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#114448 - 12/01/07 09:53 PM What to add - Public Transit Commuter Kit
Kurt_W Offline

Registered: 12/01/07
Posts: 19

I am in the process of updating my daily-carry preparedness items and thought I'd see what suggestions everyone here has. I have read many of the postings on BOBs, looked at various websites, and generally done a lot of research and came away less than satisfied. Why, you ask? Well, there is a lack of practical, realistic guidance for the urban commuter as to what to carry. Realistic, in that I commute on public transit and I'm not loading myself down with supplies to survive X days and get looked at like a crazy person realistic. I just want to be able to escape and get across the river or out of town, (say 10 miles).

So, let me give you some background and assumptions:
1. I live in NJ and commute to Philadelphia. My commute includes 50 minutes of driving, 50 minutes on light rail, 15 minutes on subway, and about 10 minutes walking. Each way. The focus of this question is the portion of my commute where I am on public transit and/or walking.
2. I have a good kit in my car, and am building a kit for in the office. There are lots of great suggestions for both on this forum and other sites.
3. For work I carry a laptop and associated equipment back and forth each day. Before adding preparedness equipment I generally lug about 12lbs. That may not be a lot but I'm no Army Ranger smile
4. The disasters I am building a kit for are:
A)Subway problems - loss of power/lights/heat/collapse (If you have used PATCO you know what I mean).
B)Having to evacuate Philadelphia (with the assumption that there will be transit available once I get out of the city). I know, the world could end and it wouldn't be there. But considering my job if it was really bad I would be working the disaster and not trying to leave.
C)Escape from fire during commute.
D)Dealing with unexpected severe weather.
E)Dealing with the odd crazy person assaulting me during transit.
5. Weight, portability, legality, are issues. Guns are not an option (I live in NJ - enough said).
6. My backpack always go with me when I travel or commute.

So, with that background in mind here is what I currently carry:

On my body (always with me):
1. The usual stuff (wallet, small amount of cash, keys)
2. 2 cell phones (work, personal)
3. leatherman wave
4. flashlight (1AA cell led)

In the backpack (in its own emergency pouch)
1. Another flashlight
2. spare batteries for both flashlights
3. Spare power for work cell phone
4. First Aid kit
5. Mylar emergency blanket
6. Dust mask
7. Small role of duct tape
8. Sharpie (in emergency pack, other pens also carried)
9. Small package of kleenex
10. Whistle (I am looking for one that would be good to carry on my body)
11. Work gloves
12. 2 meter amateur radio transceiver
13. 3 to 5 days of my personal rx medications
14. About $10 in quarters
15. laser pointer (used for work, but carried in backpack)
16. Extra pair of eyeglasses
17. Extra pair of underwear

Things I am adding
1. Trash bag
2. Small length of paracord
3. Small am/fm radio
4. Empty collapsible water container
5. Extra pair of socks
6. Waterproof paper

Note in the winter I add spare pair of gloves and hat.

Keeping in my the intended use and limitations, any suggestions for additional items?

Looking forward to the comments,

#114451 - 12/01/07 10:30 PM Re: What to add - Public Transit Commuter Kit [Re: Kurt_W]
ScouterMan Offline

Registered: 08/19/07
Posts: 65
Loc: Massachusetts, USA
I am in a similar situation. I work in Boston / Cambridge and commute on public transportation from the 'burbs.

My EDC: All carried in a Nite-Izes Pock-it holster

Leatherman Wave
AA Mini-Mag flashlight
Spare cash

My PSK: All carried in a military-style messenger bag

Dougs' Mini-PSK
Emergency rain poncho
Small home-made FAK
Heatsheet emergency blanket
Small pack of kleenex
25' of duct tape wrapped around an old gift card (small and flat)
Spare pair of boot laces
50' of 550 paracord
(2) small aluminum baking pans folded flat (for boiling water)
Spare set of glasses
Set of eyeglass side shields to convert to safety glasses
(2) dust masks
1-liter Platypus water bladder
(2) energy bars
(6) nylon tie-wraps (various sizes)
(2)small 7-hour hand warmers
Work gloves
Headband to convert mini-mag to headlamp
Maps of the city
Copy of first-aid manual
Last (2) items are in a large zip-lock bag

This blends in with the rest of the herd and doesn't draw many looks.

