An Introduction to Everyday Carry

An Introduction to Everyday Carry
Prepare yourself.

Though no true point of origin exists for everyday carry (EDC), it might just have its roots in the old school gentlemanly approach to daily accoutrements in the 18th and 19th centuries. Back then, it was not uncommon for men to carry items like pocket watches, handkerchiefs, snuff or pipe tobacco tins, wallets, and pocket knives. Whatever a man could carry in his suit or coat jacket and pants pockets constituted his EDC, though the term obviously didn’t exist back then. EDC is a general term for items you carry with you on a regular basis, whether stored in pockets, backpacks, briefcases, messenger bags, etc.

EDC can be as simple as a wallet and keys, or it could be inclusive of numerous items with very specific purposes. A waterproof notebook and Fisher Space Pen for a law enforcement officer, a wire-cutting multitool for an electrician, or a portable keyboard for a programmer. Then there are the more sentimental, more expressive aspects of EDC. An heirloom Omega Speedmaster from your grandfather, a crucifix from your mother, a portable framed photo of your daughter. Much of it depends on your occupation, your daily responsibilities and your own personal taste.

The Benefits of Good Everyday Carry

  1. You’re prepared for just about anything. Shy of carrying a bug-out-bag with you when the proverbial shit hits the fan, you’ll be ready for the day’s tasks by carrying more than just the basics with you.
  2. You’re more organized. Keeping your EDC together means your mindset is a more organized one, especially if you make it a priority to have all of your gear in one place so the day gets started without your hunting for things. You know what’s in your EDC since you do it everyday.
  3. You’ll save time and energy. You can tell the time on your wristwatch if you leave your phone at your desk. You don’t need to ask for a pen and paper to jot down important notes or fill out a form. You have a cold, and your handkerchief is ready (and clean). Your girlfriend just lost a valuable earring in the parking lot in the dark, and you’ve got your LED flashlight with you.
  4. You’ll get your money’s worth. Instead of having a junk drawer at home with cheap crap that keeps breaking or wasting good money by hunting for misplaced items you don’t care about but will eventually need, your gear is in one place and you pride yourself on quality.
  5. You get a reputation for being the go-to-guy. Sure you don’t want to haphazardly lend out your stuff to the uninitiated, but you will be looked to as the guy who can do anything. I can’t count how many times someone’s needed my help because I had a good knife, multitool, flashlight, paracord keychain or lighter with me. It’s damn good to be needed and able to help.

It’s more than likely you already have a rudimentary EDC comprised of items you can’t do without. Keys to the car and house, a wallet with credit cards, cash and identification, a mobile phone. It’s a great basis for building a more refined, more personal EDC. The goal of an EDC should, of course, be primarily functional in nature. If you bring along something that has purely sentimental value, make sure it’s not something that will weigh you down. Also, avoid doubling up unless absolutely necessary if you are concerned about product failure or loss.

We’ll show you some great categories for EDC. Keep in mind that no practical and manageable EDC will have every item for every occasion. You’d be hauling way too much stuff, and the point is to stay prepared and at-the-ready, versus bogged down and hunting through gobs of gear.

Let’s start with the basics:

Wallet

Gone are the days when you kept everything in your wallet, including cash, credit cards, IDs, coupons, important phone numbers, etc., and wallet choices have changed lately, as well. No longer are you relegated to just bifold, trifold and the bargain velcro jobbie. There are compact wallets, card wallets and money clip wallets — and these work particularly well when you don’t want a bulky number in your back pocket. Plus, so much of what used to get stored in wallets can now be stored in your smartphone. There are so many styles and high grade materials like Horween Chromexcel leather and carbon fiber that the wallet is as much about personal style as it is about functionality.

Phone

Everybody has a smartphone, and it can carry copious amounts of information that you could never carry with you physically. Plus, it doubles as a camera, a notepad, credit card, map, and the list goes on. But for those who still need to take important notes rather than typing on a diminutive keyboard, your EDC may still require pen and paper. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The old school method is always classy, as long as you’re not using a Hello Kitty notepad with matching pen.

