Urban vs. Rural Everyday Carry (EDC)

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man holding pocket knife everyday carry

In today's fast-paced world, being prepared for any situation is crucial. But your exact everyday carry (EDC) kit, the items you carry on your person day in and day out, will be very different if you live in a busy, populated area versus a rural or remote one.

If you want a well-thought-out EDC kit but don’t know where to start, we’ve compiled a list of essentials for both an urban EDC and a rural EDC so you can see how the two compare. Use these as jumping off points, and then tailor your kit to your own specific needs and surroundings. After all, your personal EDC will ultimately be just as unique as you and your own daily activities.

Urban Everyday Carry Essentials

Living in a bustling city means having a lot of resources at your fingertips, but those conveniences come with unique challenges, too. From navigating crowded public transportation to avoiding potential safety concerns, having the right items in your EDC kit can help you feel both prepared and confident. Here are some essential items for any urban everyday carrier:

  • Wallet: Keep your identification, cash, and essential cards in a compact wallet.
  • Mobile phone: Stored in a protective phone case, your mobile phone provides information, communication, and navigation.
  • Keys: Use a keychain or key organizer to avoid misplacing your keys in crowded areas.
  • Multi-tool: A versatile multi-tool with features like a knife, screwdriver, and bottle opener can come in handy.
  • Flashlight: Opt for a compact, rechargeable flashlight to navigate dark areas, power outages, or dimly lit streets.
  • Notepad and pen: Whether you’re jotting down important information or leaving a note, having a small notepad and pen can be useful.
  • First aid kit: Be prepared for minor injuries by carrying a compact kit with essentials like band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers.
  • Pepper spray or personal safety alarm: Consider carrying pepper spray or a personal safety alarm for added security.
  • Cash: It can be a good idea to keep a small amount on hand for emergencies or situations where card payments are impossible.
  • Portable charger: Having a wireless charger ensures your phone will stay powered up throughout the day.

Your usual mode of transportation may influence your urban EDC kit. For example, you’ll need to carry whatever keys, cards, passes, or tickets are required for public transportation, downtown parking, or local highway travel, and so on. It can also be a good idea to plan ahead for changes in the weather. You might carry an umbrella, a compact rain jacket, or a hat to shield you from unexpected rain or extreme sun.

Since there’s always the risk of digital or identity theft in urban environments, consider carrying an RFID-blocking wallet or card sleeve to protect your personal information. And you can choose to carry items that would be useful in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency, such as a whistle, emergency contact information, or a small supply of food or water.

Rural Everyday Carry (EDC) Essentials

It can be relaxing to step away from the hustle and bustle of a city, but the isolation can present scenarios that require careful preparedness. Whether you’re in a small town or at a remote campground, having the right items in your EDC kit is essential for your safety and self-sufficiency. Here are some essential items for a rural EDC.

  • Pocket knife: A durable and versatile pocket knife is a must-have tool for cutting ropes, opening packages, or even self-defense.
  • Compass: Carrying a reliable compass can help you navigate unfamiliar terrain and find your way back home.
  • Water bottle and water purification: A reusable water bottle and water purification tablets or a portable water filter will ensure a safe water supply.
  • Fire starting kit: Include waterproof matches, a lighter, or a fire starter kit to help you stay warm, cook food, or signal for help if needed.
  • First aid kit: Make sure you have the basics covered with bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and necessary prescription medications.
  • Multi-tool: A multi-tool can be incredibly useful in rural settings for tasks like fixing equipment, cutting branches, or opening cans.
  • Emergency shelter: Consider including a lightweight tent or emergency bivvy in your EDC kit.
  • Extra clothing and footwear: Having a spare set can make a significant difference in your comfort and safety.
  • Flashlight or headlamp: Especially during nighttime, having a reliable flashlight or headlamp is essential for navigation, searching for items, or signaling for help.
  • Food and snacks: Carry some nonperishables and energy bars to keep you fueled during extended periods outdoors.

Whether you want them or not, encounters with wildlife are inevitable in rural areas. Deterrents like bear spray or insect repellent could be not just convenient but absolutely necessary. Other natural elements, such as rough terrain and extreme weather, might require additional items, such as sunscreen or gloves. Depending on your daily activities, you might always need special tools — for example, a folding saw, hatchet, or small shove.

While a flat tire or other car issue can equal trouble no matter where you are, it’s especially dangerous in a rural area, where service stations and cell phone reception may be nonexistent. To be safe, your EDC kit should include a spare tire, jumper cables, a basic toolkit, and a roadside emergency kit. Along those same lines, having a two-way radio or a satellite phone in addition to your regular mobile phone could be a lifesaver.

Regardless of where you find yourself — in a densely populated city or the remote wilderness — and whatever life throws at you, a good EDC kit should help you feel safe, confident, and ready to adapt to any challenge. Take the time now to curate your kit thoughtfully and you’ll find it paying off in big ways in the future, helping you to not just survive but really thrive.