Top 5 EDC Skills 0
Survival skills should never be undervalued. Every single ability you learn will be a benefit and every single ability will unquestionably be applied when you're in a bad situation, even generally in the day to day life. In this blog post, we aim to uncover some skills that often get overlooked and don’t get the credit that they deserve. So below are the five most overlooked survival skills:
Sewing can seem like such and older thing, but it’s not! Being able to patch up tears in clothing and among many other things can say in survival. It’s not a craft that should be left to the Grandmothers of the earth it’s one that should be handed down the generations.
We’ve just mentioned some of the prominent uses for sewing so far, being clothing, but what if you needed to sew up a cut? This may seem manageable, but if you’ve never sewn before you having zip to base this opinion on.
There are some excellent tools out there which can help you to no end. Tools like Speedy Stitcher come into their own here. It can assist you to make those repairs quickly and efficiently, without a high level of experience.
Hunting demands to spend a lot of energy, and there’s a reason that humans moved from hunting to agriculture by growing food and raising livestock. The knowledge to grow fruits and vegetables not only keeps you from having to hunt as much, but it also gives nutrients for your diet that you may not otherwise get, especially when attempting to survive longer term. Some illnesses can be induced by simply not getting enough nutrition such as Scurvy. The raising of livestock would be a difficult task but not implausibly so.
When in times of plenty, it’s smart to prepare for times of nothingness. In a survival scenario, take nothing for granted. Just because there is an abundance of food now doesn’t mean it will last forever. There are some ways to keep foods for longer periods of time. Canning preserved fruits and vegetables are still popular in many rural cultures. You’ll also be amazed to learn how many ways there are to preserve meats with salt and smoke.
The knowledge to not only use tools but also how to produce them. Because what happens when your knife breaks, or when you were bugging out, you forgot your axe. The more a tool is used the sooner it will need replacing or repairing. Learning how to make a new knife or axe can mean the difference in any survival situation.
Hunting and Foraging
Of the five types of skill mentioned here, these are probably the most well known. However, we’ve seen that many people either focus on the ability to hunt, or capacity to forge. To give you the greatest odds of survival, knowledge of both skills is vitally necessary. Developing on from that you’ll also want to think about clothing because those beautiful winter coats you’ve brought probably won’t last. Crafts like skinning will come into their own.
There are loads of guides and videos out there, so if you are inspired by anything I've mentioned in this blog, a Google search will help you get started!
A Reliable Fire 0
Fire has a primal nature for humans; it creates a sense of home and lifts the spirits. Fire means warmth, food, light and stability as well of course as rescue.
I will show you a reliable means to make a fire even on the wet ground which is just as suitable in your home fireplace as it is in the deep wilderness, there numerous ways to light a fire and many theories on how to do it the correct way. My general method is tried and tested, although if you’ve made positive developments and want to share, that’s grand! Now let’s get started.
Firstly, we only light a fire if it is safe to do so, and only if you are certain that you have the skills and resources to extinguish it fully. You must verify with the landowner that you’ve permission to do so, and if you do, look for a piece of clear level ground with nothing overhead or nearby which could catch fire. Next, clear the ground to exposed earth, so that you can be sure there are no roots that will get damaged or possibly spread the fire. A good rule for newcomers desiring a small fire (no bigger than 30cm in diameter) for a cup of tea is a ground clearing of 1 metre with all flammables cleared within 3 metres of the fire.
Once we have cleared the floor we need first to find tinder. Tinder is any fine flammable substance that will catch light from the dimmest of sparks. There are several varieties of tinder, both natural and man-made. Cherry bark, dry grass, finely shredded birch bark, feather stems of wood, baked spruce needles as well as some man created tinders such as vapor-rub, cotton wool soaked in hand sanitizer or nail polish remover and of course trusty fire lighters.
Look also for your fuel before lighting the fire (otherwise, we will be running about trying to find it). After tinder we need thin matchstick twigs, I like to use handfuls of things around 20cm in length and only a few of millimetres thick. The next size of fuel should be thick pencil twigs, followed by our main fuel, thick sticks. All fuel needs to be as dry as possible (collect dry standing dead wood or things caught up in the branches of trees) try to avoid sticks on the floor as these will hold a lot of moisture.
Next, we need to isolate the ground and stop moisture being drawn up in the beginning stages of the fire and extinguish it.
For this fire, we need the direction of the wind to be coming from behind us taking the smoke away in front of us and driving the flames through the fuel. On top of the bark raft, I place two handfuls of the thinnest twigs one on top of another in an “A” shape. I then lay the thick pencil twigs in the same pattern so that a small void is created at the base of the fire lay where we will place the tinder. Next, the thicker fuel is laid in the same way. Be mindful of leaving air spaces between the fuel this will help the fire spread rather than becoming choked.
