You’re a man, and as a man, you’re ready for anything. You’ve got your Leatherman on your belt, you’ve got the US Army Ranger Survival Guide on your phone, and you’ve got a case of MRE’s gathering dust in your crawl space. But I ask you—how many times per day are you going to really use that stuff?
Sure, being prepared for the worst is all well and good, but I’d rather be prepared for the probable. The internet really isn’t much help, for once; there are plenty of how-to’s for building an emergency kit that’ll help you survive the Apocalypse, but not one that will get you through the real dangers: everyday annoyances. That’s why I’ve developed this kit. It’s more Outback Steakhouse than Australian outback, more Amazon.com than Amazon River, but it’s gotten me through more day-to-day emergencies than any length fishing line or snare wire. Read on for a look at a particularly mundane prepper’s everyday carry gear!
1. Carrying On
The humble Altoids tin has been the staple of so many survival kits,I thought it would be a shame not to use it as the basis for mine. Almost everything mentioned in this kit fits nicely into the tin. I carry the tin itself (and the few things that don’t fit inside, which is pretty much the duct tape and the marker) in a nice camera case. It has a pretty sturdy integrated belt loop, so it won’t go anywhere. I’m not a fan of the Velcro—it likes to sneak open—but I don’t think I’m hardcore enough to bother with sewing on a harness clasp.
2. Aches and Pains
(The pills fit handily inside the original tube that carried my superglue. I’ve made a list that color-codes the pills so I don’t have to guess.)
The human body is an incredibly complex machine, and like most complex machine’s it is incredibly fragile. A person can hardly get in two street fights, let alone three, without getting at least a couple of bruises. And let’s not even get started with the ease of which the human body gets sick. All it takes is one baby sneezing into an open sore and BOOM, you’ve got a cold. You can’t even rub your face on a trash can without coming down with something. Am I the only one that feels that’s unacceptable? I’m calling you out, biology—come up with a virus protection suite more comprehensive than AVG Basic. In the meantime, modern science has come up with enough pills to choke (recently dead musician’s name omitted in an attempt to be semi-tasteful).
I don’t like Tylenol. At this point, my liver resembles something not even Bear Grylls would eat, so I don’t need any acetaminophen doing any more damage. Stomach ulcers are more agreeable; that’s why I carry both aspirin and naproxen sodium (commonly sold as Alleve). The former is excellent for headaches, fevers, and heart attacks (!!!), while the latter is good for stiffness and soreness. I also have a couple of tablet of DayQuil, which violates my anti-acetaminophen policy, but DayQuil is the sort of thing that when you need it, you NEED IT.
3. Sewing Kit
(I keep the thread secured around an eyeglasses screwdriver, another one of man’s most perfect tools.)
Well, not so much a “kit,” but “two needles, three safety pins, and a single bobbin of black thread” takes too long to say, so there you go. Knowing how to sew is one of the single most useful skills someone can learn, as well as one of the most manly (you’re repairing something by stabbing it over and over again); it’s saved my clothes more times than I care to count. There’s also the possibility of an on-the-fly suture, but unless you have a medical degree, I’d recommend sticking with the superglue. The needles are superb for splinter removal, though; just don’t forget to wipe them down with that alcohol pad first. (see below)
4. First Aid
“First Aid” is something of a misnomer in this kit: it’d be appropriate to say “First Comfort.” Nothing in here is going to save your life, but it’s going to make your life suck less if you aren’t dying. Case in point: a few Band-Aids (I like the “tough strips” variety—I’ve had these on my hands while I’ve showered, swum, and been elbow-deep in dirty dishwater, and haven’t lost one yet. They’re pretty boss), an alcohol prep pad (for pure antiseptic germ executing power), and lip balm (easily the pinnacle of human science) will solve so many day-to-day problems you’ll wonder how you survived without them.
The razor blade can conceivably be used for surgery, but trust me: unless you’re a medical professional, cutting somebody open with this thing in the middle of the street probably isn’t your best bet. If you must start slicing, be sure to disinfect it with that prep pad first. On the other hand, you’ve got a pocket full of duct tape and thread—it’d be the work of about a minute and a half to rig yourself a way to shave on the go.
It’d probably hurt like hell, though.
I work as a barista for a major coffee chain (or, you know, the coffee chain), and let me tell you—permanent markers are like solid gold. More than just marking cups (you know that soccer mom is going to come over the counter if you give her a cappuccino instead of a latte), permanent markers are perfect for leaving messages anywhere: paper, cardboard, wood, glass, cloth, flesh, you name it. Plus, the mini-Sharpie that I use has a pretty fine tip, which means you aren’t limited to scrawling around like a three-year-old with a crayon.