Hope this helps.

#114454 - 12/01/07 10:44 PM Re: What to add - Public Transit Commuter Kit [Re: Kurt_W]
teacher Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 12/14/05
Posts: 862

Welcome. Your kits seems well thought out, what follows are my suggestions.

weight issues: I'd drop the 2m radio. Too heavy, the cell phones and am/fm radio should cover comm. .Ditto the roll of quarters

Carry water, even a 12 oz bottle. Useful stuff.


PS 4 hour commute?

#114455 - 12/01/07 10:49 PM Re: What to add - Public Transit Commuter Kit [Re: Kurt_W]
pworks36 Offline

Registered: 09/23/03
Posts: 22
Loc: Florida
A couple of thoughts...a medium/small compass and a map of Philly. There are a couple of companies that make walking around (meaning non-topographic/street) maps of DC, Philly and so on. Some can fold up to about 3x5 and when folded out show remarkable detail. I picked up mine at the train station in Philly. Of course if that doesn't fit the bill mytopo or a gas station are fine alternatives. It's surprisingly easy to get turned around. (Streetwise is one company and PopOut Maps from Compass Maps is another, just for examples.)

Since we're talking a small knapsack I would opt for a small, but not PSK-sized compass. (adding a PSK like the Ritter PSK wouldn't be a bad idea). You might also consider a survival straw, but then again I might also add a Sierra-type cup, a spork, a few pre-moistened towelettes (like you used to get a KFC) and a 400 kcal ration bar.

Personally I would ditch the mylar blanket and go after an AMK heat-sheet or AMK bivvy and a four-pack of those air-activated pocket heater packs. The heat-sheet is a bit bigger than a space blanket, but the space blanket is really nothing much, but the same material those mylar helium balloons are made of. A suggestion down at Wally World for about 79 cents, buy a space blanket, open 'er up, put on your usual jacket and go step outside for about half an hour. Tomorrow might be even better since we're supposed to get some rain in the region. Just a thought...

Emergency poncho might not be a bad idea.

I would also recommend adding a small waterproof or drybag large enough to put your essentials in and seal, like your phones and wallet. The couple of times I've had trouble with my commute the weather was always a factor and usually it was rain, lots of rain.

I think you have too many quarters, but that's just my opinion. I carry about $3 - 5.00 worth and a cheap pre-paid phone card. The coins will let me pay a third party for the use of their phone and I can use the phone card if a pay phone is working. More than that is more weight than I want to cart around.

You might add a bandanna or two as well (maybe one bright orange and the other blue or green if they don't have a gang affiliation).

Possibly 60 or so dollars in cash in a sealed packet (2x 20, 1x 10, 1x 5, and 5x 1 as a possible mix). If that is enough to pay for a taxi or third party to get you elsewhere.

Finally, a laminated 3x5 with your emergency contact information, critical medical info (allergies, etc.)

Just my thoughts and there are probably good reasons why these are bad ideas.
The fox knows many tricks; the hedgehog, one good one. - Aesop

#114457 - 12/01/07 10:54 PM Re: What to add - Public Transit Commuter Kit [Re: Kurt_W]
LED Offline

Registered: 09/01/05
Posts: 1474
I agree, well thought out. What type of shoes do you typically wear? I'm just guessing here, but if they're of the more formal variety, you might want to consider keeping a more comfortable pair in the car.

Edited by LED (12/01/07 10:54 PM)

#114460 - 12/01/07 11:15 PM Re: What to add - Public Transit Commuter Kit [Re: LED]
Grant Offline

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 17
For personal defense have you considered a 4oz. container of pepper spray in a belt pouch? You could keep it in your backpack, but slip it on your belt (maybe under your jacket or shirt) when you need to "activate" your pack in an emergency.