Keychain

Keychains used to be just a key ring and maybe a fob. Or perhaps your dad had one of those key wallets. But now you can choose fobs that cut down on bulk by hinging all of your keys or hiding them in a sliding container. Or you can choose from numerous hooks and premium leather fobs along with keyring mounted accessories like small tools, compact flashlights and even lighters or firestarters. Say goodbye to the lucky rabbit’s foot. Good riddance, we say.

DSPTCH Keychain, $26 / Friday & River Key Fob, $15 / Bottlehook, $37

Secondary EDC Items

Watch

There may not be a better way for a man to express his personality than with a wristwatch. Though most youth today tell time with their phones, the wristwatch easily outclasses that method, and you don’t have to spend thousands to get a great watch. You can spend a couple of hundred dollars and get a well-made Japanese automatic watch that looks good with a suit or in casual garb.

Learn more: The Best Watch Brands by Price: A Horological Hierarchy

Knife

It’s not meant to be carried as a weapon but rather as a tool for getting things done. A good folding knife can provide maximum usefulness when opening mail and packages, slicing food or cutting thread or rope. It’s also a great way of expressing personal style with the literally thousands of knives available, some very affordable and still incredibly well made.

Flashlight

Your profession might not call for the use of a flashlight on a regular basis, but in an emergency, it’s positively brilliant. And we’re by no means talking about cumbersome full-sized Mag-Lites or bargain basement plastic versions from a gas station that never work when you need them. The current gamut of high-tech LED flashlights are tough, super-brite and reliable. Many have multiple light modes, impact and water resistance and are made from aerospace grade aluminum. These flashlights can also act as defense weapons due to their brightness or teeth on the perimeter of the light.

Multitool

It’s like a small toolbox at the ready, and modern multitools are getting better every year. For most guys, it’s not something they’d carry on their belt every day, but it’s handy to have one in your bag or pack in your case. Tightening screws, opening boxes, pulling nails, opening a bottle — and you don’t even have to buy the most expensive versions to get what you’re looking for. The selection is nearly endless.

Pen

The art of writing isn’t dead yet, and it serves as a way for your brain to remember things better than typing them on a computer. Keeping a pen handy is a great way to jot things down, sketch or just brainstorm for your next big idea. It also helps you maintain good penmanship, since handwritten thank you notes and the like are always great when it comes to business and personal relationships.

Notebook

You need something to write on that’s a bit more stylish and better sized than a thick college notebook. Thankfully, the selection of great softecover notebooks is better than ever, ranging ruled to gridded to unlined with all manner of great covers — leather, linen, denim, and the list goes on.

Tertiary EDC Items

Headphones

Your ability to tune out the world contributes to your sanity, so a decent pair of headphones is almost always welcomed. Commuting, getting work done at the café or just taking a nap in the park on a sunny weekend afternoon — whether you’re pulling tunes, a good lecture or an audiobook from your smartphone or another portable player, whatever you’re listening to deserves good audio quality. Choose between earbuds, over the ear or noise-canceling.

USB Stick

You can’t always rely on the cloud, and if you’re hyper-sensitive about security, then perhaps carrying your precious documents and photos is best served by a USB stick. Just make sure you don’t lose it.

Handkerchief

It might seem a bit too old school to be relevant today, but when’s the last time you went hunting for a tissue or napkin when you have the sniffles or need to wipe that spilled coffee of your slacks? It can also double as a pocket square in a pinch. As long as you use it like a gentleman, a good handkerchief isn’t just practical, it can be stylish, too. Giving a clean one to a verklempt lady is classy, indeed.

Lighter

You don’t have to be a smoker to appreciate the convenience of a good lighter. Fire up candles on the spot, a barbecue grill or something more focused like singeing edges of a frayed thread or starting up a fire on a cold morning in the woods.

Camera

Your smartphone’s camera is pretty impressive, and you can do more than ever before with it. But then you might need something with more versatility and resolution. You might not choose to carry a big DSLR or a full-frame camera with you every day, opting more for smaller carry.

