Writing about the Best EDC of 2020 (Everyday Carry) is pretty foreign to me as you’ll typically find me on camera playing with the pocket-friendly gear instead – fiddling with switches, clicking all the buttons, and pushing tools to their limit to test their durability claims. However, when offered the chance to talk about the top 5 finalists in the EDC category for Carryology, I knew it was my time to debut my writing career. Given this is a list of some of the best EDC gear voted in by you, I’m just here to share why I agree with every one of you and why each one deserves the title of the Best Everyday Carry this year.
The James Brand Carter
First and foremost, a knife is one of the most common tools that can be utilized in multiple ways on a daily basis. This alone explains why it’s a staple in most everyday carry enthusiasts’ pockets. Now mix in high-quality materials with a simple but sophisticated design and you get the best-looking and working knife in this list, the James Brand Carter Knife.
Being the best knife in this category is one of the toughest to achieve given they all, essentially, do the same thing: offer a sharp blade and a comfortable handle to use on-demand. Anything more and you’ve got a multi-tool instead, a category with a plethora of options to choose from, like the Leatherman FREE K4 listed later. So being able to cut through (pun intended) the competition comes down to how The Carter utilizes Japanese-made VG-10 stainless steel in their drop point blade combined with the beautiful G10 scales handle.
When held open in the hand, it just feels right in terms of finger placement, weight management, and their additional thumb disk for optimal knife ergonomics. While a thumb disk may sound new for knives, it’s how the James Brand keeps innovating in a category that’s been very similar in competition for a long time. It allows for both left and right single-handed operation alongside their slide lock technology that’s available on both faces of the knife for some of the quickest retrieval and stowaway workflows.
Speaking of which, when you’re done with the task at hand or fidgeting with the thumb disk (safely, of course), the deep carry pocket clip keeps it secured in my front pocket so I know where it is at all times. If you want to slim down, they also include a lanyard insert loop to attach your favorite beads or even clip your keys together.
The Carter is a workhorse knife but unlike other industrial or military style blades, this one is also a looker. Compared to the others in this category, it’s one which you pull out of your pocket and definitely turn some heads. It’s easily got the most stunning design compared to the others in this list and is something you can be proud to show off to EDC enthusiasts or just for your friends to admire at your next backyard BBQ.
Bellroy Apex Slim Sleeve
When you ask for a pocket dump, an essential item to complete any set is a wallet. Personally, I lean towards a simple leather option. It gets better with usage by growing a beautiful patina from the natural oils in your hands and dye in your pants pocket, plus it slowly shapes around what you carry inside too. It becomes a one-of-a-kind wallet and truly unique to what you carry and where you’ve taken it. Traditionally, that’s achieved with leather stitched together to create pockets for your cards and cash needs.
Enter the Bellroy Apex Slim Sleeve, the best wallet carry choice because it reimagines that iconic design language by completely ditching the stitching and instead pre-molding the precision-cut leather to create a silhouette that fits your carry needs right out of the box. That means no more waiting around for your wallet to look or fit your needs, as you can store up to 8 cards right from the get-go without worrying about bursting a seam.
Bellroy accomplishes this by heat bonding their leather to keep a slim profile while also integrating a magnetic closure to ensure nothing is slipping out without you wanting it to. As a consequence of using magnets, you’ve also got another piece of gear to get addicted to fidgeting with, thanks to its satisfying one-handed squeeze-to-reveal mechanics.
With such a slimmed down design, you’d be surprised to find how organized you can be inside with 2 quick-access card slots, a hidden pull tab pocket for more cards, and another section for folded bills. That means every card, bill, or receipt has a dedicated pocket and is instantly accessible once you’ve popped open the wallet. When closed, it has RFID blocking built in so not only is everything secured shut with the magnetic closure, you’re also safe from anyone trying to skim your information too.
The Bellroy Apex Slim Sleeve, when compared to others in the list, has the special X-factor you wouldn’t expect from something as simple as a wallet. You could pull this out of your pocket and shock anyone when they find out it utilizes magnets to keep it locked shut.
Most technical build
Wins in X-Factor
Prometheus Design Werx PB&J Tool
The Prometheus Design Werx PB&J Tool sits in a unique position compared to all the other items in your pocket because everything it can do can also be done on a majority of other multi-tools too. But the PB&J Tool carves out its own category as the best pry tool because although other gear can do it, this is a dedicated pry bar first and all the complementary tools are just an added bonus.
In my experience with pry bars, they seem redundant to carry if you’ve never carried a dedicated one before. Multi-tools and even knives have their own versions of a pry tool built in, so why occupy more pocket space with another? However, I found myself gravitating towards the PB&J more and more for daily tasks because a pry, although basically a simple sloped edge, tended to be the best tool for the job. Whether that be splitting material apart, scraping something off the floor, or wedging it into tight spots thanks to its flat footprint.
