Many people (especially us geeks and outdoors/survival enthusiasts) hate to go anywhere unprepared. Most of us, whether we use the term or not, have what is called an Everyday carry (EDC). To paraphrase Wikipedia, an Everyday carry is a collection of small items carried on one’s person on a daily basis for use in everyday tasks from the mundane to the unexpected. These range from a minimalist but indispensable key-chain, to pouches/packs brimming with gear. Most items in an EDC get used daily/weekly, and others are more for survival situations with occasional mundane uses, e.g. a compact lighter, which a non-smoker might only use in a survival situation, but could also use to seal off the end of his fraying nylon shoelace one day. As one astute author said, “If you’ve ever asked Can I borrow a pen?, Do you have the time?, Do you have a flashlight?, Can I borrow your pocketknife?, May I have a light?, then you need an everyday carry.”
Note: To get an idea of what an EDC looks like, and the incredible variety there is, you should scroll down the fantastic everyday-carry.com real quick and then jump back. There you can see user-submitted EDC photos.
People have carried daily use gadgets/items for waaay longer than the phrase has been around–my uncle Nyrath, for example, has the most excellent hip pouches that used to fascinate me for hours–but I like the widespread adoption of this common term because it facilitates discussions and searches on the internet.
I’d like to share my own everyday carry in this post, then share some resources where you can drool over other people’s EDC (if you’re a gadget geek) or just pick up a handy item or two for your regular-old key-chain.
The Evolution of my own EDC
I should note that most of my everyday carry centers around my key-chain, so a lot of this is specific to it.
The problem with first getting into EDC, or even just buying some tools for your key-chain (led light, bottle opener, pocket multi-tool), is that it’s very easy to load your pockets or key-chain up with all sorts of awesome items to the point that it becomes unmanageable, a pain to carry, or make you look like you’re smuggling doorknobs in your trouser pocket. Indeed this first step is almost a given unless you are very careful from the start about what you want the end-result of your EDC to look like. Sacrifices for bulk and weight vs. usefulness must almost always be made.
I hate having a bulky key-chain and yet I too went through this overdoing-it phase. I used to have the normal wad of keys on a standard split-ring and a carabiner, but disliked the feel of all that weight in my pocket, and hated sounding like a reindeer with them hanging off my belt-loop. Having decided to fix that once an for all, I relentlessly paired my key-chain down to just 4 keys and a remote-starter, and I loved it. Alas, it didn’t last long. Not long after the great key-purge I ran across some photos of really lust-worthy tools and gadgets on other EDC enthusiasts’ key-chains. I caught the bug, and started delving into the everyday carry community. Shortly thereafter, despite having just minimized my keys, my key-chain was loaded with all kinds of useful but heavy and redundant stuff, and it was once again an unwieldy behemoth.
Luckily, my second revision proved much more light and elegant. I found some tools that did the same job of two or three of the previous ones, and experimented with many carrying methods (split rings, carabiners, specialty key-chains/fobs). After a few tweaks here and there I now have my ideal EDC*. I should note that while many people spend hundreds on their EDC items, mine probably cost about $50 over the course of a few years (not counting my phone and designer knife) and almost half of that was in the form of christmas gifts. So fear not–you could easily spend only $15 and still have an indispensable ECD.
So, wanna see what my everyday carry looks like? Here’s an annotated picture, descriptions follow:
Tom’s Everyday Carry
Update: New photo and consolidated keyring!
- SanDisk Cruzer Micro 4 GB - PortableApps.com package and a slew of other portable tools/utilities.
- Inova Microlight – Very bright, inexpensive, and has 3 settings (high, low, strobe). Dang cover fell of the back of it after one week (and i didn’t notice till later) so I wrapped the sucker in electrical tape. Close enough.
- Zebra F301-Compact – Writes very nicely. It’s the same length as my Fisher Space Pen and has a lanyard hole.
