EDC Essentials

EDC, or everyday carry, is one of the most important aspects of the prepper way of life. After all, it is a key component to the “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” mentality. Even in your day to day life, you will encounter certain situations from time to time that requires simple tools – having these on hand, ready to use at a moment’s notice can make a big difference. You might even save someone’s life.

There are different levels of EDC, depending on what you do for a living and where you live. While a first responder may always have a comprehensive medical kit easily accessible at all times, you may find that your lifestyle allows for a bare minimum EDC configuration. We’ll cover exactly that; the bare minimum every day carry.

Why EDC?

The concept of everyday carry captures the entire philosophy of prepping in general and brings it to everyday life. The implications of doing so benefit the prepper in practical ways, for sure: having the tools on hand to deal with emergency situations, however big or small, is important. There are also mental benefits of doing so. Every day, as you gather your EDC tools and begin your day, you feel more of a sense of preparedness, which is a highly useful and satisfying attitude to have.

EDC can look very different for everyone, based on a number of factors. Where you live, what you’re prepping for, and even certain conditions you might have can affect what you carry with you each day. For example, someone with asthma will surely find that an inhaler is an essential component of their EDC kit. For others, this would extraneous.

That said, certain items are agreed upon as essentials for EDC no matter who you are or where you live. There a few things to keep in mind when choosing EDC items:

  • Size – You’ll want to look for something that is big enough to get the job done, yet small enough to fit on your person without being bulky. (A lot of this depends on your height and weight. Someone who is over 6 feet will probably have an easier time lugging around a full-size pistol on their hip than someone who is 5’5”.)
  • Weight – It is important to keep the weight down to an amount that won’t be cumbersome after extended periods of carrying. (Particularly important for lighter everyday carriers.)
  • Durability – Make sure to filter out low-quality items, as they tend to disappoint when you need them most. (Such items as a poorly made knife can end up causing a grievous injury.)
  • Ergonomic – Keep in mind how things fit and feel in your hands. You’ll want to be able to have a firm, yet comfortable, grip. This particularly important for items that you expect to be used over an extended period of time since don’t want your hands to start cramping up from discomfort.
  • Satisfaction – This is a key factor since a specific item could be the right size and weight, have good durability and ergonomics and still be to your disliking for whatever reason. If that ends up being the case, you’ll be less likely to carry it with you every day – and that completely defeats the purpose.

Should I Purchase A Ready Made EDC Kit?

As you’re probably aware, there’s been a definite increase in awareness about disaster planning and preparedness in general over recent years. This is a good thing but comes with some interesting developments – one of which is some companies capitalizing on the trend in ways that really aren’t beneficial. One of these is the manufacturing of ready-made kits that are of little value to the prepper.

Kits like these pop up in all areas of prepping: food storage, medical supplies, and yes: EDC. While not already made kits are necessarily bad, the vast majority of the time it is more worthy of your time and money to assemble supplies yourself.

The problems with ready-made kits of all kinds are pretty consistent:

  • Substandard quality of tools and supplies
  • Incomplete items – you’ll often find too many of the less useful items and not enough or any of the more valuable ones
  • Inflated price – you pay for the convenience of having everything together and lose the quality you could get by assembling items yourself
  • Lack of knowledge – you learn more about how to use items when you do the research and shopping yourself. Don’t underestimate the importance of this!

Folding Knife: A good folding knife will come in handy, no matter what your usual daily activities are. A handy box opener when necessary as well as the perfect pry bar for stuff that requires more leverage than a fingernail; these easily concealed knives are generally the first thing that beginner EDCers set their sights on. Let’s not forget they provide a viable defense option in a pinch.

Look for blade lengths ranging anywhere from 2.5” to 3.5”. You can spend a lot of time learning about all the different types of steel available, but you mainly want something that is corrosion resistant, has good edge retention, has working hardness, and is wear resistant. A good knife can cost anything from $30 to $150, anything more had better be a collector’s piece.

Here’s a short list of some common quality steel: 154cm, VG-10, CPM D-2, 440 XH, S30V, ELMAX, M390, and ZDP 189.

If you’re not sure about which brands to check out, try these first: Benchmade, Spyderco, Al Mar, Victorinox, SOG, and Kershaw.