Portable Charger

You carry around your phone, your tablet, who knows what else. Make sure you always have power.

Flask

Now that you’re an adult, a flask is less about spiking the holiday party punch and more about enjoying a quality adult beverage when the occasion calls for it. Fill it with good single malt or bourbon, and you’re suddenly the most sophisticated man in the room. Just avoid the ones with sports teams on them, please.

Gear Case

It’s not your briefcase, backpack or messenger bag, mind you. Your gear case is a standalone case dedicated to carrying your EDC items separate from the rest of your stuff. It’s a hold-all that keeps your stuff centralized and may contain organizing straps internally or just have a zipper to hold everything in. Either way, it’s a good method of keeping all of your EDC gear in check.

 

Amos Kwon is the Editor-In-Chief for Web2Carz and has worked as the Automotive Section Editor for the popular men's digital lifestyle publication, Gear Patrol. He's covered topics such as cars, motorcycles, watches, cigars, spirits, travel, technology and style. He also has a background in real estate, telecommunications and law enforcement, which makes him oddly well-rounded. Amos is based in the Windy City, Chicago. Follow him on twitter @wrathofkwon.

  • http://www.stylegirlfriend.com Style Girlfriend

    I’m always curious about the pocket knife-as-accessory. I don’t know any women that carry one but it seems to be a common gift idea for guys..are you guys really packing at all times? Tell me!

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      Pocket knives, multi-tools and knives in general are one of those things you don’t realize how often you’ll use until you start carrying one. Doing every day things like opening packages, cutting tags of new clothing, scraping label goo off of something, tightening a stray screw, opening a beer, the list goes on. There are tons of daily chores that we go and find a tool for, scissors, etc. but when you realize you have something in your pocket already it doesn’t take long to start finding uses for it everywhere. Depending on the size it can weight you down, or be too bulky if you’re wearing slim pants. I’d be really curious if you started carrying one if you’d come to the same conclusion. 🙂

      • http://www.stylegirlfriend.com Style Girlfriend

        Hmm, might be time to invest in one for my purse 🙂

        • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

          Ask any guy friend if you can one of theirs, we all have a drawer full of them!

        • Rt1583

          Don’t just limit yourself to your purse.

          There are a number of knives available that will fit, unobtrusively, in your pocket if you regularly wear jeans or slacks with pockets.

          Buck has a couple that are small enough to fit in the bottom of your pocket and are relatively inexpensive.

          http://www.buckknives.com/custom-knife/customizable-503-prince-knife/CKS503/

          • http://www.stylegirlfriend.com Style Girlfriend

            Ha, I can barely fit my hands in my pants pockets, let alone a knife 🙂

          • browneagle44 ロベルト

            (Hi Megan!)

            I was gifted an Opinel #8 a couple years ago, and carry it everywhere. I love it-it’s beautiful in it’s simplicity-but sitting down with it in your back pocket can be a literal pain in the ass, so I usually carry it in my satchel, unless I don’t have it with me.

          • kershaw_carry

            Don’t forget a small pocket-able fixed blade as an option. These are often thought of as “neck knives” but if you remove the lanyard they are extremely thin, extremely light weight, highly functional options. Or, there are many “pocket tools” now available that have a sharpened edge with other functions in addition to the blade. See everydaycarry.com for great curated pics of men and women’s daily pocket/bag dumps for ideas.

    • TJ

      I’ve thought about carrying one but I don’t need it too often. I also work on a secure property that has a no weapons rule. While I would never use it for a weapon, it could still get me in trouble.

      • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

        Yeah you do have to be careful with that, if you ever go to a “club” or music venue that pats people down you won’t be able to take it in most likely. If it’s small enough, it shouldn’t be a problem at work, but that depends where you work, obviously.

        • TJ

          I mean they don’t pat us down or have us go through metal detectors or anything like that at work, but its not worth the trouble.

