Everyday Carry

I’ve been meaning to write a post about my Everyday Carry (EDC) gear, but the recent theft of a friend’s Get Home Bag from her car made it especially timely.

Theft aside, let’s face it: 11 pounds of preparedness goodness — see What’s In The Bag (And Why)? — isn’t much good if you don’t have it when you need it.

Like personalizing a Get Home Bag, there is no “one size fits all” approach to choosing EDC gear. These are the items you choose to carry everyday. They shouldn’t require their own bag, or extra effort. Rather, they should fit in the backpack, briefcase, or handbag with which you already roll.

A good way to start determining EDC gear is to think about situations specific to where and how you live, obstacles you imagine you’ll face, and problems you anticipate having to solve. Are these items you’d be grateful to have?

In my case: I live in Los Angeles, don’t have a car, and work two miles from home. The likeliest disaster threat is an earthquake.

As preparedness minded as I am, like you, I don’t want to schlep my 11-pound Get Home Bag wherever I go.

My decision criteria: most days, I’m within 2-3 miles of home (you think my training runs are 5Ks by coincidence?), so I roll with my EDC only. If I expect to be farther away, such that getting to home or safety might involve days not hours, I take my Get Home Bag.

My EDC gear:

You’ll see my EDC gear reflects my priorities for a Los Angeles emergency 2-3 miles from home: temporary hydration and nutrition, tools related to communication and information, first aid (mostly related to walking/hiking), and the holy trinity of preparedness: a good flashlight, a good knife/multi-tool, and personal items without which I’d be compromised.

Hydration/Nutrition:

Bagged Water

I carry just one 125ml bag as EDC, because in an urban environment within three miles of home I am reasonably confident of finding additional access to water (if I need it) until I can get to my own caches.

RXBAR

This is my current fave, but I’m always trying new ones.

Communication/Information:

NOAA Severe Weather/Emergency Radio

Because information is everything and your 4G and Wifi likely won’t work.

Portable Mobile Phone Charger

Aegis Secure Key Encrypted USB

This is a password protected, encrypted USB with which I could reboot my entire life from any computer anywhere. But if you’re just getting started it’s an optional item until you’re prepared to organize all your passwords, account numbers, financial details, contact information etc. It’s more work than it sounds! Many prefer online password managers, but I’m old school and prefer something I can hold in my hand that’s not dependent on internet access. In my view, the Aegis allows for more thorough data entry, but regularly updating it and back-ups require discipline.

Acme Authentic British Police Whistle

There are definitely cheaper ways to go, but I dig this! Bottom line, if I’m trapped in or under a building, a good whistle at any price will save your voice, your mobile battery, and possibly your life.

First Aid Kit:

Adventure Medical Kits .3 Ultralight & Watertight Medical Kit

This super small kit is mostly focused on walking/hiking related first aid. There’s room to add other small items.

Holy Trinity:

Swiss Army Knife

Swiss Army Knives have uses beyond count. Including opening cans! I don’t consider this knife a weapon, but the weapon vs. no weapon discussion is a blog post unto itself.

Small Fenix Flashlight

Don’t waste your mobile phone battery for light.

GUS Micro Pill Fob

Personal Item No. 1: if like me you have medication you take daily, you’ll want some with you in case you get caught out. Same things applies for the spare prescription glasses!

Why the Stim-U-Dent Toothpicks? Because in a disaster it’s good to have at least one thing that provides a momentary sense of mastery or normalcy. This one is mine.

Nearly all of the above fits in a 5.5 x 11 inch case inside my sleek Thule En Route 18L Backpack (which also contains my laptop and other work gear).

Save Yourself, Save The World

How many airline safety videos have you watched — or ignored in favor of your Instagram?

Regardless, you could probably recite one from memory.

Naturally, this Air New Zealand epic is a personal fave:

The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made #AirNZSafetyVideo

Note particularly: “Secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.”

SRT

Reflexively, that seems selfish. Caring for yourself before vulnerable loved ones?

