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Remember the old American Express tagline “never leave home without it?” In the spirit of being prepared, these are my “never leave home without items.” There are more items that travel with me in my vehicle that we break down in other section of this series. These are just the items I can personally carry on my body and in my pockets without an extra pouch or tote. NOTE: Additional items for women are listed at the bottom.

A Hat

Think shade! If your fashion sensitive and a baseball cap is all you are comfortable being seen in, so be it. But if you can handle a full brim, a cowboy hat, an outback hat, safari hats, sun hats or breeze hats are all great options. The lighter the color, the cooler! Sweat stains can build up quickly so other than my cowboy hats, I like a material I can put through the washing machine to keep fresh.

Water Bottle/Canteen

Whether it’s summer or winter, it’s still the desert and water can be scarce. I have stopped purchasing water bottles due to the plastic waste build up in landfills and oceans and have switched to stainless steel containers.


Our grandfathers were on to something with the handkerchief. Avoid using your sleeve for a sneeze, clean your face, tie it around your neck to keep the sun off (soak in water first to help cool your body) or use it as a dust mask like the cowboys if you are caught in a haboob. Whatever the case, there is a lot to be said for toting a 1 oz. fresh, cotton cloth.

Wrist or Pocket Watch

In addition to telling time, there are numerous other uses for a wrist watch. With modern technology, many watches provide more information than just the time and date. If you haven’t lately, do a little research; I think you will be surprised by all that is available on the market. If budget allows, invest in a solar powered watch so you won’t have to worry about battery life.

Pocket Knife

I have owned many different pocket knives starting with a traditional Buck Knife dad gave me about the age of five. Of all the knives I purchased since then, very rarely have I ever bought the same knife (brand or style) for no other reason than trying something new. My last five have all been folding knives in the 3-5 inch blade length, with the bottom half of the blade serrated and a pocket clip (no sheath required). The last two were Benchmade. Here are some great American Made knives!

Emergency Call List

Electronics loose battery life, break, fail, spaz out, etc. Sure I keep a cigarette lighter plug in my vehicle for recharging my phone, but that only helps if a drained battery is the problem. What if you broke down in an out of service area, or dropped and broke your phone? If you had to borrow a phone, how many numbers of family and friends do you have memorized? Keeping an index type card in your wallet with phone numbers will not only help you, but also someone trying to help you if you were unconscious or unable to verbally communicate.


For the same reason of electronic failure just mentioned, having a form of currency is essential for an emergency situation. Gas, tire patch, food or hotel room all cost money. If there was a problem with your account or the credit/debit card machines were down, how long could you wait for them to be fixed? Have enough cash and/or a few silver coins to hold you over for at least 48 hours.

Additional Items to Consider

  • Belt
  • Carmex
  • Firearm
  • Identification
  • Sunglasses

Retailers | Local and online retailers for the items listed on this page.

RetailerArizona Location(s)Online Store
Summit HutTucson & Oro
R.E.I.Flagstaff, Phoenix,


For more information on emergency preparedness, visit our Home Preparedness Resource Guide.

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