By August 8, 2012 Read More →

A Tiered Approach to EDC

One is None and Two is One

My Current EDC Bag

Preppers naturally apply their prepper mindset to analyze threats to themselves, with regards to which items belong in their Every Day Carry (EDC) items, Bug Out Bags, Survival storage, etc…  Most Preppers I know have developed their own structured approach to EDC, and their own list of items they feel are necessary for themselves.  However, there are many Preppers who have not yet developed a structured approach or are not yet fully understanding of how EDC works or can work. This article presents a philosophy.  There is no “right way” to do it.  In fact, it is regularly adapted and changed, as one’s situation changes.  This approach is meant to give a baseline to consider what may be helpful.

The Tiered approach:

Tier 1: On your Person

Tier 2:  In your EDC bag carried with you

Tier 3:  Kit in your home, office, or your vehicle


To properly utilize this tiered approach, REDUNDANCY is critical.  In every day, and especially disaster, situations, it is very easy to misplace, damage, or otherwise loose essential items that belong in your EDC kit.  We obviously can’t carry 10 of everything with us everyday so it is important to ensure an item’s functionality is duplicated in other Tiers.


Tier 1 items are typically smaller versions of items in the EDC Kit from Tier 2 and Tier 3.  These smaller versions provide basic functionality, until the EDC kit from Tier 2 or 3 can be used.  This allows one to carry, where appropriate, full-sized items in Tier 2 and 3 EDC kits with greater functionality.

Specialty Kits

Mini-Kits organize the contents of my EDC Bag

Many Preppers design their kits with specialization in mind, including sub or specialty kits in their Tier 2 and Tier 3 kits / locations.  These may include Medical, Defense, Entry and so on. A Specialty Kit is typically self-contained in a small bag or pouch to allow one to extract all the tools for this purpose at once.  This facilitates urgent retrieval of necessary tools and allows one to hand-off a tool kit to a buddy and move on with confidence that they have been provided with everything needed for the task at hand.

 The “Ten Essentials”

Every Prepper tends to have their own list of “Ten Essentials”.  These Ten Essentials are the ten most important things one would never want to be without.  The APN already has some articles on this, and have some that will be published shortly.  What is important, is that once you’ve identified your Ten Essentials, you will want to analyze each of the following Tiers and in each Tier make sure that you have as many of your Ten Essentials covered as possible – yes, in every Tier.  As one goes from Tier 1 to 3, they will be able to include bigger and better items to meet those essential needs.

Mundane Items

An EDC Kit is not used only in a disaster!  It is something that you will potentially use every day.  It can and should contain mundane items in addition to survival items such as: toothbrush, toothpaste, contact solution, pens/pencils, phone and accessory chargers, items needed for your work and so on.  If you might need it, you should consider the impact of not having it when you need it and determine whether that is worth carrying it all the time.

Tiers in detail:

This Tiered Approach has been developed over time by myself and other hardcore Prepper friends.  It is constantly being tweaked and refined, and has served us very well. Every Tier must be capable of standing on its own, or with the help of the Tier before it.  The previous Tiers are expected to be augmented by the following Tiers.

Tier 1 – On Person

Every Day Carry Tier 1

The minimum on my person everyday

Items are carried on your person at ALL times.  The only time you do not have them on you is when you are sleeping – and then they are still in your clothes by the bed and will not be removed until you transfer them to new clothes in the morning.  This allows you to quickly dress if needed and know you have everything with you. This Tier typically adapts to your daily situation and perceived threats and possibilities. This gear must be capable of supporting you by itself.  If one was dropped into a situation where there was  no access to other Tiers, Tier 1 has to provide  the bare minimum essentials. Tier 1 List:  (Suggestions to develop one’s own solution)

  •  Smart Phone (a Smart Phone as an EDC item is a complete article in itself and will be out soon)
  •  Credit Cards & Cash
  •  USB Thumb Drive (a separate article will detail using this)
  •  Firearm/Magazine
  •  Folding Knife
  •  Fixed Blade Knife
  • Lockpicks
  • Mini-Compass
  • Lighter
  • Flashlight
  • Ferro Rod

Tier 2 – Carry Bag

My previous EDC Bag – A Maxpedition Fatboy

One’s EDC Bag is generally always with them.  It rides on the passenger seat of the car, it rests at the foot of one’s desk, it is slung over the shoulder everywhere one goes.  If one finds them self in a situation, their EDC bag is designed to be there. What one uses for a bag should be carefully considered.  Some factors to take into account include:

  • Durability – the EDC bag will get severely used and abused.  It will also potentially carry multiple rigid objects that will wear it out quickly
  • Size – it will need to carry everything needed, but not be obtrusive.
  • Accessibility – retrieving items from the bag should be quick and easy.  If possible, items should be able to be retrieved from it while on the move.
  • Organization – multiple compartments and sections are very helpful to keeping items organized and easy to retrieve
  • Mini-Kits – organizing similar tools or tools that accomplish similar jobs makes it much easier to grab what is needed.  Small pouches are great for this.

Mini-Kits allow you to quickly grab related items without digging through everything.

