get home bag list

Get Home Bag List – How To Make The Best Kit For YOUR Needs

get home bag list

Jackson maneuvered his way swiftly through the crowded sidewalk, running as fast as he could, his briefcase in one hand and his get home bag in the other – the two things he never left home without.

Realizing there was no way he could make his train at this point, he slowed his pace and fell in line with the window shoppers and couples out for a stroll. He was five minutes from the station and the next train wouldn’t be arriving for forty-five minutes, he might as well enjoy the walk.

Suddenly, he realized that the entire street was moving against him, and swiftly. The road looked like a parking lot and people were rapidly abandoning their vehicles to flee on foot. For the first time, he noticed the thick stench of smoke in the air – not from cigarettes, but from something burning.

Instinctively he reached out and grabbed a young man running past him.

“What the hell is going on here?”

“You don’t know?” The young man replied incredulously. “There was an explosion. The whole damn train station is up in smoke!”

The young man wriggled free of Jackson’s grasp and took off running. But Jackson didn’t follow him. He didn’t need to blindly follow the panicked crowd that was descending quickly into pandemonium and chaos. He had been planning for just such an event and he knew exactly how to get home – that’s why he always carried his get home bag.

What Is A Get Home Bag?

Jackson and his wife Rachel are serious survivalists. They have a basement packed with enough food and water to last six months, each has their own bug-out-bag, and even their eleven-year-old son Derek knows what to do in an emergency. However, neither of them had considered packing a get home bag until a random car accident left Rachel and Derek stranded on a deserted road for several hours with no supplies and no way home.

get home bag list
You just never know what you may need to do to get home safely


To be fully prepared in any emergency, there are three types of bags you should have ready – an every day carry kit, a get home bag, and a bug-out-bag:

  • The every day carry kit contains items you would use with relative frequency, sometimes on a daily basis. Your every day carry kit helps solve frequent problems that come up in everyday life, as well as likely emergency situations.
  • A get home bag has the sole purpose of getting you home as quickly and as safely as possible in the event your normal commute is compromised (this can be due to anything from large scale emergencies such as natural disasters or civil unrest to minor inconveniences such as road closures or a vehicle breakdown). It typically contains specific items needed for 24-48 hours of survival and is compact enough to carry with you at all times.
  • A bug-out-bag equips you for survival in the event you will need to survive for several days or more. It is compact enough to carry, but not kept on your person at all times. Bug-out-bags are usually stored in an easy to reach yet concealed area of your house.

Building Your Get Home Bag List

The contents of your get home bag will vary greatly depending on where you live and the type of emergencies you need to be prepared for. You’ll also need to thoroughly examine your commute and improvise ways of getting home should your car or other types of transit be unavailable. If possible, use a map to get a bird’s eye view and consider the following when making your plan:

  • Will you be traveling through wilderness, suburbs, or major cities
  • Are there any major waterways you will need to cross or devise routes around
  • How many hours will it take you to walk to your house (on rugged terrain, the average fit adult can walk approximately 10-18 miles per day)

For Jackson, who works at a bank in a major city about 25 miles from his home, comfortable clothes and footwear were a must for his get home bag. He also made sure to pack inhalation and eye protection, as these can help in the event of urban emergencies such as explosions or pandemics.

Organizing Your Get Home Bag Contents

Typically, you’ll want to organize your get home bag essentials into three compartments, or levels. Each level contains the items needed to survive for a certain amount of time, with those needed right away on top on those needed for longer-term survival on the bottom. Generally, a get home bag is organized as follows:

Level 1 Items (up to 3 hours from home by foot)

Your first and most accessible level should include items such as:

Item TypeWhy You Need It
Folding knife
A folding knife is one of the most basic and versatile tools you can have. The CRKT M16 is lightweight, reliable and its 3" blade is legal to carry in most jurisdictions.
Bandana and / or dust mask
N95 dust mask stays in place while protecting from inhalation of harmful vapors and particles.
Boots should be waterproof, lightweight, durable, and suited for long treks over variable terrain. The Salomon Men's Quest 4D GTX Backpacking Boot also features a locking lace system for a precise fit that holds even if the laces come untied.
Map & Compass
Built to U.S. military standards, this compass is durable and water proof, with a tritium illuminated display.
Duct tape
Repair clothing or shelter, bandage injuries, prevent blisters. Roll can be flattened to save space.
Emergency signal item (mirror, flare, etc.)
Retro-reflective single-handed aimer for accurate long-distance signaling.
Fire kit / lighter
Always carry more than one means of starting a fire. A durable wind- and waterproof lighter is a compact option.
First aid kit
Basic bandages and medications for minor injuries.
Flashlight or headlamp
A hands-free option. This one features dimmer, strobe signaling, and hinge locks for stand alone use.
Cutting wood, slicing rope, building shelter, and self defense, and many other uses.
Assists with shelter building, first aid, climbing/descending, securing items to outside of bag, and hanging supplies out of reach of wildlife.
Protein bars
Satisfying and portable. Provides sustained energy and vital nutrients.
Rain poncho
Protection from weather and can be used as shelter.
Safety rated sunglasses
Shatterproof UV protection keeps out sun and debris.
Stainless steel water bottle