Yet, logically we know: If you can’t breath on an oxygen-deprived airliner at 36,000 feet, accompanying children will have two problems instead of one.

Unless of course the kids don’t need help with their masks — because they already know what to do. From you.

This doesn’t require being Captain Fantastic (great movie). I’m certainly not!

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC | Official HD Featurette

It just means: if we want to save our families, our communities — even the nation or the world — we have to be able to save ourselves first. Then share.

This requires knowledge, planning, gear, skills, and practice. But you’d be surprised how little it takes to be more prepared than the average bear. In the posts and weeks ahead, I will be sharing specifically how I prepare, in all facets of my life, with links to related resources where helpful, hoping it inspires you to find your own ways.

Now I have some hardcore prepper friends who would say: Mark, you’re misleading folks. It’s great you have 50 gallons of clean water and three weeks of long-term stored food, but what if you can’t get home? Or the crisis lasts longer? Or there’s an evacuation? And what about the fact that you haven’t bought your Glock 19, so someone comes to your house with their gun and takes all your stuff? What then?

These are valid points. But, as Voltaire said: the enemy of good is better.

There are no guarantees. I live in a big city. Depending on the nature of the calamity, this will either make my survival efforts easier or harder.

Some feel the best way to save yourself is to relocate to where critical resources are less scarce:

How To Save The World By Saving Yourself

But, no matter where or how you live, you can still reduce the number of variables working against you and increase the number of tools and skills at your disposal. This is never a bad thing.

No one is disaster proof. But one can strive to be disaster resistant.

Yes, disaster readiness is serious business. When something goes wrong, and it definitely will, the preparations you’ve made and skills you’ve acquired — and the second nature with which you can put your plans and tools into action on behalf of yourself and others — could make a critical difference.

But one thing I’ve discovered firsthand: it’s easier to learn and retain readiness habits when it makes you feel good.

This is one of the reasons why high-end professional closet organizers are doing particularly well right now. In times of uncertainty or disappointment, the desire to feel mastery over some element of your environment is attractive: The Psychology of an Organized Closet

So let’s start with two simple things you can do right now — things I do in my own life — to be better prepared. They are simple. They make sense. They reduce variables. They will make you feel good for the right reasons.

WATER:

You can go weeks without food, but you can only last days without water — depending on heat and your level of activity.

In my last post, What’s In The Bag (And Why?), I shared how I plan for water on the move.

At home, you should store one gallon of water per person/per day. For as many weeks as space allows. In my case, as there are two people in my house, I never have less than 42 gallons at any given time (14 gallons/week x 3 weeks = 42 gallons). I usually keep 50 gallons because, well, I’m an over-achiever.

Now I am fortunate to have a garage, so storing ten 5-gallon Arrowhead bottles is not a challenge. But even having three days of stored water (for a family of four that’s only 12 gallons) at home makes you better prepared than many. Through filtration and purification, you can stretch your supply. More here: Emergency Water Storage

WHAT HAS IT GOT IN ITS POCKETSES:

I get teased a bit for schlepping my backpack nearly everywhere I go. Sometimes, particularly in certain work situations, it’s just not appropriate. But there are three things I never go without: a whistle, a good strong flashlight, and an emergency $50 bill.

In Los Angeles, where earthquakes are among the likeliest form of disaster threat, getting trapped in or under a building is a real risk. If that happens, you’re not going to want to shout yourself hoarse, nor will you want to use your precious mobile phone battery for light when you can use it to text for help.

My Fenix E05 85 Lumen LED KeyChain Black Flashlight is the size of a ChapStick, tough and bright. The Acme Authentic British Police Whistle by Metropolitan is loud and shrill, and honestly I just like how it looks. It also fits better in my trouser pocket than a standard coach’s whistle.

THE EMERGENCY $50:

Cash is king in a disaster. Your Apple Pay will not pay. I carry cash generally as a rule, but alongside smaller bills mostly reserved for car parkers or tipping my favorite barista, I carry an additional $50. One time it helped me get a tire patched at a cash-only mechanic well off the beaten path.

