Be sure to check out our entire series on EDC Basic Kits:
- Part 1: How to build a Tier 1, Primary EDC Kit
- Part 2: How to build a Tier 2, Secondary EDC Kit (Current Article)
- Part 3: How to build a Tier 3, Extended EDC Kit
In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the basics of building a Primary EDC kit, which is the gear you carry on your body, like self-defense tools, knife, flashlight, phone, and wallet. We also provided a few gear combinations to help get your mind working in terms of how to pair items together. In this post, we are going to move beyond what you carry on you and focus on your Secondary EDC.
What is a “Secondary EDC?”
As a refresher of what we covered in The Three Tiers of Everyday Carry, your Secondary EDC is gear that is carried in a separate bag or container but is still with you as you go about day-to-day life. It can be carried in a backpack, briefcase, organizer, purse, or a number of other methods. It is meant to supplement your Primary EDC in a way that expands your ability to handle a variety of things that may pop up during your day.
A Secondary EDC provides us the opportunity to expand our medical capabilities, carry additional tools, possibly spare ammo, basic survival gear, emergency food and extra cash to list a few.
What should you carry in your Secondary EDC?
With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few “categories” of gear you may want to consider for your Secondary EDC Kit.
Multi-tools should have their place in every EDC. No matter what style you choose, make sure it serves your needs for what you may or may not be doing. Here are a few types:
- Leatherman-style (my choice is the Leatherman Wave)
- Swiss Army-style
- One-piece multi-tool (OPMT)
Personal preference in this category can range from a true multi-tool to any other solution. What is great about a multi-tool is that it can be used in a lot of different scenarios and is compact in terms of capabilities. While it may not be the best at any given task, it can accomplish a variety of things in a pinch. Other types of multi-tools, such as a prybar have their uses, but they tend to be more specific or limited by their very nature.
Pick the one that compliments you the best.
When it comes to knives, there are a few types. Folding, fixed blade, and replaceable blade knives come to mind.
A well-made folding pocket knife or a replaceable-blade folding knife are both utilitarian options.
“Always carry a knife with you. just in case there’s cheesecake, or you need to stab someone in the throat.” (General James Mattis)
What can we say? A good knife is one of those things that someone shouldn’t be without.
But, what’s better than one good knife? Two good knives. Why?
- You carry a folder or fixed blade for your Primary EDC and want to carry something different for tougher jobs
- Your primary blade is for self-defense and you want another blade for “work”
- You want a second knife available if you lose or misplace your primary blade
- You want a beater knife available for cutting open boxes or scraping work
- Or maybe, you just like knives …
No matter what your reason, your Secondary EDC is a great way to carry that extra blade. When you are adding another knife, take a minute to see how it compliments what you are already carrying. It’s all about expanding capabilities. Consider your need for a:
- Larger folder
- Fixed blade
- Bushcraft style knife (I carry a Mora Eldris)
A knife is one of the most used tools in a Primary EDC kit, and having one in your Secondary EDC is always a good idea.
This is another one of those items you never need until you need it. Are you going to use your fire-starter every day? Probably not. It all depends on what you do, where you live, etc. But, with compact, lightweight designs, it doesn’t make any sense to not carry one. A fire-starter can be the difference in life or death when a rare scenario strikes.
There are many different options available. For more details, be sure to check out our other article, How to pick the best fire-starter, which goes into a lot of detail about the pros and cons of each option.
- Plastic lighter: There are many steps to fire-making: 1) spark –> 2) ember –> 3) full flame. A Bic Lighter jumps you all the way to Step 3. But, it does add mechanical functions to starting a fire, which can always fail. Plastic lighters don’t work well in colder temperatures, as butane stops vaporizing and remains a liquid (at about 40F/4C). Wet conditions add another element to contend with
- Refillable lighter: With many great options, such as the EXOTAC titanLIGHT, you can have a refillable option that keeps the flint water-tight. This helps prevent evaporation, but just like a plastic lighter, the mechanical nature of these types of lighters can lead to failure points
- Ferro rod: When struck, a Ferro rod can spark as hot as 3000-5000 degrees Fahrenheit, which can ignite a dry pile of tinder quickly. It works even after being submerged in water but takes some practice to learn how to use it consistently. It also takes two hands
- Sparker: A sparker is like a lighter, but with no fuel. Although it removes the concerns of not having fuel or the fuel evaporating, it does carry the same mechanical concerns as a lighter
- Matches: Kitchen matches, stormproof matches, strike-anywhere matches, the freebie cardboard matches you pick up at the bar … There are many different kinds of matches you can carry. Matches are a great idea, especially with new technology allowing them to be almost impossible to extinguish, like with the UCO Titan Stormproof Matches. You should still store them in a dry place, so a match case is always a good idea. Read more about how to keep matches dry here
- Tinder: Emergency tinder is invaluable, especially in bad weather
Fire is one of man’s most basic needs. A fire-starter allows you to never be caught without it.