Sturdy, can be fastened to belt or bag. Non-insulated stainless bottles can be used to boil water over a fire.
Bug Spray
Biting insects can be detrimental to health and morale. Bug repellant in stick form are portable and easy to apply on the move.
Tactical pen
Integrated survival whistle, glass breaker, and magnesium fire starter.
Waterproof Notepad
Useful for jotting down coordinates, mapping landmarks, or leaving a note on the windshield of an abandonned vehicle.
Work gloves
Provides essential protection. Should be adjusted seasonally in cold climates.
Prolonged exposure to sun can cause many problems. Protect yourself with some sunscreen, this ine is in stick form for easy carry and application.
Self Defense Item
Carry something you are comfortable with. Pepper spray is a good option for people who do not want to carry a firearm and/or have a smaller frame.
Keep the sun out of your eyes and off your head to reduce fatigue.
CashI suggest carrying $500 cash in small denominations as emergency money. You never know when you may need to pay your way around an obstacle.
Change of clothesThese should be rotated seasonally. Dry clothes will keep you warm and enable you to travel further in an unfavorable climate.

Level 2 Items (up to 12 hours from home on foot)

The middle level of your pack should include items you’ll need if you’re more than a few hours from home, such as:

Item TypeWhy You Need It
Emergency radio
National weather and alerts to stay informed and aid in strategic planning. Also provides emergency power for handheld devices.
Hygiene kit
Beneficial to morale and personal comfort, as well as overall health.
Water filter / purification tablets
Eliminate risk of contracting parasites or viruses when accessing local water supplies.
Extra socks
Prevent blisters/sores and keep feet dry and comfortable with a fresh change of socks. If you expect to have to walk for long distances it is worth investing in a pair or 2 of hiking socks.
Spare BatteriesThese are good for barter, in addition to keeping your gadgets powered.
Extra Layer Of Clothes to Keep warm and/or dryLayering is an essential skill for maintaining an optimal core temperature when hiking in any climate.

Level 3 Items (up to 48 hours from home on foot)

The third level should contain items needed for being on foot for more than a day, including:

Item TypeWhy You Need It
Fixed blade knife
Heavy duty for handling hard use, full tang with glass breaker in pommel, flat ground drop point edge for easy maintenance.
Emergency blanket / sleeping bag or Bivvy Sack
Overnight protection from cold temperatures, ultralight yet durable material, reflects 90% of body heat.
Advanced first aid kit
Wide assortment of gauze and bandages as well as a trauma pad, moleskin, cold pack, and basic instruments to handle any personal injury.
Collapsible Walking sticks (to help ease strain from knees)
Ease strain on knees for extended travel on foot. Folds to 12" and adjusts from 48" to 53" for comfort.
Additional protein / energy bars
Maintain energy with a variety of nutrition-rich bars.
Glowsticks (this will help avoid using up flashlight batteries while making camp)
Provides 12 hours of light without draining flashlight batteries, can be fastened to shelter or used to mark trail to avoid walking in circles.

What Type of Bag is Best for a Get Home Bag?

There are several types of packs you can use for your get home bag, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Ultimately, the bag you select should be best suited for you and your particular situation.

The following are different bags that can be used as well as their advantages and drawbacks:

  • Backpack: A backpack is great for hands-free carrying and making space for additional items, it also makes running and climbing fairly easy. However, it is not particularly easy to access contents when on the move and is not as discreet as other options.  For more info on picking a backpack, check out our guide here.
  • Messenger Bag: A messenger bag is a great choice for easy access while on the move, has many pockets, and doesn’t look like a survival kit (discreet). However, it is harder to run with and becomes uncomfortable over long distances, as weight isn’t distributed evenly. It is also difficult to attach outside items (such as extra clothing).
  • Hydration Pack: A small, minimalist backpack, a hydration pack holds water and is excellent for walking long distances, as the shoulder and waist straps provide an even weight distribution. However, there is limited storage space.
  • Lumbar Pack: A lumbar pack is compact and easily accessible with external straps for carrying extra clothing. However, all the weight is on your hips and there is no extra room for additional items you may have with you.

If you’re looking for a reliable bag, the following are the ones we suggest looking at:

