- Buyer's Guide
What Is EDC? :: The Beginner’s Guide to Everyday Carry
As more and more people start adopting an “everyday carry” mindset to their daily essentials, carrying more than just their phone, wallet, and keys, they’re met with a common but simple question: Why? In this primer to Everyday Carry, I’ll take a step back to try to answer some frequently asked questions about the everyday carry lifestyle! If you’ve seen those photos of neatly arranged pocket contents but still don’t quite “get” it, let me fill you in.
What does the term Everyday Carry mean? Is it just the stuff in my pockets?
At the most literal level, your everyday carry (commonly initialized as EDC) is the collection of items you carry with you in your pockets or in your bag on a daily basis.
They’re the things you tap your pockets for before you head out the door, the things you feel naked without, and the things that would throw off your whole day if you had to do without them. They are especially valuable, and not just in a monetary or sentimental way. Your everyday carry is comprised of items that you find truly essential.
“They’re the things you tap your pockets for before you head out the door, the things you feel naked without, and the things that would throw off your whole day if you had to do without them.”
So this means things like pocket lint, scrunched up receipts, gum wrappers, and other disposables might live in your pocket (hopefully not for very long), but they don’t count as part of your everyday carry. Mainstays in your carry should have certain qualities that fall in line with a few different principles of the practice of everyday carry.
The everyday carry philosophy is built upon the cornerstones of utility and preparedness. Each component of your EDC should serve a purpose or have at least one specific, useful function.
Every day, your EDC essentials prepare you for the worst and empower you to do your best.
What are the advantages of the Everyday Carry approach to my daily belongings?
What’s awesome is that at some level, everybody already has an everyday carry. But by thinking of what you keep in your pockets as your actual everyday carry system, you can enjoy a wealth of benefits:
- Do more, better: By adding new tools, you have access to all sorts of new functions that make your life better or your day easier. Or, by taking an EDC approach to upgrading essentials you already use, you can maximize their performance and efficiency, giving you a better ‘in use’ experience overall.
- Preparedness & self-reliance: Having these tools at the ready every day will not only equip you for most of your daily routine, but also for sometimes unexpected situations. Your EDC will help you make quick work of things you might otherwise need help doing.
“The everyday carry philosophy is built upon the cornerstones of utility and preparedness.”
- Convenience: Sometimes you might not even need assistance to get things done, but rather you’d have to waste time trying to find the right tool you need. With a well-built EDC, you won’t have to dig through junk drawers, ask to borrow a pen, or give up on something and tell yourself you’ll bring that tool you needed next time. EDC items are convenient and make your life easier!
- Long-term savings: If you invest in essentials that can withstand daily wear and perform up to your personal standards enough to make the cut of your EDC, you could potentially be saving in the long run. Opting for well-made, reliable, and durable goods means you won’t spend more to replace inexpensive, cheaply made, disposable items every few months. If you’ve already caught the EDC bug, you might know this isn’t true all the time. But many EDC goods achieve a balance of quality and value that reach “buy it for life” status, so you can buy once and get your money’s worth.
- Personal expression: The individualization of your EDC is arguably one of the most important aspects of the lifestyle. What you carry and use says so much about you, what you do, what your preferences are, and so on. It’s a great outlet for expression that you’ll recognize in truly unique carries. Refining your kit to reflect you as a person is one of the most fun reasons to look for new gear.
What items are commonly found in an everyday carry?
There isn’t an all-in-one solution for all your daily essentials — you’ll have to develop a system of multiple items. You’re probably familiar with, if not already carrying, this first core of essentials. For most people, they step out the door after passing a three-touch pocket check of the following:
Phone: There’s no denying that modern smartphones allow us to do more than ever before. No other device can match the functionality and sheer versatility of a smartphone and still fit the palm of your hand. Through accomplishments in hardware alone, our smartphones reduce the need to carry a camera, watch, pen and paper, flashlight, and wallet, for many people. This is great for minimalists, but the rest of the world doesn’t operate entirely digitally. In many cases, there isn’t an app for that.