- Gerber Artifact – I love this deceptively versatile little tool. I was originally going to get a County Comm Micro Widgy pry bar and some sort of bulky multi-tool for a knife, drivers, and bottle opener, until I saw the Artifact. Not only is it really unique looking, it does a lot in a tiny package. It’s a pry bar, two flat-head drivers, a philips (cross) head driver, bottle opener, and has a locking, replaceable X-Acto blade. I use it daily, making it an ideal EDC item. Also, it’s only $9!
- Car & House Keys – I’m going to try my hand at making a DIY compact key holder for these (from copies of course) this weekend. It’ll make my keys that much less bulky, and may let me condense my EDC/Work keychains into one.
- County Comm A&P Mechanic Cable Key Ring – These are secure and easy to get your tools off of in a hurry. I use them for all sorts of things. 1,2, and 3 are connected to the ring using Nite Ize tiny S-Biners, size 0.
- Home-made spring steel suspension clip – I used carabiners for the longest time to carry my keys, but even the tiny ones got in the way when not using them, or held my keys too high to pocket them while clipped to my belt loop. This solves both problems by being small and clipping to my pocket (just like a pen-clip). It also prevents having everything sagging down to the bottom of your pocket and making a big bulge by keeping everything hanging. I made this one myself from a spring steel led light clip, and #16 from the inside of an old windshield wiper blade (an excellent source of spring steel). You can buy these pre-made (much prettier) from the EDC Forum Store.
- Zippo – The original windproof lighter, of course. From my collection.
- Timex Expedition T42351 Chronograph Tachymeter – Durable, sexy, highly functional.
- Rite in the Rain all-weather outdoor journal – Fits in my back pocket and is extremely durable. Only pencil, ball-point, and sharpie extra/ultra-fine write in it without smudging though (due to its waterproofing).
- Uni Kuru Toga 0.5 – I always hated using pencils before I had this. The lines were always uneven and I hate rotating the pencil every few words to keep the tip sharp. This pencil rotates the lead for you (scroll down to Product Details). It’s pure genius.
- Lamy Safari Left-handed nib – A wonderful, low-priced workhorse of a fountain pen. The left-handed nib alleviates problems with ink flow and the possibility of the nib digging into the paper. It’s a joy to write with.
- Boker Gamma Ceramic Lock Blade Knife – Stays very sharp as long as you don’t nick the blade on metal/stone. Plus it’s ceramic so it’s just plain cool!
- iPhone 4 – Yep, I’m one of them.
- County Comm Nylon LA Wallet – Very thin and you can flip it open to show your ID like a LEO.
I still need a compact lighter. My Zippo is a little big since I don’t smoke, and so don’t need it very often. I’ll probably get something akin to the County Comm Peanut lighter.
Everyday Carry Resources
- Everyday-carry.com – My favorite EDC photo/gadget pron/ooh-whats-that! site. It has lots of user-submitted photos and cool finds by the author.
- EDC Forum – A great resource for all things Everyday Carry. They also have a store that’s worth checking out.
- County Comm – I swear they aren’t paying me! They just have awesome gadgets. You’d need a backpack to hold all the stuff you’ll want to order from these guys.
- Unique Titanium – A little “designer” but has some good items.
- EDC Reviews – Over 300 reviews of EDC tools.
I should note some EDC communities have a disproportionate percentage of members with firearms. This could be part of an action-hero complex, but then again perhaps they’re a LEO, guard, etc. At any rate, if you’re licensed to carry a firearm, I’m not going to challenge your constitutional right. More power to you, as long as you’re safe and responsible.
I hope I’ve piqued you’re interest in peparedness and every day carry. You don’t have to use theterm if you’re self concious, but you should still carry some basic items with you. This is very doable for women who carry purses, and many already have most of the basic EDC items. I think everyone should have an everyday carry. It’s not about having the coolest or most expensive gadgets, it’s about being prepared, and not having to ask someone “hey, do you have a…”
* Your everyday carry wont stay the same indefinitely. New better and/or cooler gadgets are always being created, or just coming down in price. For example: how long have you had the same cell phone?carry, diy, EDC, every day carry, gadgets, outdoors, survival, tools