I carry a flashlight with me at all times, and that flashlight uses a pair of standard workhorse AA batteries. Not only are these good for me in case my light goes dead, they’re also a pretty ubiquitous size; if it uses batteries, chances are good it uses AA. You can use these for TV remotes, smoke detectors, vibrators—pretty much anything short of starting a car.
We live, as Madonna says, in a material world, and money is the material that makes the world go ‘round. Most people don’t carry cash these days, which is a shame, because it’s the places that don’t accept credit cards (flea market vendors, foot carts, Jell-O wrestling tournaments) that are the most worthwhile. I carry $2 in quarters (taped together, they serve as a nice fist-weight for the aforementioned street fights) and $15 in cash (a ten and a five—much bigger, and I’m liable to lose it or spend it when it isn’t an emergency).
8. Superglue and Duct Tape
Superglue and duct tape are limited in use only by your imagination, although it’s helpful if your imagination extends to minor repairs. Duct tape edges out superglue in terms of traditional uses (you won’t see superglue used to attach wings to 747s, for example), but superglue wins for me because it works as a short-term alternative to stitches, at least if Mick Foley and Wikipedia can be believed. I also carry around a pad of fingernail polish remover; not only is it useful in case you accidentally glue your fingers to someone’s neck, but you can also use it to clean adhesive gunk off of knives or paint off of floors.
9. Oral Hygiene
Cleanliness is, as they say, next to godliness; which god, we don’t know, but probably one of the cool ones, like Loki or Zeus, and not one of the lame ones like Hephaestus or Hestia. Not only is hygiene important for morale and health, it’s vital for romance. Picture the scene: it’s the office Christmas party, and the pretty girl from Human Resources is finally drunk or desperate enough to corner you under the mistletoe. But you’ve been eating those garlic-dusted bagel pizzas all night, and you have a massive chunk of boneless chicken wing stuck between your teeth. What are you going to do?
Well, if past experience is anything to go by, probably nothing. She’ll be disgusted, and you’ll end up alone and friendless like you always do. If only you had carried around some floss and a small toothbrush, you could have avoided this problem! I chose the Colgate Wisp*, a disposable mini toothbrush that has its own toothpaste included in the bristles, and then I wrapped some minty floss around the handle. Don’t be afraid to share these, but do be subtle about it, if such a thing is possible when dealing with other people’s mouths.
*Colgate isn’t paying me to say nice things about their disposable toothbrushes, but they are certainly welcome to start.
There’s always room for improvement in kits like these, and every kit has to be tailored to the user, so it’s impossible to create a kit that’s perfect for everyone. The size of the kit, the environment, everything contributes to a unique composition. That said, there are a couple of things that might be included without much controversy.
–Condoms are a biggie, as there are practically limitless uses for these little guys, sex being only the most obvious. You do have one decision to make, though—lubricated or unlubricated? A lubed condom is pretty much only good for helping two people mash their parts together, while an unlubricated condom is good for somebody who’s trying to find solutions to problems. Think about it: condoms are, by design, both watertight and sterile, and you don’t have to stretch your mind too far to find uses for something like that. Put a flashlight or a phone in there to keep it dry; store evidence for the police investigation; wear it over your head to disguise your identity. You can certainly use a lubed condom for that, but your phone is going to get slippery. Might as well carry both. This kit is all about preparedness, right?
–Baby wipes or moist towelettes would also be nice additions. The Book of Eli, among its many well-done scenes, shows us the value of moist towelettes as impromptu bathing tools. Throw a few of these in your kit, and you’ll never have to shower at the YMCA again!
-A lighter is going to vary in usefulness depending on a couple of factors: one, do you smoke, and two, are you around people that do? If you answered “frequently” to one or both of those questions, then not only do I applaud your clever use of adverbs, but you need to carry a lighter, if only as a spare. Even if you don’t smoke, carrying a lighter is going to make you a lot of friends.
-For the tech-savvy, I can’t really recommend anything more than a USB drive. I may not know what a Linux is (I think it’s a species of penguin), but if you make your living on a computer, you can’t afford to not have access to the programs you need. Image and music editors, accounting programs, programming programs…whatever it is, you can always have it with you. USB drives have another use—storing important documents. Protect the drive with a good auto-execute security system and feel confident that your scanned-in driver’s license, concealed carry permit, and insurance information will always be available.
What else? That’s up to you. A trip to Wal-Mart should give you some good ideas if you wander around enough, and websites like Minimus.biz can keep you busy for hours looking for good additions. In the meantime, stay safe and stay stocked!
Ross once Jell-O wrestled a roller derby babe for science, and pared down your home bar to the five essential mixers for a good time. Efficiency, baby! It’s what’s for dinner. (And for dessert: Jell-O.)