When we think of EDC (everyday carry) survival gear, it is usually a self defense keychain or hip pouch. Recently, survival necklaces have also become very popular for EDC.
I’ll be honest and say that I am not a fan of survival necklaces because there are too many potential problems with wearing survival gear around your neck.
However, a necklace can be a great part of your survival EDC in certain scenarios – so long as you go about it the right way.
The biggest issue with survival necklaces is that they are a safety hazard. The necklace could get snagged on something, potentially strangling you to death.
The easy remedy to this is to get a survival necklace with a breakaway clasp. These clasps are designed to pull away.
But, if you have a breakaway clasp, your necklace might break away when you need it – such as during a car or a boating accident.
Depending on what you have on your survival necklace, you might end up harming yourself.
For example, unless you have a trustworthy sheath, I wouldn’t want to wear a neck knife.
When a Survival Necklace Makes Sense
Assuming that you have a breakaway clasp or the necklace is small and unlikely to get snagged, having one is better than nothing.
I prefer to carry survival gear in my pockets, but some people like wearing gear around their necks.
There are also cases where you don’t have pockets, so a survival necklace is the only practical way to wear gear.
- When swimming
- During water sports such as scuba diving, it can be safely worn under a wetsuit.
- During situations where gear might fall out of your pockets, such as when crossing a river
The time when it makes the most sense, though, is WHEN YOU DON’T ACTUALLY WEAR IT.
Some survivalists have made “necklaces” as a way to organize their gear. They put all of their most vital gear/most-used gear on a cord. They carry this gear necklace in their packs or pockets, taking it out when needed.
The necklace might be worn around camp but is not part of EDC. Nor is it worn when hiking because it would be too bulky and pose a choking hazard.
For example, one friend of mine keeps his firesteel, striker, and a pill fob with Vaseline-coated cotton balls on a necklace. Then he can pull this necklace out of his bag when he wants to make a fire.
Keeping essential gear on a necklace will also prevent it from getting lost since all the items are tied together.
What Should You Put On It?
Here are some ideas for gear to put on a survival necklace. There is no way that all of this gear could go on a single necklace.
If you plan on wearing it as part of EDC, it should only have a few items.
- Ferro rod + striker
- Pill fob with Vaseline-covered cotton balls
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Photon light
- Mini survival knife
- Wire saw
- Hand sanitizer
- Survival fishing kit
- Dog tags
- Bottle opener
- Camp spork
- Water purification tablets
- Snakebite kit
- microSDHC card in a USB reader
- Safety pins
- Sewing kit
*If you have Medic Alert Tags, do not keep these on your survival necklace. They should be on a lightweight necklace that you never take off.
Best Types To Consider
There are a few different types of survival necklaces, including those for EDC and ones meant to be carried in a pack.
Here’s a breakdown and some recommendations to see which (if any) makes sense for you.
A firestarter should be part of your everyday carry. I like how some survival necklaces have made fashionable necklaces out of fire steels and strikers. This way, you can have the firestarter with you every day without being loaded down.
Most of the firestarter necklaces for sale do not have a breakaway clasp. Since the necklaces aren’t very long, they don’t pose much of a choking hazard.
However, if you are serious about safety, you might consider making your own firestarter necklace.
You can buy Ferro rods with pre-drilled holes
- Fashionable way to carry a firestarter with you
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Most people don’t have experience using a steel and striker.
- Doesn’t contain any other gear
- Usually don’t have a breakaway clasp
This is another option for a survival necklace for EDC. You can buy one or easily make a paracord necklace or lanyard yourself.
Here are some paracord project ideas, including the essential paracord patterns.
- Easy way to carry extra cordage
- Not a choking hazard when worn with a breakaway clasp
- Bulky to wear
- Don’t contain any other gear
I’ve talked about whether you should have a neck knife on Primal Survivor before. If you are seriously considering a neck knife, then read that post.
It details the pros/cons and best picks for neck knives.
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- Small knife is better than nothing
- Allows you to carry knife in situations where you don’t have pockets or a belt
- Can quickly access your knife
- Concealed carry
- Could be a choking hazard
- Must have reliable sheath or could stab yourself!!!
- Doesn’t contain any other survival gear
Survival Pouch Necklace
Another option for a survival necklace is to put your gear into a pouch. Then wear this pouch around your neck. The survival pouch can be worn every day or in certain situations, such as when you are going hiking.
The good thing is that you can customize these pouches to contain whatever you want. However, they will be bulky and uncomfortable to wear.
Breakaway clasps aren’t meant for necklaces this heavy, so you risk losing your gear.
