EDC for Airplanes. Building a TSA-legal kit.


TSA Screening is a dog-and-pony show, but with a bit of thoughtful planning you can put together a kit for almost any eventuality.

Indefinitely Wild is a part of the Gawker family of “viral media” sites that includes Gizmodo (tech and design), Deadspin (sports), Jezebel (female focus), Gawker, and others.  Some of their sites can be mind-numbingly left wing.  How Deadspin can make half of their sports posts overtly political is truly mindboggling.  Other than the the occasional mention of global warming global cooling climate change whatever they are calling it this week, Indefinitely Wild plays it pretty straight.

Indefinitely Wild is the group’s outdoor adventure site. Aimed at the gear and granola crowd, their audience is considerably different than TTAK’s. Like the strangely knife-sympathetic posts in the Village Voice (covered so well by David here & here), anytime knife-use and EDC can reach a non-niche audience it can only help to advance the cause.

I have reblogged one of Editor Wes Siler’s previous posts – on a “keychain survival kit“. They say the “mark of another man’s genius is how much you agree with him”. Wes does an excellent job. He writes about knives, travel, motorcycle touring, and EveryDay Carry preparedness. Like his keychain kit, his “Tools You Can (and Should) Take on Planes” kit is extremely well thought out.

photo (74)

The GTI Tactical Pen reverses to a TSA-legal sub-7″ screwdriver.

I have written about TSA regulations in general, and reviewed the GTI/Combat Ready Range Master Tactical Pen specifically. This, coupled with Wes’s Keychain Kit, form a solid foundation for a travel-ready EDC kit. The backbone of Wes’s kit is the Leatherman PS Multitool. This tool was designed to be TSA-compliant – i.e. no knife blade. It does contain a pair of scissors so you are not entirely edged-tool free. If you want a knife, you are going to have to check it or pick one up once you arrive at your destination. Thanks Flight Waitresses Attendant Union!

Wes’s travel kit goes far beyond the basic EDC tools. He includes tools for the outdoors (paracord, lighter, firestarting tinder (cotton balls), poncho, etc), a basic toolkit (in his case centered on motorcycle/car repair), tools for electronic maintenance, and “Tools for your body”. One item in this basic medicine/first aid kit jumps out at me – tincture of iodine, can do double duty in purifying water. A brilliant idea.

There is one item Wes mentions that falls in VERY big grey area. A  perforated dog tag that snaps off into a rudimentary knife. He doesn’t carry it himself, but legendary adventure traveler Robert Young Pelton , author of “The Worlds Most Dangerous Places“, recommends the DPX Danger Tag . I don’t know if I would try it either, but Mr. Pelton is a relatively unimpeachable source and speaks from experience. I don’t think it is worth the hassle, and the knife is really no more functional that you would get with the scissors of the Leatherman. (What say you?)


Would you carry the DPX Dog Tag through airport security?

I highly recommend you read the whole thing if you travel. Even if you don’t, if you EDC more than just a knife it is always good to read what other people carry as it helps one reevaluate their own kit and preparedness.

(This post has been updated to reflect the fact that as a 38 year-old Trout Bum, I am not sufficiently plugged into the lingo of the young-uns. Apparently the term “click-bait” refers specifically to misleading headlines – meant to draw traffic, and not to the various “viral media” sites which mix hard journalism with cat videos as a group. People  were “kind ” enough to point my error out oN Twitter.)



  1. The2ndisthe1st says:

    I had my “tactical pen” confiscated by TSA because they said it was a kubaton.

    1. ChuckN says:

      I always take a hardwood kubaton with me.
      Usually I carve a few historical looking designs
      on it, that way if questioned I can say it’s some
      ceremonial do-dad. Hasn’t failed yet.

  2. As I mentioned in my post, and Wes mentions in his, be prepared to deal with a bunch of sycophants and be prepared to surrender anything. It isn’t worth the fallout.

    That being said, I made no attempt to disguise it. I left it in my travel folder, opened, and put it on the conveyor visible both coming and going. I didn’t have a problem.

  3. Roger says:

    I’ve been through TSA security with a tactical pen. It’s really a shit shoot with who is looking at your gear.

  4. MikeH in NH says:

    Another great self-defense addition for travelling is a De-Cap-A-Turtle (DCT). I made it to and from CA this summer with one of those and a Style PS in my carry on. If I am unable to carry concealed then a DCT is always on me. They are worth checking out along with all the other self-defense bottle openers the company offers. None of the products cost more than $30 and basic models are only $20.

    1. Cool. Looks kind of like my LaRue Tactical “Beverage Entry Tool” which could be deployed in much the same manner.

      1. just went out and punched a piece of drywall with it. It worked, though yours looks more ergonomically comfortable.

        1. MikeH in NH says:

          It’s very comfortable I’ve tested it in a similar manner on a piece of wood and came out no worse for the wear.

  5. I got nothing but respect for Robert Young Pelton but getting caught with the DPX Dogtag being a great experience with the TSA. I guess your appearance, general demeanor and how you treat the security agents will have a lot to do with how much they will let you get away with.


  6. Cubbie says:

    I’d add a tactical light to the list, such as Fenix’s PD32. I’ve never had a TSA issue with mine (kept setting on low) and they’re good for looking for that phone that slid under the seat or, you know, blinding a terrorist or getting out of the plane in an emergency.

    1. 'liljoe says:

      I’ve carried a PDX defender 2 on multiple flights… nobody has stopped me yet and the front edge is sharp enough…

  7. Tony says:

    I was actually just about to email TTAK to suggest reviewing the Gerber GDC Hook Knife. $10 on Amazon, shipping included. Looks like a USB thumb drive, it’s about the size of a key. I’ve carried it through security checks a number of times — it doesn’t have a dangerous looking point, and I think it actually does often get mistaken for a USB thumb drive. But it’s still pretty effective at cutting fabric e.g. a seat belt. I often work in government buildings where I can’t carry a “real” knife but I can and do keep this in my pocket. (Not on a keychain — that would tend to separate the hook from the sheath.) To be clear, it’s not for self defense, it’s for cutting fabric quickly in a safety/medical emergency when you don’t have a better cutting tool.

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EDC for Airplanes. Building a TSA-legal kit.

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