BagBag TypeCostFeatures
5.11 Rush 24 Back Pack
Backpack$$$$Extremely high quality construction and well thought out pocket design make this a flexible and practical bag for real-world use. Molle integration along with hydration bladder compatibility mean easy customization to suit your exact needs.
Maxpedition Falcon II Backpack$$$Tough ballistic nylon construction protects gear and stands up to any conditions. Compact size keeps shape even when full making it easy to stash at work. Removable waist and chest straps distribute weight evenly.
Explorer Tactical Assault Pack
Backpack$Sturdy option at an economical price. Plenty of MOLLE attachment points and straps to carry extra gear. Multiple compartments ideal for easily accessing Level 1 items. Padded straps provide comfort for prolonged wear.
ALPS OutdoorZ Little Bear Hunting Lumbar Pack Lumbar Pack$Compact with mulitple compartments. Removable straps offer improved weight distribution.
Mountainsmith Lumbar Backpack Lumbar Pack$$Reinforced with high tenacity nylon wide. 14L capacity and extra mesh pockets on the waistband provide sufficient storage space for its compact profile. Shoulder strap pad for messenger carry or separately purchase Mountainsmith Strapettes for additional carrying options.
High Sierra Diplomat Lumbar Pack Lumbar Pack$HEX_VENT mesh padded back panel wicks moisture. Multiple compartments and 2 external water bottle holders (BPA-free bottles included). Webbing and tuck-away mesh pouch for loading additional gear.
Rapid Dominance Classic Military Messenger Bag Messenger Bag$Cotton canvas with polyester lining. Large 16L capacity and 2 inch wide comfort strap to handle larger loads. Subtle appearance conceals its purpose.
UTG Urban Messenger Bag Messenger Bag$No top flap enables all compartments to be readily accessible while on the move. Specialized slots for holding tools. Detachable pistol holster with belt loop. Discreet for daily carry.
Maxpedition Last Resort Tactical Attache Messenger Bag$$$Heavy duty water resistant nylon exterior. Removable divider lends to customizing main compartment. Multiple hook and loop pockets for smaller gear.
Camelbak HAWG 100 oz Hydration Pack Hydration Pack$$$Sufficient gear storage capacity plus 3L hydration bladder. High density nylon harness with EVA foam shoulder padding. MOLLE attachments on front panel for additional gear.
CamelBak M.U.L.E. 100 oz Hydration Pack Hydration Pack$$$Separated compartments for Level organization. Compact size easy to manuever thrrough crowds. Multiple hydration tubing exit points. fleece-lined pouch ideal for safely storing eyewear.
Osprey Men's Manta 36 Hydration Pack Hydration Pack$$$Weather protected with integrated raincover. Over 30L capacity rivals a backpack and hipbelt provides support for heavier loads. Airspeed suspension and BioStretch harness team up for a comfortable and ventilated fit.

Storing Your Get Home Bag

The essence of a get home bag is to get you home when disaster strikes, which is why it’s imperative to keep your bag with you as much as possible. Jackson carried his get home bag to and from work with him and kept it in his office. When an unexpected explosion suddenly left him without a way home, he was ready.

Leaving your bag in the car while you are at work is unwise, especially if you park in a parking garage. In a disaster scenario, you cannot be guaranteed access to your vehicle and you need your survival supplies on hand. If you can’t keep your get home bag with you while you’re working, consider using a gym locker, P.O. box, or public locker to store it. Just ensure that wherever you pick is a location you can reach immediately should disaster strike.


The exception here is if you happen to have a job where you are driving around the majority of the time to see clients for example or visit job sites.  In this case, you car is obviously a smart place to keep your get home bag essentials as you will be more likely to be near it than your office when an emergency occurs.

get home bag essentials
Make sure you get your GHB right. Don’t rely on cheap, premade junk kits.

Avoiding Common Mistakes For Get Home Bag Contents

Size: Always remember – a get home bag is not the same as a bug-out-bag; they do not serve the same purpose. If the size of your get home bag rivals your bug-out-bag, you’ve over-packed. Only include those items absolutely necessary to get you home quickly. To save space and better organize your bag, you can group like items in Ziploc bags and vacuum seal clothing. By packing your bag using the three-level method described in this article, you can ensure the items you’ll need right away are easily accessible. If you’re going to include a pair of boots, these can be carried alongside your get home bag rather than inside to save space.

Supplies: Similar to your bug out bag, perform seasonal reviews on your get home bag contents to ensure you have essential items and are not carrying around extra weight. For instance, don’t get caught without sunscreen in the summer or warm layers in the winter.

Location: Make sure you store your get home bag where it can be accessed quickly, keeping it near your person when at all possible.

Anticipating Threats / Scenarios: It is crucial that you plan ahead and know your surroundings and what type of terrain conditions you will be facing. An urban get home bag for example will have different essential contents that a rural one.  No matter how far the distance is you need to travel, never assume you can make it before nightfall and pack accordingly.


As you well know, disaster can strike at any place, any time. Amid the chaos of an unexpected event, preppers like Jackson can remain calm and use their carefully packed get home bags to ensure they reach their families as quickly and safely as possible. No matter how fool-proof your bug out plan is, you can’t execute if you can’t get home – that’s why having a get home bag accessible at all times is essential.

Your Thoughts?

Do you have an item that you think it ESSENTIAL for any get home bag?  Do you keep your get home kit in a bag or backpack that you want to recommend?  Let us know in the Comments Section below, thanks!

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edc kit

5 Quick Tips To Make A Better EDC Kit

edc kit

Today I am going to share with you 5 Easy Tips to increase your day-to-day preparedness by building a better EDC Kit.  These 5 tips will help you:

  1. Identify the threats and challenges you are most likely to face in your daily life
  2. Pick the EDC gear YOU need to help overcome them
  3. Improve your EDC kit to make it more effective
Lets get started!

What is an EDC Kit?

An EDC (Every Day Carry) kit is the set of items that you carry with you everywhere.  If you haven’t given any thought to what is in your EDC kit you probably have the basic items everyone takes with them when they leave their house such as your keys, phone, and wallet.  However with some simple consideration you can add to this short list to help yourself be better prepared and generally make your life easier.  Common purposes of the gear in an EDC kit include:

  • Keeping survival or “get home” gear on your person at all times
  • Making your life easier
  • Solving common problems that you face regularly
  • Protecting yourself from threats
  • Giving you peace of mind
edc kit
A basic EDC kit

So, what should be in your EDC kit?  Well, it can be pretty much anything you can imagine.  Some people just stick to the basics and others carry purpose made gear to solve specific problems they expect to face.  No matter what you currently carry these 5 Quick Tips will help you make an objective assessment of your needs and improve your kit to best meet your specific challenges:

Quick Tip 1What Threats or Challenges Are You Likely To Face?

