10 Items for your Nightstand EDC

notebook, pen, and cell phone

There is plenty of talk about what we carry when we leave the house and head out into the hustle and bustle of the real world. However, what about in the wee hours of the night when you are half asleep and something wakes you up? It could be a bump in the night, chapped lips or nature could be calling.

Your everyday carry not only covers the gear that fits in your pockets or is on your person (your Primary EDC), the gear that is carried in a separate bag or container, but is still with you as you go about day-to-day life (your Secondary EDC), but also any additional gear you own, regardless of where it’s stored or how it’s used (your Extended EDC). The gear that is kept ready on your nightstand while you sleep falls into your Extended EDC.

We always talk about being intentional in selecting the right gear. Gear selection and carry methods are subjective in nature and each person has to make a decision based on their physical size, knowledge, ability, skill, where they’re going, what they’re doing, and who they’ll be with. Your Nightstand EDC should be just as intentional. Why?

handgun with weapon mounted light, handheld flashlight, pen, notebook, water bottle, and chapstick on a nightstand.

At night you can be woken up to anything from a minor inconvenience, to a situation where you just have to check that all is well, or a life or death scenario.

Let’s take a look at some essential nightstand items and how you can be intentional in preparing for those unforeseen nightly situations.

1. Flashlight

streamlight protac 2l flashlight on a nightstand
A bright flashlight, like this Streamlight ProTac 2L, is a critical piece of an intentional Nightstand EDC.

Option Gray is a huge advocate of carrying and using flashlights. They are a vital component of any Primary EDC. But, what about a flashlight on your nightstand?

How many times have you heard a strange noise in the middle of the night and had to check things out? Maybe the power goes out as a result of a storm or maybe you just need to navigate a minefield full of Legos to get to the bathroom.

In a worst-case scenario, someone breaks into your home and you are forced to address a threat. You better have a means of navigating your house in the dark and a way to identify anyone or anything you may encounter.

What’s better than one quality flashlight…two quality flashlights? Gear fails without warning and at the worst times. Flashlights, at least at our homes, are “borrowed” by family members and then they aren’t put back.


If you’re looking for a good nightstand flashlight, consider:

Tip: Put a sticky hook, like a Command Strip by 3M, on the back of your headboard and use it to hang a flashlight. You always know where it is and it’s out of sight, hidden by family members who will borrow your nightstand flashlight, forgetting to put it back.

2. Personal defense weapon

Let’s put some more thought into the scenario where you’ve heard a bump in the night and you’re coming out of a deep sleep. You get out of bed and make your way through your house trying to figure out what your dog has knocked over.

You make the corner into your living room and see the silhouette of someone by the window. You can’t positively identify the person because of the dark conditions. You happen to notice what appears to be a pry bar in his hand.

He starts to make his way towards you in an aggressive manner and you are the only thing standing in the way of this guy and your family.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a firearm readily accessible to address any lethal threats to you or your family?

There are a multitude of firearms available from handguns to shotguns to rifles to choose from. Opinions surrounding each type are as plentiful as your options.

The best advice is to pick the weapon that works the best for you and your family and for your living arrangements.

You need to be trained and proficient in using that weapon, preferably in lowlight scenarios.

Make sure your spouse knows how to use it as well, especially if you travel away from your family often.


  • My personal preference is a handgun with a weapon-mounted light. It’s easy to navigate in tight spaces and also easier to keep secured and away from younger kids. When looking for a personal defense weapon always consider where it will be located and how easy it will be to access
  • If you live in an area where there are restrictions on firearms, you will have to be careful in weighing your options to see what will work best for you

3. Quick access safe

handgun in quick access safe
A handgun can allow you to navigate tight spaces easier and can provide a dependable means to defend yourself and your family from intruders, but it needs to kept safe from kids. 

If you are able to have a personal defense weapon (if you are allowed to have one in your home by law, we strongly recommend making the financial and time commitment to buy one and train with it), how to store your weapon is a very important decision.

It’s subjective, as it depends on your family situation, local laws and a host of other factors.

For us, we needed something small enough for a nightstand, secure enough to keep out young kids, and accessible enough to get into in the middle of the night. A floor-mount safe can be used to safely store your firearms, but opening it in an emergency is not practical in most scenarios. 


  • The Sentry Safe Quick Access Safe is a good option. It is compact in size and it’s quiet to access. The keypad has zero audible feedback and it hinges open quietly. It also has enough room for a spare magazine and another flashlight

4. Eyeglasses

A pair of glasses seems pretty common sense, but can easily be overlooked. What good is any of your Extended EDC gear if you can’t see anything? 

If you require glasses or contacts during the day, what about at night? How do you plan on being able to see at a moment’s notice if the situation calls for it?

Being able to quickly grab your glasses and put them on should not take more than a second or two. Do yourself a favor and make sure you always have a pair handy.

