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Regardless of whether you’re a construction worker, a corporate CEO, a salesman, or a lumberjack, there are a few critical items you should carry on your person at all times. I’m not talking about a wallet, keys, or cell phone. Those are obvious. I mean a few simple things that could mean the difference between success and failure in a survival situation.

Before we start, let me clarify that I’m not talking about stuff you’d keep in a go-bag, but things you’d have on your person every time you leave the house for those 1 in a 100 scenarios when you find yourself thinking, “I wish I had ____”.

Also, I need to add that under no circumstances should you wear a cell-phone clip or belt holster. Just don’t. However, I’ll save the full ‘do not wear’ list for another article.

Clear as mud? Good. Let’s dive in.

A multi-tool

Number one on the list is a good, durable multi-tool. There’s a fine line between being prepared for everything, and having pockets so overloaded with stuff that you look like a paratrooper in WWII. Outdoor and hands-on jobs allow a bit more flexibility with regards to belt-wear or excess gear, but if you wear a suit or dress clothes to the office it’s a little harder to pull off. That’s why I recommend some form of multi-tool. With knives, scissors, pliers, and a host of other items all jammed into a metal frame just a few inches long, no man should ever leave home without one.

I personally carry a Leatherman Super Tool 300M for my day job when I’m planning to get hands-on with equipment, but that’s a belt-worn item. It’s too hefty to carry in a pocket when I’m wearing button-ups and khakis, so if that’s my uniform for the day I’ll grab the small Micra, which swaps the standard pliers with a larger pair of scissors in exchange for being keychain-sized.

Remember this all should fit into your pockets without making it sound like you just robbed a Salvation Army coin bucket when you walk.

A watch

Get yourself a subdued model with leather or nylon straps, illuminated dials, automatic movement, and a great power reserve. No matter where you are, knowing the time is invaluable. Whether you’re walking on the street with no map, or broken down on a deserted highway with no cell service, calculating how much time you have till sundown, sunrise, or steps per minute could save your life. Depending on your preference you can also get one with a paracord strap and cutting tool built in to add to your everyday prep kit, though that limits the scenarios in which you can wear it. I recommend the Hamilton Field Mechanical Watch, which incorporates all the benefits of a military-grade field watch while looking suitable for blue- and white-collar jobs alike, with a price that won’t crush your soul or wallet.

A flashlight

This is going to be news to a lot of you, but when the power goes out, sometimes it gets dark! Crazy, right? It doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing, if the sun has set and there’s no power things can go from annoying to dangerous pretty quickly. Even indoors during daytime hours, being able to see in dark spaces is invaluable. Do some research and find one that’s small enough to fit on a key ring, with the highest lumen count and battery-life combination you can find. Make sure it’s in a frame that doesn’t weigh enough to make your pockets sag and you’re good to go. The best I’ve found is the Foursevens Mini MKIII, which puts out 900 lumens in a microscopic 2.5” cylinder, perfect for everyday pocket carry in suits or cargo pants.

A firestarter

Gone are the days when firestarters consisted of bulky flint and tinder combinations. Now you can get a setup for under 20 bucks, which can go on your key ring and will strike anywhere, even in water. When you’re shopping around, pay attention to the type of tinder, how many estimated fires you’ll be able to start, and the weight. Again, I’m not talking about bug-out gear here, but stuff you can shove in your coat or pants pocket no matter what you’re wearing. A firestarter will probably see the least amount of use out of any of the items on this list, but when you need it will be the one most likely to save your life. The SOG Flint Firestarter is the size of a small marker and comes with a keyring attachment for everyday carry.

A lighter

Firestarters are great for a situation where you may need to stay put for a while, like being broken down in a flyover state with nightfall coming and the tow-truck hours away. However, the benefit of having instant flame can’t be ignored. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Nothing beats the classic Zippo lighter, preferably with a custom engraved case, when someone asks for a light. Not only will you have fire at the ready, but there’s something about that distinctive metallic ‘snick’ of a Zippo snapping open and closed that just screams cool. 

If you want to take it to the next level, you can spring for a Zippo lighter insert, which replaces the standard cotton and fuel wadding internals with a windproof dual plasma arc beam. It requires a battery charge though, so you’ll have to weigh the benefits of high-temperature arc lighting vs rechargeability access.

Friends don’t let friends go unprepared

There are hundreds of articles out there about EDC (everyday carry), survival prep, go-bag loadouts, and more. The tips above are meant to apply to anyone leaving the house, regardless of job or lifestyle. It never hurts to be well equipped, and if you can look good doing it, that’s just icing on the cake. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor this Christmas and help prepare them for anything.

This article is sponsored by Leatherman