Multi-tool: Multi-tools can be a lifesaver in any number of situations. Jampacked with various tools that you find yourself in need of on a daily basis, they tend to be the most used item in your EDC setup. When it comes to choosing one, Leatherman and Gerber rule the industry. These two brands will provide a wide variety of configurations suitable for any type of person. Common prices for a solid multi-tool will be $50 to $150. Gerber and Leatherman both have specialty multi-tools for military and law enforcement that tend to run a bit higher price wise.

A few you may wish to check out first are: Leatherman Wave, Leatherman Juice S2, and the Gerber Diesel.

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Flashlight: Having a good flashlight is a must. A large number of everyday carriers will find themselves using their flashlight for tedious chores, such as trying to see where they dropped their keys in the dark, making a flashlight a very convenient sidekick. The reason these are essential, though, is because of their signaling capabilities and not so much because we tend to drop things.

You’ll want something that has multiple setting, such as a low setting with about 5-10 lumens and lots of battery life, for when you’ll be using it for extended periods of time (power outage). The high setting should be able to last at least 2 hours and is recommended that it be around 100 to 200 lumens. Many come with special settings such as a strobe or SOS which can be immensely helpful for extreme scenarios, though it would be wise for you to learn how to signal SOS regardless. (It’s extremely simple)

Sidearm: No one wants to have to use a gun unexpectedly, but then again, no one wants to be caught without one either. Unfortunately, in today’s society, it is becoming increasingly harder to own firearms, let alone get the ammunition to practice with them. However, not only is it important to be able to exercise your rights but also to protect you and your loved ones in case of an emergency. A sidearm is the least used item in your EDC, and with any luck it will never be used outside of practice.

When it comes to choosing one to carry everyday, it is largely up to personal preference. It is recommended that you do no go for a caliber any smaller than a 9mm. Generally, most people are going to choose between a 9mm, 40 S&W, or a 45 ACP. A 45 ACP will pack a larger punch but will limit your magazine capacity. So, for the most part, you’ll be choosing between power and the number of rounds you’ll be able to carry. No matter what you choose, get in lots of practice with it.

Check out these brands, if you don’t know where to start: Beretta, Springfield Armory, Ruger, Sig Sauer, Smith & Wesson, and Kimber.

Bag: While many people would not think of a bag as being essential to you everyday carry setup, you may find that having one with you can provide a certain amount of convenience. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a large backpack or messenger bag, a fanny pack will do just as well in most cases. The idea is to allow for a carrying system that gives you the ability to take other items that are essential to your specific needs. Many people will have basic first aid things with them (band-aids, gauze, ibuprofen) as well as other random tidbits.

When deciding on an EDC bag, it is not necessary to go with something fancy. In fact, most bags that are labeled “EDC bag” are actually a bulky, over-the-top, military assault packs. The camo colors on a bag you carry everywhere isn’t going to do much to keep you concealed, that goes for the O.D. green and tan (classic military camo is still camo). Don’t go for anything that has exterior MOLLE webbing, it’s just another thing that will attract attention and make people think they should follow you around if something goes wrong. It should be the same mentality as a bug out bag, you DON’T want people to know you came prepared. Check out 5.11 Tactical’s COVERT line of bags to get a better idea of what to look for in an EDC bag.

Some good brands are: 5.11 Tactical, Condor, Blackhawk, and Maxpedition.

Miscellaneous – As well as the basics listed above, there are a few other items that you’ll want to consider adding to your EDC layout:

  • Band-aids – dress minor wounds, prevent infection
  • Ibuprofen – reduce inflammation from wounds and injuries
  • Gauze – use for various first aid needs
  • Tweezers – endless uses: you’ll be surprised at how often you can use tweezers when you have it on you
  • Nail clippers – besides the obvious, use for cutting small items and first aid
  • Spare knife – handy for situations when you don’t want to dull your “good knife.”
  • Pen, notebook/notepad – obvious uses for recording data and/or sending messages
  • Paracord – a sturdy enough rope for many emergency needs, a length of paracord could be handy. You’ve probably seen bracelets made from paracord around: many of these can be unraveled to up to 20 feet.

You’ll also know personally what types of items you would need that would benefit you on a day to day basis.

The Difference EDC Makes

What makes EDC such an essential part of preparedness is the fact that it’s one of the most likely components of your prepping to be put to use in day to day life. Not convinced? Consider the following scenario:

You’re driving home at around midnight, getting back from whatever keeps you out that late. Barely any other drivers on the road. You come up to a bridge and you see a driver coming from the other direction. No big deal, but you notice that he still has his brights on and is within a hundred yards and closing, not very courteous of him. Oh well, it happens. You flash your brights at him a couple of times, but he seems not to notice or care. As you two are within seconds of passing each other, he drifts over into your lane.

