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The pandemic has altered many of our lifestyles and habits, so it’s no surprise that the items that we carry every day have to adapt as well. And while many of us aren’t traveling at the moment, these items will likely be part of our travel toolkit moving forward. In this video and post, I want to share my pandemic everyday carry or EDC and hopefully give you some ideas on useful tools to improve your daily life and travels.
Changing times means new tools
Since it looks like many of the “shelter at home” orders are being slowly relaxed, you’re likely going back to work or school soon, at least in some limited way. I’ve even started to slowly return to the office and it’s been a weird experience.
Pandemic has challenged what skills are most important
One of the things that I think is interesting is that while a lot of people focus on survival skills and weapons, the most useful skills seem to be the most basic. Things like sewing, cooking, and medicine are the skills that are most valuable during this crisis. While they might not be as sexy and cool as protecting you from zombies, they are the skills that are most in-demand during a pandemic.
My new pandemic EDC items
Let’s run through some items that are now part of my EDC. These are items that I now carry in addition to what I normally have on hand. And like I said earlier, these items are going to be part of my toolkit when we start traveling again.
1. Face mask:
I know a lot of people hate them, but I think they are a new reality for us. Since the CDC recommends that people wear cloth face masks to slow the spread of the virus, they will likely be here to stay. And in terms of travel, a face mask will be one of those items that we pack in our bags moving forward.
Look for different designs and styles
There are a lot of people making homemade cloth face masks. Also, clothing companies have shifted their production.
What I’ve found is that cloth face masks tend to fall into two categories. One style mimics the design of a surgical mask. These masks tend to be a bit less tight and allow for easier breathing. For example, here are some masks that I purchased from a seller on Etsy. These have bands that go over the ears and also have a pocket for a filter. You can use a variety of materials for additional filtering. I purchased some PM2.5 pollution filters from Amazon. It’s not going to give you N95 level of protection, but it should provide some extra protection over the cloth alone. You can also use coffee filters, paper towels, and other materials as an additional layer of protection.
The other type of masks are ones that are designed to replicate the look and feel of a respirator. Obviously, you won’t get the same level of filtering with this type of cloth mask, but they do tend to have a tighter fit around your face. For example, these masks are from Los Angeles Apparel and have elastic bands that go behind your head and neck.
Tip: Get fasteners for the elastic straps
One additional tip is to get fasteners if you have masks that have longer elastic straps, especially around your head. You can always tie the straps as well, but these give you more flexibility. I bought a pack of Tiny Cord Locks from Zpacks and it works great. The Tiny Cord Locks fit the smaller elastic bands on my Los Angeles Apparel masks but are too small for the earloops on my Etsy face masks.
It makes sense to get some masks for both your normal life and travel. I recommend getting several so you can test out different styles and also wash them regularly like any other clothing.
Since minimizing contact with surfaces is important during these times, I’m now carrying a set of latex gloves in my pocket.
One thing that gets people in a lot of trouble when they use gloves is that they end up contaminating their hands when removing them. It’s worth taking the time to learn how to properly remove gloves to reduce any contamination. If you know someone who works in a clinical environment, they can show you how to do it. There are also a ton of YouTube videos demonstrating the technique. Basically, you want to follow the rule that “only skin touches skin, and glove touches glove”. By learning the basic technique, you can safely remove your gloves and dispose of them easily.
Multiple options for carrying gloves
In terms of carrying gloves, you can get pouches designed to carry gloves that are made for emergency medical or police use. However, some other pouches and bags can work for this purpose. For example, I’m using a simple ziplock plastic bag to hold two pairs of gloves. I’ve even heard of people using Altoid or TicTac containers for this purpose.
Also, I know that latex and nitrile gloves are hard to find nowadays. If you’re just looking for something to wear for those occasional situations where you want to avoid contact, consider getting food prep gloves instead. Although keep in mind that they are not as durable and often uncomfortable to wear over a longer period of time; however, they can be a useful substitute.
Washing your hands is still important
Lastly, I want to stress that gloves are not a substitute for washing your hands. Washing your hands is still the most effective way to protect yourself from infection. While gloves can be handy for those times you don’t have access to soap and water, you may still have to handle a high-touch object like a fuel pump.
3. No-contact tool:
I don’t remember how I found these things, but they’ve proven to be quite useful. Shortly after the pandemic, these devices started to pop up on Kickstarter. These tools can help reduce contact on high-traffic surfaces like door handles and elevator buttons.
In fact, I’ve been using it at the office and when running errands and it works well. Since I have several doors between my actual office and the bathroom, I struggle to keep my hands sanitary at work, especially after washing them. This tool helps with keeping my hands from touching high-contact surfaces. It also works on elevator buttons and those annoyingly small street crossing buttons that can’t be pressed with an elbow.
What to look for in a no-contact tool
If you do get one, I recommend going with one that is made from either brass or copper. Both of these metals have anti-viral properties, which means that virus particles are only able to survive on these surfaces for shorter periods of time. For example, the National Institute of Health says that COVID-19 can only survive on copper surfaces for up to four hours, which is a lot better than surfaces like stainless steel where the virus can stay alive for up to three days.
I also recommend getting one that is larger. While the smaller hooks may be easier to carry, they are going to be less capable when pulling on heavier doors. It’s worth dedicating a pocket for your contact tool to avoid it touching other items that you’re carrying. For example, I keep mine clipped to my back pocket instead of front pockets where I keep all my other daily carry items.
The one I bought is called the Virus Hook. It’s a bit bigger than a lot of other tools out there. However, the Virus Hook has a few things that seem to set it apart from others. One is that it’s made from solid copper and not just plated. I also like that it has a pocket clip. I usually store it in my back pocket away from my other personal items. The hook is also more robust than other products that I’ve seen. It works really well on door handles but doesn’t work as well on doorknobs, especially ones with polished or smooth surfaces.
4. Bluetooth earphones:
I actually started to carry these before the pandemic started. Fiona got me a pair of AirPods as a gift last year. I immediately found them useful, especially since I love to listen to podcasts and audiobooks while doing errands and chores around the house. However, these have proven to be even more useful during the pandemic. That’s because I’m on a lot more calls and video meetings as a result of social distancing measures. The earphones have proven to be extremely handy.
I never thought I would carry earphones in my pocket—it seemed like more of a millennial thing to do—but these earphones now go everywhere with me, and as long as we are continuing to engage people virtually, I foresee myself keeping them in my pocket due to all its functionality. Trying to do a video call in a noisy location without earphones is not a fun experience, and having to deal with wires can be annoying too.
Keeping your phone away from your face
When I’m away from home, I try to keep my phone away from my face. It may seem a bit excessive, but since the primary way of getting infected is through contact with your eyes, nose, or mouth, I think it’s a good idea to keep high-touch objects away from your face. This can also be an issue when using wired earphones that brush along the face. Keeping it wireless is not only more convenient but also more sanitary.
Those are the items that I’ve been carrying in my pocket lately. Although there are several other items that I generally carry with me but not on me, including disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer. I have a stash in my car and backpack, but I am trying to conserve them since I know that supplies are limited. That’s where a device like a no-contact tool can help.
Items for my travel toolkit
The sad reality is that these items are likely going to be part of my normal carry when traveling in the future. Even if we get a vaccine or effective treatment, we’ll likely be on high-alert for a while for new strains or other virus outbreaks. Being prepared by carrying these items will be essential, even in a post-pandemic world.
What are you carrying these days? Do you have any tips or tools that you’ve found to be useful? Please let me know in the comment section below.