It’s easy to think about preparing for an emergency at home. It’s easy to think about preparing for an emergency in your vehicle. It somehow seems more challenging to think about preparing for an emergency when you’re headed to work, or class, or lunch with friends.
I think a lot of people view “preparedness gear” as big and bulky and clunky; huge tubs of food, blue barrels of water, and gigantic backpacks. While this may be true in some cases, it shouldn’t be the only definition or mental image. Trying to translate those ideas and images into EveryDay Carry (EDC) can be so daunting and overwhelming that most people don’t give it further consideration. I want to change that.
As I’ve discussed in previous articles, I believe in prepping in layers. My EDC gear is no exception. There are 5 main layers of EDC gear that I have: my phone, my keychain, my EDC pouch, and my EDC bags (laptop bag for work and sling bag for family outings). I covered my EDC keychain already, so now I want to cover my laptop bag and the gear I keep inside. In the future I’ll also write about the apps I keep on my phone, the EDC pouch that I move between bags and the sling bag that I use when I don’t need my laptop.
What is the Purpose
I am a marketing analyst in my day-to-day life. In short, I tell big brands if the marketing program they created (ad campaign, website, app, etc.) worked; and if consumers enjoyed it. This means that I spend a lot of time in meetings, on conference calls, and visiting clients. My laptop bag, like my keychain and phone, is always with me throughout the day.
My laptop bag has to function as a mobile office and a mobile prep center. I have to have items to help me through my workday and items to help me in case of an emergency. However, since I spend time in a variety of professional settings, my bag can’t be gigantic or overtly tactical. It would be really odd to walk into a client meeting with a camouflaged, 72-Hour backpack on.
After a lot of searching, I chose the 5.11 RUSH Delivery Lima messenger bag (https://amzn.to/2Ip47Ei). 5.11 makes incredible bags that are incredibly functional, durable, and well designed. All of my large packs are from 5.11, but we’ll cover the rest of those later. The interior has a padded section with plenty of room for my MacBook or my Lenovo Yoga laptop (sometimes I have to bring both laptops and they can both fit). Additionally, there are multiple zipper and velcro pockets to organize a variety of different items. The exterior has a large zipper pocket on the back and two small zipper pockets on the front flap. I love the small front pockets and use them all of the time. There are two net pouches on the ends, which I usually use for holding water bottles. Molle webbing and velcro are available in multiple locations to allow for pouches and patches to be applied for extra room or for identification (all of our family’s bags have the fighting duck patch). The shoulder strap is adjustable and incredibly comfortable.
Over the years I’ve realized that every office is different and every conference room is unique. In order to be prepared and put my best foot forward, I keep several items to help make my meetings more productive.
- USB Charger (https://amzn.to/2XfQoDD): I have a bunch of different chargers, but I keep an Anker charger in my bag. This specific charger can charge my phone about 3 times and is relatively small for easy storage.
- USB Cables (Lightning – https://amzn.to/2ICIyzP) (Micro-USB – https://amzn.to/2XgRONU): I keep a Lightning and a Micro-USB cable always. Almost anything that can be charged with a USB charger, uses Lightning or Micro-USB connections.
- USB Plugin Charger (https://amzn.to/2ZhOaoE): Like many people who buy electronics these days I have a ton of USB plugin chargers, but I only use a couple (I leave the charger plugged in and swap the device the cord connects to). The charger I have in my bag is just a random one from a phone or another device. I keep it in my bag so I don’t have to use my battery charger if there is a plug available. I’m providing a link to an Anker charger that has two ports. In an emergency, having two USB ports would allow you to charge your phone and your battery pack at the same time.
- Laptop Dongles: Yes, dongles is a word apparently, and refers to the small connectors that allow you to connect your computer to other outputs and inputs. I keep a Mini Display Port-to-HDMI (Apple), a USB-C-to-HDMI (PC), and a USB-to-Ethernet connector so that I’m ready to connect in most situations.
- Sharpies (https://amzn.to/2VMnyKO): Sharpies can write on almost anything and won’t wash off when they get wet. They come in a variety of colors, but you can also get black. I keep a couple in my bag for any kind of general marking or writing I may need to do.
In a disaster, my laptop bag may be the only thing I have with me. While it obviously is not large enough to keep supplies for two weeks, I can keep supplies to help me get home.
- SOL Survival Medic Kit (https://amzn.to/2KH0HiK): I’ve done a full product review on the kit that you can read here. To reiterate though, this is an amazing little kit that has a little bit of everything you need and is very inexpensive. I keep one of these in every bag and every vehicle.
- SOL Emergency Blanket (https://amzn.to/2XlIGaX): You can definitely use a cheap mylar blanket to stay warm, but the material of the SOL Emergency Blanket seems to be more durable than the super cheap mylar ones. A bonus is that one side is silver and one side is orange so you can use to help signal for help.
- First Aid Supplies: I don’t keep a full first aid kit in my bag, but I do keep some Band-Aids and a small bottle of ibuprofen. This helps with minor cuts and headaches. If there is a specific medication that you use regularly, or if you prefer a difference in pain medication, you should adjust and include that too.
- N95 Mask (https://amzn.to/2IBTjCN): Most of the disasters I think I might reasonably encounter will produce a lot of particulates in the air. An N95 mask will block out most of them and help me to breathe more easily. I bought a large box to keep at home and just keep one mask in my bag, sealed in a Ziploc bag).
- Plasma Lighter (https://amzn.to/2XjksxT): I have never been a huge fan of Bic or Zippo lighters (I also thought I would burn my finger), but then I found plasma lighters. A plasma lighter uses electricity to start the fire and can be recharged using a USB cable. This means there is no fuel to spill or carry and it will work with the USB charger I already have.
- Knife (https://amzn.to/2V26KSR): I absolutely love the Benchmade Mini Griptillion knife. It’s sturdy and compact but has a long enough blade to be very useful. As someone who doesn’t use pocket knives every day, I appreciate the way the safety lever works to make closing a smooth process. My particular version has a thumb hole in the top of the blade, which gives me a ridiculous amount of control and confidence when I need to open it. The version I purchased also has a split blade edge with half of it being just a straight blade and the other half of the edge is serrated.
- Communications (https://amzn.to/2XllyJZ): If a disaster strikes, cell towers will either be overrun with call attempts or be damaged and non-functional. To prepare for this I always carry a second communications device. In the past, I would carry a handheld HAM radio, but recently I’ve started carrying a Garmin Explorer+ GPS with satellite communications. I love my HAM radios, but the Garmin allows me actually to send text messages and emails via satellite. This simplifies the process of receiving information for my family.
- Water (https://amzn.to/2IrVM2S): I always carry at least one water bottle in my bag during the day. Sometimes I’ll have two if I’m traveling further away from home. In addition to my standard bottles, I also keep a Sawyer Mini water purifier in a Ziploc bag. The Sawyer Mini will fit on the end of a standard water bottle and purify 100,000 gallons of water (way more than you need to get home). The filter is compact and fits in my bag nicely.
- Food: I keep at least two food bars that are high in protein in my bag at all times. I try to find bars that have at least 10g of protein each, but if I can’t, I’ll add an additional bar or two.
Everyone’s kit and gear are different because everyone’s situation and needs are different. I hope this provides you with some ideas and a base to start building or refining your own kit.
There are affiliate links in the article for all of the products mentioned and recommended. In addition, here is a convenient table of links to use if you would like: