    Guys the best BOB you can carry is THE ONE BETWEEN YER EARS. All the gear on earth wont save you if that one ain’t loaded.

    • Michael August 14, 2013, 4:36 pm


  • Michael August 14, 2013, 4:35 pm

    99% of the time I’m not very far from a small book bag (Tom Bihn Cafe Bag, medium). The book bag’s contents vary by season and what I’m doing, but there’s almost always a small water bottle clipped to the outside of it. Inside goes a book, some snack food, small flashlight, eye drops, dental floss, hand sanitizer, a couple bandaids, and a small paring kife that has a plastic shealth.

    I keep a small compass (911 operates by compass coordantes), pinch light, and Swiss Army knife with scissors and can opener on my key chain.

  • Badger359 August 14, 2013, 4:46 pm

    I agree with you Ray
    Having the skills helps you pick out the right equipment as well.
    Being a country boy at heart and 8+ years in the military taught me that much.

  • Wild Weasel August 14, 2013, 5:12 pm

    On my person is my xd sub 9mm, para cord bracelet with small knife sewn in with a flint steel as part of the bracelet. Kershaw blur, watch either self winding or solar powered, wallet and truck keys. I carry a 511 covrt pack with 90% of the time in it socks, vertx pant, light pull over, two fixed blade, 1 folder, xd tactical with 3 mags and TRL-1 light with raven concealment holster, mag carrier, first aid kit, water bottle, knife sharpener, and various odds and ends.

    • Wild Weasel August 14, 2013, 5:12 pm

      Oh and snacks everyone needs snacks!

  • Sensible Prepper August 14, 2013, 9:03 pm

    This is a good list of everyday carry, I will add to this list a ballpoint pen, actually a Zebra F701 ballpoint pen. The F701 is a stainless steel pen and very very sturdy. It can act as a kubotan if you don’t happen to have your carry weapon on. If you happen to have the upper hand in s scuffle, a kubotan can be pressed on sensitive areas of the bad guy to get him to submit. Most of us carry knives, that likely should be the better choice. But an alternative is alway good to have available.

    I also carry the Streamlight Stylus Pro, as it puts off a lot of light, and it can also double as a kubotan.

  • Steve Suffering in NJ August 14, 2013, 11:26 pm

    Home made Koboton. 1/2 inch rebar cut to approx. 6.5 inches good folding knife and I too carry a fire steal on my key chain. I saw a mini fire steal for sale the other day. Bit smaller than the standard size one on my keys. Decided to stick with old faithful. For those of us not familiar with fire steal you need to get one. Hands down the best fire starter out there. Works wet, cold etc. Pull some of the pills off your cotton socks put them in a pile. Put the tip of the fire steal into the cotton pill pile and there you go. I’ve got a small aspirin bottle full of cotton balls with Vaseline on them. I carry when in the kayak or hiking, Cotton balls with Vaseline and a fire steal and your set for whatever weather conditions.

  • gman August 15, 2013, 8:11 am

    Take one zip loc bag big enough for about 1/2 roll of T.P. (flattened) with 2-3 individual packets of antiseptic wipes tucked in the middle of the roll. Put them in the zip loc bag. Expel air and seal.

    Now add a some of the suggestions and necessities mentioned above and I’m set.

  • izzy August 19, 2013, 12:58 am

    Absolute basics:
    Water bottle
    Snack bar
    Extra layer
    Walking shoes

    Minimal – with:
    Steel water bottle
    Small 1st aid kit (large bandages) & advil/aspirin/tylenol
    Multitool/pocketknife w/ saw blade
    Trash bag

    My usual – adds:
    Emergency blanket/bag
    Heat pak/sunscreen sample
    Drink mix packet
    Water tablets
    Safety pin/rubberband/tape/string
    Sun/rain gear
    Comb & mirror
    Gallon ziploc bag/alum foil/sponge

    Car – adds:
    Better 1st aid kit
    1-person tent
    Gallon water
    Better flashlight
    Fleece blanket/cheap sleeping bag
    Survival ration / forever (less appetizing) no-cook foodstuff
    Cheap small campstove, mess kit pot
    Old boots
    Oversize puffy vest

    (Not included here: Car stuff is a given. Defense is personal.)

    Note that, (except for survival blanket/rations/water tablet), ALL of these items are useful in everyday situations – so it is more likely someone will carry them – even “non-preppers” – and nothing that will get you miscategorized.

    Everything is lightweight up till the car. I assume either I can drive anywhere or I could drive nowhere, hence the camping equipment. Inexpensive (nothing you’d hate to lose), especially in the car.

    It’s not a sexy list, just common-sense things, but of course better than nothing, which is what most folks bring…

  • extremesgs August 19, 2013, 7:10 pm

    solar watch
    para-cord bracelet
    at least 1 quality folder

    either streamlight microstream or PT2L
    Inova pinch light w keys

    Quik Clot/SWAT-T (tourniquet)

    either G22 w/spare mag
    S&W 642 w/speed loader

    Iphone (more for the tunes than the talk/text!)
    badge/ID wallet

    wont bore you with the bag stuff… that’s a different post! :-)


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