***

There is so much more where this came from! In the months ahead, we will continue to learn how to secure our own oxygen masks. In doing so, not only may we become one less person who needs saving, we could also have the opportunity to help others save themselves. Now that’s an encouraging thought!

 

What’s In The Bag (And Why)?

By popular demand (always wanted to say that) this blog is dedicated to the contents of my “get home” bag — with Amazon links where possible.

I must say I hesitated to post today. It seemed trivial in light of the maddening and cynical assault on America’s founding principles that is unfolding right now in the trumped up name of homeland security.

Then I read this:

How to #StayOutraged Without Losing Your Mind

And I realized I can resist and blog.

This post is an attempt to bridge the gap. Which is why I want to share briefly the philosophy behind my “get home” bag. Namely, why for me it’s a “get home” bag and not a “bug out” bag.

And why I’ve ended my unrequited bromance with Peter Thiel, whom I long admired for his libertarian streak and insights on innovation.

Bugging out is a standard prepper tactic, and, in some situations, perhaps a prudent one: having the plan, skills, means, will, and gear to bug out with your family to another, safer location if SHTS (Shit Hits The Fan) or we’re facing TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It).

Thoughts of bugging out may not be why Peter Thiel, it was revealed this week, secured New Zealand citizenship in 2011. New Zealand is not his primary residence, though he does have New Zealand companies, investments, and real estate — and is a big Lord Of The Rings fan.

He’s taken a lot of flak lately: With New Zealand Citizenship, Peter Thiel Can Watch The World Burn In Peace

But Thiel is far from alone among the tech elite and super rich contemplating safe exits from the rest of us, mostly due to fears that income inequality could lead to dangerous social unrest during which they might be on the wrong side of the pitch forks.

More here: Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich

I have nothing against citizens of the world. Or dual citizenship. I have New Zealand residency thanks to my New Zealand wife, Rachel. She has become a dual citizen of New Zealand and the U.S.

But when it comes to readiness, I believe in believing in one’s community. Not fleeing to gilded bunkers, tax havens, or even my beloved New Zealand. No man is an island, nor should be. And surviving and thriving, in the face of disaster or hardship, is a team sport. Especially now, in these days of propagandized efforts to divide us.

My Get Home Bag:

The contents are informed by the fact that I have no car, just ride sharing and my feet. And, starting today, I’m also dropping Uber for Lyft:

Why #DeleteUber Took Off on Saturday Night: “I Don’t Need a Ride to Vichy”

I think we all need to seek opportunities for activism wherever we find them. For me, ride sharing is a daily thing. So I can vote with my wallet and it’s meaningful.

Having one’s own car definitely allows you to roll with more “get home” gear, especially water. But, if you have to abandon your car because roads are impassable, I think it’s a good exercise to design your bag with mobility in mind.

What you see above is 11 pounds (the water is over a pound on its own). This is how I choose to roll when I plan to be more than three miles from home. I tested its mobility last Comic-Con, during which I walked six miles over the course of a very hot day. Having done that, I likely wouldn’t want to go any heavier.

Here’s me, second from left, battle testing my “get home” bag incognito with a street team promoting Mr. Robot at Comic-Con 2016:

Whether you have a car or not, the items below will help sustain you away from home when there may be little help. I am constantly testing and tinkering, but these are currently my faves. Looking forward to posting more granularly about gear and related skills in future blogs!

Jansport Backpack
Old school style, and doesn’t scream prepper.

Datrex Bagged Water
You need more water daily than this, but to carry more is a serious weight consideration. In an urban environment, I think it’s prudent to bet on one’s ability to find more clean water. And, if not, there’s…

Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System

Icebreaker Merino Wool Sweater
Folds thin for packing and traps warmth.

Icebreaker Merino Wool Socks
Spare socks a must. If you need to walk a long distance home, comfort and dryness of your feet essential. If you don’t generally wear decent walking shoes, add that to your list!

Icebreaker Merino Wool Cap

Emergency Blanket
The little folded mylar ones rip. This is bulkier, but folds thinly and is more effective. Can be fashioned into sleeping bag for nights (at least in LA) or shelter from rain.

