Everyday carry items are up close and personal prepping items that each of you should have access to anytime you leave the house. They are tools that can be useful in a myriad of situations, but most importantly, they all share one or more lifesaving properties when used in the right context. Most of us don’t walk out the front door without our keys, wallet and cell phone but there are other EDC items that you should consider if you want an advantage over the next guy when your life is on the line.
This article is going to go into greater detail discussing some great everyday carry gear and how you can use it to enhance your preparedness wherever you are. Also, I will be sharing some everyday carry item recommendations that I have personally used and some situations where this EDC gear could save your bacon or where you may want to make different choices based upon your own reality.
What is everyday carry?
Before we get deep into the specifics, we should start by defining the context of what everyday carry means. Very simply, everyday carry, abbreviated as EDC is gear that you carry with you every day. There are many ways to look at this and levels to everyday carry that can vary according to your specific circumstances. For instance, a woman who works as a delivery driver may need different everyday carry items than a man who has a desk job in a local government office.
One of the hardest things about everyday carry is having the discipline to take this gear with you consistently and reliably. This is probably more true with firearms. Where you are going, and what you are wearing, even seasons have affected my choices with respect to everyday carry in the past, but we will talk about strategies for ensuring your gear is on you below.
There are regional considerations also and what works for someone going to work at a meat processing plant in Texas is not going to work for an advertising agency in London. The good thing about EDC gear is that it can be highly tailored to your situation and preference.
Everyday carry items
Now that we have defined the terms a little, some of you may be asking what these everyday carry items are in the first place. Great question! This list of EDC options below is not exhaustive, all items are not mandatory, and some can be combined. This list does gives us a place to start from though, so here they go in no certain order:
- Method of making fire
- Handgun with holster
- Writing Implement
- Writing material
- Cell Phone
- Extra Magazine for Handgun
- IFAK – Individual First Aid Kit
- Wallet – Something to carry cash, cards and ID
- Handkerchief or bandana
- Spare (Emergency) cash
- Length of paracord
- Flash drive with emergency documents
- Non-lethal defense (pepper spray or mace)
At first glance you may be asking yourself, who carries all this gear everyday? Or how do you carry all of that gear? Especially when some of you (I am guilty too) leave the house sometimes in shorts, t-shirt and flip flops. Some of you ladies might even say, that you carry all of this and more in your purse. I will admit that I don’t carry all this gear on my person every day. What I do carry changes with a lot of factors. Some is in my work backpack. Some is in my vehicle parked right outside, but let’s start with the basics.
Walking out the door going to work, I always have:
- Keys – which contain a small FireStash lighter
- Cell Phone
- Spare (Emergency) Cash
This list above is what I consider as the basic EDC items you should have on you wherever you are. Yes, a handgun will always be better to have on you. Especially, if you need it, but sometimes it is not practical. Sometimes, it’s not legal to have it on you even with a concealed carry permit.
For example, if you have to go to court to pay a ticket because your tag lapsed… Not the place you want to ever walk into with a handgun. However, the rest of the items above are just fine. If you were flying on a vacation or business trip to a city that expressly outlawed handguns like Chicago, you wouldn’t have that trusty weapon either but you could fly right through TSA with the list above – assuming it was safely tucked away in your checked baggage. Naturally, if you aren’t flying somewhere with restrictions and assuming you have done your research, flying with a handgun is reasonably pain free.
But what about this list of everyday carry items that can save your life? These are the basics. Keys, while an obvious necessity if you have a vehicle are needed if you want to get to your vehicle and drive away. Keys can also be used as a defensive weapon in a worst case scenario. Knives are useful for self-defense although that isn’t preferable to me (more on that later) it’s better than nothing. They can also be used to cut and slice a lot of things as well. A knife is one of the most basic tools that you never want to be without.
You can use knives to help split larger pieces of wood (called batoning) when used correctly. With emergency cash you have a backup if the credit card or ATM’s are down, or closed due to bank holiday… cash gives you another means to purchase food, supplies, or fuel to get back home and you have a means of lighting a fire to keep yourself warm and a light to see in the dark. Even your watch (preferably analog but digital works too) can help you find North if you are lost.
How much emergency cash should you carry? It depends on your personal situation. For me, I would never consider carrying several hundreds of dollars around for an emergency. I started with $40 thinking, this would give me almost a tank of gas or pay for food if I somehow forgot my debit card, or needed some supplies – like a baseball bat if I was caught in a riot… Now I have $100. It serves the same purpose, but just gives me a little more capability.
Depending on time of year/situation I will also carry the following on me:
Why don’t I always carry my handgun? For me, carrying concealed is a situationally dependent activity. It’s tricky right now with where I work although I haven’t ruled it out and I have a full size handgun 50 feet away out a side door in my vehicle. I have a handkerchief in my work backpack but I usually carry one in my back pocket in colder months when clothes are baggier and items are easier to conceal. If I am not at work, the handgun gets included.
What EDC items do I never carry?