It is probably better to keep your survival pouch in your pack – not around your neck.
- Can hold a lot of survival items
- Customizable contents
- Too heavy to wear with a breakaway clasp
- Could easily get snagged
- Might lose gear when removing items
- Bulky to wear
DIY Survival Necklace
This is not a standard necklace. Instead, the necklace cord keeps gear organized and easily accessible.
In the video below, you can see how Wilderness Innovation made his survival necklace.
You don’t have to wear it around your neck – you can keep it in a pack and take the entire thing out when you need it.
- Keeps gear organized
- Gear is easily accessible
- Great for cold weather when getting into a pack might be difficult with gloves on
- Protects gear from getting lost (less likely to drop a single item, and easier to find the necklace than a single item)
- Can hold a lot of gear
- Bulky to wear
- Not for EDC
- Could be a choking hazard
DIY Breakaway Clasp for Survival Necklaces
The cheap breakaway necklace clasps are not meant to carry anything heavy. If you plan on putting lots of gear around your neck, you need something more reliable.
A very effective DIY breakaway clasp can be made with heat-shrink tubing.
You put the ends of a paracord necklace inside a piece of tubing. Then you heat the tubing so it holds the paracord in place.
The tubing is strong enough to hold a heavier necklace, but the paracord will still slip out if snagged. You can use this in addition to a standard clasp if you want a shorter necklace.
To use heat shrink tubing for a necklace:
- Find out how wide your paracord is.
- Get heat shrink tubing that is large enough to slip over the paracord but will shrink down to make a tight fit
- Heat shrink tubing has a ratio that indicates how much it will heat. A 2:1 ratio is good for necklaces. It will shrink down to half its width.
- Put each paracord necklace end into one end of the tubing. Use a heat gun or a lighter to shrink the tubing.
*Standard 550 paracord is usually 4mm wide.
You’ll want to get heat shrink tubing that is at least 4.5mm wide. You can get it here for cheap.
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I like a strap cutter on a necklace. If I am in a flipped over vehicle, a seatbelt may prevent access to my pockets, and I may very well need something to cut said seat belt
Great tip Andrew.
Call it the “Save-your-necklace”.
I drive all day, 177 days a year-Im a school bus driver. I have a get home bag on my bus. I am not allowed to have a knife-I do have a pair of acceptable scissors in my bag as a back up. Id love suggestions. Ive wondered if I could get away with taping a knife inside the engine compartment, or under a bumper .
I have 2 strap cutters within reach on Velcro in my bus. I think it is a great idea to have them handy, hope to never need to use them.
Wouldn’t recommend the knife option on a school bus. Perhaps you could use a survival cache somewhere in the middle of the route – check out this post for ideas: https://www.primalsurvivor.net/survival-cache/
If you don’t want to hang it around your neck make a carabineer “grenade.” Use a good carabineer of moderate size and hang your items on it. Clip your “grenade” on a beltloop or other convenient spot. This is what I have on mine:
– Victorinox SD pen knife
– Leatherman Micra
– small fire steel
– pill fob
– compact diamond knife sharpener
– button LED light
– 24″ jute cord
Get a cheap nylon trifold wallet with Velcro to wrap around the items on the carabineer. I put a small grommet on mine to keep the wallet secure on the carabineer.
In the wallet I have:
– 3 bandaids
– 2 alcohol prep pads
– char cloth in very small zip lock bag
– 3 safety pins
– 1 cotton makeup pad
– emergency info and contact numbers
Hey Wade – awesome EDC you got there, thanks for sharing.
Jennifer, it depends on who says you cant have a knife and what the consequences are if its found. I personally would use a slab of duct tape to completely cover a boxcutter, securing it somewhere other than inside the engine compartment as the hood is easily bent in any kind of accident and won’t open. Depends what you want a knife for. Think, is it really a good choice? Seatbelt slicers likely cover 99% of what you’ll encounter. I don’t keep a knife in my car, or carry one on my person. My car toolkit has other cutters like on pliers etc, scissors
I strongly disagree with the ‘Con’ stated for paracord survival necklaces: “‘Don’t contain any other gear.”
Whether making your own paracord lanyard, or purchasing one already made, you have a virgin piece of real estate to make an EDC survival –or medical, or water purifying, or fire starting, or set-up camp, or cooking, or any combination you want!– necklace customized to you. With the use of carabiners & spring trigger clips & retractable badge holders and a dozen or more other type of clips & hooks & holders, I say the ‘Pros’ is “Easily customized with gear of your choice.” 🙂