Practical Survival Gear For Daily Carry

by David Morris on January 8, 2010

I get emails fairly often asking me what survival gear people should carry on a daily basis. I can’t tell you what will work best for you, but I will tell you what I carry everyday.

As a gear-junkie-minimalist, my tendency is to carry any and every cool toy that I have access to, but I end up carrying as little as possible.

So, here’s what I carry every day on my person and why:

1. A Glock 27 with a spare full size mag. I carry them in a Smart Carry Holster on my right hip with the butt of the gun above my belt.

I use the Smart Carry Holster for several reasons, but one of the most boring/practical ones is that it allows me to sit on a public toilet if I need to.

2. A CRKT M16-03Z knife. This knife is a workhorse & I love it. I tend to carry knives that I won’t mind abusing/losing instead of high-dollar knives. In addition to being tough enough to beat on for splitting wood to make kindling/tender, one of the main reasons I carry this particular knife is that it has a “nub” on the back side that I can press to open the blade. It’s big enough that I can open the blade with gloves on or with cold/wet hands.

3. A Ka-Bar LDK (last ditch knife) around my neck. This is basically a very thick razor with a small, skeletonized handle that goes in a small kydex sheath on my chest, under my shirt. After getting tired of seeing people’s scared faces when I pulled out my CRKT, I began using this knife for most utility purposes in public a couple of years ago.

4. A Surefire Backup flashlight. This is a TINY pocket sized flashlight that puts out 80 lumen and works for both utility and improvised light tactical applications.

5. A “Porsche” stainless steel pen. I LOVE all of the new tactical pens that are out, but my biggest problem with them is that they either look tactical or have a weapons company name/logo on them. My Porsche pen doesn’t scream, “WEAPON!” I have to admit that it does make me look a little snobby to be carrying a $100 pen with “Porsche” written on it, but the upside is that I have never had a problem with it when going through security checks.

One of the most practical reasons why I carry this pen is because I never have to use a “leashed” pen at a grocery store/gas station. Frankly, leashed pens disgust me. I freely admit that this is probably more of an emotional stance than a logical one, but I always assume that they have never been cleaned and have all of the bacteria in the world on them. As long as I’m carrying my own pen, I don’t have to use the leashed ones.

6. Pepper Spray. I used to think that pepper spray was a joke until I went through pepper spray training. Now I carry it with me every day. I realize that it won’t always work on drugged, drunk, or deranged people, but it still has several applications. Carrying a gun is great, but there are several situations where pepper spray is a better tool. A few examples:

A. If you don’t think you could shoot a person with a gun, pepper spray is an alternative.

B. If you encounter a vicious neighbor dog, spraying it could cause a LOT fewer problems than shooting/cutting/striking it. In addition to the legal issues surrounding discharging your firearm, killing your neighbor’s dog will likely cause a lot of strife. Simply using pepper spray could allow you to stop an attack and diffuse the situation without having to tell anyone what you’ve done.

C. If you have a lethal threat, pull your firearm, and the person drops their weapon but doesn’t leave or obey your commands, what do you do? They might be waiting for you to screw up or get close enough so they can attack you, but you can’t shoot them unless they’re posing a threat…pepper spray is a possible solution that could allow you a non-lethal response to buy you submission until the authorities arrive.

D. If you are fleeing a bad guy, you can use pepper spray with limited effectiveness as an area-denial tool. Spray it over your shoulder, on a doorknob, or in a doorway that the bad guy has to go through and it could buy you a few extra seconds.

7. A TINY lock pick set.

And that’s it. I usually wear boots with laces and a good leather belt, but I don’t load myself down very much. Could I carry more? OF COURSE! I carry more/different gear when I’m doing security/medical work. I keep all sorts of medical, survival, and tactical gear in our vehicles. And, I keep food bars and a multi-tool in my computer bag, but I keep the gear on my body to a minimum and always keep my eyes open for improvised medical items and tools that I could use if I needed to.

That last sentence is a key one. The more you train your mind to recognize improvised medical, tactical, and survival tools, the less you actually have to carry with you, which makes your wardrobe choices easier, your load lighter, and allows you to blend in easier. Again, knowledge, skills, and a mind used to improvising will allow you to adapt and overcome many more situations than “stuff” alone.

There are literally dozens of items that many people feel are “must haves” for everyday carry like multi-tools, lighters, zip ties, duct tape, & more. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I choose not to carry those items unless it looks likely that I’ll need to use them.


Unfortunately, not everyplace in the US likes people to be able to defend themselves. When I go to DC or California, I don’t carry my sidearm, I carry a shorter knife, and I make sure that my OC has the proper labeling on it.

What are your thoughts on my daily gear? What do you carry on a daily basis? Why? Let me know by commenting below..

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

+1 Vote -1 Vote +1Scott
January 9, 2010 at 3:27 am

Nice article…like the pepper spray option. Guns are great, but if I can not kill anyone, that’s good too. Well written!


Vote -1 Vote +1Stacey
January 22, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Hi David,

I’m a 50-something, single female just getting started with prepping…
appreciate this pov as other “daily carry” lists I’ve seen are a little excessive. So far I carry a Fenix TA30 defensive flashlight (more moderately priced than Surefire), Swiss army knife, pepper spray; on my keychain a mini maglite & mini swiss. Make sure I always have plenty of cash & change…may sound silly, but I always used to go around with just cards & I’m sure many peeps don’t think about this. My car is pretty well supplied – extra clothes, rain gear, blankets, tube tent, food. Any long distance winter travel gets a sleeping bag, extra warm clothes, & hiking boots. Need a spare pair walking shoes for car.
Next major project is getting armed & I’ve started shooting classes. I live in suburbia & commute alone about 15 miles to inner city for work.
You mention being in medicine. Do you work at a hospital & if so, what do you do about your gun? They are prohibited where I work (hospital). The idea of leaving it in the car makes me nervous.

I also like to travel alot, usually alone & gear is a problem. TSA in Baltimore had a fit over my hiking survival supplies. Does it make any sense that one can carry-on a lighter, but not check it? Hope to road trip next time I go to DC.
I’ll be looking into your program further…I believe I’m very interested.

Thanks again,


Vote -1 Vote +1Jim
May 15, 2010 at 11:20 am

I’m just reading the back issues of the newsletter and thought I would leave what I hope are some words of wisdom.

David, first I would like to comment on your choice of knives. The CRKT M16 is a very good knife to carry. I’ve been wearing mine for about 5 years, ever since my Spyderco decided to abandon me. I carry four knives in all.

I believe that everyone reading your newsletter should strongly consider researching and then buying an appropriate knife to carry. A good start is one of the many Victorianox knives along the line of the Soldier.

You wear a lot more equipment than I, but I usually have quite a bit within reach. The one thing I think is missing is a way to start a fire. The addition of a cheap Bic would not add much weight or bulk to your load.

Since I live in the great peoples republik of Kalifornia, I am forbidden from carrying a gun legally and really don’t wish to become a felon by disobeying the law.


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