What is EDC? Like most things, there are different ways to think about it. Each person’s needs and interests are individualized, so it’s about figuring out what works for you. It’s often useful to see what others carry, why they choose it, and how they use it. However, avoid copying another person’s kit - it’s like buying a coat because it looked good on someone else. Maybe a leather duster isn’t the right look for you, after all.
What I lay out here is a framework for thinking about what you carry and why. This is one guy’s opinion, and I have no special claim to expertise. I wasn’t a Navy SEAL or Army Ranger, but you probably aren’t either and likely don’t encounter the same situations as those types in your day-to-day life (if you do, I recommend moving!). I’m a regular suburban bloke, working an office job and taking care of kids, who bikes, skis, and travels (well, before the pandemic anyway).
The foundation of everyday carry, in my opinion, is the EDC brain. That is, our skills, knowledge, and judgment. We need to be continually learning and developing these. Too often, EDC becomes about the gear, and many people end up with stuff they don’t know how to use effectively. Or they carry six things, when two items and more skill would serve them better. Be sure you are adding to your ability bank, and be sure to make your brain the first piece of EDC kit you put on every day.
From that base, I propose thinking of EDC in three layers: utility, preparedness, and fun. This is, of course, not the only way or the right way of framing it, but I think it’s a useful starting point. Using this approach, we’ll see that the gizmos and gadgets that we often focus on (I need a new multitool!) can fit into different categories for different individuals. For example, for my friend Mark who smokes, a lighter is about utility; for my non-smoker friend Michelle in a remote part of Montana, it’s about preparedness; and for my brother Chris, it’s all about fun.
Utility is about those things that make your day-to-day life easier and more effective. These are the things that you actually use every day to get stuff done. Think of a flashlight for an HVAC technician, trauma shears for an EMT, a Zippo for a smoker (or frequent birthday party guest). If you find yourself saying, “I need a ____!” several times a week, that thing goes here. Of course, if that’s happening, you’ve probably already met the need. Exploring this area is typically the quest for something that does this task better than what we currently have.
Preparedness is where many people’s minds go when they think about EDC, and is the area that can quickly spiral out of control - because there’s always something else that can make you a bit more prepared for yet another conceivable scenario. Here’s where that EDC brain comes in real handy. You can apply the core risk assessment framework of likelihood and severity, as shown here:
If you put something in one of the red categories, you should be prepared for it. In the green categories, maybe not. And the yellows? Those are the tricky ones. You can end up spending a lot of money for stuff you never need.
First aid kits and self-defense tools generally fall into this category. Depending on your needs and lifestyle, it could also include multitools, knives, flashlights - although those could be utility items just as easily. I’ll explore more ideas about preparedness in a future post.
Fun is just what it sounds like: something you carry simply because you enjoy it. This could be a fidget spinner. It could be a Zippo, where you find the opening click a satisfying sound as you wait for a client to show up for a meeting. It could be beads and lanyards you use to adorn knives and multitools, and which can provide the benefit of making these easier to draw from a pocket. In short, it’s anything you carry purely for pleasure, not because it’s useful or prepares you for the unexpected.
So that’s it - a quick primer on one way to think about and organize your EDC skills and gear. Please comment below with your thoughts on this and any topics you’d like to read more about in future posts.