What is everyday carry (EDC)?

edc gear

Everyday carry (EDC) refers to the items you carry on an everyday basis, like a pen, wallet, keys, or anything else that’s essential to your daily life. Usually limited to what can be physically carried on a person or in a small bag, EDC can also be more broadly applied to preparedness items in general, extending to what can be stored in a vehicle or larger backpack.

Your everyday carry setup takes your EDC a step further, as you start to look at the items that make up your EDC, how essential they are to you, and how you are able to improve upon them.

General EDC categories

Because EDC is such a broad term, it is very much self-defined. What do you carry every day? What do you deem important? Whatever you carry, items in your personal EDC setup likely fall into some main categories:

  • Fundamentals 
    • Your wallet, keys, and cell phone. Stuff that is fairly universal
  • Utility 
    • Watch, handkerchief, pocket knife, multitool, flashlight, rope or paracord, digital camera, lighter and/or matches, paper and a writing instrument
  • Medical 
    • An inhaler, medical ID bracelet, essential medication and other things related to maintaining a healthy lifestyle; First aid kit for any unexpected injuries
  • Work 
    • Anything pertaining to your occupation
  • Protection 
    • Pocket knife, tactical pen, flashlight, whistle, pepper spray, or a firearm
  • Sustainment 
    • Water, food, fire-starter, or high-energy nutrient items

Defining your EDC setup

Now you need to define what’s in your personal setup. You’ll likely find yourself preferring variations of setups for different applications (going to work versus going out with the family versus going to the gym) and most people find it an evolving process that changes as you move through life. 

1. Evaluate your fundamentals

You likely already carry the fundamentals but evaluate how well you are utilizing them. Is your wallet overstuffed and full of expired credit cards and punch cards that are never used? Do you prefer to keep your cash loose in your pocket or contained in a money clip? Is your key chain full of keys you hardly use? Could you benefit from a better key setup?

2. Add your utility items

Adding a watch can allow you to know the date and time without relying on your cell phone.

Getting a good knife and/or multitool can be used for both utilitarian and defense purposes. Figuring out what you prefer (metal type, function, size, etc.) can be a trial and error process. 

A notebook or ledger can be carried on your person or in a small bag, as well as a quality writing instrument. Some also carry a camera. 

3. Evaluate medical and work needs

You may already be carrying any important medical equipment or medication, but look at how you’re carrying it. Is your medical ID information in an easy-to-locate place? Is your inhaler or EpiPen in bulky, heavy containers, making you less likely to have it with you when you need it?

First aid/medical kits are available in small sizes (for your purse or bag) up to much larger kits for vehicles and home use. Having band-aids, medication and even emergency tourniquets (to stop life-threatening bleeding) can be a great addition to your setup.

Separating work items away from your other EDC gear can make separation of work versus non-work easier, as you are not hauling unnecessary bulk.

4. Personal protection

Learn your local laws and train using whatever protection mechanism you choose with whatever tool you are most comfortable with. When under pressure, you don’t want to be fumbling for a tool. 

If you carry concealed, being a good shot with a regularly cleaned firearm can make all the difference in the outcome of a deadly situation.

5. Take it to the next level

Being stranded in your vehicle for two days because of an unforeseen snowstorm or having to walk/run to safety and all you have is dress shoes (or even worse for the ladies, 4″ heels) are all possible scenarios to consider. Look beyond everyday carry to be able to sustain yourself with food, shelter, and clothing.

6. Keep changing

Remember, a good EDC setup is constantly evolving. New products become available, personal taste and preference change as you continue to try various solutions to see what works, and what doesn’t, for you and your individual lifestyle and preferences.

What’s in your EDC setup? What would be the key items you can’t leave home without?

Cody Martin

With over 18 years of federal law enforcement, training, and physical security experience, Cody focuses his time nowadays on both consulting and training. He regularly advises individuals, groups, multinational corporations, schools, houses of worship, and NGOs on security threats while conducting customized training as needed.

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