Making a realistic assessment of what problems you are likely to face is the first step towards identifying what is most useful for you to have in your EDC kit.  Just because every kit you see online seems to have a notepad or particular gadget doesn’t mean yours needs to have this as well.  Tailor your ideal kit to YOUR specific needs.  

This is done by looking at the threats that are present in your local environment (earthquake, terrorism, mugging, etc) as well as problems you are likely to face frequently (walking in a dark parking lot, needing to open packages/boxes at work).  Make a realistic assessment of both the probability of these challenges occurring and the potential impact they will have on you.  Make your ideal list based on this assessment.  My “How To Make An EDC List” article covers this in greater detail, click here to read it for more detailed information.

Quick Tip 2What Do You Carry Already?

Everyone already has some items that they carry with them that are essential to their day-to-day.  This may be the basics of wallet, keys, and phone that I mentioned above or a full blown get home bag, depending on how much thought you have put into it at this point.  Take a good look at what you are already carrying with you and think of what you can remove or upgrade to better address the challenges you identified in Quick Tip #1.  For example:

  • I carried keys around on my keychain to apartments I no longer lived in for YEARS until I actually took a look at what I had on there.  Many people do the same with rewards card to stores without even considering it. Do you have similar useless junk in your EDC kit that you can get rid of?
  • Do you have an old bottle opener that you carry around that is beat up and worn out?  Why not upgrade to something like a mini-multitool so you can open those bottles plus have the ability to pry, screw, cut, and torque as you need?
  • Don’t be afraid to remove anything you haven’t used in a while or that does not meet the challenges you identified above, you can always add it back in if your threats change again in the future.
edc kit
Upgrade items to multi use tools such as this mini multitool from Boker

Quick Tip 3What can you add to better address these challenges?

When people start seriously thinking about what to add to their EDC kit the most common items that they add are:

The reason why these are popular is that they are all compact, light weight, and can be used across a HUGE variety of situations.
When you are thinking about what to add to your EDC kit look back to your initial assessment in Quick Tip #1 to see what you need to address those challenges.  Some other items that are commonly added to EDC kits are:

  • First Aid Kit
  • Camera
  • Rain Gear
  • Water Bottle
  • Fire starting kit
  • Survival Whistle
  • Compass
  • Notepad
  • Paracord

Quick Tip 4How to Carry Your EDC Kit

So, you have removed things you don’t need from your EDC kit and added some useful tools as well.  If you have done this based on the threats and challenges you identified in Quick Tip #1 you should have a lean kit that is optimized to meet your individual needs.  Awesome!
Now consider how you are going to carry it.  Remember, this is an EVERY DAY Carry Kit.  So you will have it with you whenever you step out your front door.  If your kit is awkward to carry around you will want to leave it behind and it will then be USELESS when you need it!

  • A small kit it should be able to fit in your pockets or purse
  • A medium sized kit can be carried and organized in a shoulder bag or pouch
  • Many people carry larger kits in small backpacks

If you do decide to carry your kit in an EDC bag make sure you choose one that allows you to organize your gear in a way that makes it easy to find.  For detailed info on types of EDC bags and how to choose one that fits YOUR kit check out my article here.  

Quick Tip 5Periodically review your kit

Once you have chosen your EDC kit and are carrying it around for a while it is wise to review it periodically. You will want to review what you are carrying and make sure every item is still relevant to your needs.  In the modern day world threats change rapidly:

  • If you are facing a new challenge you may want to add gear to help overcome it
  • If a threat has changed you may want to remove gear to lighten up your kit

This is a long term tip but if you want to set it into action RIGHT NOW you can set a recurring reminder on your phone or calendar to remind yourself to review your EDC Kit in a couple months.  I like to review mine quarterly (every 3 months) but pick a schedule that works best for you.

Want Even MORE Info On Building Your EDC Kit?

If you are looking for even more information on how to build your ultimate EDC kit you can check out my book, The Every Day Carry Guide.  It is a comprehensive manual that will teach you:

  • How to be prepared at all times – no matter where you are
  • How to build your first EDC kit from scratch
  • How to refine an existing kit to make it more effective
  • How to pick the best gear to realistically make you more prepared
  • How to assess threats and risks in your every day life



Following these 5 Quick Tips will put you well on your way to making yourself better prepared to face whatever challenges the world is likely to throw at you.  Remember to keep your kit lean and specific for the threats you’ve identified.  For more information on some of the topics I mentioned feel free to check out the in-depth articles I have written about Every Day Carry:

Thanks for reading and until next time remember: Chance Favors The Well Prepared.


Welcome to The Bug Out Bag Guide!

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Best Tactical Pen

The Best Tactical Pen For Your Kit

Best Tactical Pen

A tactical pen can be a good option for a self-defense tool in an emergency. They make great every day carry companions due to their small size, light weight, concealability, and dual purpose functionality.

In this article, we will show you how to choose the best tactical pen for your EDC kit or Bug Out Bag by taking a look at some of the best options on the market.

We’ve conducted extensive research and built the table below to allow you to compare some of the best tactical pens on the market.

Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen

5.59"1.02 ozIntegrated glassbreaker$$Machined steel
Schrade Survival Tactical Pen

5.9"1.7 ozIntegrated survival whistle, glass breaker, and magnesium fire starter$$Anodized aluminum
Uzi Defender Tactical Pen

6"2.4 ozHeavy Duty, incudes integrated glassbreaker$Aircraft Aluminum
CRKT Williams Tactical Pen

6"1.2 ozTapered body to aid grip retention$$Machined anodized aluminum
Smith and Wesson M&P Tactical Pen

5.7"1.4 ozRidged body for excellent finger holds$T6061 Aircraft Aluminum
Vktech Tactical Pen

5.7"3.7 ozScoops on back for catching attacker's DNA, makes and excellent glass breaker$Aircraft Aluminum
Schrade Tactical Pen

5.7"1.6 ozHighly Inconspicuous
Screw on/off cap
$CNC machined 6061 aircraft aluminum
Smith and Wesson 3rd Gen Tactical Pen

5.7"1.4 ozIncludes stylus tip on one end for touchscreens$T6061 Aircraft Aluminum

What Is A Tactical Pen?

A tactical pen is a writing tool that is also designed to be used as a defensive weapon.

Tactical pens are typically made of metal or a very sturdy plastic. Aircraft-grade aluminum and titanium are frequently employed to make strong, lightweight, tactical pens.

One or both ends of the tactical pen is typically tapered to a point to allow for it to be used as a thrusting self-defense tool. Whereas a normal pen would bend or break if used in a defensive scenario, a tactical pen is designed exactly for this use.

Why Carry A Tactical Pen?

People carry tactical pens for many reasons.

Some may just want a high-quality pen that looks good and matches other gear they may have, like a folding knife or other tactical equipment.

The main reason people carry tactical pens is to have a reliable self-defense tool that can be hidden in plain sight.

While a knife or firearm will draw most anyone’s attention if spotted while being carried, a tactical pen is more of a “gray man” option. Most tactical pens will pass a security or TSA inspection, therefore, can be carried almost anywhere.

UPDATE: A reader has sent this article to show that some of the more aggressive style pens do get confiscated at airport checkpoints. Consider this when choosing your pen if you plan on traveling with it.

With some basic training, tactical pen carriers are more readily able to protect themselves wherever they go.

Another advantage of tactical pens is that often they are designed to be non-lethal and come with a blunt end that is intended to apply painful force to pressure points, sensitive areas, and other vulnerable locations on an attacker’s body. This can be an appealing non-lethal self-defense option for those not wanting to cause mortal damage to an attacker.

Others may just be looking to lighten their kit by combining their self-defense tool with their writing instrument into one small multipurpose item. A tactical pen is perfect for this.

Tactical pens are a robust, low key, self-defense option.

Best Overall Tactical Pen: Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen

Best Tactical Pen
Click on the image now to see reviews for this Tactical Pen on Amazon

The Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen doesn’t attempt to do absolutely everything its competitors try for but instead chooses to execute the essential functions of a tactical pen with authority.

It comes out of the box with a Rite In The Rain ink cartridge, so you will be able to confidently take notes, mark maps, and more in any conditions.

It also has a low profile glass breaker integrated into the tip to assist in emergency evacuations from vehicles of buildings.

Additionally, it is one of the few “click” pens you see in the tactical pen format, which I consider to be an advantage – no cap to unscrew every time and one less thing to lose.

Overall the machined steel body is extremely strong and will hold up to the roughest applications. Its various ridges and indentations ensure a positive grip should it be required to discourage aggressive behavior.

These features have all been added thoughtfully and executed flawlessly.

There is no excess on this tactical pen, and it strives to meet your daily needs at every turn.

Coming in around the $40 price point, the Gerber Impromptu Tactical Pen exceeds expectations and makes for a reliable companion for years to come.

Best Mid-Range Tactical Pen: Schrade Survival Tactical Pen

Best Tactical Pen
Click on the image above to see the Schrade Survival Tactical Pen on Amazon

The Schrade Survival Tactical Pen gets our pick for the best mid-range tactical pen for several reasons. For one it has a ton of useful survival gear packed into its compact package including:

  • Survival Whistle
  • Glass Breaker
  • Magnesium Firestarter

These items alone justify the $25 price tag.

As a tactical pen if both writes well and is strong enough to be a functional self-defense item.

The narrow taper at the writing end serves well as a force multiplier if you ever needed to deter an attacker with it.

This tactical pen has a rather inconspicuous profile to it, unlike some other pens that have an obvious weaponized appearance.

Its ordinary appearance will help it avoid scrutiny from security checkpoints, ensuring that you will be able to defend yourself pretty much anywhere.

The Schrade Survival Tactical Pen is a solid mid-range tactical pen that will not disappoint.

Best Budget Tactical Pen: Vktech Tactical Pen

In the sub-$5 price range, there is no better choice than the Vktech Tactical Pen.

While you can’t expect it to be of the same quality as our previous picks, it still has excellent workmanship for the price.

Picking it up you can feel its solid construction.

The knurling along its body meshes perfectly with the palm of your hand for a comfortable non-slip grip.

The Vktech Tactical Pen offers reliability and durability at an unbeatable price making for a great entry-level option.

How Do I Choose The Best Tactical Pen For My Kit?

Pen Quality

When looking for the best tactical pen a good place to start is to choose one that writes well. This is the basic function of a tactical pen and is what you will use it for 99% of the time. The best tactical pens out there accept ink refills from quality producers like Parker and Hauser, Fischer Space Pen, and Rite in the Rain.

Self-Defense Features

Once you have a good writing tool, it is time to look at the defensive features to find the best tactical pen for your personal protection.

First, decide how you would want to use your tactical pen as a defensive tool.

A smaller woman, for example, may struggle to inflict damage with one of the blunt ended tactical pens and a tactical pen with a pointier end may be more suitable.

A larger person would probably be more able to strike with enough force to ward off an attacker with either of these options so they would have a wider variety of suitable tactical pens to choose from


In addition to being comfortable in your hand for writing, having a good grip is key to using the pen as a defensive tool.

In a self-defense scenario, you will likely be swinging it with velocity you will want to make sure the tactical pen stays put in your hand upon impact.

The best tactical pen you can choose will have ridges or grooves for your fingers to sit in and knurling to aid grip retention.


Best EDC Knife
Click to read our article on picking the BEST EDC Knife

Attachment Clip

The best tactical pens on the market will have a robust pocket clip for attaching the pen to a pocket, bag, or belt.

Many pens also have additional attachment options for keyrings, carabiners, and paracord.

Make sure the tactical pen you choose has an attachment option that matches the way you intend to carry it.

Extra Features

A common point of differentiation to look for when finding the right tactical pen is to keep an eye out for unique features.

Many tactical pen makers work to make their products stand out by incorporating additional features such as:

  • Hidden Handcuff Key
  • Magnesium Firestarter
  • Window/Glass Breaker
  • DNA Catching Scoops (for identifying an attacker to law enforcement)

Keep an eye out for special features such as these when choosing your tactical pen.

How to Use a Tactical Pen

There are many schools of thought of the best way to use a tactical pen for self-defense.

If you are going to carry one, it is essential to train in how to use it effectively.

Once you have learned proper technique, it is as important to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.

Typical tactical pen targets include:

Pressure Points

  • Armpit
  • Neck
  • Inner arm
  • Inner thigh

Sensitive Areas

  • Throat
  • Eyes
  • Ears
  • Groin
  • Ribs
  • Solar Plexus
  • Nose

BONUS: Instructional Video

Here is a helpful instructional video to get you started.


There are a lot of great options out there for carrying a reliable, multipurpose tactical pen.

Finding the BEST tactical pen for your needs can be a challenge, but hopefully, the suggestions we have made will help you decide.

Once again, here are our picks:

Want Even MORE Info On Building Your EDC Kit?

If you are looking for even more information on how to build your ultimate EDC kit you can check out my book, The Every Day Carry Guide. It is a comprehensive manual that will teach you:

  • How to be prepared at all times – no matter where you are
  • How to build your first EDC kit from scratch
  • How to refine an existing kit to make it more effective
  • How to pick the best gear to realistically make you more prepared
  • How to assess threats and risks in your every day life


Your Thoughts?

Do you have a tactical pen that you want to share? Is there a quality you NEED to have when finding the best tactical pen for your environment? Please let us know in the Comments Section below.

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EDC List

The Best EDC Flashlights – Our Picks and How to Choose

Best EDC Flashlight

After essential basics such as a wallet, keys, phone, and knife, finding the best EDC flashlight is an important element of developing your every day carry kit.

Having a good flashlight can improve survivability in many situations in addition to it being highly useful in day-to-day circumstances.

With the right EDC flashlight, you’ll never get caught in the dark!

There are a lot of EDC flashlights on the market, and it can be confusing to find the best flashlight for your EDC kit. We will help your search by showing our Top 10 and give our picks for the best overall, entry level, and mid-level EDC flashlights.

We will also discuss what qualities to look for when choosing your EDC flashlight for your needs including features, lumens, beam types, switch variations, and more.

Note: If you are new to the concept of EDC (Every Day Carry), you may want to check out my article here, which explains the basics and will help you design your first EDC kit.

Best Overall EDC Flashlight: Fenix PD35


With a scorching 1000 lumen output, the Fenix PD35 is practically a lightsaber. That level of illumination is effective for tactical usage and any basic task that you could throw at it. This lumen output is even more impressive given the flashlight’s sub-$100 price tag. The Fenix PD35 has 6 output options for outstanding versatility and weighs in at only 3oz.

If having a reliable, extremely bright light is essential to your EDC kit, this is the one for you.

Best Mid-Range EDC Flashlight: Olight S10


The Olight S10 is a compact powerhouse. Its tiny size (2.7 x 1.9 inches) and minuscule weight (2.4 oz) make it ideal for a lightweight EDC kit. The Olight S10 packs 320 lumens into this tiny package and can cycle through its 5 pre-programmed modes of high, medium, low, moonlight, and strobe.

All that versatility stuffed in a tiny package makes this flashlight an easy choice at approximately $50.

Best Entry-Level EDC Flashlight: Fenix E12


The Fenix E12 is a gem in the entry-level EDC flashlight field. It is reasonably priced in the sub-$30 range and produces 130 lumens in a compact package that makes it perfect for a keychain light. Add the versatility of running on a single AA battery, and you have a real winner for a basic every day flashlight.

Flashlight Features: How to Choose the Best EDC Flashlight

Whatever EDC flashlights you consider you should be aware of these basic qualities when determining which one is best for you.


Most flashlights will describe how many lumens the light produces in their packaging or product descriptions.

Understanding lumens gives you an excellent way to perform an apples-to-apples comparison of the most basic function of an EDC light which is providing illumination.