Tier 2 List:  (Sample list, tailor each list to one’s needs)

  • Lighter
  • Flashlight
  • Vaseline Soaked Cotton Balls in Altoids Tin (firestarter)
  • 10 Essentials Kit (This is a specialty kit I keep that can quickly and easily be transferred to a different bag if needed)
  • Handgun Magazines
  • Medical Kit (beyond First Aid)
  • K-Bar knife
  • Rope
  • First Aid Kit
  • Hygiene Items
  • Urban Entry Kit
  • Passport
  • Scriptures
  • Small Notebook & Pens
  • HAM Radio
  • Water Filter
  • Other Items as needed

Tier 3 – Vehicle/Office/Home Kit

A Trauma/First Responder Kit (one of several that work together)

Tier 3 Kits are nearly always nearby.  They are kept in the vehicle, office(work), or at home.  Each Tier 3 Kit typically specializes in what it carries.  Here are a few examples:

  • Get Home Bag – this Specialty Kit stays in the trunk of the car and is designed to provide  everything  needed should an event occur that prevents one from driving home.  At a MINIMUM it should include:  Trail food, water bottle, firestarting equipment, and first aid supplies. The make up will vary depending on one’s situation, how far one expects to go and so on.  If work clothes are unsuitable for trekking home in, a full change of clothes, including shoes, should be in the Kit.  If the trek home would take overnight, there should be a small shelter, fire starting gear, cooking equipment and extra food.
  • Office Bag – Depending on the type of Office, this bag should be customized to support oneself and potentially co-workers if a catastrophic event occurred, and it was not possible to leave the office.  It is also intended for day-to-day usage and contains common medicines for headache, stomach-ache, fever and so on.  It might have candles, water filters, rope, harness and carabiners (to exit through a window).
  • Trauma Kit – If one has advanced First Responder training, they will likely want to carry a bag that contains multiple meds, intervention devices, splints, bandages, etc.  This can be useful in the vehicle if the first on the scene at a car accident, or if an earthquake hits and people are isolated from immediate medical attention.
  • Vehicle Kit– this kit would include jumper cables, tow rope, fuses, repair tape, wiring, spare fluids, tire repair kits and so on.  Depending on one’s abilities, this kit should at least temporarily fix one’s vehicle to get to safety.

    A Pandemic Kit – meant to enable safely providing support in a pandemic situation

  • Urban Survival Kit – This kit contains the items needed to bug out in a large city.  Mine contains entry tools, disguises, rope and many other items.

There is an endless variety of situations and Tier 3 kits that can be assembled for them.  Tier 3 is an important part of the EDC structure, because it allows one to carry less in their Tier 2 kit, knowing that specialty items will be in their Tier 3 kits.

Day to Day

Every Day Carry is a philosophy that allows one to feel safer and be more prepared, not just for emergencies but, for everyday occurrences.  I would encourage everyone to consider their Threat Assessments, Environment, and nearby people, to determine their EDC needs.  One cannot lug everything around that they might possibly need, but by analyzing and structuring it, proper gear and supplies can be staged and utilized more effectively.

About the Author:

Known online as Phil801, he is one of the co-owners of The APN and has been a professional software engineer for over 20 years. He was raised in a Preparedness Oriented family and lives a self-sustaining lifestyle as a third generation, LDS, Prepper. He grew up farming, canning and learning to live off the land in the forests, mountains, rivers, oceans and cities of Missouri, Tennessee, Hawaii and Utah. In early 2008, he co-founded as a blog to talk about and teach Prepping. Over the next couple years, they produced hundreds of articles about Preparedness. Prior to UtahPreppers, he had been actively blogging elsewhere about building his self-sustaining farm and raising his 8 children in a preparedness lifestyle. In 2011, Phil officially became a partner and Co-Owner of the APN and lead the technical restructing of the company.

13 Comments on "A Tiered Approach to EDC"

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  1. This reminded me of the recent article in Gizmodo about Steve Wozniak’s Daily Carry:

    Also, I recommend carrying a tube of Hand Sanitizer for cleaning as well as an excellent fire starter.

  2. mmkkpro says:

    Ecellent information,we all need to be ready at a moments notice,all signs point to something big soon and a little prepping is common sense,i see so many people who either dont have a clue or are in denial,the point of being ready should be on evetyones mind.Fact is if we dont make provisions for ourselves no one is going to do it for us,keep on prepping guys let others call us what they want,I have my supplies in order but there is always more to do,survival favors those that prepare and pay attention,good luck all keep on keeping on.

  3. Mintbird says:

    Here’s a link about production and what they need.

  4. Tracer says:

    My EDC list is short and sweel

    On my person I have my Blackhawk small pry rescue bar. I am partof a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) a Bench made 8 rescue hook with strap cutter,carbide glass breaker and O2 wrench and my altoids survival kit, a butane lighter, a windproof Zippo a K-Bar US Army fighting knife, a Glock 21 with 2 spare mags.

    In a Camelback hydration pack with 3 liter bladder I have 9 ramen noodle, 3 Mountain House breakfasts, 2 lbs. Terryaki Jerky, a 6 oz. jar of dehydrated vegies, a Popeal pocket fisherman with sundry tackle, a 100 ft, a 50 ft, a 25 ft, 2 10 ft and 10 5 ft. coils of 550 paracord, a small roll of Gorilla tape, a roll of aluminum foil cut in half another Altoids survival kit a small Jhonson and Johnson first aid kit with 6 butterflys and 3 sutures added to it and 50 rounds of 45 ACP.

    For specialized equipment I have a North American Rescue S.T.O.R.M (Specialized Tactics for Operational Rescue Medecine pack it is one of the smallest comprehensive rescue medicine packs available.

    That’s about it at the moment but thing get added from time to time as my knowledge base grows.

    Be prepared and be safe all.


  5. Mendim Alimi says:

    When is this movie coming out?

  6. Mark Corvin says:

    wow! caught my attention!

  7. Anxious to see the movie, and also to find out what to use the flash drive for. Thanks for the info!

  8. Danny Helms says:

    Scary that this could actually be us soon!

  9. Studying, Great info, Thanks, Got some work to do..

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