The PB&J is a tool you can count on to get down and dirty without worrying about cracking, scratching, or damaging itself as it’s built from a thick block of 6AL-4V titanium instead of being an afterthought or added feature on other tools. It lacks any moving tool parts and when combined with the elongated body, it can handle the extra torque smaller pry tools could crack under. Plus, with the built-in wire spring gate to clip onto your bag webbing or pants loop, it’s one of the quickest and easiest tools to deploy and get the job done.
Where this pry bar takes it to the next level is in the additional features that don’t sacrifice the PB&J’s ability to be an excellent pry bar. The most notable being the universal closed end wrench that works with metric and SAE hardware, eliminating the need to carry an additional set of tools for one or the other size. There’s also a nail and staple puller cutout on the pry itself, a big driver holder, and even an oxygen tank wrench slot too. While these tools may not be used as often, they don’t compromise the overall design of the pry bar and personally, I think they add to the industrial design aesthetic.
Trying to justify carrying a dedicated pry bar over other tools may be a tough choice to make. Thankfully I’d consider the PB&J the EDC with the toughest build quality in this list. Perfect if you constantly find the need to jam, split, and scrape without having to worry about the tool itself.
So Design Alt Pen
In this new age of all things digital, a pen may sound a little retro but I surprise myself how often I need to quickly write something down on a daily basis. Whether that be to remember a shopping list, doodling while waiting around, or signing papers at the post office. Having a pen quickly accessible saves me the trouble of waiting for one to free up or worse, holding up a line to find one.
The Alt Pen by So Design offers everything you’d expect in a great pen – tactile grip thanks to their mono-knurl design, replaceable D1 pen refills that are compact yet reliable, and a sturdy pocket clip so you know where it is at all times. But it doesn’t take the crown of being the best pen option on that alone because stored in the tip (generally wasted space in other pens) are 4 precision tool bits that can be swapped in place of the pen itself.
I personally prefer multi-in-1 gear as I’m always trying to find ways to carry less. Combining a minimalist pen with a whole set of precision tool options just makes sense, especially if you find yourself constantly tinkering with your gear. Obviously, you won’t be able to tear down your air conditioner or repair a bike but it’s perfect for tightening your drone propellers or loosening your key organizer.
The whole system revolves around magnets too, which makes swapping between a pen and tool bits as easy as snapping them into place. So Design sets you up for success right out of the box with 8 different precision tool bits and a replacement D1 pen refill but you are able to utilize your own favorite precision bits and D1 ink refills too.
For those who aren’t a fan of large multi-tools and knives, the So Design Alt Pen is the perfect casual EDC. If you love messing with and modding your electronics to ensure they’re always in tip-top shape, the Alt Pen has just enough tools included without requiring any more pocket capacity than to fit a regular-sized pen.
Clean minimal styling
Leatherman FREE K4
No EDC list is complete without offering a multi-tool and the Leatherman FREE K4 elevates this category thanks to their new magnetic architecture. Leatherman’s new line of FREE multi-tools are the perfect introduction for newcomers to carrying a tool in their pocket, while also offering enough innovation for EDC veterans to make it worth switching over.
The FREE K4 is inspired by pocket knives with its large 3.3-inch 420C stainless steel blade and familiar knife body design. But upon closer inspection, tucked into the body of the handle are 6 additional tools, making it a multi-tool someone can pick up and not be intimidated by the plethora of options available. Combining that with their new magnetic architecture, the FREE K4 handles similar to a regular pocket knife – easily manageable one-handed while every tool is accessible by simply rolling your thumb over it.
When you’re only offering 6 additional tools, they have to be the right ones for your EDC needs. I’m glad Leatherman decided on including their spring-action scissors, as that’s easily my second most used tool after a sharp blade. There’s also a smaller pry tool that doubles as a package opener, an awl, a screwdriver, and of course your standard bottle opener. All tools I’ve found myself needing throughout my week, which means it doesn’t feel like I’m carrying any more or less than I have to with the FREE K4.
Talking about a multi-tool may seem confusing after mentioning a dedicated pry bar and knife before this, but that’s the beauty of it. Multi-tools like the FREE K4 have it all, albeit not the best in class at any one specific area like the Carter is for knives and the PB&J is for pry bars. Each tool on the FREE K4 is good enough for your daily needs, which isn’t a bad thing at all, as you’re not paying extra for fancier material or a slimmer design if that’s not what you’re looking for.
There’s an overabundance of tool combinations, sizes, and material choices available for multi-tools. The Leatherman FREE K4 is able to stand out as the most innovative EDC in the list thanks to their new magnetic architecture, making it accessible to anyone looking to add an all-in-one tool into their EDC without looking intimidating like other traditional tools.
Smooth and easy deployment
VOTING FOR BEST EDC CLOSES SEPTEMBER 12TH
This article was written by Vincent Tsu.