How to Survive with What’s in Your Pockets

emergency preparedness, gear, survival -

How to Survive with What’s in Your Pockets

Every year, more than a thousand hikers get lost or go missing, resulting in SAR (search and rescue) missions.

Many of these missing individuals are skilled hikers. Whether they survive depends on several factors, none of which is more important than the supplies they’re carrying.

Often, outdoorsmen have plenty of survival gear packed away. The problem is, it does them little good if it’s not WITH them at the time of crisis.

Today’s article might just save you. We’re going to show you the EDC (everyday carry) items you must have on you at all times to survive at a moment’s notice.

Would You Survive with Just What’s in Your Pockets?

Here’s the thing with pocket items – you can't carry everything.

There are plenty of pocket-sized survival gear lists online, but will you really carry 50 little tools every day?

Of course not.

Instead, we’re specifically focusing on items that you can easily carry in your pockets (or on your person) daily.

This is important because disasters can strike anywhere at any time.

Think about the items you carry in your pockets every day. Would they help you in an emergency?

Use the information in this everyday pocket item list to stock up on actual gear that is useful in a variety of situations.

The 4 Essentials for Survival


Tons of survival gear are pocket-sized. While it’s tempting to buy it all, it will prove ineffective because your pockets probably aren’t big enough to fit everything.

Nor will you want to carry around 50 items everywhere you go.

Focus on investing in items that will help you meet the four essential survival needs:

  • Shelter
  • Fire
  • Water
  • Food

Keep in mind that items like a pop-up shelter are not everyday pocket must-haves, but you need things with you that can help build a shelter.

The same goes for food. You likely carry food on a hike, but do you always have food in your pockets? Think about everyday pocket items that can help you find food.

[Related Read: How to Collect Rainwater with Just the Shirt off Your Back]

In Your Pockets

Let’s start with some realistic items you can easily carry in your pockets every day (and probably already do).

  • Phone: Your phone works as a communication tool, GPS device, and flashlight, and can store essential survival apps and manuals.
  • Firestarter: Even if you aren’t a smoker, it is wise to carry a fire starter, such as a lighter or book of matches, with you at all times.
  • Swiss Army Knife: No one should leave home without a Swiss army knife. This pocketknife is not only useful for defense, but the multitool also provides many other survival apparatus.
  • Compass: If you get lost and your phone doesn’t get a signal or runs out of batteries, you will need a way to navigate. A compass will make this task much easier. While it is an everyday pocket tool, you can opt for a watch with a compass.
  • Bandana: A colorful bandana can be used in a pinch in various ways, including signaling for help, bandaging, and cleaning dirty hands.

In Your Wallet

We are just going to assume one of the everyday pocket items you possess is a wallet. Keeping your wallet on you is wise because it can hold additional survival tools, like the ones listed below.

  • Cash: Even if you rely on credit cards for most purchases, it is wise to always have cash in your wallet. If the power goes down, so do the bank ATMs and credit card machines.
  • Credit Card Multitool: It is worth investing in a credit card-shaped multitool. The slim, durable design fits easily with your other credit cards and provides tools that are useful for building shelter, starting fires, and fishing or hunting.
  • First Aid Supplies: While you likely carry a first aid kit in your camping gear, you probably don’t walk around with it in your pocket. Instead, put a couple of Band-Aids and an individual packet of medicine inside your wallet.
  • Water Purification Tablets: Water is essential for survival. The problem is you can’t drink just any water; it must be purified. The most compact way to ensure you always have clean water is to put a couple of water purification tablets in a plastic bag and keep it inside your wallet.
  • Safety Pin: Keep a safety pin in your wallet. It helps attach different items together and can work as a makeshift fishing hook.

On Your Person

In addition to everyday pocket items, it is also important to consider items that may not fit in a wallet or pocket that you can still keep on you daily.

  • Paracord Bracelet: Paracord bracelets have a variety of survival uses. When in a bind, you can untie the bracelet for several feet of paracord. It can be used for building shelter, fishing, first aid, and more.
  • Keychain with Carabiner: Keep your keychain on your person by clipping a carabiner keychain to your belt loop. Carabiners have a variety of uses, especially when paired with paracord.
  • Flashlight: You should always keep a small flashlight with you, whether clipped to your pants or attached to your keyring.
  • Whistle: Make sure your keyring has a small whistle so you can signal for help.
  • Waterproof Pill Cache: Another keyring must-have is a waterproof pill cache. You can use this to store medication or water purification tablets.
  • Handgun: With a concealed carry permit, you can carry a gun with you on a daily basis.

Other Everyday Pocket Ideas

Again, you shouldn't overstuff your pocket with survival gear. But there are some excellent, helpful survival tools that you may want to consider.

  • Tactical Pen: A tactical pen works like a traditional pen, a self-defense weapon, and a glass hammer for breaking windows.
  • Military Watch: You can find military survival watches that function as multitools with paracord, compasses, survival whistles, fire starters, and more.
  • Water Filtration Straw: A personal water filtration device is small enough to fit in your pocket. The problem is they are only effective if you actually have them with you when you need them. As long as you keep it on you, you can have clean drinking water.
  • Fishing Supplies: There are numerous pocket-sized fishing kits available, or you can make your own using an old Altoids tin.

Final Tip: A Daily Bag

This last suggestion may not work for everyone, but is worth considering.

Get in the habit of carrying a bag. If you're a woman, you may already carry a purse (and you already know how convenient it is).

If you're a man... it may not be considered "masculine" by some to tote a bag around, but guaranteed it will up your EDC stock immediately.

Military-style bags are abundant, highly practical, and last for years. You can pick one up for just a few bucks at an Army Navy store or online. This could become your most important EDC item.


  • David

    always a knife,

  • s.h. salazar

    Thank you! very practical survival info!

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