A lumen is the unit of measure of the total amount of visible light produced by a source. Basically, how bright the flashlight is. The more lumens it can produce the brighter the beam will be.

Basic flashlights are usually 10 lumens, and high-end search and rescue lights can be over 18,000 lumens.

Typically, EDC flashlights will be in the 50-1000 lumen range but consider how you are likely to use your light to help determine how many lumens you really need.

Best EDC Flashlight

Bulb Type

Since the invention of the flashlight, incandescent bulbs have been shedding light into the dark corners of our lives. However, in recent years, LED (Light Emitting Diode) flashlights have begun to take over this role. LED lights are particularly favored for every day carry kits because they offer greater efficiency, better battery consumption, greater brightness, and far better impact resistance than old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs.

Choosing an LED based bulb for your EDC flashlight is a no-brainer at this point.

Best EDC Flashlight

Battery Type

Most commercially available flashlights use either AA or CR123 batteries. While AA is the tried and true old guard, the CR123 is a more recently available challenger.

  • AA Batteries for your EDC Flashlight – AA batteries have been around for many years and are a reliable source of power for many gadgets. AA batteries are based on alkaline cell technology that is tried and true. AAs are typically cheaper and more widely available than newer batteries as well as being a smaller diameter and longer in size.
  • CR123 Batteries for Your EDC Flashlight – CR123 batteries are based on lithium cell technology and can provide greater energy storage and output allowing for a brighter, longer lasting flashlight in most cases. CR123 batteries are however more expensive and less readily available than AAs, and although they are shorter in length, they have a wider diameter. Because of this, flashlights using CR123 batteries are typically more compact but fatter than ones using AAs. CR123 batteries are also typically lighter (.6oz for CR123 compared to .9oz for AA) which can result in a lighter flashlight overall. Lithium cell batteries also provide higher performance in cold temperatures.

So, which battery is best? It depends on what you are looking for.

If you want a light that uses a battery that is more readily available in a survival scenario, AA is probably best for you. If performance and weight reduction are paramount to you, CR123 is the way to go.

Generally speaking, for an EDC kit, where the availability of batteries isn’t really an issue, CR123 is a nice option.

Flashlight Size

As with most EDC gear, keeping things compact is essential.

No one wants to carry anything heavy or bulky with them as part of their every day carry kit.

The best EDC flashlights can typically provide a high amount of illumination while staying under 4″ long. The trade-off for having a tiny EDC light is that you will have less space inside to fit a battery so you may sacrifice some power if you choose an ultra-compact flashlight. This is an important trade-off to consider, and you will have to strike a balance when finding the best EDC flashlight for you.

Waterproof Rating

You never know what conditions you will need to use your EDC flashlight in. However, if you may need illumination in the rain or during a flood, having a light that is not waterproof is about as useful as not having one at all.

Most quality lights will be rated as waterproof or at least water-resistant. Flashlights are typically rated using an IPX code which identifies water resistance testing and capabilities (see the chart below).

The bottom line is if you are looking for a flashlight for EDC purposes and it is not listed as being waterproof, move on to an option that is.

Best EDC Flashlight

Body Construction Material

A metal body flashlight will be tougher and be able to take more abuse than a plastic one. Having a durable flashlight is important it will likely receive some knocks, drops, and bumps as you carry it every day.

Selecting a metal flashlight will result in a longer lasting tool that is functional when you need it.


As with any item on your EDC list you want something that provides the greatest utility at the lowest weight. No one wants to be carrying around an anchor in their pocket, purse or EDC bag. When selecting the best EDC flashlight for your kit, you can keep weight down by choosing a small light or one made of lightweight materials such as aluminum or titanium. Selecting a flashlight with a CR123 type battery is another way to save weight. Look for a flashlight that weighs less than 5 oz to keep your pockets light.

Beam Features

  • Adjustable beam – Having an adjustable beam significantly increases the versatility of your EDC flashlight. Being able to choose to illuminate a wide area when conducting a search and then changing to a narrow beam for signaling or tactical scenarios will make sure your EDC light meets any need you may have.
  • Flashing/Signaling Capabilities – Some flashlights come with multiple modes available beyond the ability to shine a plain beam. While this may not be a feature you think you would need, flashing and signaling capabilities can come in handy. Both are invaluable when trying to signal for help or to communicate at a distance in the dark.

Attachment Options

Just about any quality EDC flashlight will have some attachment options. Attachment options usually include a pocket clip, lanyard loop, carabiner clip, or keyring. Make sure whatever option the EDC light you choose is compatible for how you intend to carry it.

Even the best EDC flashlight will bring frustration if you can’t carry it that way you want.

Switch Type

Like the attachment option, make sure the switch your EDC flashlight uses is compatible with the way you intend to carry it. Most importantly make sure that the switch, twist collar, or button, is reliable and will not turn on while in your pocket or bag. Nothing is worse than opening up your bag and seeing the weak yellow glow of a flashlight with a dying battery right when you need to use it.

Parting Advice: How To Pick The Best EDC Flashlight For Your Needs

As you can see, there are a lot of options out there when trying to find the best EDC flashlight.

Remember the basics of finding a reliable light that is comfortable to carry around with you on an everyday basis.

Don’t skimp on quality and look for features that match your specific needs.

Feel free to refer to our favorite EDC flashlights as options for your kit:

Want Even MORE Info On Building Your EDC Kit?