It’s time to light the fire. Whether you are igniting with a match, lighter, lens, or a flint and steel, The process of fire lay is the same. Fluff up the tinder and make sure it is as dry as possible we're only going to want to put the tinder in position when we want to start the fire.
In this instance, I’m starting this fire with a Fire Steel. This fire lighter works by stripping off hot sparks onto the finely fluffed up tinder which catches the spark and creates a flame. A few hard scrapes of the Fire Steel and we have combustion!
Let the flame grow in the tinder. If your fire was sound and your preparation was sufficient, you should see a strong little fire which is easy enough to manage and extremely useful!
When you’ve finished, please make sure you douse the fire with enough water that you can safely pick up all the wet ashes leaving no mark of your fire on the ground.
Common EDC Mistakes 0
EDC is a popular and developing past-time, but as more and more people start it, we see a resurgence in simple mistakes. In the most part these errors are just annoying, but sometimes it can totally ruin the experience. Do not be caught out, take your time preparing, and don’t make the blunders mentioned in this post and you’ll have an excellent time out in the wilderness.
But, until that time, here are seven common mistakes the average bushcraft sharp
Not Researching The Geography Before Departure
This is critical. Especially so if you are going somewhere, you’ve not explored before. Do you know what animals live there? Do you know the types of trees? Simplistic questions like that can make a huge difference. Let’s take for example knowing the kind of animals. In the UK, there aren’t a large number of apex predators, although there are animals that could either do you harm or steal your provisions. Foxes, Mice and Badgers are excellent examples of animals that could do you harm and take your provisions. Now focusing on the tree example, there are loads of various types of trees, each with their unique attributes. Some of which are ideal for shelter building, but poor for fire starting or visa verse.
This can make or break a bushcraft experience. Well, that is if you get the weather you want. Checking the weather has some benefits. Firstly you know what clothing to take. Secondly, you see to avoid areas that are prone to flooding if torrential rain is anticipated. lastly the weather good or bad can be a hazard. By this, we mean too hot and you get dehydrated. Too cold and you get frostbite. Too wet and you get freezing.
Wrong Gear, Wrong Place
This leads on from the above two subjects but deserves a title in its right. By investigating the geography and weather you get a rather good idea of the kit you require, but it’s then not only a case of getting some stuff out and adding others into a bag.
Although this takes time, make sure you have all the right kit. Leaving without something is just tempting fate. We don’t want to scaremonger; we just wish to make sure that you do have all the right gear for the right environment.
The Rule Of Two
Although this can be applied to people in this example, we will focus on equipment. The rule of two means is having at least two of key items such as maybe a torch, knife or a water filtration system. We aren’t saying have two of completely everything, as that would be ludicrous. What we are saying is necessary items should be doubled up. But, not doubled up as in having two of the same items. Have two similar but different things. Take for example a headlamp. You can buy ones who give very similar outputs but run on multiple batteries, which means that may work better in a particular situation.
Too Much Or Too Little
This is a tough balance to get right! And the likelihood is that you’ll never get it 100%. If you are going to fall one way, though, make sure you fall to the slightly more side.
The one thing you want to ensure you do have lots of is food and water, or at least have the ability to get more easily. In some environments, both food and water can be difficult to come by. Therefore, it’s essential you take food and water with you, but also, bring things like water filters.
Wrongly Packing Your Kit
This is arguably one of the toughest things to get right, but of vital importance, and there are some keen bits of knowledge we want to get over to you.
The first bit of kit you pack is going to be the item you take out last. If it’s something, you are likely to require in a rush or before you have made camp then don’t pack it in the bottom! The more useful and versatile the kit, the more available you will want it to be.
However, that’s only half the story, as packing it by solely putting handy stuff at the top isn’t going to make a tremendous difference by itself. The next point to look at is the placement of weight. You want your bag to be properly balanced. You want the weight evenly going straight down so that it’s not straining your shoulders back. It’s not a simple thing to do, but by practising re-packing your bag in a mixture of ways can help show you how small changes can have a pretty significant impact on the comfort of your bag.
Appropriate Carry Bag Size
Too big and you'll be carrying irrelevant stuff, too small and your not carrying enough.
There are a couple of ways of dealing with this. By possessing a big bag you give yourself options which are great. But, don’t buy the kit for your bag, buy a bag for your equipment. Get all your kit ready first, and then get the bag. If you’ve not made any of the mistakes already mentioned you should be okay, and you should have the right kit. The short of it is, don’t let you bag size dictate the package you take, let the environment and your needs guide you.