From the list above, I will tell you I have never carried pepper spray or an IFAK although I have two in my truck along with a full medical roll and one in my Get Home Bag. I also don’t carry spare magazines for my Concealed Carry weapon on me, but I have spare mags for a different gun (as well as another gun) in my truck. Paracord is another thing I rarely have on me. I did wear the old paracord bracelet for a while and still do when I go backpacking but not every day. Again, I do have some of this in my get home bag if necessary.
I have carried a small flash drive on my keychain before and they do come in handy, but I removed that to keep it in my backpack. I have it 5 days a week at least. I do have the stuff to write with/on in my backpack, but I never walk around with a write in the rain pen and notebook. Not that I have anything against those, I just have found zero use for them to date.
When I travel by air, I ensure I have all of these items, minus the handgun in the situations I described above. I’ve even been known to add a shemagh and water filtration also but that is for plans to walk back home if necessary. If I am driving, I have a couple of handguns with me. Rather than keep all of the items above on my person, I have a small utility pouch with knife, headlamp, flashlight, duct tape, Leatherman and lighter. Normally, this rides in my console compartment in my truck. When I travel in another vehicle, this pouch is packed in my luggage.
What’s the best way to carry your everyday carry?
Most days I have the bulk of my everyday carry right in the pockets of my pants but the more I carry, the less ideal that is. Unless I am wearing tactical pants with nice pockets for my knife and a heavy duty belt to hang things off of. I used to carry both my flashlight and my multi-tool in pouches on my belt and in some cases that is still perfectly fine.
The key for any of these items is to have them with you so that you aren’t forced to run away without them. For example, if you had all of your gear in your work backpack and you left to go to lunch or the restroom you would potentially have to leave that gear behind. I try to strike a balance on those days when I don’t have everything physically on me.
Some prefer to keep all of their everyday carry items in a small pouch like the one pictured above. This does have advantages and keeps everything nice and organized. As long as you can access it when you need it, this approach works. Try to figure out what is going to work for you in your current situation.
How can you make sure you take your everyday carry items with you?
First of all, anything new is going to take some getting used to so it pays to spend just a minute or two planning this out. Habits are easily broken because they usually require some extra effort. Remember your exercise routine you started at the beginning of the year? While learning a new routine takes time, it doesn’t have to be difficult.
- Start with a 30 day plan – You know a new habit will take time to stick and you are still learning for some of these items.
- Make it part of your daily routine – This is going to sound obvious, but I keep all my gear in one spot. This way when I’m getting dressed, I just need to load it into pockets or on my belt. The less you have to look for items, the easier it will be to get it loaded before yo leave the house and realize you forgot it.
- Switch it up and have alternate plans – If you are just starting to carry concealed, it’s probably best to try a few holsters at home before you ever venture outside of the confines of your house. Wear a holster for a whole day. Sit down at the dinner table, go to the bathroom with it, bend over an pick stuff up in the yard. You will quickly see where you need to adjust. Also, try with different clothes. In summer months, if necessary I use a pocket holster with a .380. Not perfect, but it is still a viable solution that fits my situation.
- Check in with yourself in two weeks – Ideally you would reevaluate what is working and what isn’t every day. You should know what you want to change because it was either uncomfortable or just didn’t work. Congratulate yourself on the progress and keep going.
Everyday carry item recommendations
What is the best everyday carry pocket knife?
Getting into the actual everyday carry items themselves, let’s look at the top three that you may not be currently carrying. Staring with a good everyday carry knife, pretty quickly we arrive at the question of which knife is best? As you probably know there are a million different types of knives out there with price points all over the map. You can easily spend several hundred for a knife but I don’t think that is remotely necessary.
So, the question is what is the best everyday carry knife? It’s the one you have on you when you need it. Period. Some guys will get into specifics like steel composition, handle texture, the grind of the cutting face, and that is certainly valid and useful information. However, you have to have it on you for every day carry to work and the best knife in the world left at home loses out to the one in your pocket every time.
There are cheaper options also, but be sure to balance cost with quality. Something like a knife needs to be dependable.
What is the best everyday carry multitool?
Multitools are amazing creations but the comment I hear most people make about them is that they use them to open boxes. To be fair, I have done the same thing and it seems that we get more and more boxes each year. However, to overlook the usefulness of these everyday carry tools is a mistake.
I have used almost every attachment on my multitool at one point. The Leatherman Wave won’t let you down.
The Wingman is the Wave’s little brother and gives you a ton of basic tools at a more competitive price point and it’s a little lighter also.
What is the best everyday carry flashlight?
Flashlights are an item you don’t see most people carrying around, but you aren’t like most people are you? The utility of a flashlight is obvious and I use mine all of the time for simple tasks usually, but it helps to have light when you need it.
There are probably as many flashlight options as knives, but like I said above try to balance cost with quality. Read the reviews and make sure your aren’t purchasing something that will not be reliable when you need it. The flip side of this is that you probably don’t need to be spending $100 on a excellent flashlight either.
I own the Streamlight below and it is a great light. Yes, it’s more expensive than the two above but the quality is undeniable and Streamlight is a well known brand.
Your turn! What are your thoughts on everyday carry items that you find useful or essential to your survival?