Nighttime events can range from minor inconveniences to situations where you just have to check all is well, to life or death scenarios. Things that happen:

  • Kids waking up at night
  • Your house is on fire
  • Your dog starts reacting to a sound he or she hears
  • Nature calls
  • A storm blows in, and you need to determine if all is well or if you need to seek additional shelter

No matter what happens, make sure you can see.

5. Charged phone

Another common sense item is a “charged” cell phone. Make sure your phone is connected to its charger and is in a designated spot before you go to bed (whether that is on your nightstand, next to the wall, or on a dresser). 

You know it will always have power if you need it at night and it’s ready to go the next morning. Much like some of the other items on this list, a phone can be very useful for contacting 911 in an emergency or for communication with family and friends when the situation arises.

If you wake up to your house on fire or a gas leak, getting out of the house as quickly as possible is paramount.

If your phone is where it’s supposed to be, you can grab it and go. This allows you to get out of the house and call the fire department once you and your family are safe.

6. IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit)

tourniquet and latex gloves on top of individual first aid pouch.
A tourniquet is a critical addition to a home defense first aid kit. We keep it stored in a Maxpedition First Aid Pouch that is customized with everything from basic first aid to burn care.

When there is a possibility, no matter how slim, that you may be involved in a deadly force scenario and will need to treat yourself or a loved one until medical professionals arrive, you need to have certain resources available. This increases in importance the further you are away from first responders.

A quality kit should allow you to treat hemorrhage, tension pneumothorax, and airway obstructions. If you can’t find a pre-made kit to fit your requirements it’s easy enough to put one together.

At the very least, keep a tourniquet handy to address any extremity hemorrhage. One of the most important aspects of having a medical kit is having the training to use it.

Be sure to seek out legitimate training. Your loved ones’ lives could depend on it.


7. Pen and notebook

A Field Notes Steno Pad and a Rite in the Rain Standard Clicker Pen.
Field Notes Steno Pad is a great nightstand notebook as it’s sturdy, big enough but not too big, and pairs great with Rite in the Rain’s Standard Clicker Pen.

Maybe you like to journal at night to record your daily activities. Maybe you’re the idea guy who is always coming up with new ideas or ways to do things.

Maybe you’re the person who runs through all of your day’s activities once you lay down at night and think of the to-dos of tomorrow. All of these should be things you are writing down. 

In a recent post, we discussed 5 reasons you need to add a pen and paper to your EDC. Those same concepts apply to your nightstand as well.


  • A 5.5″ x 8.5″ notebook that is ideal for journaling, check out Write Notepads & Co. Traditional Notebook.
  • A steno pad is ideal for notes. If you prefer a 6″ x 9″ top-spiral, check out Field Notes Steno Pad
  • If you’re a planner, grab a Field Notes 56-Week Planner (it can be started any week of the year) and get your calendar in order before turning off the light
  • Word. Notebook’s unique bullet system can be a good option for list-makers. They  offer colorful prints, adding some life to a sometimes boring Nightstand EDC

8. Weather Radio

Living in the southern tip of Tornado Alley, we get our fair share of bad weather. With that being said, all the gear in the world won’t help you if you don’t have the time to utilize it. 

A quality NOAA weather radio will sound an alarm when dangerous weather is approaching, typically activated by the National Weather Service.

Be sure to program your radio properly for the types of alerts you are concerned with and for your specific location or you will be hearing an alarm at all hours of the day.

As a side note, please don’t rely on your smartphone or your town’s tornado sirens as your sole alert system. Build in some redundancy and add a weather radio to your nightstand or within earshot of your bed.

9. Water

Nalgene water bottle on nightstand
This clear Nalgene bottle is doing its job of holding water in a spill-proof container.

Water seems especially relevant now that we are in the super dry months of winter. 

If you ever find yourself waking up to a bad case of cottonmouth, it’s great to have some water nearby. This will prevent you from having to get out of bed to get a drink, which will further disrupt your night of slumber.


  • Get a bottle of water or a drinking container such as a Nalgene. We have all knocked over a fair share of glasses full of water and it’s best just to avoid that scenario altogether.

10. Lip balm

Much like water, lip balm is a must-have for many people. 

Even if you don’t find yourself using it during the middle of the night like water, it still has its place, even if it gets called into service right before the lights go out.

Keep everything organized and in the same place. You need to build up familiarity with where your gear is located. After a while, you will be able to quickly locate and access all of your necessities without even looking.

It also lets you know if something is out of place or missing. Gear that you count on for emergencies should not be used for other purposes. It needs to be in its proper place and in a functional condition at all times.

What do you keep by your bed at night? Anything else you’d add to this list?

Cody Martin

With over 18 years of federal law enforcement, training, and physical security experience, Cody focuses his time nowadays on both consulting and training. He regularly advises individuals, groups, multinational corporations, schools, houses of worship, and NGOs on security threats while conducting customized training as needed.

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