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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
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.
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.
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.
Secondary EDC Items
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You carry around your phone, your tablet, who knows what else. Make sure you always have power.
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.
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.