Wallet: Wallets keep our cards, IDs, cash, and other paper documents organized and nearby. The wallet itself might not be as important as what’s inside it, but it serves a critical purpose to protect these essential assets from damage and loss.
Keychain: Keys let us go places and secure what’s important to us. Keychains deserve a spot in your EDC because they keep your keys together and easy to use. Sure, they can be noisy, clunky, and difficult to manage, but most of us can’t live without them all the same.
Beyond this, many EDCers include this “trinity” of staple tools:
Knife: The fact that many everyday carries include a pocket knife comes as a surprise to many. While laws and cultural differences might portray these edged essentials in a negative light, a well-designed, reasonably sized pocketknife is primarily a tool. When used responsibly, a knife safely handles cutting and slicing tasks — usually better than a house key, a pair of scissors, your hands, or even your teeth can. There’s certainly no app for breaking down a box, slicing into brisket, or cutting cordage! With that said, not everyone will need a knife, or even be able to carry one legally. But it’s important to view them for their practicality more than anything.
Flashlight: You would bring an umbrella for a 50% chance of rain, so why wouldn’t you bring a flashlight for 100% chance of darkness every night? From getting through power outages, to looking under couches, to navigating a dimly lit path, having a light source in your pocket will come in handy. Some might be content with using their phone’s screen or camera flash for light. Modern lights, with multiple modes and a dedicated battery, perform far better in daily tasks to emergency situations without draining your phone’s battery even more, making them a must-have in many carries.
Multitool: The multitool embodies many core principles of EDC — utility, versatility, portability. For quick fixes, tinkering, and other handy work, having a toolbox’s worth of functionality in a single pocketable tool is invaluable. Common multitool functions include pliers, screwdrivers, bottle openers, scissors, and other cutting tools. Multitools can complement the functions of the five aforementioned essentials when weight and pocket space are at a premium, so naturally they round out the second trinity of EDC.
Luckily for us EDC enthusiasts, the list of useful gear to keep on hand doesn’t stop here. There are many more gadgets that people carry, but these three analog instruments still find their way into many pockets today.
Pen: Not everything is digitized just yet. And sometimes, writing with a pen beats tapping away with your thumbs at your phone. An EDC pen takes care of common workplace tasks like jotting notes, signing paperwork, or drawing out diagrams to explain something. Check out our guide on Why You Should Carry a Pen for even more reasons to keep ink close by.
Paper: What’s a great pen without something to write on? Soft cover pocket notebooks have been growing in popularity in the EDC community recently. Learn more about why you’d want to carry a notebook in our earlier Carry Smarter article!
Watch: Sure, you can keep track of time by checking your smartphone, but then you’d have to go through the trouble of pulling it out of your pocket. This can come off as rude, especially with company around. Dedicated watches are beautiful in their own right, but they also help you keep track of time without depending on short-term phone battery life, while always being one flick of the wrist away.
Is it absolutely necessary to carry all this stuff?
Not at all! Everyday Carry is all about making a setup that fits your needs. Just as no two people are exactly alike, their respective EDCs will vary significantly. Acquire and carry what you need according to your lifestyle, location, profession, daily routine, style, budget, and so on.
In general, your carry should be reliable and functional, but most importantly, personal. You might be a minimalist at heart, or you’d have peace of mind knowing all your bases are covered. If your EDC becomes an extension of you, you should be completely comfortable with it!
“In general, your carry should be reliable and functional, but most importantly, personal.”
A great EDC shows the foresight to include what you personally need for your day to day, and the restraint to leave behind what you don’t.
But if I did want to start adding new items to my everyday carry, where do I start? What do I look for?
Now that we’ve laid out the “why” of EDC, check out this list of 8 Excellent Entry-level Essentials, with examples of a great beginner’s EDC.