    • kevin2314

      Pretty much always, there was a time when I didn’t carry a knife, but once you do, you realize they’re far more useful in your day to day. The thought at first is knives = weapons, but then you realize they are far more.

    • CryptoReporter

      I carry everything on this list and then some! I also have a pocket protector filled with 2 pens and 2 pencils (one regular & one drafting pencil). Turtle Power!

      • http://www.stylegirlfriend.com Style Girlfriend

        I am a sucker for a good mechanical pencil..

    • Steve Gordon

      I queried the same thing last time there was an article about knives. Sure, they’re cool, but losing valuable pocket real-estate would bug me infinitely more than a loose thread. Each to their own I guess – maybe no problem is you wear cargoes with everything.

    • Clark smith

      I’m in a military environment, so we use knives as tools first and foremost unless someone becomes a threat. Secondly I hardly carry my knife, I usually carry a multi tool because with just the same amount of space required it can do much more. The practicality is always there and function wise it tops all..

    • Brennon Fultz

      I always carry a Leatherman Squirt with me and it comes in handy every day. It’s the size of a chapstick but It’s usually enough to get the job done. A larger multitool sits in my glove compartment for heavy-duty tasks.

    • Chuck

      My wife got tired of borrowing mine and got her own double blade Victornox, which is ALWAYS in her pocket. The whole family borrows it from her when we open presents on Christmas.

    • Gunter Mangelinckx

      Well, I for one know a lot of women who carry knives, so there you go…

  • TJ

    My EDC is wallet, keys with a fob from Brooks brothers, a watch (different depending on what I’m wearing), Jack Black (not the actor) lip balm, a handkerchief (especially nice for the hot months), sunglasses or glasses, my phone, and a glasses and smart phone cleaning cloth from Declan.

  • kevin2314

    My edc

    My phone happens to be the Moto G featured in the article.
    I carry a buck nobleman or a Case russlock, but I never carry the buck during formal occasions. I love watches, I own a few, two automativcs, and a few quartz’s. I love edc culture, and am still building my collection 🙂

    Casual
    watch:Timex weekender
    knife:buck nobleman
    pen:pilot fountain pen

    Formal
    watch:Brathwait minimalist automatic/Seiko 5 automatic
    knife: Case russlock folder
    pen:Kaweco classic sport fountain pen

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      Awesome! Thanks for sharing. How do you like the phone? Love your choices.

      • kevin2314

        Its a great phone all in all, the issues that do exist – memory issues and such – are really not that bad. Its solid for the price, and reccomend it to anyone looking into getting a budget smartphone.

        • bryclops

          Love my Moto G, too. The only thing I miss from my iPhone is the physical silencing switch, so I can’t imagine getting a more expensive phone.

  • Rt1583

    “Shy of carrying a bug-out-bag”
    This is why I limit my everyday carry to my wallet, phone, keys, knife and watch.
    Any more than this and you have to carry a bag (unless you want to wear cargo pants/shorts all the time with the pockets loaded) which pretty much becomes your day to day bug out bag.
    Even better than being known as the go-to guy because you have all of the various things listed above is being known as the go-to guy because you manage to get stuff done (admittedly there will be some stuff that will be left undone) with what is on hand. This can be through improvising with what is on hand (McGyvering) or simply knowing who to go to or where to go to get the necessary items.
    I find that it’s also quite nice to travel light and not have to worry about my bag or whether or not I’ve got everything on a daily basis.

    • Sam Sik Youn

      I carry a bag everywhere I go, so I carry a bigger edc kit. If I’m traveling by car, then I can always leave it behind, and if I’m on foot, I appreciate the extra versatility it offers). If you want to stick with just pocket stuff, I’d recommend adding the handkerchief. So much utility, and you can stick it in your back pocket (the one your wallet isn’t in) with virtually no impact.

  • Bryan

    Two questions:
    1. I got a multitool as a Christmas present a few years ago but never really took care of it (the knives need sharpening, for example). Anyone know how to “restore” something like that?
    2. I love the Writersblok 2.5×4″ notebooks, but they’ve stopped making them and my stash is running low. How well do the larger notebooks (like Field Notes) fit in a back pocket?

