5 to Stay Alive: In Your Pockets

Often called Every Day Carry or EDC, these are items that you place in your pockets every morning on your way out of the house. Depending on what you do for a living these things will vary from person to person. Unless prohibited by company policy or local laws, here are 5 items that you should always carry in your pockets regardless of what you do. For the purposes of this post I’m going to exclude the overtly obvious, wallet, keys and cellphone as well as highly regulated concealed firearms. I’ll address these items in future articles.

Pocket Knife

Kershaw Cryo
Kershaw Cryo $25-$30

This could easily have been added to the exclusion list since I’m guessing most people reading this carry a pocket knife as part of their daily routine,  but it’s amazing how many people don’t, those are the people we’re trying to reach out to.

I’m always looking at pockets for tell tail signs of a clip or outline to see of they might have a blade on them. More often than not I don’t see anything. Staying with the apolitical theme of this site I won’t get into why that may be, but I will say it’s one of those things our society seems to be moving away from. Back in the day a gentleman carried a pocket knife.

When I say pocket knife it’s not in the context of a weapon, we’re talking tool here. While it very well could be a used as a weapon, if you’re in a situation where you’re reaching for a 3 inch (or less) folding blade for protection, you’ve already put yourself in a world of hurt, probably not the type of person who has the presence of mind to be carrying a pocket knife to begin with.

I’ve carried a knife pretty much daily since I can’t-even-remember. I use it for the normal daily tasks of cutting string, opening packages and mail, impromptu scraper, light duty prying, the occasional eating implement, and finger nail cleaner, and the list goes on. It’s even available for those not so nice to think about functions like cutting seat belts or clothing to expose a wound. Like most things in this list, once you have it, you’ll find yourself using it for things you never even thought of.

Depending on what your daily routine entails, the majority of people don’t need to carry a $300-$400 Chris Reeve Sebenza, or even a $100+ Benchmade. I have some pretty nice pocket knives, yet my daily carry as of late is a $25 Kershaw Cryo. It’s sharp, opens easily with one hand and legal in my state and If I lose or break it, no big deal.


SureFire E1e Executive Elite
Surefire E1e

Another one you’d think was a no brainier, but alas , many go without. I’m sure someone will read this and say “But I can use my cell phone” sure that’s a great idea in a pinch but there is nothing like a dedicated flashlight to get the job done. not to mention it’ll save your cell battery which you might need to use to call for help. There’s nothing like a proper flashlight for your primary light source.

I’ve carried the same Surefire E1e for the past 6 or 7 years. I love this little flashlight, but I fully admit it’s expensive and probably overkill for most. When I bought it I was working in an environment that justified the expense, it lasted through that and is still going strong. No reason to retire it just yet.

Energizer Tactical
​Energizer Tactical Metal 1AA/1 Watt Light

However when it came time to outfit the rest of the family I needed to find something a bit cheaper but also reliable and well made. I came across a light at Target made by Energizer. I don’t remember exactly what they cost at the time but I do remember they were on sale. A quick Google search shows they can be had  for under $10 (or as high as $30, so look around if you’re interested). These have held up well over the last year and a half. Plus if you lose it, you’re not going to roll up into a little ball and cry yourself to sleep.

That said there are many different types out there, and I’m sure we’ll review many right here on the site. My suggestion is to get something that throws a decent amount of light, is made well and is small enough that it won’t be a thorn in your side which inevitably will make you not want to carry it.



Another throwback to a bygone era, I can remember as a kid getting handkerchiefs as part of my back to school shopping. Of course I always carried one in my pocket just like my father and grandfather, well that is up until about 4th grade, when I deemed it “not cool” to have a snot rag in my pocket. However within the past 5 years or so I’ve revisited the idea and I have to say, I’m glad I did.

Another multipurpose item, it can obviously be used as a clean up rag, but also a sweat band, head scarf (do rag), emergency first aid dressing or sling, improvised dust mask, wet it down and it’s a cooling rag, pre-filter for turbid water, the list is only limited by your imagination.

