At least once a month I get asked how I carry everything. I also get asked exactly what I carry.
I have never done a post about everything I carry or how because that fluctuates rather frequently and I get sick of people who try to tell me what I should and should not carry and how based upon not knowing me, my lifestyle, my needs or my priorities. But I get to ignore those people!
I drop hints here and there which inevitably ends with someone asking, “How do you carry it all?”
For those who are genuinely interested, here it is!
The things I carry can be broken down into four categories: defensive, medical, baby, and chapstick. Each category has its own rules, rolls and priorities, and by those rules and priorities they are organized and carried.
The rules: Defensive, lethal tools are carried on body with minimal exceptions. This is to maximize my access and minimize unauthorized access.
My gun, a S&W M&P Shield, is the primary defensive lethal tool that I carry on a daily basis. It is carried Appendix Inside the Waistband (AIWB) pretty much from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to bed with very few exceptions.
My secondary defensive tools are any number of knives (the TDI LEO, Benchmade Mini Griptillian or Benchmade Triage) or a collapsible baton (an ASP Agent P12). If I have a pocket it more than likely has a knife in it. The other pocket might have my baton or chapstick or my flashlight (A Streamlight PT 1L) depending on foreseen.
My other defensive tool of utmost importance to me is my kubaton and pepper spray combo, the ASP key defender. It looks like any black, cylindrical key chain but it has a small safety catch that can be flicked off that allows you to push a button on the back end of the device and eject a blast of pepper spray. Because it is small it is discreet but it’s still big enough to be a formidable little weapon. Because it’s attached to my keys it spends a fair amount of time in my hand. I carry it in my hand when walking to and from my car and or it is loosely hooked to my person in some way for easy access at any other time.
Because I have so many knives that can be used for utilitarian or defensive purposes my knives often move from pocket to pocket and to my bag and back again.
My baton also seems to do that. I don’t concern myself with my baton too often, however, because any one of my knives or my flashlight or even my kubaton and pepper spray combo key chain can be used as impact weapons. Though there has been one particular time I deliberately prepared myself to use my baton over all of my other defensive tools. (Another story for another day.)
The rules: All medical supplies are carried in my Maxpedition Lunada in a single compartment where they can be immediately accessed, one-handed if need be. No other, non-medical equipment is kept in that compartment to limit disorganizing the contents thereof.
My EDC bag is a roving medical kit. It includes quikclot combat gauze, a C.A.T tourniquet, an Israeli pressure bandage, a pair of trauma sheers (bad ones, actually), co-flex, paper medical tape, more bandaids than should reasonably be in a bag, an Epi pen, nitrile gloves, four triangular bandages, some 2×2 and 4×4 gauze pads, petroleum gauze and a tension pneumothorax needle.
In other locations in my bag I also have two bandanas, an EMS field guide book and a small pouch on the side of my bag filled with paper tape and 2×2 gauze pads for my son who is allergic to the adhesive in bandaids.
Lots of people have assumed I leave this bag in the car. They are mistaken. My EDC bag goes with me. Everywhere. If I need medical equipment I likely don’t want to have to go out to my car to get it. If my husband or son is having a severe allergic reaction to a sting or my daughter pulls a shopping cart on top of herself and smashes her face in (true story), I don’t want to have to go to the car. I like being able to unzip my bag, pull out what I need (one-handed, because the other hand is usually cradling a baby) and do what needs to be done. Which would also be helpful if there were any other serious trauma going on.
The rules: Baby gear goes with baby and is limited to what can reasonably be expected to be needed in the given time frame.
If I’m running in and out of a store, I don’t carry anything baby related. If I’m going to be somewhere for a couple of hours I might throw a diaper into my bag. If I’m going somewhere over night, I will add wipes, a change of clothes and a couple more diapers. Baby carriers are usually left in the car and depending on where I’m going, when and for how long I might choose to wrap my baby, put him in a stroller or in a shopping cart.
As in the picture above, a hip wrap allows me to carry baby and my bag and still have access to my gun. A win all around.
The rules: Everything else is up for grabs!
Everything else is my bag is filed under “chapstick” because it’s not necessary to my survival but it’s really nice to have. There are important things in that category like my wallet, my cell phone, my flashlight (when it’s not in my pocket) and chapstick. There are some convenience items, too, like hair ties, feminine products, a comb, a lens cleaning cloth, a small pouch of essential oils, a couple multi-tools, some rubber bands, a gift card for starbucks and other junk that I’m too lazy to claw out just to list for you.
If, for whatever reason, I was expected to leave my bag behind I would make sure to take my ID, carry permit and money out of my wallet and find a way to carry them on my body or in hand along with my phone and my flashlight. There are those who adamantly believe those items should be carried on body and prioritized along with guns and other defensive tools. I don’t disagree that they are important but when you are as little as I am you have to pick your space pretty carefully. When I carry that stuff on my body or in hand I find myself putting it down too often or fiddling with it which is why I carry a bag in the first place. No fiddling!
I prioritize what I carry and organize it by what I deem to be most necessary to save a life in any particular emergency.
Because a fight for my life will likely be immediate, I carry my lethal defensive tools on my body.
While certainly emergent, a medical or trauma emergency will likely be after the fight for my life is over or in a setting where taking the second or two to open my bag isn’t going to make a huge difference in the outcome. Even within the pockets of my bag my items are organized for quick access and order of emergency. My tourniquet and Epi pen are probably two of the most immediately accessible items in my bag. My trauma shears aren’t even in my bag, they are on the outside. If one of my family is having a severe allergic reaction or bleeding to death in front of me I don’t want to be fumbling for the right gear.
Baby and Chapstick items are not emergent. When I need those items I have time to look in my bag for them. Thanks to the organization of my bag, however, I usually don’t have to search long.
It stands to reason that in my discussion about what I carry I should talk about the bag itself. I didn’t just grab any old bag off the shelf and expect it to fit my needs. I tried a few different ones, too, and took quite a bit of time decided what would work best for me.
I wanted something small–well, smaller. I knew that whatever bag I got I would fill and more stuff means heavier bag and there would be a point where it would be so heavy I would start leaving it behind. That had happened with my last bag and I wanted to avoid it.
I also wanted something that would carry on my back and be ambidextrous to keep my hands and hips free for baby. I needed something I could organize into specific pockets for med gear and MOLLE is always a nice touch.
The Maxpedition Lunada fits all of those needs and then some. I have plenty of room for what I need and some left over. There’s a quick release on the front strap in case I need to ditch the bag completely. I wrote a more comprehensive review of the bag a while ago which you can read here.
My carry system allows me to carry everything I believe I might need to save my own life or the life of someone I love in a pretty wide variety of emergencies. The way I organize it makes sense to me as far as access, safety and time concerns. It keeps me fairly unencumbered and hands-free but within arms reach of whatever I might need.