The concept of Everyday Carry, or EDC, is currently all the rage among adherents on the path to self-sufficiency, and also an interesting distraction for another fraction of the population who enjoy getting a glimpse into another person’s life. You’ll see “pocket dumps” all over social media these days.
The things that people carry on a daily basis say a lot about them as artifacts, to be sure, but nearly all of the things that people carry on a day to day basis are tools, things meant to do something or solve a problem. Solving problems is what prepping is all about, and so most preppers leave sentiment and trendy fashion at the door and choose to pack their pockets and line their luggage with things that will get work done should the situation demand it, even if the work is just a stubborn screw or tough piece of plastic.
Of course some problems take on an entirely new magnitude when all you have is what you have on you. The odds are high that you will not be kitted out in full battle rattle, BOB and more when your number comes up. Chances are you will only have what you carried out the door with you that morning, and perhaps what you have in your vehicle if it is close to hand.
In today’s article, we’ll be breaking into the why, what and when of EDC, taking a look at the greater philosophy of the concept and loading you down with plenty of things to think about when it comes time to pick up your keys and walk out the door.
What Does EDC Mean, Exactly?
EDC as I spelled out above is a simple acronym for EveryDay Carry. Simply it means the things you carry in your pockets or on your person every. Single. Day. These are the items, whatever they are, that as much a part of your wardrobe as underwear, as much a part of you as your own beating heart. These are the things that go with you out the door, literally, every time you leave.
There is, of course, some arguing and purity testing among enthusiasts. The fact that there are enthusiasts for the carriage of things in pockets is proof of something profound, I am sure, but don’t let their bickering distract you as even a decree from the Pontiff on the specificity of EDC would amount to no edification.
Nevertheless, some readers will be unhappy if I do not make at least an attempt to highlight the differing “doctrines,” you might say, when discussing it so I will do my best.
Some folks describe EDC as a formalized, miniature packing list of things that an individual chooses as their “loadout” whenever they leave the house. It does not have to have a tactical or survival connotation: An office worker or cubicle drone may have sunglasses, wallet, watch, lip balm, pen knife and water bottle as their EDC. Cool. An average suburban housewife may have a baby-supply bag and her purse loaded with all the things she needs to get through her day. That’s an EDC for sure.
Other EDC fans describe it as more of a wardrobe if you will; you will carry or “run” a certain piece of kit or gear for a while before sampling something else, or you might dump everything in its entirety for a fresh, new pile of stuff. For them, they ask “what’s your EDC?” in the same way you may ask someone what their ensemble is; it is treated as another layer of attire in a way.
A few treat EDC as a tag or label, one that denotes any item small enough to be carried in the pockets or on the belt, or useful when “out and about” hence they treat entire categories of things as “EDC”.
EDC for Prepping
All of these classifications are correct enough in their own way, but for our purposes we are going a little more objective. For preppers, hardcore individuals with dangerous jobs in rough places and proponents of self-reliance, EDC means simply the life-saving tools and gear we take with us into the world as out absolute minimum level of equipage, the things we know we will have on us unless we get strip searched or have our clothes burned off us.
Some of us that can choose to carry a small bag or satchel in addition to what we can carry in our pockets and on our belts. A purist, above, may decry this as not in the spirit of EDC, whatever that might mean, but to a serious guy or gal who is absolutely committed to a certain level of preparation they may very well take that small bag or sidepack with them every single time they walk out the door or back out of the garage it damn well is.
Things like tools, first-aid, weapons and more all have a place on your belt or in your pockets. The trick is carrying them in such a way you do not draw attention to yourself or find it so uncomfortable you start leaving things behind.
Like I said, don’t get caught up in all the minutiae: all we are concerned about is determining what we should carry to help us get through our day with relative ease, and few items to deal with emergencies if so inclined.
We’ll deep dive into all of that in the remainder of the article.
Different Loads for Different Folks
Consider also that an EDC kit for readiness will often look very different to different people. A woman who is serious about prepping would do well to keep some feminine hygiene items on her or in her kit in case she gets stranded or caught without and has need of them. She may also not be the one who needs them.
A younger child would benefit from having some snacks, a treasured toy and a small book or list containing emergency contact numbers and instructions in an easy to follow format should they be separated from mom and dad. The toy will give them much comfort when they are stressed, as moms and dads the world over know.
Folks who are very infirm or even disabled can still benefit from an EDC kit just like all the rest of us, but they can boost their chances of avoiding a show-stopping mishap by carefully adding a few things that are specific to their needs. For a person that uses crutches or a wheelchair it might be a few key fasteners, or a tiny oil bottle to keep the wheels moving. It could be a spare pair of gloves or extra padding should they need it, etc.