I prefer the 100% cotton paisley print but it doesn’t really matter.

Safety Pins

safety_pinThis harkens back to my days in the Army. Every ammo bandoleer came with one (or two?) safety pins. I don’t remember exactly when, but at some point I started to carry 2 safety pins on the inside of my patrol cap. Now if you wear a hat you can store them there or just keep them in your pocket or wallet.

Another item you might think of as having only a couple uses but over time you discover it is a very useful item to have handy. Whether it is removing splinters, temp repair of a button, rip, broken zipper, an improvised fish hook, a scraper for cleaning a weapon, an impromptu pin for a grenade booby trap, the list goes on and on…


lightersHere is another fairly obvious item to those that have a survival mindset, but to the uninitiated, unless you are a smoker or pyromaniac, why would you carry a lighter?

Of course we have the intended use for a lighter, to start a fire. However as with the other items in this list when you have it on you, you start to realize how useful it can be. Remember that safety pin we talked about, if you’re going to use it to dig out a splinter or lance a blister, use the lighter to sterilize it first.  Can be used to melt the ends of synthetic string/cord/rope to keep it from fraying. It’s an impromptu light source. You can still use it to start a fire even if it’s out of fuel. You can use it to burn off loose threads on your suit before you go into that big proposal meeting where your survival in the company may be at stake.

Personally I like the mini mic, it’s small, lightweight and serves it’s purpose well.

So there you go five simple items to keep in your pockets that just might save the day. Let us know in the comments what you like to carry.

Related Articles


Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Good list, but I would substitute a multi-tool (such as a Leatherman or a Gerber) for the knife. Still has the knife plus the benefits of the other tools.

  2. Thanks for the input Chris. I opt for the knife because the MT is a bit too bulky and heavy, doesn’t always go with business casual. I keep the multitool in the briefcase/backpack, also one in the glove box of each car, but that’s another list for another time. 🙂 -Mike

  3. Agreed, good list. I was thinking about your flash light section. You didn’t mention batteries; surefire does make great torches and I have a couple but those batteries (cr123) are expensive and sometimes hard to find, a flash light like that energizer you suggested or a mini mag will run on AA’s which are more affordable common and interchangeable with other devices. Anyways, just thought I would through that out there.

  4. Yes, flashlight technology has definitely come a long way from when we used to tape D-cell mag lights to our M16s…now they have excellent LED flashlights that run off of AA or AAA batteries

  5. Glad you joined the discussion Carl. 123’s are pretty common nowadays, But you’re right they still are a bit on the pricy side. Since I own quite a few Surefire lights, both handheld, head lamps, and weapon mounted, I buy in bulk on Amazon. Thanks again for the comment.

  6. I like the idea of these items being cheap or basically expendable.  The reality of day to day life things get misplaced or lost as we get in and out of our cars and move about doing our daily activities.  On the other hand, go bags or planned events such as a day hike I would prefer to have higher quality tools and equipment.  I look forward to more articles and smart comments from others sharing their experiences. FYI…I scored a 20% – I normally only have 1 of 5 of the above items on me.  I think I can get a couple more items from my junk drawer, I’ll be back…

  7. I agree with this list… and I carry half of it with me on a daily basis.. . I have a selection of pocket knives I rotate.. but lately I’ve been carrying an old army issue knife that came from an army aircrew survival kit.. its all stainless, with a very tough blade, can opener, awl.. and has doubled as a light hammer on countless occasions.  I used to carry my leatherman wave mutitool on my belt religously, had it for 15 years till i broke the tip off the plyers.. so now i’m waiting to send it back to get repaired if they will work on an older model, and I feel it missing on my hip like a gap left by a newly pulled tooth.  And, I’ve been carrying a Zippo style lighter as well, will burn nearly anything and is more useful to me than an expendable since it can be used hands free by lighting it and standing it on end.  They  hankerchief seems to be seasonal with me.. during the winter i carry but it seems to stop riding along come summer with me.  Great list  and thanks for the info.