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Don’t be confused by the term “Everyday Carry” (often shortened to EDC). EDC simply refers to the items you have with you in your pocket or in your bag each day. The basic concept of EDC is to have everything you need to handle unexpected emergencies (both major and minor) with you everywhere you go.

For men, EDC items usually include their phone, wallet, keys, and maybe a pocket knife. Those who take preparedness seriously, may expand their list to include a flashlight, fire starter, handgun, etc.

When women first learn about the concept of Everyday Carry, they may feel confused, overwhelmed, and under prepared. However, women are actually natural Everyday Carry experts. We all have that one friend, aunt, or sister who always has everything you could possibly need in her purse. 

Need a safety pin to fix a broken bra strap? She’s got one. 

Need a hair tie, bobby pin, or nail file? She has those, too.

Aspirin, band aid, hand sanitizer? No problem.

If you aren’t like that friend/aunt/sister who is prepared for whatever fate throws her way, don’t worry. This guide will cover everything women need to know about Everyday Carry. We’ll cover what to carry, how to carry, and when to carry it. We’ll also go beyond the standard purse cargo of hair ties and hand sanitizer to cover what you need for self-defense as well as unexpected disasters like carjackings and mass shootings.

The Principles of EDC

While Everyday Carry technically refers to the things you have with you each day, this doesn’t include things like pocket lint, old receipts, or crumpled tissues, even if you always seem to have these items in your pockets.

Instead, EDC refers to the things you routinely pat your pockets to check for before you leave the house. These are the things you feel lost without, like you’re walking around naked. If you accidentally leave them at home, it upsets the flow of your whole day.

However, EDC extends beyond your wallet, keys, and cell phone. Utility and preparedness are the cornerstones of the Everyday Carry philosophy, so your EDC pieces should have at least one specific and useful function.  

Deciding How to Carry - Purse or Pockets

EDC for men is usually limited to what they can carry in their pockets. Men’s fashion has at least been generous, providing deep pockets that can comfortably store several useful items. 

Women have it more difficult in this area. Small shallow pockets are the norm when it comes to women’s fashion. Sometimes, we aren’t afforded even that small luxury, which is why we get so ecstatic when we come across a dress that actually has them.

While women haven’t been blessed when it comes to pocket capacity, we are fairly lucky in other areas. 

EDC for women includes what we can stuff in our pockets, but we also have the advantage of carrying items in our purse. This opens up a whole new world of extra carrying space. While people may think a man toting a man purse or fanny pack looks silly, no one gives a second thought to a woman carrying a handbag. 

However, carrying essential items in your purse isn’t always a great idea. Purses are often misplaced, left behind, or outright stolen. For this reason, you will want to keep your most important EDC items on your person. You don’t want anything in your bag that you aren’t willing to lose.

This is particularly true if your EDC kit includes a handgun. Although there are plenty of handbags designed specifically for concealed carry, these are a terrible choice for two main reasons. 

  1. Accessibility. Handguns are used for self-defense. Unfortunately, victims don’t get to choose when or where they will be attacked. A weapon carried on the body is always with you, so you never have to worry about being attacked when your bag isn’t easily within reach. It is also much more difficult to draw a pistol carried off the body. Too much can go wrong in the few extra seconds it takes to fumble around and locate your weapon in your bag, especially if the handgun has shifted from its normal location.
  2. Security. If you are carrying a firearm, you don’t want it to end up in anyone else’s hands. That includes purse snatchers, other criminals, and especially curious children. It is much easier to keep your weapon secure if it is carried on your body than if it is tucked inside a purse or bag.

Wearable EDC Options

Your purse and pockets aren’t the only places you can tuck your EDC items. If you can, choose wardrobe options with deep pockets. However, when spacious pockets aren’t a viable option, there are some other wearable alternatives.  

Belly Band

A belly band is a wide piece of stretchy material that wraps around your waist, hips, or chest. These elastic bands feature integrated pockets for your concealed carry weapon and other essential EDC items. 

We particularly love the neoprene Belly Band Holster from Vsmile. It is lightweight, breathable and comfortable enough to wear when you are jogging. It also features a quick release magnet lock so you can easily draw your weapon and a removable pouch, which makes a great place to store your phone, money, pocket knife, or an extra mag.

Compression Shorts

Another wearable option for EDC are concealment shorts. There are versions made for runners (Like BALEAF compression shorts for runners) that feature wide pockets for your phone or other valuables. Others are made with CCW permit holders in mind and offer a perfect option for on-the-body weapon concealment. (UnderTech Undercover Women's Concealment Shorts are some of our favorites)

You can wear these shorts under your regular clothing without adding tons of extra bulk. Compression shorts actually help flatten your tummy and lift your buttocks, so you actually look better in whatever you choose to wear over them.

Money Belt

A longtime favorite of savvy travelers, a money belt is a small zippered pouch that fastens around your waist with an elastic strap. You can tuck a money belt inside your regular clothes. Wear it over your undies, but under your skirt or trousers. Most money belts provide enough space for your wallet, passport or other important documents, personal care items, and a pocket knife or multi-tool. 

