While many people have a large selection of tools and possibly a well-equipped workshop at home, when something happens while far from home, all of that gear might as well be on the moon. On the other hand, those who prepare for every possible eventuality tend to get tired from hauling around a large case full of Everyday Carry (EDC) gear.
Mary Poppins had one of everything in her magical, bottomless carpetbag, but for everyone else, the goal should be to develop a list of items that might prove useful and that can fit in a pocket or a small carry bag. The trick is to know what’s likely to be needed while at work, commuting to and from home, and while out and about for pleasure. For pocket carry, the list will be short, consisting at a minimum of a compact multitool and a tiny LED flashlight on a keychain.
It’s easy to assume that women who prefer large purses have an advantage in terms of how much gear can be stashed away, but a briefcase or messenger bag can be used by men—or women—to pack some just-in-case items. Regardless of the container chosen, place a bottle of water and a granola bar or two inside to be prepared if thirst or hunger strikes while stuck on the subway to the office, or at any other otherwise inopportune time.
Fans of the television series “MacGyver” saw the hero solve a dizzying array of emergencies, relying on his trusty Swiss Army Knife. In real life, even a very basic Swiss Army Knife model tucked into a pocket, briefcase, or purse can be a lifesaver.
The very basic Classic SD model features scissors, a small, sharp blade, a screwdriver, tweezers, and a toothpick. The scissors are perfect for cutting loose threads, while the small blade is ideal for opening packages secured with many layers of tape and for stripping the protective coatings from wires being spliced. The small screwdriver can be used on both flat-head screws as well as those with a slotted Phillips head, while the tweezers can prove to be invaluable for removing a splinter and the toothpick for removing bits of stuck cauliflower or other foods from between teeth.
There are many other models of Swiss Army Knives such as the Work Champ that feature pliers, a saw blade, files, scissors, a magnifying glass, and many more tools, making it a good choice if space and weight aren’t a concern.
A multitool is another item that should be in every EDC kit, no matter how small it may be. Leatherman is well-known for multitools carried by soldiers, rescue crews, outdoorsmen, and mechanics. Their tiny, 1.8-ounce Micra tool can be attached to a keychain, where it will be largely unnoticed until the need arises for scissors, a bottle opener, tweezers, a nail file, flat or Phillips screwdrivers, or a knife blade.
Those who wear glasses would be wise to add a compact eyeglass screwdriver kit complete with an assortment of replacement screws. These can be found in pharmacies, hardware stores, and even in grocery stores for about $5.
Another vision-related must-have is a compact flashlight. During power outages, or traveling along dark streets or on ill-lit stairs, a tiny Maglite Solitaire that hangs on a keychain or the slightly larger Mini Maglite can provide the illumination needed to get to safety. These lights also come in handy when trying to locate small screws or parts that have fallen onto the floor and rolled under desks or couches, or if needing to change a flat tire after dark.
Odds and Ends
Toss a pen into the bag, after verifying that it works, to address those “Does anyone have a pen?” situations that routinely occur. Add a small notepad, too. Make sure that there’s room in the bag for a compact power pack and the cord needed to keep smartphones powered up. Use a small zip-lock bag, or repurpose the tin box that holds breath mints to store several safety pins, a needle pre-threaded with a length of thread, a few buttons, a small bottle of eyewash, an assortment of adhesive bandages, and a few aspirin, ibuprofen, or other appropriate medication. Add a spare credit or debit card and some folded cash. Be ready for anything!
Gear to collect for those just-in-case scenarios.
Adding a tiny Maglite Solitaire to a keychain can make all the difference when trying to find a small object dropped on the floor, or when using the dark stairs after a power outage. Tuck away a spare battery in your purse or briefcase.
Get a Grip
A tiny Swiss Army Knife or Leatherman Micra Multitool can be hung on a keychain or tucked into a pocket or purse, ready to open packages, remove splinters, or tighten screws.
A compact powerpack with the correct cord in a briefcase or purse can ensure that your smartphone stays charged in case the power goes out.