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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wallet Urban Survival Tricks

Follow up from my post from yesterday on Urban Pocket Survival Kits. Check that out first if you haven't already read it.

So, after trying to make an standalone urban PSK work, I realized that I could actually just combine most of the contents into a wallet - something I already pretty much have to carry every time I leave the house. Here's what I've come up with so far, which is by no means final and by no means the end-all-be-all. These are ideas for a starting point-- some may or may not be useful to you. Oh, and know your local laws. Anyways, check it out.

This is an Eagle Creek bifold I've had for years. Pretty average, non-descript wallet. I could have just loaded up one of those giant Maxpedition/Spec Ops wallets, but that's too easy, and too bulky to actually carry around anyways.

Comparison shot next to an iPhone 3GS. The wallet's a bit thicker, but not too much. Easy for me to front pocket carry.

Wallet opened. You can see there's still plenty of space in left here and it looks pretty mundane and average. Most of the various card slots have room for cards in 'em. 
Top view to give you an idea of the thickness. Still looks pretty mundane, huh?
Contents of the wallet's currency pocket - a Shivworks Lil' Loco, a ferro rod and a half-spool of Kevlar survival cord from SerePick. The Lil' Loco's kydex sheath is pinned into the wallet and the knife can be drawn quickly, one-handed. There's about 8-10 feet of cord on the spool - it is very strong and has a 135lb test strength. There's still plenty of space for currency or whatever in this pocket.

Moving to the next card slot in the wallet: SIM Card to another cell network, 2GB MicroSD card, baggie with water purification tablets and $125 in emergency cash ($100, $20 and $5 bills). The SIM Card is backup in case there's problems with my normal network (network outage, no signal, want to call from a different phone #), the MicroSD card is encrypted and loaded with some important documents, PDFs, etc. It will probably turn into a more common SD card or maybe a micro USB drive - something that's more universal to use/doesn't require an adapter.

Next slot forward, two small zip ties, a safety pin and a set of SerePick stainless bogota picks, held together by a small spring from a mechanical pencil. The safety pin can be used to attach the picks to you clothes, concealing them pretty much wherever. Don't remember where I saw this trick, but it's a good one. The bogotas are awesomely made and small enough to hide pretty much wherever. This stuff takes up minimal space in the slot, so there's still room for a couple cards.

Standalone shot of the picks.

In one of the credit card slots: a piece of hacksaw blade (idea from snakedr666), a Mastercard gift card and a prepaid phone card. The hacksaw works surprisingly well at cutting a variety of materials. The gift card works basically just like a credit card and is for use at a sketchy place I'm concerned might try some funny business or have lackluster security measures(run down gas stations/convenience stores, websites I haven't shopped with before, etc.). I've had credit card #'s stolen twice, and while the situation has always been quickly resolved, it's still frustrating. Phone card is for making international calls, payphone calls, whatever. I've written the cards' expiration dates on them.

And in another one of the card slots: two more safety pins, P38 can opener, and gorilla tape wrapped around one of those little keychain membership cards. Still room in this slot for a card to two as well.

Group shot. It looks like a lot of stuff, but it's all pretty flat and small, and fits in without too much trouble. Like I said, there's still plenty of room for all the actual wallet contents.

Not pictured - a couple bandaids that I forgot about until now.

So, there you have it -- my take on an urban PSK. Even if you've got no interest in adding this much stuff to your wallet, you can take some of the ideas and tricks and apply them to your own situation.

The hacksaw blade is super thin and handy, and you can pick up two for like $3 at a hardware store. If you're into lock picking, the bogotas are awesome and just disappear in your wallet. There are even smaller ferro rods that likewise disappear along the side of a credit card slot. The Loco is pretty cool, but there are lots of other designs out there that would work, like the credit card style blades from Spyderco, Microtech, Snody and others, I'm sure. Heck, even a razor or exacto blade could be handy.

I really like using a wallet vs. a standalone kit for a number of reasons. It's a pretty painless addition to an EDC rotation; you've got to carry your wallet anyways, why not add some extra, useful tools to it? It's also pretty grey man - everyone carries a wallet, so it's not going to raise any eyebrows or draw unwanted attention. If someone mugs you and takes your wallet, then you're out all of this extra gear, too. If you're concerned about getting mugged, maybe take a look at a money belt - you could conceal most of this gear in one without too much trouble.

I will have more detailed posts about the Lil' Loco, bogota picks and survival cord in the near future. Keep an eye out.
I'm still thinking this through and refining--planning on adding a mini pen of some kind and maybe a pre-threaded needle. Thoughts, suggestions and ideas are welcome in the comments.


  1. I wonder how all those stuffs fit your wallet. I like the idea putting all those survival things inside your wallet.
    wire ties

  2. I like it.

    In mine, I have cash, plasters, a fresnel lens and a old credit card tool. Modern credit card tools can pack a lot into 4mm thickness - wrench, knife, compass, can opener, led and even a ferro rod. You've given me some more ideas though, thanks!

    Tool Logic makes some nice looking ones.