We love the Raytix Travel Money Belt. Its thin, lightweight design makes it virtually disappear under your clothes. Raytix also blocks all RFID transmissions, providing an extra level of protection from potential electronic thieves.

Deciding What to Carry  

Space for Everyday Carry often comes at a premium, especially if you decide not to carry a purse or handbag. Therefore, it is critical to prioritize the items on your EDC list. To maximize EDC effectiveness, you should consider the probability of experiencing specific threats in your everyday life. If the probability is high, an item that would be useful when encountering that situation may be worth adding to your Everyday Carry list.  

In addition to probability, you should also consider the potential impact a specific threat could have. 

For example, although broken fingernails are pretty annoying, a chip in your manicure isn’t going to send anyone to the hospital. This makes the potential impact of that situation relatively low. However, if you tend to regularly deal with broken nails, it would be sensible to include clippers or a nail file to your EDC assemblage to save yourself frequent frustration.

To the other extreme, your chances of experiencing a mass shooting are relatively low (The lifetime risk of dying in a mass shooting is approximately 1 in 110,154), but the potential impact includes disastrous consequences. Due to the severity of the potential impact, adding a tourniquet or trauma kit to your EDC item list would be prudent if you have the room.

What You Should Carry

There is no one-size-fits-all list for Everyday Carry. What you should include will vary depending on your lifestyle and personal preferences. Someone else’s EDC list might not be suitable for your own circumstances. 

However, if you need a place to get started, here are some things to consider including in your customized EDC kit. 

Start With The Basics

Phone - No one leaves home without it these days. Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, the modern smartphone is much more than just a simple phone. It is also a camera, flashlight, map, notepad, wallet, and much more. However, most phones become completely useless in the event of a network outage. Make sure you have a backup plan for essential applications in case you lose reception, your network crashes, or your battery dies. 

Wallet - A wallet isn’t as important as what it carries inside - i.e. cash, credit cards, identification, and other important paper documents. It is also a great place to stash a credit card-sized multi tool like the Wallet Ninja which can be useful in a variety of situations. 

Keys - You probably won’t get very far without your keys. To reduce weight, make sure you aren’t carrying around a bunch of out-dated lock openers. You can probably ditch the key to your high school gym locker, but keep the keys you need. 

Another way to maximize EDC space is to use functional key chains to hold your keys. Consider adding a key fob with a specific use, like a kubaton or pepper spray for self-defense. You can also choose survival paracord key chains or a flint and steel fire starter.

The “Trinity” of EDC

Beyond the basics, these three items are some of the most useful to add to your EDC kit.

Pocket Knife - The useful pocket knife often gets a bad rap. Often miscategorized as a weapon, a pocket knife should primarily be used as a tool. Use it for breaking down boxes, opening packages, cutting string, or slicing salami. The possibilities are practically limitless. Before choosing a pocket knife, be sure to check local regulations regarding the size limitations and legality of carrying one.

Flashlight - You probably have one on your phone, however a good standalone flashlight will perform better in emergency situations, and will probably be more practical for most daily tasks. A flashlight comes in handy if you ever find yourself outside after the sun goes down. You can also use it during power outages and to help you locate lost objects that roll under the furniture.

Multi tool - There are plenty of multi tool options to choose from, all of which provide a toolbox worth of functionality. Common components include pliers, screwdrivers, bottle openers, nail files, wire cutters, scissors, and other cutting edges.

Other EDC Items to Consider

Although most Everyday Carry kits will include the previously mentioned items, there is no need to stop there. Only you can decide what you might need to help you face potential threats and challenges. Here are some common items to consider adding to your kit...just in case:

  • Sunscreen
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Bug spray
  • Lip balm
  • Baby wipes
  • Super glue
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Safety pins
  • Rubber bands
  • Zip ties
  • Toilet paper
  • Small trash bags
  • Bottled water
  • Water purification tablets
  • Portable water filtration straw (like the Sawyer Mini or Lifestraw)
  • Energy or protein bars
  • Solar charger for cell phone
  • Paracord or twine
  • Duct tape
  • Cigarette lighter
  • Fire starter
  • Emergency tinder (like Vaseline soaked cotton balls or char cloth)
  • Mylar emergency blanket
  • Portable compass
  • Area map
  • Notepad and pen
  • Signaling mirror 
  • Adhesive bandages
  • Tweezers
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Pain reliever (like aspirin, Tylenol, or ibuprofen)
  • Extra prescription medication
  • Burn cream
  • Ace bandage
  • Tourniquet
  • Latex gloves

Summing It Up

Don’t feel overwhelmed by our long list of potential EDC items. Carrying all that stuff is only going to weigh you down, and you don’t want to overdo it. Everyday Carry is about setting priorities. You should make conscious decisions to incorporate what you value but exhibit the restraint to leave out what you don’t need. 

The key to EDC success is to choose a set-up that fits your individual needs. Your lifestyle, profession, routine, geographic location, fashion style, and budget are all going to affect the contents of your Everyday Carry kit. 

What you choose to carry with you each day is a highly personal choice. However, making sure the essentials are covered will provide peace of mind and a serious sense of satisfaction.