It goes without saying that anyone who needs life-sustaining medication had better have it with them at all times, but have you done anything to harden that precious resource when you are out in the world? How about an environmentally sealed, durable pill container instead of a dinky prescription bottle? Have you considered a medical alert bracelet should someone find you in a bad way or unconscious? No stranger can be expected to know of your condition.
What Should You EDC Carry?
You tell me. Seriously, I want to know! EDC equipage is an intensely personal thing. Some minimalist (or just lazy) preppers feel fine with a small pocket knife and few matches to go with their wallet. Other more security-conscious folks want a pistol, spare magazine, spare mag, flashlight and tourniquet. A few geardos, either from enthusiasm or significant difference of opinion carry all of the above, plus rations, compass, map, ferro rod, and more. You can tell these guys apart from how much jangling noise accompanies their passage.
I’m not mocking them any of them, really, as all of those things will make a big difference in your outcome should fate truly give you cause to use them, and at worst most of them can make your day a little more convenient.
As far as what you should carry, dear reader, you’ll need to start figuring all that out and the first step to do that is by assessing what it is you think you’ll need and the likely threats you will face on a daily basis. This is not as tough as it sounds, and you probably will not even spend too much time on this part. The real trick comes later.
First, where do you live and what do you do? Are you a rural, suburban or urban person? What does your job look like? Office dweller? Tradesman or factory worker? Are you a road warrior, constantly travelling? Is your commute always the same or does it change depending on what you are doing that day?
These questions will inform much: a rural dweller may have more opportunities to become stranded in remote or less traveled areas than an urban resident or suburbanite who is only ever steps away from a phone and shelter.
Your job too will give us a little risk info, as will our typical commute. A blue-collar trade certainly has more possibility of grievous injury than a cubicle-bound programmer or typist. Someone who travels farther more often and to unknown or new locations may become lost or blunder into hostile or dangerous neighborhoods.
Similarly, what are constant threats no matter who you are? How about a car accident? Definitely. How about getting stranded away from home? Sure. Maybe it is a simple repair of an essential or important item or piece of gear. “For want of a nail,” eh? Think it through: the potential problems you are trying to avoid are probably obvious, you just have not thought about them this way before.
A General Guide for EDC Success
In the end, life is too random for any small cache of gear in your pockets to be the ideal solution to almost anything. This part is hard on specialist personality types, as constantly toting an assortment of “perfect” solutions takes up a lot of real estate on your body and in your pockets. The good news is life will often furnish ample opportunity for generalists to get by just fine, and it is here that I believe the archetype of EDC readiness rests.
Consider the Boy Scout motto of “Be Prepared.” It is not “Be Prepared” with a couple dozen riders and clauses after it. Be prepared. It is a reminder, a mild admonishment and a sort of mantra. I cannot prepare for everything, but I can prepare enough. I like that. I won’t spend time worrying over the 1 in a million chance that no one could predict or prevent anyway. I still have to live life, and I plan on living it like the sky will not fall at any second.
I personally carry and like items that serve multiple purposes. This saves weight, expands my capability and gives me the most options for the least possible expenditure of room. That is efficiency starting back at you!
Referencing our conversation above, I always, always, always have my GHB in the vehicle as a secondary source of gear. This fits into my EDC plan as a sort of reserve of tools and supplies. I am relying on my own skills and wits plus whatever I have in my pockets to be enough to extricate me from a pickle and get me back to that bag should I need it. If I am travelling far from home or flying, my GHB morphs into my travel Go-Bag, sanitized for airline luggage checks.
Additionally, my EDC serves as a “back-up chute” to my Go-Bag, having much of the same items included, just in smaller, sometimes less capable versions. So should I lose my bag but still have my pants on, I am not as helpless as a kitten.
In the grand scheme of things, I would classify my kit as a “medium” in the kingdom of EDC equipage. It is not minimalist; I like having good tools close at hand, and will sacrifice a certain amount of comfort for it. It is also not a heavy or geardo load; I am not willing to adapt my daily attire or business dress too far outside what I wear to gain the pockets or concealable belt space needed to hoist all that stuff. If I must have it but am unwilling to keep it on me, in the bag it goes.
The following are subsets of EDC gear that you might consider toting along. The idea is to get you thinking about where a certain solution will fit into your personal EDC kit. Some items you might “splurge” on when it comes to size and weight, as you have assessed them to be of greater importance. Others you may omit entirely or only spare enough ounces and inches for a small or minimalist solution.
That is all fine as wine. There is no one right solution, but remember this! The only person you will fool if you “phone it in” is yourself. You can waste a ton of time, space and energy on toting neat but ultimately useless gear, or by overemphasizing the things you enjoy carrying that gobble up room that may have been used on more important items.