Another cornerstone of any EDC kit is a knife. Read our guide to choosing the best knife for your EDC kit.

If you are looking for even more information on how to build your ultimate EDC kit you can check out my book, The Every Day Carry Guide. It is a comprehensive manual that will teach you:

  • How to be prepared at all times – no matter where you are
  • How to build your first EDC kit from scratch
  • How to refine an existing kit to make it more effective
  • How to pick the best gear to realistically make you more prepared
  • How to assess threats and risks in your everyday life


Your thoughts?

Do you have a favorite EDC flashlight that you recommend? Are there any particular features that you look for when finding the best EDC light for your needs? Please let us know in the Comments Section below!

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Emerson Mini CQC-15 Review

We recently took a look at the Emerson Mini CQC-15 as a part of our guide on How To Choose The Best EDC Knife. We were so impressed by it that we ended up recommending it as the Best Overall EDC Knife.

Here we will take a closer look at its  features and qualities with our in-depth Emerson Mini CQC-15 Review.

Emerson Mini CQC-15 Review

First Impressions

Right out of the box we could tell that the Emerson Mini CQC-15 is a high quality knife.  It feels solid in the hand and the 154CM stainless steel blade comes from the knifemaker very sharp.  The overall build quality is outstanding.

One thing that catches the eye right away is the patented “Emerson Wave” feature.  This is a cleverly designed lever on the back of the blade that catches your pants pocket as you draw the knife out to automatically open the blade.  If you have seen a video of this working (below) you may think this is a spring-assisted open knife.  In fact, it is not.  It is a normal, manual open folder but the Emerson Wave feature makes the blade pop open in a flash as the knife is drawn out of the pocket.  It is a very cool, useful feature that separates the Emerson Mini CQC-15 from its competitors in the tactical folder field.


The blade on the Emerson Mini CQC-15 is made of premium quality 154CM stainless steel that provides a great balance of edge retention and ease of sharpening.  The model we tested had a partial serration with a tanto tip and a recurve to the belly of the blade.  The back of the blade is a consistent thickness from base to tip and has robust jimping on the back of the Emerson Wave feature that provides for a confident grip.  In a brilliant nod to every day use the blade is beveled on only one side to make field sharpening a breeze.  You could grind the Emerson Mini CQC-15 against a flat rock and have it back to usable sharpness in no time without worrying about keeping the perfect angle to your grind.

Emerson Mini CQC-15 Review


The model of Emerson Mini CQC-15 we tested had a nicely textured G10 handle with titanium liners to save weight.  The grip is well designed with a curved choil exactly where your fingers would grip the handle.  We were able to maintain a confident grip both barehanded and with a pair of work gloves on.  The jimping on the back of the Mini CQC-15 and Emerson Wave feature add to this sense of security providing highly effective control under even adverse conditions.

Open Mechanism

As mentioned above the instantaneous opening out of the pocket really pushes the Emerson Mini CQC-15 ahead of its competitors.  After using it for the first time we were left asking why EVERY knife doesn’t have this feature.  The Emerson Mini CQC-15 also sports a left and right hand thumb stud perpendicular to the blade for ambidextrous opening.  Using the thumb stud with a quick flick of the wrist engaged the blade with a satisfying click.

Emerson Mini CQC-15 Review
The Emerson Mini CQC-15 is a great addition to any kit

Clip Attachment

The Emerson Mini CQC-15 has a firm pocket clip for securing the blade to a pants pocket, belt, or webbing.  It is worth noting that the knife must be oriented in a specific way in order for the Emerson Wave feature to be able to engage the pants pocket.  Because of this the pocket clip is not able to be switched to carry on the left hand side or in blade point-down orientation.  Modification is available from the manufacturer for you lefties out there to enable the Emerson Wave to be engaged in a left-pocket deployment.  The Emerson Mini CQC-15 also features a large lanyard hole at the base of the grip for securing it to your gear or person.  This is highly useful if you are planning on using this knife at heights or as a secondary blade attached to a pack with some paracord.


The Emerson Mini CQC-15 utilizes a titanium linerlock that automatically engages upon opening the knife.  This provides a very tight lock with no wiggle to the blade when deployed.  There has been some talk among users of the Emerson Mini CQC-15 that the titanium linerlock against the steel blade can actually be too tight making it harder than other knives to close.  This is a bonus of you want a reliable locking mechanism that is not going to close on your hand but can be a challenge if you want to be able to quickly close the blade.  It can be remedied by breaking in the knife through use over time and accelerated by rubbing graphite on the face of the linerlock that mates with the blade.

Emerson Mini CQC-15 Review

Emerson Mini CQC-15: The Verdict

The Emerson Mini CQC-15 is an awesome tactical folder that is well built and feels great in the hand.  The blade is made of high quality steel that will hold its edge well.  The Emerson Wave opening feature is both innovative and practical and provides for a reliable, instantaneous opening for when rapid deployment matters.  The only downsides we could find were the easily overcome tightness of the lock and cost.  However if quality and practicality are paramount to you, look no further than the Emerson Mini CQC-15.  It is a great addition to any EDC list, bug out bag, or camping kit.

Emerson Mini CQC-15 Review

Your Thoughts On Our Emerson Mini CQC-15 Review?

Have you ever used an Emerson Mini CQC-15?  Is there anything that you think we should mention in our Emerson Mini CQC-15 Review?  Please let us know what you think in the Comments Section below, thanks!

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