EDC And Working With A Budget 0
There are a lot of items that you could be carrying as part of your every day carry gear. The difficulty is that you probably don’t have sufficient room to take everything that you’d need in case of crisis. Getting some of these things can be rather inexpensive if you just stay with the basics.
There’s an entire following of people who do budget EDC kits that fit into an Altoids tin. I have one personally, and it’d be pretty awesome if I held it with me if I were stuck someplace, but I find that even though it packs a lot of stuff, it’s a relatively bulky item to pack so I don’t always put it in my pocket. It now sits in a bag as a part of my motorcycle EDC. When I have room, it goes in my on person kit. The kind of EDC bag I’m talking about here today is spread out in different pockets, including on your keychain.
A sound EDC kit will have things you need to get through a situation but be comfortable enough to carry so that you never forget it at home. So what should you carry? Assuming you’ve acquired enough skills to enable you to make due with what you can obtain, you just need several things to help the process a bit. There are a few broad categories to survival equipment:
Since this is an inexpensive EDC kit we’re focusing on, your knife will have to be on the lower end as far as blades go. Your knife is reasonably going to be the most expensive item on the list. You want the thing to work so I would not suggest a £3 piece of rubbish that you find at your local car parts shop. You need something that’ll work when you need it to or there’s no reason to have it in the first place.
A good example is the Smith & Wesson CK105H Ops Knife. It’s usually under £15 and has a rather good reputation. It’s a folding blade with a pocket clip so you can easily carry it.
Unmistakably, being able to light a fire is an immense advantage in a lot of survival situations. Even something as inexpensive and easy to find as a BIC disposable lighter can be a tremendous advantage to keeping warm and purifying water or cooking. These can usually be found for about a pound or even less, or free if someone leaves one behind someplace. You can cut a strip of duct tape and wrap around to add more grip. This BIC is fantastic. They last for ages, don’t leak out their fuel, and they’re just incredibly cheap!
Just like the knife mentioned above, Survival Life currently has a free Everstryke Match that works in virtually any environment.
For a torch, on the cheap end, you can’t knock a Cree 7w flashlight. It’s under £5 and pretty impressive. It’s also little enough to fit in your pocket and takes double A batteries. This thing is super bright too. A must-have for a budget EDC kit.
For shelter, there’s not a lot you can do in your EDC kit. My suggestion is just to get a couple of 84″x52″ space blankets. They’re very cheap and fit in a back pocket no problem. Just remember that these are a one-time use kind of thing and tear pretty quickly.
For cordage, the problem is having it on you at all times. Probably your safest solution is to get some dental floss. If the packaging is too big to carry around, just pull the spool out of it and tie down the end. You can get around 55 yards of cordage his way. Another option is just getting some fishing line. The key is just to find a way to carry it efficiently so it doesn’t take up much room. The best ways I know is just to use a cheap plastic bobbin.
For an EDC kit, you have to stay small. If you’re not going just to eat plants and berries, one of the best value food is fish. Your bugout bag may have a full-on fishing kit in it but you surely can’t wander around with that in your pocket. For a casting line, just use the dental floss or the fishing line from the section above.
It’s good to pack things that serve multiple purposes. You’ll need to have something on the end of the line to keep the bait and grab the fish when they bite. Fish hooks are small and cheap so you might as well just toss a few of them in your kit.
Introduction to EDC pocket knives 0
A knife is a tool, not a weapon. Repeat that last sentence to yourself one hundred times. A knife is the first ever tool made by humans, marked by stone versions that are over 2 million years old. We had a need back then. Nevertheless, things have shifted a bit since that point. Today’s society instantly connects the idea of a blade with a deadly weapon rather than a tool.
For us at Carry Smarter, this isn’t how we interpret an EDC pocket knife. They should be used as a key or a mobile phone, Not literally. You’re not going to make a phone call on your Swiss Army Knife.
The objective is to perform efficiently everyday tasks in that a sharp blade is required; opening boxes or envelopes, cutting ropes or tags. There are endless potentialities and they will grow apparent once you have ready access to one. If your work or lifestyle demands you to require a sharp edge more than ten times a day, you should upgrade to a trade knife, not a pocket knife.
Determining the right one for you can be tough. So to help slim down your selection process, let’s take a look at the several major features out there.
Length Of The Blade
For an EDC pocket knife, you only need a 3″ blade. Sometimes a bit smaller. Any longer and you’re in a separate class of the knife. Again, let’s focus on the minor chores and tasks. Take into consideration that there are legal issues with longer blades. You can look up the law in our other blog post here.