- Tools and Blades
- Knife, fixed blade
- Knife, folding
- Knife, hideout, could be neck knife, razor or other tiny cutting tool hidden on your person.
- Multiplier e.g. Leatherman, Gerber, SOG, etc.
- Trapper or Swiss Army knife
- Utili-Card i.e. flat, credit card sized options that usually include drivers and wrenches machined into them.
- Pocket Sized, e.g. Surefire G2 or similar
- Micro Light, e.g. ASP Sapphire, Streamlight Nano, etc.
- Headlamp, small.
Notes: –The right knife can do all kinds of tasks, and serve as an effective weapon. A multi-tool could be a veritable toolbox, like a large Leatherman, or a slim solution like a Swiss Army knife orUtili-card, a flat gadget that carries in your wallet for super low-profile carry and space savings.
- Pocket Pistol
- Spare Ammunition
- Pepper Spray
- Knife (Could be same knife as above)
- Sap or collapsing baton
- Yawara stick or Kubaton
- Improvised or innocuous defensive item, i.e. tactical pen, fist load, etc.
Notes: This could be a knife, above, or a pistol, pepper spray, sap or something else. Make sure you know the laws in your area, and carry it in such a way it can be deployed instantly. A flashlight is also invaluable for defense and also simply seeing what you need to see at night. Of all the things you may carry, weapons and medical gear are the things you will need to access the quickest if you need them. Carry accordingly. Speaking of…
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Notes: At the very, very least carry a tourniquet. Extremity hemorrhage is a very common and very treatable killer. A TQ will stop it. You may also consider carrying a compact trauma kit with additional goodies like bandages, gauze and the like. Even a tiny kit gets bulky, so consider an ankle rig or small pouch for a belt or cargo pocket.
- Fire Starter
- Ferro Rod
- Mini Survival Kit (In a tin or woven into gear, bracelet, etc.)
- Fine cordage
- Emergency blade
- Fishing kit/snare triggers
- Water purifier tabs
- Duct Tape
- Fire Starter
Notes: Exposure is another super-common and deadly killer, even for short duration scenarios in your “backyard.” Anyone who is ever away from the warm, neon nightscape of a city should have a plan for surviving exposure.
Fire is one sure way to help with that in the cold, so carry a lighter or small pack of matches. You can also use fire for signaling. Heatstroke is another threat in some places, so a bandana which you can douse with water for evaporative cooling and shade is worthwhile and also has a dozen other uses.
- Memo Pad
Notes: Do you have a way to take reliable notes besides your phone? How about a small pad and pen or pencil? Even better, a waterproof memo pad and all-weather pen? Something you learn or hear may be important enough to write down, and trusting to gray matter in a high stress situation is a great way to forget or misremember essential details. Maybe you need to leave a message for someone when phones are down.
- Lucky charm
- Family item or photo
- Religious Icon
Notes: There is a place for something meaningful and nifty you keep on you so long as it is not too huge. A piece of jewelry, a lucky coin, tiny toy or gift, it could be anything. If it brings you luck, focus or helps you keep your head, go ahead and include it if you are sure it will not get in the way.
Charles’ EDC Kit
Again, I know some readers will be steamed if I do not include this, so for one and all to enjoy and dissect, my personal, real-life everyday carry selections. I hope it gives you something to think about and perhaps inspires you to create your best kit.
Tools- Swiss Army knife, Tinkerer. I prefer this over bulkier multi-tools. It gives me backup blades, plenty of bits, even tweezers. Plus it opens bottles of Mexican Coca-Cola that I enjoy, so there!
Knife- Buck 112 Ranger. A smaller version of the legendary 110. It is heavy, but the weight keeps it right side up in the pocket of my slacks, and it stays sharp for a long time. I only use this blade for serious cutting tasks, and use the SAK for more usual chores.
Gun- Sig P239, 9mm or Ruger LCR, .357. I choose an option depending on my mode of carry. The common denominator both share is that they are both plenty potent for self defense, have good sights and both of these small pistols shoot as well as much larger guns.
Medical- RATS TQ, sometimes with Quik-Clot Gauze pack and Israeli Bandage. Depending on my attire.
Survival- Bic lighter, button compass. I am a stickler about having a good compass at all times. The little button compass is brass, sturdy and rides in a coin pouch or pocket. I can also tether it to anything I want so I don’t lose it. The Bic is reliable, disposable, and if I cannot start a fire with that I can fall back on friction methods which I have practiced.
EDC kits mean different things to different folks, but they all share the common virtue of arming a person with the tools they need to conquer their day or get themselves out of a bad situation. If all you have is what is on your body or in your pockets, make sure you loaded them with more than just gum, a phone and your wallet. It may not seem like much, but a few thoughtful items can spell the difference between life and death.