I second the suggestion that you find room for some water and food. Perhaps a couple of energy bars or some trail mix. In my work messenger bag I carry a couple of the 2.5oz packets of fruit and nut mix put out by Backpacker's Pantry. You could probably throw together a homemade equivalent.

#114461 - 12/01/07 11:22 PM Re: What to add - Public Transit Commuter Kit [Re: Kurt_W]
Russ Online   content

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5265
I agree -- good list. The guys who got here first beat me to the map & compass, you already added extra socks (for winter look at all wool eg., Smartwool). Yeah, carry a small bottle of water.

What's is in your First Aid Kit?

A small pry bar would be nice to have if you need to open a door that doesn't want to be opened. I'd also carry a small locking folder in addition to the LM Wave, but I'm a knife knut.
Better is the Enemy of Good Enough.
Okay, what’s your point??

#114462 - 12/01/07 11:24 PM Re: What to add - Public Transit Commuter Kit [Re: Kurt_W]
KG2V Offline


Registered: 08/19/03
Posts: 1371
Loc: Queens, New York City
Yeah - a bottle of water. I know I've needed it enough times on the NYC subway or the train on the way in

A small towel is a good thing - say a 1ftx1ft microfiber
73 de KG2V
You are what you do when it counts - The Masso
Homepage: http://www.thegallos.com
Blog: http://kg2v.blogspot.com

#114463 - 12/01/07 11:25 PM Re: What to add - Public Transit Commuter Kit [Re: ScouterMan]
Kurt_W Offline

Registered: 12/01/07
Posts: 19
Scouterman: I like the energy bars and nylon ties.

Teacher: I use the 2m on a regular basis to chat during my commute; that is why I carry it. Roll of quarters is also my backup soda machine money smile But I need to emergency cash in there. Carrying water seems to make so much sense yet I keep hesitating because it always seems to be available. What do you think of the emergency straw idea Pworks suggested? And yes, It is a 4 hour commute each day. Crazy, maybe, but I love my job, and I also travel a lot.

Pworks36: Both the compass and the map are good ideas. I see those small maps all the time and will pick one up. What do you think of those small compasses that are designed to clip on a jacket? Are they any good? I know the mylar blanket is not worth much as a blanket. But, it was free and I was thinking that if I was trapped somewhere I could open it up and it would act as a reflector for any light sources rescuers were using. I like your other ideas and will consider them.

LED: I wear comfortable shoes - black, work shoes but not super formal. I have been buying these for about 6 years now and find them more comfortable for walking than just about any other pair. One of the reasons I went with them was because I used to work in NYC and had to walk from the WTC PATH station across lower manhatten and these took everything NYC could dish out. Plus, at $27 a pair (less if I get a sale at Payless) I can afford to replace them regularly.

I forgot to mention that I carry in my backpack some moist towlette type wipes and a small bottle of hand sanitizer.


#114464 - 12/01/07 11:31 PM Re: What to add - Public Transit Commuter Kit [Re: Kurt_W]
Kurt_W Offline

Registered: 12/01/07
Posts: 19
Grant: I have considered the pepper spray but I cops in NJ will give you a hard time if you have it. I don't thinks it illegal but...
I have some hard candy in the backpack but I need to add an energy bar. Good suggestion.

RAS: I could easily be a knife nut but I work hard on controlling myself. I have shied away from a pry bar because of weight issues. If I could find a reasonable (cost) one made out of titanium I would consider it. My FAK started as a Red Cross belt kit to which I added. It includes: breathing barrier, 2 pairs of gloves, a selection of bandages in different sizes, Some gauze pads, 2 roller guaze, a couple of antibiotic ointment wipes, and alcohol prep pads. It used to have some sting-eze but they expired and I haven't replaced them yet.

Kc2ixe: Interesting idea about the hand towel. Thank you.

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