The outside dimensions of the knife when it is in the closed state. Personally, we think slimmer and smaller is better. But too small and it will get lost in your hand, making it unusable as a tool. The purpose is to find a balance that suits your pockets and your palm.
An everyday carry pocket knife should be light-weight. The difference between a couple of ounces doesn’t seem like much on paper, but just wait till you’re carrying it 12+ hours a day.
Compare weights of various models and then investigate the composition or reviews to make sure it can survive some daily abuse.
Carrying your EDC knife in a container on your belt is plausible, but we’re not very into that look. Your knife should be concealed, but readily available.
You don’t need to carry it around your neck advertising it to everyone. We’re focusing on an “office kind of scenario” and casual. We prefer pocket clips as well as in pocket carry selections. Depending on the dimension/colour/finish of the pocket clip, your knife carry still may be pretty visible, but not fundamentally sticking out like a sore thumb. Some are more discreet than others while others leave a substantial amount of the knife visible. With a pocket clip, you can immediately and easily access the knife to accomplish a small task. In-pocket carry is perfect for stealthily taking in a public environment, except you may have to sift around in your pockets for it. The best way to conclude that issue is to carry less in your pockets. Switching among the two carry methods is a great balance, depending on the context. Find what operates best for you.
Nine times out of ten, you’re going to find steel is best for an everyday carry blade. Titanium sure is good for its strength to weight proportion, but it doesn’t keep a sharp edge like steel does. There are a broad array of steels to choose from out there, all slightly varying from one another depending on the element content. Each type of steel has its benefits and downfalls including corrosion protection, strength, edge retention, cost, and more. For instance, while 30+ layer Damascus steel is great-looking and highly desirable for pocket blades, it is very expensive due to its complex construction. There is no right or wrong steel, but there are some who are certainly better than others. Here is a comprehensive guide on steel knife types for you to get lost reading. Here is an essential guide for those who just want to scan the surface.
Strength, sturdiness, grip and aesthetics are all part of the ruling process for this one. Handles (or “scales” as they’re referred to) range from G10 synthetic grips, rare and exotic rainforest hardwoods, brass, titanium amongst countless others. Given above; wood/brass, G10, animal bone, titanium, respectively. The decision is up to you. We’ve found the knives with organic materials look a little less “weapons”, more relaxed and better accommodated for non-threatening office carry, which is our intention.
The majority of the knife world is pretty much in consensus that a non-serrated blade is best for everyday carry. Some may disagree, as their daily tasks may include cutting rope and such. As we noted above, if you’re using a knife in these circumstances you should likely enhance to a work knife with a serrated blade, not a pocket knife. A simplistic sharp edge should be all you require for an EDC pocket knife, enabling you to make accurate, well-defined cuts.
Talking about the diversity of different locking systems out there is a lot like trying to argue about which German car is the best. They’re all exceptional. Test them out in the shop and sense which one you favour. The basic styles are:
- Slip Joint (which doesn't lock, like the Swiss Army knife),
- Lock Back (adamant, usually with the visible locker at the rear of the handle)
- Liner Lock (the most common, where the tensioned liner pops in place to keep the blade open)
- Frame Lock (similar to the above Liner Lock, except the frame is the tensioned locking system)
Some open fast, while others require two hands and time. It isn’t just about rapid deployment. A couple of these methods make the form factor considerably larger, which isn’t perfect in our opinion.
If this matters to you, there are lots of fascinating stories out there. Made in the UK, made in France, made in Germany invented or taken by a famous historical figure, etc. Maybe you’ll be drawn towards one brand and appreciate their specific values.
This one starts from a few quid up to thousands of pounds. It all depends on what you’re looking for and how upset you’ll be if your investment goes missing/gets lost. Based on your personal circumstances, you might not be too disconcerted if you lose a £25 knife, but perhaps you’re in the £15 club. Although they’ll be pretty heartbroken, others may find the peril of carrying a £300+ pocket knife is a risk which is cancelled out by its benefits. Generally speaking, the more you spend, the higher quality you’ll get as the blade market is extremely cut-throat and competitive in the pricing. But once you get high up there, you’re paying for exotics and craftsmanship. This doesn’t mean you can’t find an amazingly high quality and useful EDC pocket knife for below £50, or even less than £20. In our mind, sub-£100 blades are our favourite.
Function over aesthetics as always. But EDC pocket knives can be like pocket jewellery while still being completely functional, let your taste and preference guide you. A non-threatening look will enable your tool to be carried in an office or a public space without agitating your sensitive coworkers. If you don’t socialise with society or simply don’t worry about people’s opinion on this, there are loads of tactical and aggressive-looking devices out there.
