I recently had to travel to Alberta Canada for a business trip and wanted to ensure I had a minimal set of tools to effect my survival – just in case. Knowing I was going to have to deal with airport security and customs, I needed to choose gear that would pass their security scans and checks. I needed reliable everyday carry gear that wouldn’t ‘break the bank’ in the event it got confiscated during the security check points. Listed below is the minimal set of gear carried for the duration of my stay in Canada. I had other items with me in my day pack, but this short list is my baseline for what I will carry regardless of location.
One thing you want to keep in mind when traveling to other countries is their laws pertaining to knives and other concealed weapons. If you find yourself being questioned by local authorities you need to stay one step ahead by doing your homework on what’s legal, but the key is to blend in and not draw attention to yourself, thus avoiding this in the first place.
Blade – When traveling via airlines, I always put my knife in my checked bag. I prefer to always have a blade with my once I’m at my destination. When home, more often than not, I carry an Emerson knife, but I don’t want to risk some greedy TSA agent going through my bag and taking my higher end knife. When I set out to look for a knife to use when traveling, it had to meet certain criteria.
- The knife had to be $50 or less (this way if it gets stolen I’m only out $50 at the most)
- Full size pocket clip (personal preference. I wanted something similar to my Emerson clips)
- Assisted opening so that it can be deployed quickly with one hand
- Stainless steel liners for overall strength and durability.
- A decent blade steel (something that holds a decent edge and is easy to maintain)
- Non-threatening appearance (no crazy blade profiles or blade lengths over 3.5”)
After searching online based on my above criteria I settled on the Kershaw Blackout. This knife was on the top end of my budget, but it had all the features I was looking for, plus it’s made in the USA. I made a few modifications to fit my personal needs.
- Shortened the pocket clip a bit, rounded the edges (similar to an Emerson), and applied Loctite to the clip screws (known for loosening up on this particular model).
- Increased the surface area for deploying the blade via the thumb stud (easier for deploying with gloves on) or under stress.
Light – This is the one item you can carry with you on the plane that can be used to subdue an attacker with either the bright light or by using it as a blunt striking tool. I’ve carried Sure Fire lights in the past, but as I said with the blade I don’t want to risk losing a high value item to airport security. With that said I had two primary requirements.
- No more than $50
- Uses standard batteries that are easy to find (no CR123 batteries)
One manufacturer came to mind once I started looking; Streamlight. The Streamlight ProTac 1AA was a simple decision. The ProTac 1AA as the name implies used only 1 AA battery and still manages to put out a bright beam of light. The flashlight is also waterproof, shockproof, and had an indestructible pocket clip. The clip comes in handy if you want to clip it to the bill of your hat for hands free use. The size of the flashlight fits perfectly in the palm of my hand. I choose to carry the light in my back pocket with my wallet.
First Aid/Trauma – In order to carry first aid/trauma items on my person for everyday carry this had to be extremely simple and take up very little room. After a lot of thought, trial & error, and consulting with an expert in the industry, I’ve settled on two items, that’s it! These items can be carried on your person through the airport and onto the plane as well.
- Band-Aides – I carry a handful of band-aides inside my wallet. These rarely ever get used, but it’s nice to have if you get a small non-life threatening cut. I have two kids as well so these come in handy for them more often than not.
- Quik Clot Combat Gauze – This comes in a vacuum packed package making it extremely compact to carry in a pocket. Rather than just carrying standard compressed gauze, I chose the Quik Clot Combat Gauze because it’s a hemostatic gauze which is much more effective at stopping traumatic bleeding. I carry the combat gauze in my rear pocket opposite my wallet.
This may seem like an extremely minimal kit, but the thought is to keep the items simple and functional. When traveling either domestic or international, I prefer to keep my kit as simple as possible and able to be carried while wearing a pair of basic blue jeans. With this kit I look like your normal dude walking around town, but I’m prepared to react if necessary. Everybody has different preferences for what they carry. We’d enjoy reading your comments about what you carry and why.