Notebook with emergency contact information
Make sure you never have to rely on the battery of your smartphone. You may be able to get to a phone, but the “art” of memorizing phone numbers is a thing of the past. Check out our previous article on this very topic. Very few people can recite the numbers of all the important people in their lives. Do yourself a favor and keep a good notebook on hand with any emergency numbers you may need.
We’ve written extensively about how to pick the best pocket notebook and pocket pen for your EDC, but your Secondary EDC offers expanded choices.
For paper, consider:
- Regular, plain-paper
- All-weather paper
- Spiral top
- Stapled spine
- Larger notebook for taking additional notes, journaling, etc.
For a writing utensil, consider:
- Lightweight plastic pen
- Screw top pen, which keeps your ink dry
- Small and compact pen (I prefer the Fisher Bullet Pen)
The ability to write something down is critical, especially when the digital world. Especially if you don’t carry a pen and paper in your Primary EDC, having it in your Secondary EDC kit is critical.
You never need one until you need one, which can be pretty often, believe it or not. Besides being able to hand everyday tasks such as finding your keys, etc., they can also be used as a form of self-defense. Interested in how to use a flashlight for self-defense? Check out this article for the basics.
When looking for the right flashlight for your Secondary EDC, consider:
- Size: How big do you need? What do you need to compliment your Primary EDC?
- Purpose: Where are you going? What do you plan to do? Is there a different purpose you may need a flashlight for?
- Battery life: For long-term storage of a flashlight in a Secondary EDC kit, consider keeping extra batteries on-hand or consider a flashlight that can be easily charged in your car if you find yourself on-the-go
One of the most overlooked categories of everyday carry, if not the most overlooked, is medical. From simple scrapes, cuts, headaches, and upset stomach to something as major as significant hemorrhage, why not be prepared? With the addition of very little weight, you can potentially save a life.
Gear to consider adding to your Secondary EDC:
- Tourniquet: Read about why you should carry a tourniquet everyday
- Expanded First Aid Kit: bleeding control, major wounds, cuts, burns, stings, additional medical, and other day-to-day first aid can easily be tackled with a simple first aid kit
- Dental floss
- Tweezers: Bee stings, splinters, or doing any detail work
- Thumb Drive: Depending on what you do and where you’re going, a thumb drive can come in handy. Not only does it allow you to pick up or receive information/data/documents, but it can also be handy in carrying importation information or documents while cutting down on the weight of your backpack, briefcase or purse
Whether you’re putting a band-aid on your child’s cut or saving someone’s life after a horrific car accident, take the time to take an intentional approach to carry medical equipment.
As much time as society spends on their electronic devices, charging cables have almost become mandatory. Make sure you have what you need to keep your gear up and running.
Especially if you rely on any electronic devices for communication (which, almost everyone does), don’t count on getting access to a power source. During an emergency or crisis, you are not going to have the luxury of finding an open plug and then waiting for your phone to charge.
Charging cables for laptops, work equipment, diabetes supplies, or other medical supplies you rely on is critical.
Having a backup battery bank can save you if you’re unexpected stranded or away from a power source.
Spork or other eating utensils
We’ve talked at length before about why you should consider a titanium folding spork as part of your EDC. They are lightweight, durable, TSA-friendly, compact, and utilitarian.
If a spork isn’t your thing, consider another eating utensil. There are countless options, including plastic, titanium, even foldable models.
The ability to eat is a critical human need. Make sure you have the gear to make that happen without going caveman.
Additional items to consider
The best part of a well-thought, intentional Secondary EDC is that it is unique to you, your work, where you’re going, where you’re traveling, etc.
If you work in healthcare, consider adding back-ups of hygiene and work gear. If you travel a lot, consider adding additional TSA-friendly gear that allows you to function if you are without your luggage. If you commute via public transportation, consider adding gear that can help you get home safely in case of an accident, terrorist attack, etc.
- Tweezers (Uncle Bill’s Sliver Gripper)
- Space Blanket
- Lip balm
- Scissors (Slip-n-Snip)
- Spare batteries
Evaluate your needs and add items that work best for your situation.
Now, how are you going to carry these items? Well, it depends on which ones you choose to carry as well as what fits into your environment.
Organizers are an easy way for a person to keep their gear organized and accessible. There are a number of great things in regards to EDC organizers, but here are just a few:
- Gear is accessible
- Gear is organized
- Can be grabbed up and easily thrown into whatever you choose
- Can serve many different uses in addition to EDC items
- Easily fits into most briefcases, purses, backpacks
As with most things in the everyday carry world, any EDC kit is very subjective and highly debatable. What I’ve offered are just a few areas for consideration and is by no means a definitive list. You should tailor your kit to your individual needs, what you are doing, where you are going, etc.
Also, keep in mind, you are building on what you are already carrying with you in term of your Primary EDC. Don’t be afraid to duplicate “categories” of items. Redundancy is not a bad thing as long as you think it through. Gear that serves multiple purposes is also highly recommended.