The Curiously Useful Altoids Tin 0
The simple Altoids tin, designed several years ago as packaging for ‘The Original Celebrated Curiously Strong Peppermints’, has since become the survival container favourite amongst the EDC community. Pocket-sized, sturdy, readily available, and with seemingly interior space, this little mint tin just happens to be an excellent way of keeping a survival kit neatly and securely stowed away.
There’s no solid lineup of survival kit ‘ingredients’ that go inside an Altoids tin survival kit; they are highly personalised kits, with components carefully chosen based on the situation and the environment in which the kit carrier frequently finds themselves. In fact, the very building of an Altoids tin survival kit is a very thought-provoking lesson in preparation, as the kit carrier should be considering their key survival priorities, and how each item would help to address them.
Creating a survival kit with these tins is also viewed as a bit of a rite of passage for EDC'ers, so I thought I’d try it as a little project, and see how I managed.
Altoids Tin Mints
So I started with the Altoids tin. The first barrier was the 50g of peppermints that packed the tin. These got quickly dealt with, so now, armed with a cleared mind and minty fresh breath, I could now put my mind towards carefully thinking about the survival priorities that my kit should help me address. I’ll list the main survival components underneath, in no particular order.
Fire is a remarkably useful survival tool, because as well as its principal role of keeping your body heated, it can also help with tackling some of the additional priorities, like water purification and signalling.
I made sure that there were two means of ignition added in my kit, as well as some decent tinder. For combustion, I went for a BIC Mini Lighter, and a little ferrocerium rod as a backup (to be used with a knife, which I included in this kit). For the tinder, I added a batch of 10 lengths of waxed jute twine. Waxed jute stays waterproof until needed, at which point it can be untwisted and fluffed up into a ‘tinder ball’, with the bonus of increased burning time due to the wax.
The requirement for water is a critical survival priority. Depending on the environment, just a couple of days without water could be fatal, and in the shorter term, it's essential for efficient functioning of the body and mind. So to stay properly hydrated, you require having a supply of water that wont to make you ill.
To address the demand for drinking water in my kit, I included a condom as a water gathering container, along with 10 NaDCC water purification tablets, each suitable for purifying a litre of water. Boiling water is another method of making it fit for drinking, and in an emergency, the Altoids tin could be used as a pot to boil up 50ml of water at a time.
Lack of proper shelter means that you’ll become exposed to everything the climate decides to throw at you, which in the UK typically means wind and rain, and we have it easy here. Nevertheless, exposure to wind and rain can quickly be fatal; hypothermia is a real killer. In warmer climates, heat stroke and dehydration are what make the shelter a must.
This priority I found the most challenging to address within the limits of the Altoids tin because by it's very nature even a portable shelter will use up a large space. An emergency foil blanket would have been suitable as a temporary survival shelter, but no way was it going to fit inside the tin. What I was able to include was around 10ft of 550lb paracord, for binding together a shelter frame from big sticks, and a useful-sized folding knife, for cutting the paracord, and preparing plant material.
While we’re on the topic of knives, I find them an extremely versatile and multi-functional survival tool, but an interesting point to make is that they are far less helpful in areas with little to no plant life.
Navigation / Signalling
The importance of navigation and signalling arises from the fact that there are always ways out of a survival situation, either by reaching safety or by getting help to come to you. So once you have addressed your immediate priorities, your focus should turn to these two.
The addition of a 20mm button compass in the tin means that I would have a way of getting my bearings and determining my way out, even if landmarks were proving difficult.
Signalling gets addressed in two ways in this kit; audibly, with a whistle, and visually, with the capability to make distress beacons with fire, and a reflective surface fitted in the lid of the tin. These reflective surfaces brightly reflect both visible light and infra-red, which aids rescue at night.
Blood-loss and infection, would both be real showstoppers in a survival circumstance. So anything that you can add to a survival kit to help yourself with addressing these can only be a good thing.
I included two alcohol swabs, for wound cleaning/sterilisation. Injuries can then get dressed with a temporary bandage from torn clothing. For critical blood loss, a tourniquet can be built by using some of the paracord.
In a survival scenario, food, while arguably a lower-priority matter, is still a valuable thing to be able to find. In colder climates especially, where your body burns calories far more quickly, food can be essential for maintaining your body. Having something to eat helps keep morale, and that’s one main key to survival.
My Altoids tin includes a mini fishing kit, which comprises hooks and weights, as well as safety pins and a sewing needle all sealed in a small length of plastic straw, then wrapped in 8 metres of fishing line. So with some determination, I could conceivably feed myself with fish and small game.