You have a split second to make a decision; slam on the brakes or swerve. Either way, you’re SOL. So you swerve out of the way, directly into the barrier, over the barrier, and for a split second, you feel as light as feather before crashing into the water below. Now you’ve just gone from one bad situation directly into another; out of the frying pan and into the fire. You have a limited amount of time before your car is completely submerged and the cabin is filling with water fast. you move to undo your seatbelt but it’s jammed.

Luckily, you have your multi-tool on you, which has a saw blade. You quickly pull it out of its holster and get to work, simultaneously fighting off your nerves. After what feels like a lifetime, the seat belt is off. A rush of relief washes over you as reach to open your door only to find that pressure build-up from your submerging vehicle is too much for you to get the door to budge. Your nerves are screaming louder than ever as you find that you’re waist deep in cold water. You realize that your pocket knife has a pommel on it that might just be enough to break your window. You grab it, take a firm grip, and, while covering your face, swing as hard as you can. In the blink of an eye, you’re blasted with shivering cold water.

Wasting no time, you pull yourself out the window and float up to the surface. Gasping for breath, you swim to the shore and drag yourself onto dry land. Relieved to be alive, you stand up only to fall over. You seem to be quite a bit dizzy as well as exhausted. Instead of trying to stand again, you crawl up to the shoulder of the road. Taking a look around, you only see faint headlights in the distance, on a nearby interstate. The guy that ran you off the road probably didn’t even take a second glance behind as you swerved out of his way; he was most likely drunk or high. A little shaky from exhaustion, you rest your back up against the edge of the barrier and pull out your flashlight. Setting it on high mode, you start flashing 180 lumens in an SOS pattern directly at the faint headlights. After about 15 minutes of doing so, you see emergency lives heading towards you. With a sigh of relief, you stop flashing SOS and just leave it on a steady beam pointing in front of you.

Now, imagine the same scenario without any of your EDC items on hand – not quite as happy an ending, is it?


So, where are you going to put it all? Having a bag gives the option of consolidating much of it into the different pockets and compartments, which is great for the miscellaneous items and random tidbits but refrain from putting the more basic items in your bag. You’ll still want to be able to have easy access to your gun, knife, multi-tool, and flashlight instead of them becoming mixed up into a pile in your bag. The exception to this is that some of the high-end EDC bags will have specific slots for those items.

Commonly, people with have a quality gun belt to use for carrying their gun, multi-tool, and flashlight while their knife is clipped into their pocket. Galco Leather has superb belts when it comes to quality. In most cases, multi-tools and flashlights will come with quality holsters already. The same is not true for firearms, they are notorious for coming with no holster or a joke of a holster. Avoid buying the generic holsters you see at local gun stores as they are not made for any specific gun and you’d be just as well off sticking your gun in your pocket (which you should never do). Instead, shop around online and make sure that you get a holster that is made specifically for your model of gun.

EDC Bag vs. Bug Out Bag – What’s The Difference?

Don’t confuse having an EDC bag with the tools you’ll keep with you each day with having a bug out bag – a bag of supplies that you’ll need should disaster strike and you’re forced to evacuate, flee, or otherwise “bug out.” While the differences between the two are many, a few of the most obvious ones include:

  • Food. Unless you’re a diabetic or have other types of blood sugar issues, you won’t likely need food in your EDC bag. Food definitely has its place in a bug out bag, however: a 3-day supply is commonly advised.
  • Shelter. It’s a good idea to carry a tarp or even a small tent in your bug out bag, this would be extraneous as part of an EDC kit.
  • Essential, non-everyday items: the bottom line is there are a lot of essential items you’d need in a bug out situation that would just be too much weight to carry every day.

You might find that you think certain items have their place in your EDC layout and find later that you’ve been carrying them around for weeks and that maybe you misjudged their value. There’s nothing wrong with reevaluating your EDC items from time to time – in fact, it’s smart to do so. Virtually no one will assemble the perfect array of tools the first time, and even if you are lucky enough to be one of those people, needs do change over time!

As you can see, EDC is a great place to start with your preparedness efforts. Think about the day-to-day and begin with the threats and risks closest to you.

Always watching out for you,

Sterling Mason

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