    • Scott Zirkel

      I carry Field Notes in my back pocket, fits good. Some jeans it rises up just a bit out of the pocket. I have a leather wallet ordered that holds a FN, so we’ll see how that does.

      They also fit nicely in my shirt front pocket, though I don’t do that to terribly often.

  • Sam Sik Youn

    If your goal with this article was to get someone to consider carrying a Hello Kitty notepad with matching pen as part of his edc, then it has done its job.

  • Leo

    love this article

  • Leo

    love this article and all the getups!

    I always look for multi-tools and gadgets,
    but still prefer my paper calendar

    Nokia 630 Windowsphone – great offline navigation
    favourite Freitag messenger bag, made of used truck tarps

  • TMann

    If you work in a setting where people are leery of knives, it may be best to carry a swiss army knife in a friendly red or yellow color OR one of the small multi-tools that look like a pliers and just happens to have a knife attachment. Stay away from anything that looks too “tactical”.

  • Colin Keys

    my EDC are as follows:
    SmartPhone (iPhone 6Plus)
    Keys on a fob which also has my USB drive and a bottle opener
    Wallet
    Watch
    Gerber Lockblade knife
    I started carrying the knife last year after I had a career change, and now I feel naked without it. The same with my watch, I only own one watch, a nice Citizen Eco-Drive my family purchased for me. As someone who works in the IT field, having a sizeable USB drive, in my case 16GB, can really comes in handy.

    I feel like I should start carrying a notepad, pen, portable charger & lighter going forward.

  • Julien

    I love EDC but I feel like I would have way too many stuffs on me if I went fully through with it…
    I’m only 20 and I always carry:
    -a watch (most of the time a Daniel Wellington)
    -my wallet
    -vaseline lip therapy (recommended by Aaron from AlphaM, can’t live without it)
    -keys
    -phone
    -pen/notebook
    -water bottle

    (sometimes but not always: hand cream, chewing-gums, sunglasses, cologne, BOSE earphones)

    I thought about getting a USB key, a a lot of stuffs from your article but damn… That’s a lot of stuffs to carry….

  • Casey

    This list, for everyday use items, seems excessive to me and I’m a woman. The only things I carry in my purse from this list are phone (my credit cards and ID are in the case), keys, and pen. Sometimes a portable charger depending where I am and how long I’ll be there. Isn’t the whole point of having a smartphone to minimize the amount of crap you have to carry? Also, handkerchiefs are nasty. If a guy handed me one, even a clean one, I might actually gag. Go to the restroom and grab a tissue to blow your nose so you can throw that ish away and wash your hands. If you’re going to include a handkerchief in your “EDC”, PLEASE also include hand sanitizer! Anyway, my point is that this kind of stuff might appeal to guys who like “gear” and trinkets, but I doubt you will get much everyday use out of the majority of these items, unless your job is not in an office (like if you’re a park ranger or sailor I guess). I do, however, appreciate the concept of being prepared and would recommend having a kit containing these items and others in both your car (or backpack or other primary vehicle) and in your home.

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      Hey Casey, The point is not to carry all or most of this, it’s to pick a few items or less based on your typical day.

      • Casey

        I guess if I was a guy I’d be looking for ways to carry fewer things rather than more. Less stuff to worry about losing/leaving behind somewhere. 🙂 Like I said before though, I do think these are good things to have on hand and easily accessible so you can grab them on your way out should you foresee yourself being in a situation where you need it! My dad always has the Swiss Army Knife which definitely comes in handy Christmas morning for opening boxes! Thanks for replying–I enjoy the blog.

  • Colin O’Dell

    https://www.reddit.com/r/edc has a great EDC community, if anyone is interested in exploring EDC some more.

  • Justin

    There’s a whole website I recommend that covers this….
    http://www.everydaycarry.com

  • JC

    I think gum or a mint is also an important thing to carry with you everyday.