NOAA Severe Weather / Emergency Alert Radio
When there’s no Wifi or 4G, this is how you’ll know what’s happening and where.

Poncho
I like Frogg Toggs because they don’t sweat. Great if it rains, but great as another layer for warmth if you have to sleep outside.

First Aid Kit
There are different size options available via this link. Basic first aid skills also a must. More on that in a future post!

Flashlight
Don’t waste your mobile phone battery for light.

Knife
Swiss Army Knives have uses beyond count.

Whistle
There are cheaper ways to go, but I dig this!

Solar Battery Charger
Also plugs into wall!

Aegis Secure Key
This is a password protected, encrypted USB with which I could reboot my entire life from any computer anywhere. This goes to deeper preparedness life organization issues. For another post!

Water Proof Notebook
Do they have to be water proof? In Los Angeles, likely not. But it’s cool, no?

N95 Respirator Masks
For sustaining in smoke, dust, or other airborne hazards.

Work Gloves
Be mindful of size!

OTHER ITEMS

Rand McNally Folded Map

Hygiene (Poop Bags, Wet Wipes)

Duct Tape

Cash

Spare Batteries (for radio and flashlight)

Altoids Tin (for storing medicines you want handy)

Spare Change (for pay phones – they’re rare, but still exist)

Goggles (if delivering first aid, to protect your eyes)

Protein Bars

Spare Glasses

Cardboard (for splints)

Mini Crow Bar (12-inch)

 

My MacGyver Moment

My MacGyver moment, when it came, was not diffusing a bomb with a paper clip.

It was buying an old school Rand McNally street map at Book Soup.

Now I’m not John Goodman in “10 Cloverfield Lane” with a survival bunker under my yard, nor am I likely to be featured on “Doomsday Preppers.” But for years I have been a student of self sufficiency and emergency preparedness.

I experiment with gear, study and develop readiness skills, and try out different approaches to organizing my life — home, work, and travel — to be, if not disaster proof, at least disaster resistant.

The result is two parts Samwise Gamgee, one part Marie Kondo, if the bartender was Tim Ferriss.

I come by my passion for remaking my environment honestly. My mother, Maxine Ordesky, is a founding member of the National Association of Professional Organizers. At 82, she’s still a sought after space planner. My brother, Joel Ordesky, is an Eagle Scout and management consultant.

Back to Book Soup.

As part of my readiness jam, I periodically assemble customized “get home” bags for my friends. Filled with favorite tools and supplies meant to help sustain someone away from home for 2-3 days without much help in the event of an emergency.

My brilliant business partner, Jane Fleming, turned 50 this month. Which is why I was at Book Soup: buying a Rand McNally map of Los Angeles for the get home bag I was making her.

The nice cashier with the nose ring, and the book club junkie behind me in line, marveled that paper maps still existed (they’re not easy to find), and what on earth could I possibly want with one in the era of Google maps.

I momentarily felt very AARP (I’m a proud member).

The paper map is so that Jane can navigate home when mobile, GPS and Wifi fail, and if fires or infrastructure collapse make familiar routes impassable.

A paper map also indicates areas of risk and resources. Universities, for example, can be hazards during a fire or earthquake due to toxic materials in research labs or chemical engineering departments.

Conscious of oversharing, I braced for Book Soup eye rolls. Not a one. In fact, Nose Ring Cashier and Book Club Junkie looked at me like I was MacGyver.

In that moment, I realized that Ready Is Sexy (see what I did there?). Because it’s empowering, fun, mind expanding, and physically challenging. It incorporates elements of curiosity, mindfulness and spontaneity; health, diet, fitness and travel; civic engagement, financial planning and personal security; and relationships and family.

As importantly, at at time when the world feels so divided, readiness — at least the way I practice it — celebrates and encourages the power of community as a hub of shared wisdom, compassion and resources.

So I’m going to practice what I preach, and hopefully start building a community here on this blog. Welcome! It’s going to be fun.